Recession Specials: the New Value Meals

In these trying economic times, restaurants and bars lure diners with deeply discounted menus.

Dining out during a deep recession doesn't necessarily require deep pockets. These restaurant "recession specials" help picky palates out in trying economic times.

Sushi Samba, with locations in Manhattan, Chicago, Vegas and Miami, introduced its Recession Menu in late October. Sunday through Thursday, diners get a Lemon Samurai cocktail, appetizer, large plate (options include Seared Otoro Kobe Beef in truffled tofu crème) and dessert for $35. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (locations in 35 states) has a similar three-course "economy proof menu" for $35.95.

New York City appears to be most clued into this marketing trend, especially when it comes to drinks. Drop into Libertine, a Brit-themed spot in the Financial District, for "Ales Cures for Ails" from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. For $10, patrons get $10 three-ale flights. In the Meatpacking District's Paradou, has classy French charm but isn't afraid to offer a cheap drink. On select Mondays, with the next being January 5th, if the Dow is not yet back over 12,000, you'll receive a free bottle of wine (Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc or Rose the most likely choices, according to management) with dinner reservations. Sign up for Paradou's email list to receive the code word. 

Trinity Place, also in the Financial District, pours $3 drinks from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day the market's in the red, during its "If the Market Tanks, get Tanked" special. The deepest discount, though, is probably found at Chelsea's Casa Havana, which offers a $.20 breakfast of bacon or ham, two eggs and coffee.

Dinner and drink deals also abound on the west coast. The "Blue Mondays" special at Luna Park in Los Angeles cuts drink prices to $5 while dinners, served on blue plates, are $10 to $12 (down from $15 to $20). Its San Francisco outpost has a similar "Blue Tray Special" where $12 comfort-food entrees are served on Depression-era, blue cafeteria trays. At "Soup Kitchen Cocktail Hour" at the Edison Lounge in Los Angeles patrons get a free grilled-cheese melt and tomato soup- so long as they purchase a $.35 "Depression Era" cocktail. One of the drinks, "Your 401(k)," is a gin cocktail served in a half-empty glass.


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