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Admit it: You spend more money at restaurants than you do on almost anything else (well, except maybe shoes). Here are eight tricks to make every dining experience a fabulous one. Now go ahead, order that bottle of rosé.

Related: The Most Iconic Restaurant in Every U.S. State


Find Out What the Chef Eats

Instead of asking the server what he recommends (he’ll answer with the safest, most popular dish), ask what entrée the chef makes for herself on her dinner break. Chances are, it’s the tastiest thing on the menu.

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Order Wine By the Bottle

If you can convince your date to agree on wine, ordering a bottle is always cheaper than wine by the glass. (Bonus: You don’t have to wait for a server to bring you a refill.)


Be an Early Bird

Take it from senior citizens: Eating earlier is better. Not only will the restaurant be less crowded, but you’ll also get the evening’s best, freshest cuts of meat. 


Scope Out the Bathroom

First things first--when you’re trying a new restaurant, go to the bathroom before you even check out the menu. If it’s grimy, go somewhere else. (Just imagine what the kitchen looks like.)


Ask for the Check When You Order

If you’re strapped for time (or already know you aren’t getting dessert), ask the server for your check when you order. This way, you’ll stress less about the ticking clock and focus on enjoying your meal.


Just Order Apps

Why settle for one meal when you could have bites of five different dishes instead? Plus, it’ll save you money--entrées are typically marked up twice as much as appetizers but rarely give you twice as much food.

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Avoid Weekends and Holidays

When a restaurant is packed, it’s a guarantee that the staff is rushing to get patrons out the door in a timely manner. Food quality and service will definitely suffer. Cook at home during peak times and save that special dinner for a laid-back Tuesday night.


Speak Up

Whether you love or hate your food, be vocal (but polite) about your feelings. If the burger was too rare, tell a manager instead of stiffing the server and leaving a bad Yelp review. On the other hand, if you love the mac and cheese, rave about it so they’ll keep it on the menu.

Related: Why You Should Never Ask For Salad Dressing on the Side

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