The Dollar-Wise Gourmet: Happy Birthday


Every February when my birthday rolls around, I head to Frank Fat’s with The Boyfriend. There, we curl up in a booth, drink martinis, and eat pot stickers, honey walnut prawns and Mongolian beef. We love Fat’s, but that’s not the only reason we do the annual L Street shuffle.
     What really sucks us in is that Fat’s offers a free slice of its famous banana cream pie on your birthday. Now that’s one sweet deal. This got me to thinking: What other birthday dining deals are out there? Here’s what I found:

The Melting Pot
814 15th St., Sacramento
Sign up online ( and a dessert fondue—white and dark chocolate and assorted “dippers” including strawberries, bananas, brownie bites and cheesecake chunks—is complimentary on your birthday. You’ll need to buy a few entrées first, though.

The Firehouse Restaurant

1112 Second St., Old Sacramento
Confronting the Big 5-0? Bless The Firehouse: In honor of the restaurant’s 50th anniversary, you get 50 percent off any entrée if you visit within three days of your 50th birthday.

Paragary Restaurant Group

multiple locations
Sign up at for the iEat Loyalty Program and get a coupon for one complimentary birthday entrée (up to $20) at any of PRG’s dinner houses: Spataro, Centro Cocina Mexicana, Cosmo Cafe, Esquire Grill and, of course, the original Paragary’s.

Buggy Whip Restaurant
2737 Fulton Ave., Sacramento
The old warhorse offers a twofer: Go to the restaurant, fill out a card with your name, address and birthday, and they’ll mail you a card good for a free entrée (up to $20). Insider tip: For the asking, you’ll also get a free ice cream sundae (but be ready to endure the birthday serenade).

El Torito
multiple locations
Get your favorite entrée for free at birthday time by joining El Torito’s “Bull Ring” e-mail club at

Caffe Italia
1121 Richards Blvd., Davis
This family-run restaurant offers a “Royalty Rewards” program with a bunch of deals, including $5 off all food and drink on your birthday (and also at the half-year mark). Even more enticing: the free Elmer’s Sundae: vanilla ice cream with a chocolate-pecan hard-shell topping from Elmer Chocolate of New Orleans.