Remember the good old days when gas cost less than a dollar and the mall still had Woolworth?

I'm talking about the 80's, folks. It was decade of decadence, incredible music and movies, and going out to eat for less than $100.

You might be saying, "Wait, Chris. There is no way going out to eat was that cheap." Well, actually it was, and I have evidence to prove it.

The Portland Public Library's archives are loaded with old menus from the 80's. It's a tremendous archive of restaurants that are long gone, like Hu Shang and Carburs to establishments still going like The Great Lost Bear and Dimillo's.

With this wonderful list, I decided to put together a few of my own menus. I wanted to see how much it would cost to eat out in Portland in 1982. I can't say I remember much, since I was 2, so this was a fun little project. If you think you spend a lot now, wait and see how much it's changed in 40 years.

First Menu

Breakfast - The Good Egg

Portland Public Library
Portland Public Library - 1982
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Such a great menu. It's like it was written yesterday, but with 1982 prices. Also, when's the last time you saw Sanka on the menu? Lets have breakfast

Coffee               $0.50
3 Egg Omelet   $3.50
Juice                 $ .70

Total Breakfast - $4.70

Not a bad little breakfast. You get eggs, toast, juice, and coffee for under $5.00. A great start to the day.

Lunch - The Great Lost Bear

Portland Public Library
Portland Public Library - 1982
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Cheeseburger   $3.85
Cookie Pie        $2.25
Ice Tea              $0.85

Total Lunch - $6.95

Could you imagine paying less than $4 for a restaurant cheeseburger? Now these puppies go for over $20 in some joints. Also, I didn't add a beer, because I couldn't find the prices. Sorry.

Dinner - Dimillo's

Portland Public Library - 1982
Portland Public Library - 1982
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Lobster Dinner   $10.95
Shrimp Cocktail  $3.95
Cheesecake       $2.25
Wine                   $4.95

Dinner Total - $21.10

It's a dinner splurge. Lobster dinner, shrimp cocktail, even a little cheesecake to finish it off. Even a little wine to wash it all down.

First Menu Total - $32.75   

Three square meals, and we still keep it under $35. Let's see if we can change that for our next example. I want to spend some dollars.

Second Menu

Breakfast - Charley & Mark on the Square

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French Toast, Bacon, Coffee & Juice    $2.50

Breakfast Total - $2.50

We have found the greatest deal from 1982. A stack French Toast with all the amenities for less than $3.00. Where is my time machine?

Lunch - Carbur's

Portland Public Library - 1982
Portland Public Library - 1982
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WBLM Blimp                $4.10
Strawberry Shortcake  $1.50
Mai Tai (2)                    $5.50

Lunch Total - $11.10

I had to splurge for the WBLM Blimp sandwich for, well, obvious reasons. Also, a few Mai Tai's at lunch raises the price a bit. Worth it, though.

Dinner - Hu Shang

Portland Public Library - 1982
Portland Public Library - 1982
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Steamed Dumplings   $2.25
Crispy RIce Soup       $3.95
Young Chow Chicken $6.50
Vegetable Fried Rice  $3.25
Zombie (2)                  $6.50

Dinner Total -  $22.45

A wonderful feast at the Goatiest of all GOAT restaurants. Even with all this food and drink, the price still stays low.

Second Menu Total - $36.05

Even with alcohol, the price still stay under $40 for the entire day. Obviously the $2.50 breakfast was a big help. Let's do one more and try to go all out.

Third Menu

BreakfastDiPhilippo's Ye Olde Pancake Shoppe

Portland Public Library - 1982
Portland Public Library - 1982
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Lumberjack Special      $4.75
Coffee                           $0.35

Breakfast Total - $5.10

It was a struggle, but I have gotten us over $5.00 for breakfast. Not a bad start to Splurge Day.

Lunch - Village Café

Portland Public Library - 1982
Portland Public Library - 1982
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Large Western Sirloin     $9.75
Bowl of Minestrone         $1.20
Iced Tea                          $0.45

Lunch Total - $10.40

I couldn't even find a steak for over $10. However, at least the minestrone helps us spend so cash. Also, I miss this place.

Dinner - Thirty-Four Exchange

Portland Public Library - 1982
Portland Public Library - 1982
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Beef Wellington    $13.95
Escargot               $3.95
House Salad         $1.50
Wine                     $10.00

Dinner Total - $29.40

I tried my best. I found a higher end menu, got the most expensive thing and still kept it under $30. This is impossible.

Third Menu Total - $44.90

Well, I got close to $50, but it's clearly difficult to try and pull off. Clearly this was a difficult challenge. However, I did expect to spend a little more than I did. We are talking about three meals out in a day for under $50 dollars. That's quite a feat. I guess 1982 was a lifetime ago.

What a difference 40 years makes, right?

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