Some people are embarrassed by using coupons and discounts at restaurants. Not me. I’ll walk into these places waving my coupon over my head, humming a happy song about how I’m not paying full price.

My experiment for the week: all my eating adventures included discounted vouchers from various sources. It wasn’t without its hiccups, but all in all I’m declaring my experiment a success.


I’ve used Groupon successfully before for discounted race tickets, mainly because I figure if I’m going to pay someone to let me run anywhere it might as well be at a discounted rate. So I went into this knowing that Groupon has proven to work for me in the past and that most merchants seem to pretty nice about accepting these vouchers.

I bought a $40 voucher to Gusto Cuban Café in Ralston for $20. Apparently I’d just missed a promotion that would have given me an additional 20% off for purchasing a local Groupon voucher, so if I had been a little quicker I would have saved even more.

There were a bunch of restrictions for this one; it had to be used for dinner, had to be dine-in, couldn’t be for certain menu items and only one person per table could use any type of discount. Other than the list of restrictions, everything went off without a hitch. When I presented the Groupon on my phone, the waitress redeemed it politely – looking at the Groupon website, it looks like more than 1,000 people have purchased the voucher, so she must be pretty accustomed to them by now.

As far as Gusto Cuban Café goes, it was a little pricier than I expected (even with the discount), but the food was quite good.

Living Social

I heard rumors that Living Social is on its way out, but it looks like this company is just reconfiguring how it does business. I found a deal for Dante Ristorante Pizzeria, which made me ecstatic since I’ve not yet tried that place but heard great things about it. I bought a $20 voucher for $10.

The restriction that the voucher could only be redeemed for lunch caused a dilemma, though. The only day I had free to go to that side of town during a lunch hour was the same day I teach a strength training class at the gym, so I had to drive straight to Dante after the class. I didn’t know how they would react to me walking into their establishment, smelling like sweat and free weights, waving a discount voucher around.

Actually, they were quite nice about accepting the voucher. The server helped me navigate the menu since I’d never eaten there before, and even gave me a free soda on my way out. It may be that he really

just wanted me out of the restaurant since I smelled like a gym, but either way, the voucher redemption process was really simple and easy.

By the way, the food was amazing. I will definitely go back, and I really don’t care if I have a discount or not next time. I just want more pizza.

Amazon Local

I haven’t even redeemed this one yet, so at this point this is more bragging than anything else, but I found a $20 voucher for The Donut Professor for $10. I had a coupon code Amazon emailed me for $10 off any deal. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s right, baby. Free donuts.

I get emails from this company all the time, trying to tempt me to buy $100 gift certificates for $5, or something equally ridiculous, so I figured now was the time to give them a try. Their offerings are a little slim, but I found a deal for $20 in gift certificates to Karrays Café in Bellevue for $8. I purchased the gift certificate on my phone and headed out to Bellevue for lunch.

I can’t really tell you about the redemption process or how the staff reacted to the gift certificate because the voucher wouldn’t come up on my phone when I got to Karrays Café. The app just didn’t work. You may not be surprised to find out that when your gift certificate won’t show up on your phone on a Sunday afternoon there really isn’t anywhere to turn for help, so I wound up just paying for the meal out of pocket. I’ll go back another time, but I’ll print up the stupid certificate on paper beforehand.

If you’re wondering how the food there is, it’s good. I particularly like the breakfast menu, but I really would have liked it a lot more had I received it at the discounted price.

Go ahead. Be cheap.

As long as you realize that there are usually some restrictions that come with these discounted vouchers, and you’re willing to wait around for a voucher you actually want to use, these discounts can work really well. Just don’t be a jerk by tipping on the discounted total.

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