Do you know the only thing that tastes better than your mother’s cooking? Free food. Depending on how much free food it is, it could even taste better. I don’t know what it is about free food that gets the average Nigerian going. All courteousness goes flying out the window at a party when leftovers are offered. And the theme of the party suddenly changes to ‘survival of the fittest’.

The way you feel about a restaurant can go from ‘you’ll have to bind and gag me to get me to come here again’, to ‘ok I’ll give this place a second try’ when the manager declares your starters on the house. But what if you could always ensure that each time you walked into a restaurant you got a free starter, or desert or, wait for it…the entire meal free. *gasp*.

For the true chopist at heart, here’s a useful guide to help you get free food at your favourite restaurant when you hit your monthly spend quota. And no, none of it involves dining and dashing. We like to keep it classy over here.

The good old birthday trick

Recommended for a free dessert.

Do you know what works like a charm every time? The good old birthday trick. You and a group of two or three friends walk into a restaurant and order some food. In the middle of your main course, your friends start to sing the birthday song. Not loud enough to be a nuisance, but loud enough to get the attention of the waiters and the manager. For maximum effect, I’d recommend you also whip out party hats. Unfortunately, it’s only good for dessert for one in most cases. So you and your friends should take alternating turns and never go back to the same place twice in six months.

Congratulations you are engaged

Recommended for free booze.

The most efficient way to get glasses of champagne or wine on the house is to fake an engagement. I think it goes without saying that this only works for two people of the opposite sex, because well Nigeria is just not there yet, and no one is going to aww your LGBT engagement. If you do find yourself in a more progressive space, a same-sex engagement will work like a charm.

The guy gets on one knee and professes loudly ‘(insert name), love of my life, will you marry me’. And watch the restaurant’s crowd go wild. Phones will be whipped out, random strangers will work up to you to congratulate you. and the manager will have no choice but to indulge you, even if it’s for the crowd’s benefit. If it’s a decent place you could even get a whole bottle free.

It’s a celebration of life

Recommended for free starters or if the owner has a heart, the entire meal.

You and a friend or two walk into a restaurant dressed head to toe in black. You all look distraught, and every time the waiter tries to take your orders, someone burst into an uncontrollable fit of tears. No actual tears have to come out, you only have to make hacking noises into your hands or on the shoulder of one of your friends. Take a cue from Patience Ozokwor when she has just been caught poisoning yet another husband.

Eventually, a manager comes by your table and as one of you continues the theatrics, the other explains you’ve all just come in from the funeral of a loved one. Now I know you might think this is extreme, but you won’t think so when the manager declares your entire meal on the house.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Recommended for an entire free meal.

Is there a swanky new restaurant you’ve been dying to try. Or a particular meal that’s just a little out of your budget, like let’s say the 90k gold plated steak at Circa? Faking a medical emergency is one way to try it out for free. Rolling your eyes back and slumping out of your chair, while your friend calls for help should do the trick. If you are organized you should have a getaway car ready to whisk you to the nearest hospital immediately, as you conveniently forget to settle your bill. Of course, I can’t guarantee you that someone from the restaurant won’t be sent to tail you to the supposed hospital. But I think it’s worth a shot.

I think my water just broke

Recommended for an entire free meal.

If you are tired of waiting for your summer body to come back from war and want to put your stomach gut to work, this is for you. I know you were offended when that security guard assumed you were pregnant just after you had two plates of Jollof, but for this trick that’s actually a good thing. You already have the gut, so there’s no need to buy a costume, which by the way is just plain distasteful. All you need to do as you walk into the restaurant is fake a waddle. You could lay the groundwork as you order your food by making a special request because you are pregnant. Like asking the waiter for ice chips. So now at least one person knows you are pregnant. When you are almost done with your meal, -it’s important for you not to finish it- pour a glass of water on the floor when no one is looking and say your water just broke.

Excuse me, there’s hair in my soup

Recommended for a free main.

This is another classic. Of course, you don’t have to find actual hair in your food, or be distasteful and put some of yours in it. You just have to make enough noise about it to make the waiter believe there really is something there. This works great for when you buy a meal you realize you don’t like or when you are halfway through the meal and you realize you really won’t mind a second plate. Depending on how dramatic you are, one of two things always happens. It’s either you are given a fresh new plate even though you almost cleaned out the first plate and charged for the price of one. Or you are given a fresh new plate and not charged at all.

Disclaimer: Use this guide at your own risk. Neither I nor Zikoko can be held liable for any damages that might ensue.



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.