The timing wasn’t perfect when Jacs opened on the near west side in summer 2009.
It was the height of the recession. On top of that, the restaurant’s previous incarnation as Monroe Street Bistro had survived less than a year.
Revamped as Jacs, the restaurant started offering nightly specials that went beyond the usual happy hour drink deals. It’s helped to bring a consistent crowd to the neighborhood restaurant. On Mondays, diners can get a discount on mussels and fries and half-price bottles of wine. Tuesdays, burgers are two-for-one, and Wednesdays feature deals on Wisconsin craft beers and artisan cheeseboards.
“We wanted to be accessible to all different audiences,” said Rebecca Mergen, general manager of Jacs. “We have a lot of high-end things on the menu but we wanted to offer value. It’s a great chance for us to bring in people who might be budget-conscious to just try us out.”
Jacs is unique in that it offers deals seven days a week; many local restaurants offer happy hour deals on weeknights, and still others pick select days or off hours to offer specials.
We set out to find a good meal deal for nearly every day of the week, and while not a comprehensive list, it’s a place to start for those who want to sample great cuisine for a decent price. It’s a good idea to check a restaurant’s website for additional bargains. And, bonus! Some of the deals listed here are offered on more than one day, and are noted as such.
Pizza and a pitcher of beer for $16 at Natt Spil
211 King St., No phone number
http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/host.madison.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/0/ca/4ae/0ca4ae20-607a-11e0-9d62-001cc4c03286-revisions/4d9cae1f67de4.image.jpg" alt="" width="150px" align="left" /> On Monday nights, a 10” wood-fired pizza and a pitcher of beer can be had for just $16 at Natt Spil, a cozy, darkly lit space located just blocks from the Capitol. There are five house pies to choose from — including the spicy Nattspil Sausage, garnished with creamy chevre, tomatoes, red onion and pepperoncini — and a special pizza that changes weekly (on our visit it was a bacon/blue cheese combo). The beer selections are equally stellar, with six available on tap from breweries like Great Dane, Ale Asylum, Bell’s and Lake Louie. One thing to note: The restaurant doesn’t accept credit cards, only cash or local checks.
Buy one, get one free burgers at The Old Fashioned
23 N. Pinckney St., 310-4545
http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/host.madison.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/8/35/40e/83540e36-fd82-11df-b2e3-001cc4c002e0-revisions/4cf6a424689dc.image.jpg" alt="" width="150px" align="left" />Bring a carnivorous friend to share deliciously greasy hamburgers at The Old Fashioned on Mondays, when they come buy one, get one free for $5.95 a la carte. Select toppings — including cheese ($1), bacon, fried egg and braunschweiger ($1.50 each) — and french fries cost extra, but an order of french fries big enough to share is $3.95, which still rounds out to quite a tasty deal. Some of our favorite combinations are an all-blue burger with blue cheese and the lightly horseradish-y tiger blue sauce and a California-style burger with mayo, pepper jack cheese and all of the free veggie toppings available.
Also on Monday: Jacs Dining & Tap House offers half-price bottles of wine and $13 moules frites (reg. $16). At Liliana’s (2951 Triverton Pike, Fitchburg) it’s “Ladies Night,” where two cosmos, two salads and one entree to split are $35.
2-for-1 Jacs Burgers at Jacs Dining & Tap House
2611 Monroe St., 441-5444
http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/host.madison.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/0/9b/fc9/09bfc9ae-607c-11e0-9565-001cc4c03286-revisions/4d9cb172bd360.image.jpg" alt="" width="150px" align="left" />This neighborhood bistro’s $11 Jacs Burger is on the high end as far as burgers go. The meat itself — local, grass-fed beef — merits the slightly higher price, but still might strike some as spendy on any other night (though it normally comes with a side at full price). So stop in on Tuesdays with a friend and share a bargain meal; the burgers are topped with cheddar, Romaine, tomato, caramelized onions and aioli and served on a delicious ciabatta roll.
Taco Night at The Old Fashioned
23 N. Pinckney St., 310-4545
http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/host.madison.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/3/73/c59/373c59ce-607c-11e0-99c9-001cc4c03286-revisions/4d9cb1c226da6.image.jpg" alt="" width="150px" align="left" />At $1.50 each, tacos at The Old Fashioned are one of the tastiest deals in the entire city. There are three types to choose from, but The Old Fashioned’s take on fish tacos is the true star, pairing lightly fried tilapia with cabbage, radish and the sweet-and-smoky house Spanish paprika sauce. The roasted chicken taco is a close second, pairing the tender meat with a perfectly tangy roja sauce.
Also on Tuesday: Both locations of Pasqual’s (1851 Monroe St. and at Hilldale) offer half-price margaritas (Mondays, too), a favorite local deal. Graze has a wine and cheese special; order a carafe of the house red or white along with a cheese board, and both are half off.
Half-price oysters at Sardine
617 Williamson St., 441-1600
Fat, juicy East Coast mollusks cost $15 for a dozen during the “oyster happy hour” at Sardine, the airy bistro on Lake Monona. Stella Artois on tap or a glass of good house wine — recently, a 2010 gruner veltliner and a Provencal blend of grenache, carignane, cabernet sauvignon and syrah — costs just $3. For oysters, try the minerally, light Rappahannocks from Chesapeake Bay with a squeeze of lemon and briney Wellfleets with tart mignonette. The deal is available Monday through Thursday, 4-6 p.m.
Also on Wednesday: From 2:30-5 p.m. and 9-11 p.m., Graze offers a “shells and shots” deal — order a half-dozen oysters and get two free shots of house-infused vodka; order a dozen oysters and get four free shots. At Francesca’s al Lago (111 Martin Luther King. Jr. Blvd.), diners can get $10 off all bottles of wine. Joey’s Seafood & Grill (6604 Mineral Point Road) has two-for-one fish (haddock or cod) and chips and $3 pints.
Half off popcorn, soft pretzel and a featured Wisconsin beer at Graze
1 S. Pinckney St., 251-2700
From 2:30-5 p.m. and 9-11 p.m., a big basket of Graze’s delectable popcorn lightly topped with SarVecchio cheese and black truffle oil is $2. Also offered for the same price is a sizable soft pretzel served with three mustards and a cheese spread. The bready pretzel, with just a hint of sea salt, is the perfect palette for the horseradish Dijon (creamy with a kick), whole grain cognac and honey tarragon mustards, the last of which we could eat with a spoon. The Widmer’s Brick cheese spread is delicious and not overly pungent as is the cheese’s reputation. Order it with a half-price Wisconsin brew for a great start (or end) to an evening out.
Also on Thursday: Francesca’s al Lago has $5 Absolut cocktails, $3 taps and half-price appetizers from 3-6 p.m. (Monday through Friday); the $3 tap deal continues all evening on Thursdays.
Half-price appetizers at Bella Vita Italian Grille
420 Gammon Place, 836-5866
Bella Vita Italian Grille, a spacious, locally owned joint tucked among the chain restaurants surrounding West Towne Mall, offers half-price appetizers every Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. Options include a good-sized portion of crispy calamari, deep fried and served with a pair of sauces, and bruschetta slathered in diced tomatoes and melted mozzarella cheese. In addition, all draft beers — including a pair of brews from Wisconsin standby New Glarus — and glasses of wine are $1 off during happy hour.
Half-price appetizers and drinks at Continental Fitchburg
2784 S. Fish Hatchery Road, 661-4161
http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/host.madison.com/content/tncms/assets/editorial/6/b4/3ad/6b43add0-607c-11e0-8899-001cc4c03286-revisions/4d9cb2179b331.image.jpg" alt="" width="150px" align="left" />The zinc-topped bar at the Continental Fitchburg is like a beacon for elegant dining in a casual atmosphere. The restaurant’s app menu is loaded with great options; the goat cheese and pesto pizza is both delicious and filling, and pairs nicely with the Black and Bleu Bruschetta, which features slices of tenderloin on crostini toast with Gorgonzola butter. For drinks, we went with two mugs of the summery King’s Punch, mixing framboise, Southern Comfort and pineapple juice, and capped the meal with a mountain of crisp sweet potato chips and bearnaise dipping sauce. All that for around $12 per person. The deal is offered 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Finally, end (or begin) your week with a family meal at any of the following restaurants, all of which offer a “kids eat free” meal on Sunday nights: Francesca’s al Lago, Liliana’s and Joey’s Seafood & Grill.