Restaurants Have Gotten Really Expensive. Boston Diners Share How They Are Adapting.

Restaurants Have Gotten Really Expensive. Boston Diners Share How They Are Adapting.

It’s no secret that eating out has become more expensive; Not just in Boston, but across the country, thanks to the explosion in costs during the pandemic for just about everything needed to run a restaurant. In a recent weekend newsletter, Eater asked its readers how, if so, whether the rising cost of eating out has affected the restaurant-going habits of people around Boston. Many readers wrote back to tell us how they’d adapted to the new normal, from ordering less alcohol to avoiding fine-dining restaurants to eating out less overall.

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I ate out less! But lately I’ve noticed that even the little pick-me-ups have been costing me more. For example, on coffee shop runs – last Friday I treated myself to a matcha latte and an apple danish at Blue Bottle in Newbury, and my bill came to about $14 before the tip – it wasn’t even a hot sandwich ! — Valerie Li Stack

I don’t think it really impacts how my wife and I eat out or where we necessarily go. While prices have increased in some cases, we are lucky in and around Davis Square to have about 5 to 10 places where we can get a full dinner (with tip) for less than $36. When we go out for a nice dinner, we almost always budget around $200-$250 (with tip) for these expensive restaurants. Also, we only go out for 2-3 meals a week (including lunch, happy hour, etc.). So when we go out, we usually don’t hold back, regardless of the price…we get what we want or what looks best to us. – Greg Wehn

Last week I was talking to my best friend, who will be in town next week, about how expensive food has become in Boston. Not only have I stopped ordering cocktails/alcohol at dinner (when I do, I extend it to the entire meal or try to split a bottle if I’m in a group of three or more), but I Also try to only eat out a maximum per week. Breakfast is always at home and lunch too, if I can help. I’m certainly not a cheap person, but brunch for two at Beehive yesterday was about $58 per person and there was nothing with meat in it!

Even grocery shopping at my beloved Market Basket is so high that I have no choice but to eat more at home. I miss the atmosphere of restaurants! — Mariana Zapata

Prices have certainly impacted our restaurant behavior. We choose cheaper options over good food, mostly in restaurants that serve something we can’t prepare better at home: Indian buffet, Nepalese momos, banh mi, etc.

A big problem is the variety of service fees that are added to the bills of the more expensive restaurants. It’s unclear who exactly these charges go to and whether we still have to tip. Having worked in restaurants, I want the staff to be paid well and fairly. However, it annoys me when a 20 percent service charge is added and then they say that you don’t have to tip extra but that you would appreciate it (which happened recently). So if you don’t, you’ll feel like an idiot and end the evening feeling uncomfortable rather than basking in the glory of a fantastic meal.

The industry needs to find a better way to manage pay for its employees. I believe the solution is to take tipping out of the equation. Good food should be expensive – that’s the point. And the people who can afford it should be willing to pay more to ensure staff earn a living wage. — Joanna Lazarek

My friends and I have been talking for a while about how expensive restaurants in Boston have become. Prices are high everywhere, but especially in the Seaport District. Insanely expensive! It’s definitely stopped us from going out as much as we used to. – Katherine

The cost of eating out certainly influences how much I eat out (and even order out). My husband and I cooked almost every meal at home. When we eat out now, it’s basically only on special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries, parents are in town, etc.

To be honest, we’re also less inclined to try new places. I go back to the same restaurants where I know I won’t be disappointed. The risk is no longer worth it. I also avoid “small plates” restaurants. They were always expensive at first, and now I feel like $150 for two people still makes me hungry and I’ve blown my budget for a meal.

I have reduced my alcohol consumption and, like you, try to have one drink for the whole dinner. And no dessert (or perhaps ice cream elsewhere).

It’s a real shame that eating out has come to this point. I used to love it, but now I often feel dissatisfied on many levels. —Lauren Porazzo

We eat out at pretty expensive places, but not nearly as often as we used to. We probably go out to nice restaurants twice a month instead of every weekend! Our regular guests include Giulia, Oleana, Myers and Chang and Mida. – Anonymous

Before the pandemic, we ate weekly at our favorite neighborhood sushi place, and the bill came to around $60 for two of us, including drinks. Now the same meal costs over $100 and we go there much less often. We haven’t eaten well at all since before the pandemic, but I looked at the menus and the prices are shocking. –David Watson