As a restaurant critic, Todd Kliman spends a lot of time eating out.
He’s eaten 500 restaurant meals a year over the past 12 years, by his estimation.
So he knows where you can get the most for your money.
In Washingtonian, he explains his simple rule: “go low and go high.”
In other words, stick to high-end, fine dining restaurants and cheap, hole-in-the-wall dives. Just don’t bother with anything that falls in the middle.
Kliman points out that eating out five times every two weeks would cost $US350-$US400 if you stick to mid-priced bistros and cafes.
Under my high-low system, that money would be allocated a lot more effectively. Four of those meals would be at the low end.
You’d slurp down a rich and aromatic bowl of pho, aka the Vietnamese penicillin, one night at one of the ubiquitous pho parlors in the area; the next, a platter of juicy charcoal-grilled kabobs and rice and the sticky sweet chickpea stew known as channa masala at Ravi Kabob, in Arlington.
Maybe a fasting platter at an Ethiopian restaurant is calling to you, in which case you’d load up on mesir wot, kik alicha, and azifa at the wonderful Enat, in Alexandria. Or maybe you’re jonesing for the bright, fresh flavours of ceviche and tiradito, and decide to make the trek out to La Limeña, in Rockville. Total cost, for two, for this quartet of interesting, exciting meals: around $US150-$US200.
With $US200 or more left over in your budget, he suggests, “you can now splurge on a meal you might previously have deemed to be a save-for-special occasion expense.”
Of course, this advice doesn’t apply to every situation. As Kliman points out, if you’re getting dinner with a group of coworkers or treating out-of-town family members to a meal, you’ll want to choose a restaurant where everyone feels comfortable, likely something in the middle-range. Or maybe you just want to get together with friends, and it’s the company, not the food, that matters.
But if you’re a true foodie looking to get the most bang for your buck, sticking to the high and low end will help you make the most of your budget.