Guest Post by Caryn Donohue, Gramercy Correspondent
If you haven’t heard of the City Shuffle Decks, then listen up.Â For only $30 you can purchase $10 gift certificates to 52 pre-selected restaurants in Manhattan. That’s a $520 value for only $30!Â The restaurants are organized by neighborhood and cuisine which is really helpful, and each card includes the address, days/hours of operation, and a short review on best dishes, the ambiance, etc. You have to use the deck by the end of the year, but once you use the cards at three of the restaurants you get your money’s worth…and that’s pretty easy to do in a year. Of course restaurants can close on a dime, so just mail back any cards for closed restaurants and they’ll send you replacements. You can also sign up for their newsletter which includes extra specials such as a free appetizer or dessert at select restaurants for a limited time.
Restaurants on the Manhattan Diner’s Deck include places like Rare, Devi (the only Indian restaurant in NYC with a Michelin Star), Diablo Royale, City Crab, La Giara, Bourbon Street, Prune, Le Pere Pinard and Mexican Radio. You can check out all the restaurants on the site.Â But there’s more…there’s also the Brooklyn & Downtown Diner’s Deck which includes restaurants south of 23rd Street in Manhattan and notable restaurants in Park Slope, Carrol Gardens, Prospect Park, Ft. Green and Williamsburg (there are 14 repeats with the Manhattan Diner’s Deck). In addition, there is a Bar & Lounge Deck with $10 gift certificates to 52 bars, pubs, lounges, dance clubs, and wine bars in Manhattan. You’ll also find repeats with the Bar & Lounge and Manhattan Diner’s Decks, like Pasita (a Wine Bar/Tapas place in the West Village), Bill’s Gay 90s (a classic speakeasy in Midtown with a piano bar) and The Bubble Lounge (a champagne bar in Tribeca), among others.
Now, there is a little catch. With the Diner’s Decks you need to rake up a $30 subtotal on food only (alcohol doesn’t count) in order to qualify for the $10 certificate. With the Bar & Lounge cards, you just need to spend $30 on food and/or alcohol before tax. So to get the best value, go with one or two other people and spend between $30-60 and get $10 knocked off your bill. Generally it translates to a free dessert, appetizer, etc. It’s not the greatest savings in the world, but it’s a good incentive to try new places…and hey, it’s $10 more in your pocket. It’s truly a win-win-win situation: the restaurants want you to use all the cards in your deck so you try it out and hopefully return (this is getting so popular that restaurants are starting to apply to be included in the decks), you get $10 off of 52 meals, and the City Shuffle Deck company makes money too. Plus, you can hand out individual cards as little gifts or to friends who live in neighborhoods that you don’t often frequent, or buy the decks as gifts for others (preferably someone who will thank you for it by taking you out to one of the restaurants/bars).
As I mentioned earlier, the Manhattan Diner’s Deck and the Brooklyn & Downtown Diner’s Deck each cost $30, but the Bar & Lounge Deck only costs $20. You can purchase them online or in stores such as local Costco, Barnes & Nobel at e. 86th, Borders at Kip’s Bay, MoMa Stores on w. 53rd and Spring Street, among others (stores are listed on the site). Sometimes you can get deals if you purchase more than one at a time. For instance, I picked mine up at the Union Square Holiday Gift Fair and got a pretty good deal: buy two Diner’s Decks for $30 each and get the Bar & Lounge Deck for free. So I bought the general Diner’s Decks for two Christmas presents and kept the Bar & Lounge Deck for me, and I honestly don’t leave home without it – you never know when you’ll want to stop in somewhere for a drink or quick bite.