Recession Meals

piggyThe News and Observer ran an AP story today about how some people are responding to the recession when eating out: by sharing dishes.  There’s little doubt that the tough economic times have made people cut back on dining budgets, but when the industry slows down, the industry comes up with lots of bargains to draw folks in.

I received a couple of emails from a buddy alerting me of a handful of great local deals.  Most locals are aware that Bloomsbury Bistro’s John Toler has been offering a very special three course dinner for two for $50 — that’s for the couple, not per person.  There’s quite a lot of choice with this menu.

I learned today that Margaux’s is offering a three course prix fixe dinner on Mondays for $19.95 a person.  During the rest of the week it’s only $27.95.  The choices are limited, but it’s still a hell of a deal.

Durham’s Vin Rouge, one of the Triangle’s most underrated restaurants, offers an “early bird” 3 course prix fixe menu for $20 and 4 courses for $25.  That’s a ridiculous price for this great food put out by chef Matt Kelly, even if it’s offered between 5:30 and 6:30 Monday-Thursday and from 5:30 to 6:00 on Friday-Sunday.

Happen to be in the Crabtree area in the late afternoon?  Now I’m no fan of chain restaurants, but when you’re broke, you might have to make some concessions, right?  You can always hit the bar at McCormick & Schmicks during their happy hour, from 4 to 6, and order their half pound burger and fries.  For $1.95!  I’ve heard that their entire happy hour menu is being offered at this ridiculously low price.

Or if you’re in the mood for Italian you could hit Brio and order items of their “Tuscan Tasters” menus from 3-7 Monday through Friday or after 9 PM all week.  These items are sold for $2.95 and represent smaller versions of their regular appetizers, but they’re still good sizes.   I heard of a couple ordering three of these appetizers, two cocktails and two mini-desserts for $24.  Wow!

So do your part to get the economy going.  And if you’re headed out for happy hour and end up drinking too much, you can always call these guys to get you and your car home.


8 Responses to Recession Meals

  1. vinomundo says:

    Solas was recently offering a dinner for two for $50, and if my visit there last fall is any indication, the food is actually pretty good. (The service needed some improvement though). You can read my full review here:

  2. burgeoningfoodie says:

    I really appreciate this type of news as it helps in both choosing a place to dine and also what to spend. Now if someone could do the same for a lot of the Durham Chapel Hill restaurants (though I know you have Vin Rouge).

  3. burgeoningfoodie says:

    I would like to vote that any good Taqueria in Durham or Mami Nora’s should count as recession items. Better than typical fast food but roughly the same price.

  4. detlefchef says:

    We’ve been doing Recession Wine Dinners at Jujube about twice a month since October. $40 for 5 courses with wine.

    Tonight’s is actually with a brewery rather than wines (Founders Brewery, FWIW). Our next is an all veggie affair (our first of this slant) and that’s on the 17th.

    None the less, we’ll be doing them as long as tales of financial woe dominate the news…

  5. sarah says:

    Great post. I’ve been to McCormick & Schmick’s for the happy hour specials, and you are right – the 1/2 lb burger and fries is only $1.95. It was actually pretty good. There are several choices on their happy hour menu, but not all are $1.95. Some were $2.95 and I think a few were $4.95. You should also know there is a minimum drink order per person – $5 or $6, can’t remember exactly.

    I was at the Crabtree Kanki this week and they are offering buy one, get one free sushi rolls all day Mondays and Wednesdays, and every day 4:30-6:30 (including weekends according to our waiter). This info contradicts their website but is consistent with the signs they had on the tables.

  6. Tyler says:

    Burgeoning Foodie:

    Great call on Mami Nora’s. I’ve been hoping that someone would open a Peruvian chicken place in this area. Family went there for lunch last weekend and loved it! Thanks for making those of us that don’t frequent Durham often, aware of it.

  7. Victoria says:

    Thank you all for these suggestions. I still have a little money to spend on a dinner out, but if and when I can economize, I certainly will. Detlefchef- do you post the Recession Dinners on Jujube’s website?

  8. Stephanie says:

    Hello Blogger!

    My name is Stephanie, and I am working on promoting a brand new website called TownMe, which allows users to search and add reviews about restaurants, music venues, businesses, etc. TownMe has a page for each city and I am working on generating content for the Durham wiki. I encountered your blog and would like to feature some of the content from your blog on the TownMe site ( I would also love for you to check out the site and create a page or add reviews. In return, I can provide you with a badge for your blog saying you were featured on TownMe. Please e-mail me ( if you would be willing to have blog featured.


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