The key to eating well, A. J. Liebling once wrote, is to have "just enough money." For a budding gourmet, wealth is as much a liability as poverty. If you can afford lobster every night, you might never discover steamed pork buns.
Seventy-five dollars a day is just enough money. It's a small enough sum to make you consider your options carefully, but generous enough to permit a couple of splurges, and even some real luxury. We asked writers in three centers of serious spending--Dallas, Palm Beach and Beverly Hills--to go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner without spending more than $75, including tax and tip. And no cheating: street-corner hot dog stands and taco trucks, no matter how extraordinary they might be, were out. We wanted three meals that seemed more expensive than they really were. Not one of the three writers complained about the modest expense account. Instead, they dug up amazing deals at some of the nicest restaurants in town. Our man in Texas even managed to treat himself to foie gras and Kobe beef without going over budget. Yes, you can easily get by on less, and it's certainly possible to spend more.But if it's top value you're after, $75 a day is perfect.