Best and worst restaurant chains

Don't Waste Your Money

You probably love to eat out but hate to see your bill. Well, there's some good news for Tri-State diners.

Our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine say there are plenty of deals right at your fingertips.

"One of the first things you can do is to visit a restaurant's website to find out about any special offers," said Tod Marks of Consumer Reports.

Take Chili's, for example. It has a $20 steak dinner special for two. And Bob Evans has an "Endless Farmhouse Lunch" for $6.99.

"You can also sign up for email alerts and join an e-club to learn about even more deals," Marks said.

And on Facebook, liking Outback Steakhouse and other restaurants can also lead to dining deals.

Top-Rated Restaurants

Its survey of almost 48,000 subscribers gave top ratings for food and value to the following chains that are located in the Cincinnati area:

       American: J Alexander's

       Italian: Bravo Cucina

       Chinese: PF Chang's

       Breakfast: First Watch

       Seafood: Bonefish Grill

Consumer Reports found you do need to choose where you eat carefully.

Some popular chains received low marks for value -- among them were Hard Rock Cafe, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, Joe's Crab Shack and Hooters. That does not mean the food was bad, but that those surveyed did not consider them a top value.

But you may be able to find good deals at those places depending on when you dine out.

"Eat out when others don't. There's a lot more out there than just an early-bird special," Marks said.

At Applebee's, late-night diners enjoy half-price appetizers. And at Red Lobster, you get a discount on some shrimp entrées on Mondays and Tuesdays.

As always, don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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