4 Ways To Score Free Food at a Restaurant

Now I’m no expert on this topic, but either I had really good luck in the last year, or people just feel bad for me. I like to think it’s because I look so skinny that people think I need to eat more so they give me free meals at their restaurants.

Yeah, wishful thinking on my part.

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Duo of mischievousness just tryin to get our free food!

In the last year I’ve received 3 free meals while dining at local Minneapolis restaurants. I consider that a TON since in my previous 21 years of living I had NEVER been given a free meal or “comped” (as they say in the restaurant world) a meal from a restaurant. I’ve also worked as a waitress for 2 summers and the likelihood of me giving you a free meal for a kitchen mistake is pretty unlikely never. Granted, that isn’t my call. It’s the managers call, and if it were my choice; FREE MEALS FOR ALL! Just kidding! I’ve worked strictly at golf clubs, and if there’s any group of people that can afford their meal, it’s those people.

I want to preface by saying in none of my situations was I expecting a free meal. They were all simple mistakes, and after working in restaurants I know how common mistakes are, so I usually let them slide.

However, seeing as I have some knowledge on the topic at hand, here are my tried and true ways to receive some free grub:

1. Have a very specific and complicated way you want your food prepared, and mumble the order so they miss the specifics. Such as, asking for something on the side, not inside. Also, especially when ordering pancakes, make sure you order more than the menu lists so they are sure to not give you the right amount in your stack. This is especially helpful when dining at Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis 😉

2. Order one of the “all-day breakfast” items during the dinner service. This is sure to frazzle the line cooks who usually only prepare dinner items, and cause them to mess up your un-orthodox order. Frankly, I don’t see how they would mess up because EVERYONE should ALWAYS order breakfast for dinner, so they should be well-seasoned in making your favorite cornmeal pancakes by now.

3. Pick a restaurant that is sure to be understaffed for the day/event. This is a tricky one, because the only way to really tell is if you ask the front of house when you get there, but that’s not recommended/very rude. The service also needs to be known to be good almost all the time. They can’t constantly get reviews for slow and inattentive service. If you want that free meal for waiting too long, for your seemly 5 min from egg crack to your mouth food, they can’t be known for their awful wait time. I want to mention that this is more relevant to breakfast spots, but is possible to accomplish over dinner service, I would know 😉

4. Eat out during your cities “Restaurant Week.” With a culmination of stressors on both the kitchen and wait staff, you’re bound to get a free meal for waiting insanely long, or at least some extra bread to calm your blood sugar why you wait. In that case, the food better be good when it does come because otherwise no free food AND a long wait are no bueno in my book. My standards have become a bit high in the last year though…

I almost felt like my name was being passed around the Twin Cities food scene as someone who needs to be kept happy with either a free meal or a snack if a long wait is upon me.

One thing to NEVER DO to try to get free food is complain about your dish AFTER you have finished it all! At that point there was no way it could have been salvaged by the kitchen (unless you regurgitate it, which has happened but that’s another post). As a former waitress there was/is nothing I hate more than someone not speaking up when their dish is brought to them and I ask “Is their anything else I can get you?/Does everything look good?” You’ve not only made me look bad, but now there’s no way for me to not leave you with a bad memory of the restaurant without saying “The kitchen will be comping your meal this evening.” That’s last resort though. You have to have a really good reason for consuming the entire plate without mentioning a word to me about your dislike of the food.

If you’re from the Twin Cities area, Restaurant Week is going on now so get out there and claim your free meal!

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