The Reason You Should Avoid Ordering Daily Specials At A Diner

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diner interior - Georgeclerk/Getty Images
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When you sit down at your local diner, you've likely noticed the paper printout of its daily specials or had your server list off what they are that day when they first come to greet you. They're typically portrayed as a way for you to save money on a premium plate or as a way to let the cooks flex their culinary muscles. Because of the way human psychology works, having something presented to us as special means we are more likely to order it than if we had simply seen the dish listed amongst other similar offerings. But there are good reasons to pass over daily specials even if they do sound good.

Daily specials are not really about giving you as the customer a better experience or more variety on the menu. Typically, daily specials are about getting rid of ingredients in the kitchen that are starting to go bad. Before you get too upset, restaurants probably aren't serving you rotten food and just because a diner offers daily specials doesn't make it a bad restaurant. That said, whatever price discount is being offered with the daily special (if there's a discount at all) is not coming from the chef's generosity. Daily specials are a self-serving practice that allows restaurants to push out menu options that are not selling as well as they need to be in order to keep up with the pile of ingredients beginning to stack up.

Read more: Restaurant Foods That Always Taste Better Than What You Make At Home

Not So Special

diner with coffee
diner with coffee - Georgeclerk/Getty Images

In practice, this means that when you order a daily special, you are likely ordering a subpar recipe cooked with subpar ingredients. This is especially true if you see that the daily special is already listed on the regular menu. When we think of the best restaurant dishes we've had in recent years, none of them are going to be offered as daily specials because customers are purchasing those ingredients often enough to keep up with the inventory. That said, we're speaking very generally here and exceptions will exist.

The practice of daily specials isn't all bad, though. The Steelman argument for daily specials is actually quite persuasive. For one, it reduces food waste. If the head chef notices that they overbought a few items and business has been slow the past few days, listing something as a daily special means they are more likely to sell those ingredients before they spoil. If you know that the restaurant makes good food, you're perfectly safe ordering the daily special so long as you keep in mind that you're probably not getting produce that's fresh off the truck. It's a good way to support a restaurant you love while enjoying something delicious. Still, if you're trying to impress your date, maybe don't order them the daily special because the dish is the restaurant equivalent of scraping the bottom of the barrel. There are plenty of avoidable mistakes we make at restaurants, this doesn't need to be one of them.

Read the original article on Tasting Table