Cheap eats and change: Our restaurant reviewer seeks out dinners for two for less than $20

August 8, 2012

We’re delighted to announce the debut of a new feature: Weekly restaurant reviews by the talented, energetic, and discerning Deb Nies.

For many months we’ve been noticing that search engines often send people to Madison on the Cheap when they’re looking for “cheap food” or “cheap restaurants” in Madison – and we haven’t been able to satisfy their appetites for this kind of information. BOGO coupons for fast food, Groupon deals, and similar offers aren’t enough. What was needed was a steady stream of features about locally owned restaurants – where they are, what they serve, and how much they charge.

Deb’s assignment is to locate, dine at, and write about restaurants where two people can have dinner and expect to pay $20 or less (including tax). She’ll be using her ingenuity and knowledge of the local dining scene to hunt down restaurants that fill the bill when it comes to “Change from a Twenty.” She’ll show us how to use coupons, weekly specials, and other clever means to save money on dining. She will not, however, attempt to use her status as a reviewer to curry special favors: She’ll do her best to dine anonymously.

To make her assignment a bit more challenging, we’ve asked her to make certain at least one vegetable lands on her plate at every meal. Ketchup is not a vegetable.

Why dinner and not lunch? Surely, you say, she’d be likely to receive more Change from a Twenty at lunch. We agree, but we also know that a lot of lunchtime specials aren’t easily accessible to people who work and have 30-45 minute lunch hours. It’s not reasonable to expect people to jump in the car (or onto a bike or bus) and dash across save a couple of dollars in such a short time span. So we’ve opted to look at dinner.

Izzy the Intern (It’s always about food”) deserves a bit of credit for the development of this weekly restaurant review feature. Most of the credit, however, will go to Deb Nies. Once she’s written a couple of reviews, we’re going to create a page that features all of them in one place – and hope that the cumulative effect will be a great resource for people looking for “cheap” dining experiences in the Madison area.

Here’s a link to Deb’s first review for Madison on the Cheap.

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