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Published October 08, 2012, 11:34 PM

Eat out in Fargo-Moorhead for less than $10 a day

This area is known for its array of dining options with everything from fine dining originals to the most popular chains – Fargo was after all the first city in the state to host an Olive Garden.

By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM

This area is known for its array of dining options with everything from fine dining originals to the most popular chains – Fargo was after all the first city in the state to host an Olive Garden.

But whether a student scraping by, or a retiree on a fixed income, not everyone can afford to dine out on a regular basis.

Still, there are many ways to eat cheaply without skipping the flavor in and around the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Happy Hour

Eating out at lunchtime is not the only way to get low prices on higher end food.

Downtown, favorites like Montes, Dempsey’s and Mezzaluna offer bar menus and late night menus where patrons can get a taste of the chefs’ culinary creations for less than $10.

For instance, on Mezzaluna’s “Alleyway Menu” is the “Rare” Szechuan seared tuna sweet chile slaw and crispy wontons. The delectable dish can be picked up for only $7.

Outside of downtown, nearly every shop has happy hour specials between about 4 and 6 p.m. and again after 9 p.m.

Green Mill offers a full list of $5.99 appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday. Dinner for two for less than $10 each can easily be done by ordering the small-priced but regular-sized specials such as coconut chicken or wings and bread bowl spinach dips.

The most important thing to remember when dining in is that money can be saved by skipping the beverage, not the tip.

Tips should be factored into any dining out budget as serving a meal of $10 is no less an effort than a meal of $20.

Sit-down style

When it comes to fine dining, eating out for less is all about timing.

Nearly every restaurant has a lunch menu with smaller prices, which often smaller portions.

Many restaurants also have rotating lunch specials that can’t be beat.

One such deal is currently at Olive Garden: the all-you-can-eat soup, salad, and breadsticks combo is only $6.95 and served at that price until 4 p.m. each day.

The Italian chain is famous for its bottomless vinaigrette-dressing salad but diners can choose one or all of the hearty soups plus a seasonal chicken Florentine soup on the menu for fall.

General Manager Aftab Khan said the soup and salad option is very popular, but a new dinner deal may make it work stopping in the evenings. Starting today through Nov. 15, “Dinner Today & Dinner Tomorrow” allows diners to choose from five pasta dishes. One choice is eaten at the restaurant, and a second meal is packaged cold to be taken home. At $12.95 for both, the deal makes the list for affordable options.

Fast food

Sure, fast food from Subway to McDonalds is generally inexpensive, but if you’re counting your last pennies, even the drive thru menus must be navigated. The upside to the economy’s downtown is that nearly every quick-stop meal has a “dollar menu.”

More often labeled the “value menu” since many shops have started to up the prices past the George Washington mark, a full meal of a burger, fries and soda can generally be bought for between $3 and $4 by ordering from the “value menu.”

While McDonalds is probably the best hamburger joint to play the value game – not reducing sizes for value items – Taco Bell is in tight competition with its snack meals.

Priced around $2 each, Taco Bell’s “snack” menus can easily fill you up without emptying the pocket. The snack boxes include one menu item such as a chicken burrito with a side of Doritos and small drink – a small at Taco Bell is actually quite large, weighing in around most place’s medium sizes or about 20 ounces.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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