The interwebs are abuzz with posts on Zagat’s new “Chicago Dining Deals” guidebook, so we ran out and got our hands on one.
The pitch: It’s an economically topical compendium of the best deals around.
The reality: If you’re already a Zagat fan, you’ll notice right away that the listings in this guidebook (which runs a slim 62 pages) are identical to those on their site and in their most current Chicago Restaurant Guide. That’s because this is basically another version of that very volume — albeit one from which all restaurants averaging above $30 at dinner have been excised. Restaurants’ entries don’t highlight particular deals or clue you in to special prix fixe scenarios — unless that information was included in the main volume as well.
In the book’s defense, there is one page devoted to “Dining Tips,” which run the predictable course from “lunch is cheaper than dinner” to “ethnic food tends to be inexpensive for the quantity” to “ask the sommelier to suggest a cheap wine.”
If you’ve never before read an article about saving money while dining, then the guide (which is $5.95) might pay for itself in one meal. But if you’ve already got a reliable guidebook on hand or online — or if you were hoping for a treasure trove of cheap-eats secrets — we’ve gotta say, we’d pass on this one.