Plan a Progressive Dinner Out

Whether you’re looking to shake up your regular date night, you want a unique way to celebrate a special occasion, or you’re trying to wow an out-of-town guest in just one day, consider a progressive dinner out. Typically, when people hear “progressive dinner,” they think of a progressive dinner party, where multiple hosts offer a single dinner course at their homes. But it can be even more fun to apply the same concept to dining out at restaurants — and nobody has to cook or do the dishes!

Depending on the options in your city, there are so many ways to plan a progressive restaurant dinner. If you don’t want to put too much thought into it, keep it simple and just hit your favorite spots, starting with a drink at your favorite bar, followed by the place that makes your favorite appetizer, then your favorite steakhouse for the main course, ending on a sweet note with dessert at your favorite ice cream shop. If it’s a romantic night out, you could pick places that hold a special significance for you and your date. Maybe you want to sample as many cuisines as possible, or try to stick to one. Whatever theme you choose, figure out the logistics ahead of time to ensure a successful evening.

Getting a Table

Some restaurants may not want to seat a group that’s there only for appetizers or dessert, especially if you have a big party on a busy night. But if you call head and explain your plan — and maybe even promise to be in and out in a set amount of time — they may be willing to squeeze you into the dining room. Otherwise, don’t discount the bar area for all of your stops. Lots of nicer restaurants have great bar menus and most will even let you order from the full menu in the lounge. Plus, if you sit at the bar, you won’t have to worry about reservations or getting to any one place at a specific time.


Think about how you’ll get from one place to the next, especially if you’ll be drinking. If your city happens to have a lot of great restaurants in one neighborhood, you’re in luck, as walking from place to place can be the best option. If you must travel by car from one spot to another, consider taking a taxi or rideshare service so you don’t have to worry about parking, and try to at least plan your stops in some sort of geographic order so you’re not wasting your entire night zig-zagging around town in traffic. If you do make reservations, be sure to give yourself a little more time than you think you’ll need between each location in case the kitchen is backed up or you have to wait on your ride.

Paying the Bill

If you have a bigger group, trying to split checks at multiple stops will slow you down and hold you up. And it’s just not fun. Make a plan ahead of time for quick and easy payment at each bar or restaurant. Maybe one person or couple pays for each course? Or if you happen to have a card that gives you rewards or cash back for dining out, like the Savor Card from Capital One, offer to pay at each stop and let everyone settle up after dessert — or maybe the next day.

Next Up

The DO's and DONT's of Dining Out with Young Kids

Contrary to popular belief (and pop culture), not all children run around screaming and causing a scene in restaurants. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect, and the more your kids are given an opportunity to dine out, the better they’ll get at it. Of course, there are some things you can do to help ensure everything goes smoothly (or as close to smooth as possible).
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