CHEAP RESTAURANTS IN EVERY STATE
Tourists and locals alike are always looking for a cheap and delicious bite. To that end, Cheapism.com compiled this list of inexpensive and well-reviewed restaurants in all 50 states. The restaurants were chosen after comparing reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Zomato, as well as guides and accolades from local newspapers and regional magazines. This is a mix of time-tested institutions and newer up-and-comers. Each offers up a mouth-watering meal option for $10 or less before tax and tip.
ALASKA | ARCTIC ROADRUNNER
With two locations, Arctic Roadrunner is an Anchorage institution, and most reviewers agree the halibut burger ($8.95) is top-notch. The Old Seward Highway location has a fireplace to keep diners warm, and the walls are covered with photos of people who have helped make Alaska a place unlike anywhere else.
ARIZONA | LA SANTISIMA GOURMET TACO SHOP
The Baja Sur dogfish shark taco ($4.50) at La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop in Phoenix (there's a second location in Glendale) is a mouthful to say but don't hesitate to order it. A reviewer on Yelp writes, "The special shark taco was unreal." The taco shop features eight or more kinds of salsa daily, from pecan to strawberry as well as the usual suspects.
ARKANSAS | WHOLE HOG CAFE
City: Little Rock
Known for its sauces, including a special volcano sauce for spice lovers, the Whole Hog Cafe has some of the top-ranked barbecue and four locations in Little Rock. Pulled-pork plates start at just $8.49 at some locations and come with two sides and a dinner roll. One reviewer on Yelp writes, "The sauces made this place fun for us. Each bite could be re-invented with the sauce."
COLORADO | PHO 95
The Mile High City's growing Vietnamese population has spiced up the local restaurant scene. Pho 95 is a leading purveyor of pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup. The dish has drawn accolades review sites for its large bowls of brisket, seafood, chicken, and veggie soups, which start at $8.95.
CONNECTICUT | LOUIS' LUNCH
City: New Haven
Known as the birthplace of the hamburger, Louis' Lunch (established in 1895) is famous for burgers served on toast. There is often a line, but everything on the short menu -- hamburger, cheeseburger, potato salad, homemade pie, and drinks -- is well within budget.
DELAWARE | THE DOG HOUSE
City: New Castle
The Dog House is a bare-bones greasy spoon that boasts $3.50 hamburgers, $3.70 cheeseburgers, and pizzas under $10. It's not fancy, but it is dependable American comfort food. Bring cash, because credit cards are not accepted.
FLORIDA | BARRACUDA DELI CAFE
City: St. Pete Beach
The Barracuda Deli Cafe wins over patrons with flavor-packed Cuban sandwiches and salads starting at $8.25. Dubbed a "hidden gem" by a reviewer on Yelp, it is a family-run shop where the owners are often the ones cooking and serving the food.
GEORGIA | GUSTO WOOD FIRE GRILL
The Gusto Wood Fire Grill was founded by Nate Hybl, a former NFL quarterback. His restaurant offers a make-it-yourself menu with options for mixed greens, brown rice, or flatbread topped with a protein (starting at $9.45), plus a "gusto" consisting of veggies and fruit, a sauce, and garnish. One reviewer recommends following the restaurant on social media to learn about specials and buy-one-get-one deals.
HAWAII | MARUKAME UDON
Do not be intimidated by the long lines at this wildly popular Japanese noodle restaurant. Marukame Udon in Waikiki gets an average 4.5 stars on Yelp from more than 4,000 reviewers, and most say it is well worth the wait. Large bowls of udon soup start at less than $5.
IDAHO | BUFFALO CAFE
City: Twin Falls
A hole-in-the-wall diner in southern Idaho, Buffalo Cafe is popular with both tourists and locals. Customers on Yelp describe the ambience as "divey" but say this breakfast-and-lunch spot is always busy, the staff is hardworking and friendly, and the food is excellent. Be sure to try the homemade jams that come with the toast and biscuits.
ILLINOIS | BRANKO'S SANDWICH SHOP
Yelp reviewers praise Branko's Sandwich Shop for great food and even better service. Customers like the tiny shop's "family feel," and DePaul University students who forget their wallets say the cash-only establishment has let them pay the next time they drop in. Most sandwiches are under $8.
INDIANA | YATS
Yats is friendly, cheap, and fast. Popular items at the New Orleans-style restaurant chain include gumbo and cheese etouffee, a spicy stew served with vegetables and seafood. The owners do not take credit cards, but several customers say they have been allowed to leave an IOU and pay later. Prices for individual dishes are $7.75 and $8.75.
IOWA | LA MIE
City: Des Moines
La Mie sserves up traditional breakfasts for under $8, sandwiches for lunch (also under $8), and much-praised pastries. The establishment is a perennial winner of the local newspaper's award for best local bakery.
KANSAS | EGGTC.
City: Kansas City
Eggtc. has won many "best of" awards. Customers like the casual atmosphere, good coffee, and large breakfasts. One customer who gave Eggtc. 5 stars on TripAdvisor says the "combination of quality and value at Eggtc. has yet to be surpassed."
KENTUCKY | MOONLITE BAR-B-Q
Southern Living magazine has hailed the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn as the torchbearer of Kentucky burgoo stew, which combines smoked mutton, beef, and chicken in a vegetable base. Bowls of burgoo are just $5. Dinner plates of barbecued meats start at $9.55, and most sandwiches are less than $5.
LOUISIANA | JOHNSON'S BOUCANIERE
Johnson's Boucaniere is famous for its seasonal gumbos; boudin sausages packed with pork, rice, and seasoning; and po' boy sandwiches on fresh, French bread. Most of the items on the menu are less than $8, and there is a 10 percent discount for local students, university staff, active military, and veterans. Georgians beware, however: There is a 10 percent charge for patrons wearing Atlanta Falcons gear.
MAINE | TACO ESCOBARR
Taco Escobarr more than does its part to add some culinary diversity to lobster-happy Maine. Eater Maine says it's one of the best spots for tacos in the state, calling out the wide variety of tortillas and fillings, with many options under $10. The burritos are also great, reviewers say.
MARYLAND | MEKONG DELTA CAFE
The Mekong Delta Cafe has been voted the best cheap restaurant in downtown Baltimore by readers of Baltimore magazine. Reviewers love the quick lunches, especially the pho (Vietnamese noodle soup). Most dishes are under $10 and appetizers are $6 or less.
MASSACHUSETTS | EL SARAPE
El Sarape has earned accolades from both The Daily Meal and Travel + Leisure as one of the country's best, most authentic Mexican restaurants. The latter publication recommends staples including carnitas and enchiladas verde. Its lunch menu features numerous options under $10.
MICHIGAN | KRAZY JIM'S BLIMPY BURGER
City: Ann Arbor
College towns usually have plenty of places to grab a cheap bite, but Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger stands out from the crowd as the oldest hamburger stand in Ann Arbor. Thrillist and GQ have praised its burgers, which come in thousands of combinations, some for less than $5.
MINNESOTA | MATT'S BAR
The Jucy Lucy burger at Matt's Bar is a cheeseburger with an additional layer of cheese inside the patty. The restaurant claims to have invented this delicious fat bomb, and at $7.50 a hungry customer can't really go wrong (at least in the short run). Food historians should note that Matt's crosstown rival, the 5-8 Club, also claims to have created this culinary masterpiece. Its version, the Juicy Lucy, is distinguished by correct spelling.
MISSISSIPPI | FAT MAMA'S TAMALES
Fat Mama's is a mashup of Mexican and Southern favorites -- po' boys are also on the menu -- but the hot tamales ($5 for six and $10 for a dozen) are the real draw here, reviewers say. Named the best in the state by Mississippi magazine, they come by the half-dozen and are worth the drive, reviewers say. The margaritas are also well-loved.
MISSOURI | SUCCOTASH RESTAURANT
City: Kansas City
"One of the best breakfast options Kansas City has to offer," one Yelp review said of Succotash Restaurant. It has a lively atmosphere, plenty of vegan options, and is packed on the weekends. Favorites include the Kitchen Sink Scramble ($9), wild blueberry pancakes ($8.50), and biscuits with mushroom gravy ($3 to $5).
MONTANA | BURNS ST. BISTRO
Burns St. Bistro has a rotating menu, offering new items with the changing seasons. Many sandwiches are about $8, and reviewers report that the optional candied bacon is a must.
NEBRASKA | AMSTERDAM FALAFEL AND KABOB
Amsterdam Falafel and Kabob has a tiny menu, but reviewers sing the praises of all the mix-and-match mains, which range in price from $6.25 to $8. The "killer" curry fries are served with a tiny fork so they don't stain your fingers.
NEVADA | GREEN VALLEY RANCH
Excess is the name of the game around Las Vegas -- and usually comes with a price tag to match. Though, bargains can be found here, too. Those looking for a hearty breakfast on a budget can head to the Green Valley Ranch. It is off the Strip, but the award-winning Feast Buffet ($8.99 for breakfast with a free club membership) is a local favorite.
NEW HAMPSHIRE | RED ARROW
The 24-hour Red Arrow diner has won many awards during its 94 years in business. Full breakfasts start at less than $9, including coffee. For something sweet, try the Dinah Fingers -- freshly made cakes inspired by Twinkies ($1.75).
NEW JERSEY | MOGO KOREAN FUSION TACOS
City: Asbury Park
While the Garden State is famous for its pizza and steak joints, here is a tip of the hat to a relative newbie. MOGO Korean Fusion Tacos serves up tacos, burritos, and bowls with six choices of protein (starting at $4 and $9). Reviewers praise its Korean barbecue and kimchi fried rice. One happy customer on Yelp says the tacos are filled with a lot of meat and just enough kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage).
NEW MEXICO | FRONTIER RESTAURANT
Although it may look more like a liquor store than an eatery from the outside, the Frontier Restaurant is a classic Western diner near the campus of the University of New Mexico. Customers like the unlimited coffee and sweet rolls topped with butter. Some fans say the green chile dishes -- including burgers, eggs, burritos, and enchiladas -- are the best in the state.
NEW YORK | NATHAN'S FAMOUS
City: New York
Nathan's is a 101-year-old hot dog shop that's hit it big, with franchise locations across the country. The company's hot dogs and other foods can also be found in grocery stores nationwide. Wait with the crowds at the original in Coney Island to grab a plain hot dog, or a dog covered in cheese, chili, or both, for under $5.
NORTH CAROLINA | PRICE'S CHICKEN COOP
Price's Chicken Coop is a "landmark for fried chicken," according to one TripAdvisor reviewer. The Food Network and other list-makers agree. A quarter-chicken dinner costs $6.75, and a chicken sandwich is just $3.65. But come prepared -- it's cash only.
NORTH DAKOTA | JL BEERS
JL Beers has six locations in North Dakota, including three in Fargo. Choose from a long list of imported and domestic beers and one of the tasty burgers (starting at $5). Loaded fries with beer cheese sauce, bacon, jalapeños, and jalapeño cheddar seasoning are $5.49.
OHIO | ELI'S BBQ
East of downtown along the Ohio River, Eli's BBQ serves up some of the best pulled pork in the Midwest. Sandwiches start at $6.25 and sides are $2.25. Hickory-smoked turkey, dry-rub ribs, and fried hot dogs are also popular.
OKLAHOMA | EMPIRE SLICE HOUSE
City: Oklahoma City
At the Empire Slice House, a single slice costs $3.75, and specialty pies start at $20. The $9 lunch special comes with one of the daily slices, a half salad, and a drink. Some reviewers say this is the best pizza in the city, especially for fans of New York-style pie, which has a thinner crust and less sauce than other varieties.
OREGON | ROAKE'S
Roake's has had several names over the years, but this hot dog stand has been a local hotspot since 1937. The menu offers a variety of dogs, burgers, and deep-fried sides, and most items are under $5, including a foot-long with all the toppings.
PENNSYLVANIA | JOE'S STEAKS AND SODA SHOP
Naming the best Philly cheesesteak may well be an impossible task, but Joe's Steaks and Soda Shop has been listed on a Zagat list of 14 essential Philly cheesesteaks. There are two Joe's locations and both have cheesesteaks under $10.
RHODE ISLAND | EAST SIDE POCKETS
In Providence's College Hill neighborhood, East Side Pockets is known for its friendly service and delicious and inexpensive kebabs. For vegetarians, a reviewer says the "falafel is delicious on its own" or in a wrap. Wraps start at $6.02 and plate dinners, which come with a salad, rice, and bread, are $8.10.
SOUTH CAROLINA | PERSIMMON CAFE
The Persimmon Cafe shares its space with a laundromat, but no one seems to mind: Yelp reviewers give it 4.5 stars. Getting a quick bite or frozen custard while doing laundry is a perk, according to some customers; others visit just for the food. Aside from the crab panini, everything on the menu -- soups, sandwiches, cookies, and sides -- is $8 or less.
SOUTH DAKOTA | PURPLE PIE PLACE
It is hard to miss the Purple Pie Place, 20 miles south of Mount Rushmore. As the name suggests, the restaurant dispenses pies and other treats in a building painted several shades of purple. Sure, there are fine-looking chicken pot pies, but the sweet pies are the real reason to go: raspberry rhubarb jalapeno, peanut butter, blackberry, and more. A slice is just $4.39.
TENNESSEE | CORI'S DOGHOUSE
Close to Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University, Cori's DogHouse features an expansive menu. More than 30 different signature hot dogs are offered, distinguished by region of inspiration, and all are well under $10. Opened in 2009, Cori's has quickly become a local favorite.
TEXAS | TORCHY'S TACOS
Torchy's Tacos has mastered the Tex-Mex taco. With locations scattered around Texas, including the original store in Austin, customers can choose from the taco of the month or more than 10 staples ($3.50 to $5.50). A reviewer writes on TripAdvisor, "Extremely delicious, large tacos. Definitely a good bang for your buck."
UTAH | BRUGES WAFFLES FRITES
City: Salt Lake City
Bruges Waffles Fritesserves waffles and fries, of course, but also delicious waffle sandwiches under $10. To try the waffle sandwich club or the turkey-bacon-avocado sandwich, track down the mobile Bruges Waffle Bus or visit the storefronts in Salt Lake City and Orem.
VERMONT | PHO HONG
Expect a wait, but reviewers say it's worth it. Pho Hong gets top-notch reviews from pho veterans and newbie ethnic-food eaters alike. The traditional Vietnamese soup is served with noodles, herbs, lime, and a protein, and guests are welcome to BYOB.
VIRGINIA | EAMONN'S A DUBLIN CHIPPER
Eamonn's A Dublin Chipper proudly proclaims the phrase, "Thanks be to Cod" on the door. This popular fish and chip joint serves up Guinness-battered cod, catfish, prawns, and fries ($3 to $10).
WASHINGTON | PIROSHKY PIROSHKY
Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian bakery with three locations in Seattle, is "simply superb!" according to a Yelp review, one of thousands awarding the spot high ratings. Popular items include the eponymous buns) filled with meat or veggies ($4.20 to $5.40), sweet cream cheese vatrushka (pastry), and apple cinnamon rolls ($4.50).
WEST VIRGINIA | PIES & PINTS
Pies & Pints has local beers on tap and makes some of the best pizza in town. Ten-inch pies start at $9 and many beers are $5. Reviews of the service are mixed, but patrons are enthusiastic about the food, calling it the best pizza in town and one of the best places to eat in Charleston.
WISCONSIN | LAKEFRONT BREWERY
The primary draw at the Lakefront Brewery is the beer tour, but the food is highly rated. The eclectic menu includes what a Yelp reviewer calls the "best fried cheese curds in the land" ($9); two Bavarian pretzels ($9); and a flight of three sausages (starting at $10). The weekend brewery tour is $11 and comes with four drink tokens and a pint glass to take home.
WYOMING | BREAD BASKET
The Bread Basket offers a bread-of-the-month club and sells fresh baked goods daily. Try one of the breakfast pastries ($1.69 to $2) or a sandwich for lunch ($5.59 to $7). On TripAdvisor, one reviewer says the bakery is "very much worth finding if you are just passing through; all the locals are already there."