Grab a Meal for Under $15: Best Cheap Restaurants in Every State

joe's steaks and soda shop

John Y./Yelp

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joe's steaks and soda shop
John Y./Yelp

Cheap Restaurants in Every State

Diners are always looking for a cheap and delicious bite. To that end, Cheapism compiled this list of well-reviewed and cheap restaurants in all 50 states. We picked the restaurants after looking at reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Zomato, and recommendations from local newspapers and magazines.

This is a mix of time-tested institutions and newer up-and-comers. Each offers up a mouth-watering meal option for $15 or less before tax and tip.

Saw's Soul Kitchen
Heath C./Yelp

Alabama: Saw's Soul Kitchen

Saw's Soul Kitchen serves amazing barbecue pork and chicken, according to reviewers. Sandwiches start at $ and you can add slaw for 50 cents. It has a food truck called Saw's Street Kitchen.

Arctic Roadrunner, Anchorage, Alaska
Petra H./Yelp

Alaska: Arctic Roadrunner

Arctic Roadrunner is an Anchorage institution, and most reviewers agree the halibut burger ($11) is top-notch. The lodge-like dining room has a fireplace to keep diners warm. While the walls display photos of people who helped make Alaska a place unlike anywhere else.

La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop, Phoenix, Arizona

Arizona: La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop

Phoenix and Glendale
The Baja Sur baby shark taco ($7) at La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop in Phoenix 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.

Whole Hog Cafe, Little Rock, Arkansas
Christy R./Yelp

Arkansas: Whole Hog Cafe

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 three locations in Little Rock. Pulled-pork sandwiches are just $7 at some locations, and you can get them topped with slaw for free. 

One reviewer on Yelp writes, "The sauces made this place fun for us. Each bite could be re-invented with the sauce."

Looking for more great barbecue? Check out the best hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints across America.

La Taqueria, San Francisco, California
Allison C./Yelp
Pho 95, Denver, Colorado
Matt R./Yelp

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 restaurant receives rave reviews for its big bowls of brisket, seafood, chicken, and veggie soups, starting at $12.  

Louis' Lunch, New Haven, Connecticut

Connecticut: Louis' Lunch

New Haven
Known as the birthplace of the hamburger, Louis' Lunch (established in 1895) is famous for burgers served on toast. There is usually a line, but everything on the short menu is affordable: burgers, potato salad, pie, and drinks.

The Dog House, New Castle, Delaware
Susan D./Yelp

Delaware: The Dog House

New Castle
The Dog House is a bare-bones greasy spoon that boasts cheeseburgers, chili dogs, and footlong hot dogs for under $5, plus large pizzas under $10. It's not fancy, but it is dependable American comfort food. Bring cash, because credit cards are not accepted. 

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Burger Joint in Every State

The Original Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington, D.C.
The Original Ben's Chili Bowl

District of Columbia: Ben's Chili Bowl

Ben's Chili Bowl became a well-known cheap restaurant thanks to visits by President Obama, Kevin Hart, Larry King, John Lewis, Bono, and other stars, but before that it was beloved for its half-smoke, a half-pork, half-beef sausage that often comes smothered in chili

The restaurant's prices have gone up over the past 70 years. However, it remains one of the most affordable places to eat in town. Most menu items cost less than $8.

Barracuda Deli Cafe, St. Pete Beach, Florida
Julianne M./Yelp

Florida: Barracuda Deli Cafe

St. Pete Beach
The Barracuda Deli Cafe wins over patrons with flavor-packed Cuban sandwiches and salads starting at $10. Dubbed a "hidden gem" by a reviewer on Yelp, it is a family-run restaurant where the owners are often the ones cooking and serving the food.

Related: Best Subs, Grinders, and Hoagies Across America

Gusto Wood Fire Grill
Lotus C./Yelp

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 $12), 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.

Marukame Udon, Honolulu, Hawaii
James L./Yelp
Buffalo Cafe, Twin Falls, Idaho
Lillian H./Yelp

Idaho: Buffalo Cafe

Twin Falls
A hole-in-the-wall diner in southern Idaho, Buffalo Cafe is popular with tourists and locals. Customers on Yelp describe the ambiance 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.

Ghareeb Nawaz
Samantha W./Yelp
Yats, Indianapolis, Indiana
Maria B./Yelp

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. Prices for individual dishes are $8.25.

La Mie, Des Moines, Iowa
Jonathan E./Yelp

Iowa: La Mie Bakery

Des Moines
La Mie serves traditional breakfasts, sandwiches for lunch, and much-praised pastries. The establishment is a perennial winner of the local newspaper's award for best local bakery.

Eggtc., Kansas City, Kansas

Kansas: Eggtc.

Kansas City
Eggtc. is the winner of countless "best of" awards. Customers like the casual atmosphere, good coffee, and large breakfasts. One customer who gave Eggtc. five stars on TripAdvisor says the "combination of quality and value at Eggtc. has yet to be surpassed."

Moonlite Bar-B-Q, Owensboro, Kentucky

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 $6. Barbecued meat sandwiches start under $5 and come with chips.

Related: Signature Cheap Eats From Every State

johnson's boucaniere
Peter N./Yelp

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 menu items are less than $10, and there is a 10% discount for local students, university staff, active military, and veterans. 

Georgians beware, however: There is a 10% charge for patrons wearing Atlanta Falcons gear.

Taco Escobarr, Portland, Maine
Steff D./Yelp

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 $1. The cheap burritos are also great, reviewers say.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Mexican Restaurant in Every State

Mekong Delta Cafe, Baltimore, Maryland
Yogi L./Yelp

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). 

El Sarape
Karla B./Yelp

Massachusetts: El Sarape

El Sarape has earned recognition from The Daily Meal and Travel + Leisure as one of the country's best, most authentic Mexican restaurants and a great spot for cheap eats. The latter publication recommends staples including carnitas and enchiladas verde. Its lunch menu features numerous options under $9.

Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Bryan M./Yelp

Michigan: Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger

Ann Arbor
College towns usually have plenty of places to grab cheap eats, 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.

Related: Oldest Restaurant in Every State

Matt's Bar, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mindy B./Yelp

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 $10 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.

Related: 17 Legendary Restaurant Rivalries Across America

Fat Mama's Tamales, Natchez, Mississippi
Phil G./Yelp

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 6 for $10 hot tamales are the real draw here. 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.

Related: Low-Cost Tequila Cocktails

Succotash Restaurant, Kansas City, Missouri
Rebecca D./Yelp

Missouri: Succotash Restaurant

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 Cake and a Smile ($8), pigs in a blanket with eggs ($10), and biscuits with sausage or mushroom gravy ($3 to $5).

Burns St. Bistro, Missoula, Montana
Amsterdam Falafel and Kabob, Omaha, Nebraska
Amy G./Yelp

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 $7 to $8. The "killer" curry fries are served with a tiny fork so they don't stain your fingers.

Tacos El Gordo
Jodi R./Yelp

Nevada: Tacos el Gordo

Las Vegas
With three locations on- and off-Strip that have lines out the door at all hours, it's no wonder that Tacos el Gordo is considered an essential Vegas restaurant. Grab Tijuana-style tacos with handmade corn tortillas with fillings such as pork adobada or lengua for $4 or less.

Red Arrow, Manchester, New Hampshire
Sho R./Yelp

New Hampshire: Red Arrow

The 24-hour Red Arrow diner has won many awards during its century in business. Full breakfasts start at less than $15, including coffee. For something sweet, try the Dinah Fingers — freshly made cakes inspired by Twinkies ($3).

Mogo Korean Fusion Tacos, Asbury Park, New Jersey
Samantha Y./Yelp

New Jersey: Mogo Korean Fusion Tacos

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 $5 to $14). 

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).

Related: Where To Find Best Korean Food in Every State

Frontier Restaurant, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Trung N./Yelp

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.

Nathan's Famous, New York, New York
Mike C./Yelp

New York: Nathan's Famous

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.

Related: Best Hot Dog Stands Across America

Crispy Banh Mi charlotte
John K./Yelp

North Carolina: Crispy Banh Mi

Banh mi, Vietnamese sandwiches, are a hit for quick, inexpensive grab-and-go meals. At Crispy Banh Mi, there are 10 sandwich options for under $10, and they're stuffed full of ingredients such as roasted pork, fried fish, and plenty of fresh herbs and pickled veggies. 

JL Beers, Fargo, North Dakota

North Dakota: JL Beers

JL Beers has seven 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 $7). Loaded fries with beer cheese sauce, bacon, jalapeños, and jalapeño cheddar seasoning are $7.

Eli's BBQ, Cincinnati, Ohio
Pam M./Yelp

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 $7 and sides are $3. Hickory-smoked turkey, dry-rub ribs, and fried hot dogs are also popular.

Empire Slice House, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Jeromy L./Yelp

Oklahoma: Empire Slice House

Oklahoma City
At the Empire Slice House, a single slice costs $4, and whole specialty pies start at $25.  Some reviewers say this is the best pizza in the city, especially for fans of New York-style pie, which has big pieces and a thinner, foldable crust than other styles.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza Joints Across America

Roake's, Portland, Oregon

Oregon: Roake's

Roake's has had several names over the years, but this hot dog stand has been a local hot spot since 1937. The menu offers a variety of dogs, burgers, and deep-fried sides, and most items are under $8, including a footlong with all the toppings.

joe's steaks and soda shop
John Y./Yelp

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 tagged on a Zagat list of 14 essential Philly cheesesteaks. There are two Joe's locations and both have cheesesteaks under $12.

East Side Pockets, Providence, Rhode Island

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 $7 and the Middle Eastern platter, which comes with falafel, hummus, grape leaves, bread, and salad, is $10.

Related: Must-Try International Street Foods Under $5

Queen Street Grocery
Andrew W./Yelp

South Carolina: Queen Street Grocery

Queen Street Grocery is a storied cafe that dates back 100 years and serves up a full menu of breakfast, sandwiches, and crepes with most of the menu under $12. Don't miss the Nutella-filled crepe or a build-your-own breakfast sandwich on a fresh croissant. 

Purple Pie Place, Custer, South Dakota
LeRoy W./Yelp

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 jalapeño, peanut butter, blackberry, and more. Most sandwiches are under $11, and adding on a slice of pie is $5. A solo slice is a little more.

Related: Under-the-Radar Restaurants with Amazing Homemade Pie

Cori's Doghouse, Nashville, Tennessee
Don V./Yelp

Tennessee: Cori's Doghouse

Located in a Nashville suburb, 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.

Torchy's Tacos, Austin, Texas
Torchy's Tacos/Yelp

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 a dozen staples under $6. A reviewer writes on TripAdvisor, "Extremely delicious, large tacos. Definitely a good bang for your buck."

Bruges Waffles Frites, Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah: Bruges Waffles Frites

Salt Lake City
Bruges Waffles Frites serves waffles and fries, of course, but also delicious loaded waffles under $10. To try the chicken and waffle or the cinnamonster with ice cream, bananas, and Nutella, track down the mobile Bruges Waffle Bus or visit the storefronts in Salt Lake City and Orem.

pho hong
Rachel B./Yelp

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.

Related: Foods Americans Eat Now That They Never Heard of 20 Years Ago

La Mexicana Bakery and Taqueria, Alexandria, Virginia
Sam F./Yelp

Virginia: La Mexicana Bakery and Taqueria

Fans rave about this low-key eatery's authentic Mexican food and prices that can't be beat, especially for the area. La Mexicana taco prices start at just $ for three, or you can get a huge torta or quesadilla with asada or barbacoa for just under $12.

Piroshky Piroshky, Seattle, Washington
Joseph T./Yelp

Washington: Piroshky Piroshky

Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian bakery with four locations in Seattle, is "simply superb!" according to a Yelp review, one of thousands awarding the inexpensive restaurant high ratings. 

Popular items include the eponymous buns filled with meat or veggies, sweet cream cheese vatrushka (pastry), and apple cinnamon rolls.

Pies Pints, Charleston, West Virginia
Pat S./Yelp

West Virginia: Pies & Pints

Pies & Pints has local beers on tap and makes some of the best pizza in town. Slices (only available Monday through Friday until 2 p.m.) are under $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.

Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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" ($10); locally made beer brat ($5); and fried Brussels sprouts ($8). The weekend brewery tour is $12 and comes with four drink tokens and a pint glass to take home.

Bread Basket, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Emily J./Yelp

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 ($2-$4) or a sandwich combo for lunch ($8 to $10). On TripAdvisor, one reviewer says the bakery is "very much worth finding if you are just passing through; all the locals are already there."