On a budget? Let’s face it, we’ve all been there… and many of us still are. Whether you’re a student paying your way through school, an entry level professional learning the self-sustained ropes, or a parent of three looking to sneak away for a date night – the money we have to spend on a dinner out may not always match our appetites. That’s why my Partner-In-Dine and I have made a vow to find ways get the very best meals we can in Pittsburgh without breaking the bank.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 4pm-2am, Sunday closed
With a strict budget of $40, we ventured to the South Side for a tapas treat at Ibiza Tapas and Wine Bar (cue record scratch of disbelief). It was a bold move for a budget meal, but we were on a mission.
The dining room was narrow, but elegant – typical of Pittsburgh’s main street restaurants. The large window in the front of the space worked well with the hanging lanterns and table candles to keep the dining room from being too dimly lit – but it certainly did its job to get our tummies growling.
Though Ibiza is a tapas and wine bar, we practiced restraint and kept from ordering wine. Alcohol tends to rack up the bill and we were determined to not let that happen.
We started with the Chorizo – or Spanish sausage – the second to least expensive tapas on the menu. The sausage was cooked with a hint of a crisp and gobs of Spanish flavors. Though we chose a slightly less expensive starter we didn’t feel as though we were settling at all. It was absolutely delicious.
After reviewing the menu, I was surprisingly attracted to the lowest price entrée, the Pork Chop with Spinach & Goat Cheese. PID went with gut decision, the New York Strip Steak with melted maitre d’hotel butter (which is fancy talk for butter, parsley, lemon juice and pepper).
Let me start by saying we thought this budget dinner was going to be a challenge. We’d eaten at Tapas restaurants in the ‘burgh before and paid an awful lot of money for an awfully unsatisfying amount of food. Not this time.
When our entrees arrived, our mouths dropped for all the right reasons. PID’s steak was absolutely enormous and I was beyond thrilled when two hearty chops were placed in front of me, covered with sautéed spinach, goat cheese and (wait for it…) cranberries!
We exchanged few words during the consumption of this meal mostly because we were enjoying it so much. One look from him after a juicy bite of steak and I knew he loved it – as well he should since his steak was cooked to perfection. Pork, in my mind, can be fickle. It’s one of the tastiest meats if it’s properly prepared and at Ibiza, paired with the saltiness of the spinach and sweetness of the goat cheese and cranberries, it was remarkable. It did not taste worthy of being the least expensive entrée on the menu. In fact, I thought I deserved to pay a lot more (not that I wanted to).
At the end of our meal, we decided against dessert. Not only to save money, but because we were already so satisfied. We presented our server with a $25 certificate that we had purchased at Restaurant.com for only $3. We thought we did pretty well!
|Entrée:||New York Strip Steak, $22|
|Entrée:||Pork Chops, $15|
|Tip:||$10 (Always tip on the total, prior to discount|
Ibiza blew us away. Not only did we have one of the most delicious and satisfying meals in months, but we managed to do it well within budget. The dining room and outdoor patio were beautiful and we look forward to dining there again (maybe trying the wine next time…)!
After this experience, we’ve discovered there are 3 main steps to fine dining on a dime in Pittsburgh:
Utilize the resources to purchase restaurant coupons. Don’t just think about the obvious like Groupon. There are many local options as well like CBS Local Offers and more. Be sure to sign up for the e-mail alerts and downloading the Apps. With resources like these at your fingertips, you should never pay full price for a meal again!
Avoid the alcohol. At fine restaurants, cocktails and wine tend to be far over priced and often take your final bill to an unexpected level. Instead, look for BYOB or head out to a bar with specials after dinner.
Remember that less expensive does not always mean less satisfying. Some of the most delicious menu items are those with the lowest price tags. I experienced this tonight and will never forget it.
Blake is the opinionated foodaholic behind the Taste of Pittsburgh restaurant review blog. As a Steel City transplant originally from Chocolatetown, USA, she’s on an adventure to find the best-kept culinary secrets of the city and revel in every bite.