Beyond Groupon: Online Cheapies and Freebies for Culinary Adventurers

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Get this delicious meal for a song.
By now, almost everyone knows about the Phoenix version of Groupon.com, the website where you can sign up to get e-mails on a mega daily deal. They've offered everything from waxing services at 75% off to $40 restaurant gift certificates for $20. We admit we anxiously await our e-mail from them every day hoping to score discount deals for our favorite culinary hotspots. But there's more to online life than Groupon.

Here are a few other websites you should check out for awesome local dining deals:

LocalDines.com - If you love trying new restaurants but feel totally put out when you drop a wad of cash on a place that turns out to be so-so, start here. Sign up and you can purchase a gift certificate to one of about fifty featured restaurants for half-price

We're not talking Chili's and Applebee's, either. They've got top-notch restaurants from 5th & Wine to Avalon to Eddie's House. (Tip: LocalDines often gives away free "Dines Dollars" which can be used to purchase gift certificates on the site through radio station contests and at parties, so be on the lookout.) 

Pros: Encourages you to try new places, great discount, free sign-up, good restaurant selection.   

Cons: Certificates expire after 3 months, you have to give your info to "The Man" and risk a buttload of spam.

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Baby Kay's is only an iPhone app away.
​YWaiter is an iPhone app that lets you purchase grub from participating restaurants including Baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen, Lenny's Burgers, and Majerle's Sports Grill using stored credit card info. Click on a restaurant, place your order and checkout. Shake your iPhone and someone from the restaurant will contact you.

They also have a Rewards program where you can score free Amazon gift cards if a restaurant you suggest signs up for the YWaiter program through your e-mail link.

Pros - Quick and easy way to do takeout, possibility of free gift cards.

Cons - Very limited restaurant selection, need an iPhone, have to provide credit card info.

Restaurant.com - This website allows you to purchase discounted gift certificates for tons of restaurants including Mucho Gusto Mexican Bistro, Mad Chef Gastropub and Thai Basil. Get $50 of pasta for $25, $10 worth of sushi for $4, etc, etc.

Pros - No registration required, good selection of restaurants around the Valley, excellent deals.

Cons - read the fine print and bring friends...most certificates require a minimum table order that could easily be way too much food for two people. 


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