Category Archives: Deals

El Torito’s Fiesta Packs Are a Great Deal – or at least were.

Update – My last two experiences at El Torito have been less than stellar.

Since I wrote this post the fiesta/party packs – at least at my local El Torito in San Leandro, California – have both increased in price and decreased in quality. The packs now cost $5 more, and the last couple of times we ordered, they were missing some of the sides, we originally got. I’m not sure if this is because the fiesta packs no longer include them or our El Torito was particularly busy now that California has reopened, and the workers were careless with what they packed in our orders.

The Fajita Pack

The fajitas pack is now $45 and our last order included the beef fajitas (and we felt we got less meat than in previous occasions). Still, it was very tasty. In addition to the meat, we got rice and beans, warm tortillas, guacamole and sour cream and chips and salsa. What we didn’t get was the corn pudding we enjoy so much.

The Tacos Pack

We ordered the taco pack once before and in addition to the stuff shown in the photo (meal, rice and beans, tortillas, chip and salsa and corn pudding) it came with sour cream, pico de gallo, shredded cheese and shredded lettuce. This time, the last four listed items were unavailable. That made for very, very boring tacos.

That said, the beef for tacos is very tasty, flavor wise it’s better than the fajitas. The chicken, which we got the previous time, isn’t as flavorful and it’s a bit dry. They also offer carnitas.

Photo shamelessly stolen from El Torito website

El Torito, a California-based chain of Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex, for that matter) restaurants, is offering a great take out deal during the pandemic. For $30-$40 you can get a tacos, carnitas fajitas or combo (enchiladas, tamales or chile relleno) deals that feed at least four people. Given that an order of steak fajitas for just one person is $21.50, $40 for four times that amount is as good a deal as you are likely to get. Indeed, at $10 per person (or less, depending on how hungry you are), it’s the same or lower cost than the mid-priced meal kits I’ve used so much. For $20 more, you can add a pitcher of margaritas (not my thing).

The fajitas pack comes with large containers of beef strips and onions, Mexican rice, beans (choose between re-fried or de olla), corn pudding, salsa and guacamole, a stack of warm tortillas (your choice of corn or flour) and a huge bag of tortilla chips.

They tell you at what time the food will be ready when you order (or you can specify the time), and it’s very, very quick. El Torito offers delivery (sans alcohol) for something like $3, as well as curbside and in-restaurant pickup. The food is ready when it says it’ll be.

I used to be a huge fan of Chevy’s back in the day. Then it declined, and then the one in San Leandro closed, and then most of them closed. At some point, the remaining ones were bought by the same parent company from El Torito, which carried Chevy’s influence into El Torito’s kitchens.

You can taste this influence in the fajitas pack. The beef marinade now resembles Chevy’s, as does the salsa – while the corn pudding is practically identical to Chevy’s sweet corn tomalito. The chips are still not as thin as Chevy’s, but they’re thinner than other restaurants.

All in all I’ve enjoyed their meals, and I think I will give their other offerings a try later.

Bay Area / San Leandro Restaurant Deals

I’ve written about restaurants deals in San Leandro and the Bay Area before, but new places offering deals have come around, so I thought it was time for an updated posting.  These are the deal sites I’ve found, if you know of others please let me know!

Restaurant.com

Get $25 gift certificates to local restaurants for as little as $2. Minimum purchase (usually $35-$50) required. Other restrictions. Click on link above for details.

Groupon

The original “daily deals” service.  You sign up and you get an offer for a good or service, often at a deep discount. Relatively few restaurant deals but they have the occasional one.

ValPak

These are the coupons you get in the mail. I thought it was the same site as the one above, but they have different offerings. The link goes to the deals for San Leandro, but they have them for all over (just enter your zip code).

Also check the website of the particular restaurant you want to go to. Some (pizza & Chinese joints in particular) will have coupons there or clubs that you can join for special deals.

Local Saver

Pools coupons from the sites above

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

Bay Area Restaurant Reviews

San Leandro Talk

“Buffet of Buffets” deal in Las Vegas

The Buffet of Buffets is a deal offered by Ceasar’s line of hotels which allows you to make as many visits of the participating buffets as you’d like, within 24 hours.  If you want to spend a day doing nothing but eating – and what is Las Vegas about, if not excess – then it’s not a bad deal.  We’ve done it twice and might consider doing it again, but given our last experiences with the quality of the participating buffets (see below), we probably won’t do it again.

How Much Does it Cost?

The Buffet of Buffets is $60 for weekdays and $75 for weekends.  You get $5 off that price with a Total Rewards card.  Children’s prices are the same as adults, but you can get the discounted Total Rewards price if a parent buys it for them.

Weekend prices apply 11 AM Friday to 11 AM Sunday.

Caesar properties often offer deals that include 2 Buffet of Buffet passes with a 2-day reservation.

Buffet of Buffets prices are for food only. They don’t include drinks (unless already included in the buffet price), nor VIP access to the buffet, which allows you to cut in line.

How Much Do you Save?

The Buffet of Buffet can save you money, but with some caveats. The pass costs about as much as a lunch and dinner buffet combined – so to get more than the pass value, you should use it for at least 3 meals – but don’t count on using it for more than that, it’s pretty much impossible to consume more than 3 buffet meals in 24 hours. There are no discount passes for children, so if you have children in your party, you may not save much money at all by using the pass.   To get the best value out of your pass, consider buying it for a late dinner, and using it again for an earlier dinner the following day.  The weekday pass is a better deal than the weekend pass – and the buffet offerings are not that different on weekends.

Also note that you can get 25% off passes for some of these buffets at Tix 4 Dinner (at $3 a head) and occasional discounts at Groupon.

Individual Buffet Prices & Comments (Adult/children & under, substract $1 for Total Rewards members)

Flamingo’s Paradise Garden Buffet: Open for Brunch, 7 AM – 2 PM. Weekday: $22/11 Weekend: $25/11, and weekend dinner, $30
Small buffet with mostly inedible food, but great view of flamingos. Groupon deal often available.  Children price = 4 – 9  yo

Harrah’s Flavors: Weekday Breakfast $21/12, Weekend Breakfast $23/12, Weekday Lunch $23/16, Weekend Brunch $28/16, Weekday Dinner $28/16, Weekend dinner $30/16. Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 10  yo
The dinner buffet has gone downhill and it has mostly overpriced generic food.

Paris’ Le Village Buffet: Weekday Breakfast $22/13, Weekend Breakfast $24/15, Weekday Lunch $25/15, Weekend Brunch $31/16, Weekday Dinner $31/16, Weekend Dinner $31/20. Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 10 yo
Quality has gone down as have flavors. Crepes are still great but long line!

Planet Hollywood’s Spice Market: Breakfast $20/13, Weekday lunch $23/$15, Sa/Su Brunch $28/$20, Dinner $31/$20 – $5 off coupon often available, Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 10 yo
NOTE: the Spice Market had a flood and it’s now only partially open. Prices have also been halved from those above.  It wasn’t great before, I doubt it’s good now.

Rio’s Carnival World Buffet: Weekday breakfast $21/13, Weekend breakfast $24/15, Weekday lunch $23/15, Weekend Brunch $24/15, Weekday Dinner $31/18, Weekend dinner $36/20.  Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 8 yo
Extensive array of mediocre food. Not worth the price.

Available for a supplement:

Caesar’s Palace Bacchanal: Breakfast $26/11, Weekday Lunch $36/14, Weekend Brunch $45/20, Weekday Dinner $51/22, Weekend Dinner $54/22, Buffet of Buffet Supplement: $15/Breakfast, $25/Lunch/Brunch, $30/Dinner. Groupon deal very occasionally available. Children price = 2 – 10 yo

Rio’s Village Seafood Buffet: Dinner only $45/25, Total Rewards members: $36. Buffet of Buffet Supplement: $15. Children price 4-10 yo.

 

Lucky Supermarket’s “Pick 5 for $25” deal.

5/13 Update: Lucky continues running this promotion from time to time, but the quantities of meat you get are lower, so the prices have increased. The ones advertised this week are noted in bold. Do note, that sometimes you find larger packets at the supermarket than those advertised.

I like to do my menu-planning based on the meat that’s on sale at my local supermarkets in a given week.  Not only does that save money, but it gives me a place where to start deciding on recipes.  Lucky’s has been offering a deal that has you buy 5 packages of meat for $25.  You can pick and choose between different offerings marked with the “pick 5” sticker, but you must buy at least 5 packages to get the deal.

I couldn’t find a list of what items were available with this deal, so I decided to go to Lucky’s and look for myself.  I noted the cuts, the maximum weight of the packages available under the deal (and note that some may be over 50% heavier than others) and the original price, so that I could see what were the maximum savings that you could accumulate.   These varied from 13-cents a pound for leg quarters (which you can get for even less at Grocery Outlet) to $4.75lb for boneless New York steak.  I will have to pay more attention to prices, but I don’t think the prices on this sale are lower than on other sales, and you have to buy $25 worth of meat to take advantage of this deal (which, honestly, is not hard unless you are buying chicken).

Lucky says you can pick “from over 60 cuts”, though I only found 21 at the Lucky’s in San Leandro (I can’t imagine I missed more than a couple).   Here is what you can get, at least today, though I don’t think the offerings vary that much.

  • Salmon, packages up to 1.15lbs ($4.35lb), regular price $6lb.  Potential savings up to $1.65 per lb. Now, up to 12 oz, price increase 33%
  • Large shrimp, ~1 lb packages, regular price $9lb, on sale at Safeway for $7lb.  Potential savings up to $2-$4lb.
  • Foster Farms chicken thighs, bone/skin in, packages up to 4.7 lbs (~$1.05lb), regular price $2lb. Potential savings up to 94cents lb.
  • Foster Farms leg quarters, up to 3lbs ($1.66lb), regular price $1.79lb.  Potential savings up to 13c lb.  Note: These are often available at Grocery Outlet for $1.30lb.
  • Foster Farms drumsticks, up to 4 lbs ($1.25lb).  Didn’t note original price.
  • Foster Farm boneless chicken breasts, packages up to 1.7lbs (~$3lb), regular price $5lb.  Potential savings up to $2lb. Now up to 20 oz, price increase 25%
  • Foster Farm boneless/skinless chicken breasts, packages up to 1.5lbs ($3.33lb), regular price $6lb. Potential savings up to $2.66lb
  • Foster farm thin slice chicken breast fillets, up to 1.25lb ($4lb), regular price $6lb. Potential savings up to $2lb
  • Foster Farm ground turkey, 2lbs ($2.50lb) No original price on package.
  • Foster Farm ground turkey breast, 20 oz ($4lb).  No original price on package @ Lucky’s, package on sale at Safeway for $6.  Potential savings $1 on 20 oz.
  • Foster Farm white turkey lunch meat, 2lbs ($2.50lb) No original price on package.
  • Lamb shoulder chops, packages up to 1.17 oz (~$4.25lb), regular price $6lb.  Potential savings up to $1.75lb
  • Laura’s Tri-Tip, packages up to .7lbs ($7.15lb), regular price $8lb. Potential savings up to 75-cents lb. Note: tri-tip steaks at Safeway are on sale for $6lb, for a savings of $2lb over Lucky’s
  • NY Steak, bone in, packages up to .9lbs ($5.50lb), regular price $10lb.  Potential savings up to $4.5lb. Note: NY steaks are often on sale at Safeway for $5lb.
  • NY steak, boneless, up to .8lb ($6.25lb), regular price $11lb.  Potential savings up to $4.75lb.
  • Seasoned boneless NY steak, for carne asada, up to .8lbs ($6.25lb), regular price $11lb.  Potential savings up to $4.75lb
  • Chuck cross rib steak, thin cut, up to 1.5lbs ($3.33lb), regular price $5lb, on sale for $4lb at Safeway.  Potential savings 70c to $1.66lb.
  • Petit sirloin steaks, up to 1.25lbs ($4lb), regular price $5lb, on sale at Lucky’s for $4lb.
  • 85% lean ground beef, up to 1.3 lbs ($3.85lb), regular price $4.29lb.  Potential savings up to 45c lb.  Note: Safeway has 93%lean ground beef for $3lb. Now up to 1.5 lbs, price down
  • Pork loin chops, boneless, up to 1.5lbs ($3.33lb), regular price $6lb.  Potential savings $2.66lb
  • Country style ribs, up to 4 lbs ($1.25lb), regular price $1.88lb.  Potential savings up to 38c lb

Restaurant.com

I’m a big fan of restaurant.com, a website that allows you to buy “gift certificates” for local restaurants at deeply discounted prices. I’ve been using it for years, and so far I haven’t had any bad experiences. But there are some things you need to beware of:

– Price: $25 gift certificates usually cost $10, but some restaurants charge more. Some restaurants also offer $10 gift certificates for $5 and $50 gift certificates for $20. DO NOT PAY THOSE PRICES, however. You usually can find coupon codes for 70%-90% off those prices, so that that $25 gift certificate should cost you only $1-3. To find those codes do a search for restaurant.com codes , or go to couponcabin or retailmenot

– Minimum purchases: it’s usually $35-50 for a $25 gift certificate, and that may not include the price of drinks. For some restaurants you will need 3 people ordering to get to reach those minimums. If you end up ordering more food than you would otherwise to reach the minimum, you may end up spending more than you would in the first place.

– Day/time limitations: Often times you can only use the coupons during weekdays, though some restaurants may have other limitations. For example, The Englander doesn’t accept restaurant.com certificates on Sundays & Mondays. Most restaurants only accept them for dine-in meals, often for dinner only.

– Automatic tip: If you use a coupon, an 18% tip will be added to your pre-tax purchase. That’s less than my usual tip, so I don’t mind, but beware so you don’t end up double-tipping (unless you want to, of course 🙂

– Restaurants no-longer participating: Sometimes restaurants close down and sometimes they stop participating in the program. I’ve had the first happen to me, and restaurant.com gave me credit for another gift certificate. I don’t know what happens in the latter case. For that reason, and also so that you don’t end up buying coupons you don’t end up using (because you forget about them, lose them, etc.), I recommend that you only get the certificate right before you go to the restaurant.

– Limited number of coupons: some popular restaurants (like The Englander) only sell a limited number of gift certificates and sometimes they run out.

– One certificate a month: you’re only allowed to use one gift certificate a month.