Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Things Your Waiter Doesn't Want You to Know

The Biggest Bargains Aren't Where You Think

To make the most of dining out, smart diners learn the art of reading a menu. Menus often start with a higher priced item. Why? When the first item that you see is a $35 surf-and-turf, your expectations about the amount you need to pay for dinner increase. Suddenly, the $22 trout amandine doesn't seem all that unreasonable.

Sometimes the items that are the most profitable for the restaurant are listed first or starred as a "house specialty" to catch your eye. The items with the highest serving costs and lower profit margins are buried in the middle. Savvy pricing creates the illusion of a value: a chicken dish priced at $15 may look like a bargain compared to the $25 prime rib, but the profit margins are actually much higher on the chicken pasta than the pricier beef, since the chicken used to make the pasta dish is a lot less expensive.

So, some of the best deals are actually the most expensive dishes on the menu, when it costs the restaurant more of the menu price to prepare it.