There are a lot of great restaurants in Seattle, but trying all of them can be very expensive. As a rule, eating out for lunch at a restaurant instead of dinner will get you the same quality and flavors at a lower price. Lunch menus tend to be slightly smaller and some specials may not be available, but going out to lunch instead of dinner is an easy way to save some cash.
If you miss lunch, you'll be thankful that Seattle is also a very happy hour friendly city. Many restaurants have a happy hour menu between 4pm and 6pm that offer sizable discounts on food and drink. Some restaurants may start these as early as 2pm and go as late as 7pm. Check the website of the restaurant you are interested for details, or browse through an incompletely (but sizable) list of happy hours provided by the Seattle Weekly for 2012. Some places may offer only drink or food specials, or may offer both.
If you are traveling with kids, a very few restaurants offer a kids dine free or cheap option but these places are rare, generic, and usually found in the suburbs. Kid menus can be found, especially in the more casual restaurants, and these are decent deals for the people in your party with smaller apetites.
Coupons, Discounts, and Deals
Entertainment BookVisit their website
The coupon book that started it all is still kicking around does offer some good values. The idea is simple: You buy a book full of coupons, and hope that you'll be able to use enough coupons to break even and start saving money. If you are living in Seattle and like to eat out, you can easily get your money's worth. If you are a visitor, it can work in your favor if you plan on visiting places where they offer two for one coupons for expensive admission and you buy the book in the Goldilocks period between when they heavily discount this year's book to sell more of them and the end of the entertainment book year. Some of the coupons are also offered through the free mobile apps listed above, while a couple are unique. The sheer number of coupons is somewhat overwhelming and while there are a bunch of good to great coupons, there are also many businesses that are not worth visiting. Time and research is required to use this book as a visitor.
There's also a rather clunky app for your smart phone.
Seattle CityPassVisit their website
A combination ticket for six of the most popular tourist attractions. It is the ultimate tourist ticket and with it you gain access to the Space Needle, the Seattle Aquarium, the Argosy Harbor Cruise, the Pacific Science Center, the EMP Museum, and your choice of either the Museum of Flight or Woodland Park Zoo. If you do all of those sights, you end up saving about $50 per adult and $35 per child.
Groupon/LivingSocialVisit Groupon's Website
Visit LivingSocial's Website
Both Groupon and Living Social share the core business model that you make your purchase ahead of time and then get a discount. Businesses are betting on you not using your coupons ("Breakage") in order to make this profitiable for them. The deals and coupons change frequently, but it is worth checking out and doing research into what is being offered. Some of the coupons are a good deal overall.
Restaurants.comVisit their website
Restaurants.com also offers up similar buy-first discounts, but comes with greater restrictions when compared with Groupon or LivingSocial. Each restaurant has either a minimum amount you must spend to use the coupon or a mandatory 18% tip on the pre-discount bill. Other places apply the discount to food only or exclude happy hour and their busiest times. To use these coupons successfully, you have to read all the fine print and research the restaurants before hand. Some, like Moshi Moshi Sushi and That's Amore Italian Cafe are decent places to eat, but there are other restaurants like China First that are downright bad. In general, these coupons tend to benefit locals looking for a decent meal out, as opposed to a visitor looking for a fantastic dining experience (Although, sometimes one of those fantastic dining experiences do pop up).