Websites, Facebook offer dining deals

Consumer Reports' survey gives J. Alexanders, Le Peep high marks

Published On: Jun 28 2012 05:21:22 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 28 2012 02:07:13 PM CDT

Americans spend nearly $1.7 billion in restaurants every day.  But dining out doesn't have to break the family bank. 

There are ways to find deals, and many are right at your fingertips, according to Consumer Reports.

Many restaurants post special offers on their websites.  For example, Chili's offered a $20 steak dinner special for two on its website.

Consumers can also sign up for email alerts and join restaurant e-clubs to learn about deals.

By joining California Pizza Kitchen's e-club, you get five dollars toward your next visit.

On Facebook, liking restaurants like Outback Steakhouse or Romano's Macaroni Grill can lead to coupons and deals.

Consumer Reports found you do need to choose where you eat carefully.  Its survey of nearly 48,000 subscribers gave some popular chains low marks for value.

Those included Hard Rock Cafe, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar, Joe's Crab Shack and Hooters.

Another way to save money is to eat when most people don't.

At Applebee's, late-night diners can get half-price appetizers.  Red Lobster offers discounts on some shrimp entrees on Mondays and Tuesdays.

A sweet way to save on your birthday is to go to a restaurant that offers free dessert on birthdays.

Along with value, Consumer Reports' subscribers rated restaurants for food, service and atmosphere. Among those that rated low overall were Friendly's and Waffle House.

Among the chains that got top marks across the board were J. Alexanders and Le Peep.