If you're into cheap and yummy restaurants -- and who isn't these days? -- Cheapism.com wants to be your go-to source for gastronomical wonders that will also do wonders for your wallet.
The review site, which lists what it deems to be the best cheap products and services, including everything from vacuums and smart phones to lipstick and hotels, has now partnered with Foursquare, the location-based mobile application, to provide local tips on hundreds of its picks for the best cheap restaurants in major cities nationwide.Cheapism is tapping the knowledge of its editors in local markets to review restaurants for their affordability and quality. It's combining that input with reviews from sources such as Zagat, Urban Spoon and Yelp, as well as local magazines and newspapers. Then the site aggregates the reviews, making sure to get a positive consensus before recommending a restaurant.
And the food has to be top notch, Max Levitte, co-founder and CEO of Cheapism, told WalletPop. Because of that, Levitte says, "We ruled out all fast food."
Entrée prices for the restaurants highlighted on the site can be as low as $3 and will tend not to exceed $15, unless Cheapism is calling out a great deal on pricier eateries.
The site's finds include Empanada Mama in New York City, which offers a tamale entrée for $8.95, and Taza in Chicago, a restaurant "that's known for large portions and low prices... where you can get a falafel sandwich for under $5," Levitte says.
The site also calls out special deals at higher-priced restaurants, such as the "Pounds and Pitchers" special -- a pound of shrimp and a pitcher of beer for $20 -- at Katsuya Glendale in Los Angeles, Levitte notes.
Users can access Cheapism's restaurant finds two ways. "If you're heading to a city you're not familiar with, or if you live somewhere and just want to quickly find good cheap food," says Levitte, "you can go to Cheapism.com/local, find the city on the map and click to see a list of the top recommendations for that city and what's good to order at those place." The city page also includes a clickable Google map which shows users the locations of all the cheap places.
"If you're using Foursquare on a smart phone, and you follow the Cheapism brand, you can always check into a venue near where you're located, and if we recommend a cheap restuarant nearby, you'll get a message on your screen about it."
This food-obsessed, native New Yorker decided to put Cheapism.com to the test. A search for Manhattan restaurants turned up some off-the-beaten-track, tasty and inexpensive finds that this reporter had been to -- suggesting that the site was doing its homework -- such as Café Asean, a charming pan-Asian restaurant in the West Village, with delicately made dishes such as Singaporean braised spare ribs for just $8.95.
It also recommended unfamiliar spots that seemed tempting, like The Meatball Shop on the Lower East Side, which appeared to offer a fresh take on the classic, old-school meatball.
Cheapism is currently offering information on restaurants in Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Levitte says the site's goal is to expand its restaurant coverage to 100 cities.
Cheapism.com to Serve up Local Guides to Cheap Restaurants