51 Restaurants Where You Can Grab a Meal for Under $10
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, plus the District of Columbia. 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.
Saw's Soul Kitchen in Birmingham serves amazing barbecue pork and chicken, according to reviewers. Sandwiches start at $6.25 and sides such as coleslaw or greens are $2.99 or less.
With two locations, Arctic Roadrunner is an Anchorage institution, and most reviewers agree the halibut burger ($8.25) 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.
The Baja Sur dogfish shark taco ($3.99) 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.
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. Plates start at just $6.99 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."
The growing Vietnamese population in Denver 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, each for $7.95 to $9.95 depending on size.
Known as the birthplace of the hamburger, New Haven destination 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.
A few miles outside of Wilmington, Woodside Farm Creamery gets rave reviews for its fresh and dense ice cream. Open just two days a week, the Creamery sells scoops for 55 cents an ounce. Popular flavors include Chocolate Thunder, Cappuccino Crunch, Bacon, and Motor Oil (go figure). Diners can watch the creamery's cows as they graze in the fields outside the restaurant.
The Barracuda Deli Cafe in St. Pete Beach 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.
The Gusto Wood Fire Grill in Atlanta 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 ($8.95 to $10.95), 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.
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; popular additions such as chicken bring the price to $8.50.
A hole-in-the-wall diner in Twin Falls, 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.
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.
Yats in Indianapolis 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 between usually between $6 and $7.
La Mie in Des Moines serves up traditional breakfasts (about $7), sandwiches for lunch ($5 to $6), and much-praised pastries. The establishment is a perennial winner of the local newspaper's award for best local bakery.
Eggtc. in Kansas City 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."
Southern Living magazine hails the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro as the torchbearer of Kentucky burgoo stew, which combines smoked mutton, beef, and chicken in a vegetable base. Bowls of burgoo are just $4.29. Dinner plates of barbecued meats start at $9, and most sandwiches are less than $5.
Johnson's Boucaniere in Lafayette 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.
Despite the name, Three Dollar Dewey's in Portland sells $2 draft beers during happy hour. If the free popcorn is not enough of a meal, go for a burger ($8 to $9) or a bowl of the award-winning beef, chicken, or vegetarian chili ($5 to $7).
The Mekong Delta Cafe was 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.
Visiting Boston and wondering why so many people are carrying white pastry boxes? Chances are they went to Mike's Pastry in the North End. The shop is famous for its cannoli, tiramisu, and Boston cream pies. Getting food on the run isn't required -- there's a roomy cafe at the entrance.
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.
The Jucy Lucy burger at Matt's Bar is a cheeseburger with an additional layer of cheese inside the patty. The Minneapolis restaurant claims to have invented this delicious fat bomb, and at $6.95 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.
What is better than a plate of barbecue? Try the lunch barbecue buffet for $9.34 at Mama Hamil's in Madison. Chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, baked beans, bread pudding -- the list of highly rated items just keeps going.
"One of the best breakfast options Kansas City has to offer," one Yelp review says 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).
Burns St. Bistro in Missoula 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.
Amsterdam Falafel and Kabob in Omaha has a tiny menu, but reviewers sing the praises of all the mix-and-match mains, which range in price from $6.25 to $7.50. The "killer" curry fries are served with a tiny fork so they don't stain your fingers.
Excess is the name of the game in Las Vegas -- and usually comes with a price tag to match. 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 ($8.49 for breakfast with a free club membership) is a local favorite.
The 24-hour Red Arrow diner in Manchester has won many awards during its 94 years in business. A full breakfast starts at less than $9, including coffee. For something sweet, try the Dinah Fingers -- freshly made cakes inspired by Twinkies ($1.75).
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 in Asbury Park serves up tacos, burritos, salads, and bowls with six choices of protein ($4 to $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).
Although it may look more like a liquor store than an eatery from the outside, the Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque 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.
In a food mecca like New York City, there are countless delicious meals to be had, even on a budget. Still, it's hard to beat Prosperity Dumpling on the Lower East Side. Four pork fried dumplings cost $1.25, and sesame pancakes are just a dollar
Price's Chicken Coop in Charlotte is a "landmark for fried chicken," according to one TripAdvisor reviewer. The Food Network and other list-makers agree. A quarter chicken dinner costs $6.70, and a chicken sandwich is just $3.60. But come prepared -- it's cash only.
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 $4.29). Loaded fries with beer cheese sauce, bacon, jalapeños, and jalapeño cheddar seasoning are $4.99.
East of downtown along the Ohio River, Eli's BBQ in Cincinnati serves up some of the best pulled pork in the Midwest. Sandwiches are $5.75 and sides are $2.25. Hickory-smoked turkey, dry-rub ribs, and fried hot dogs are also popular.<
At the Empire Slice House in Oklahoma City, a plain slice costs $3.50, a two-topping pizza is $19, and a specialty pie is $10 to $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.
Praised by Portland newspaper The Oregonian as one of the city's best cheap eats, Meat Cheese Bread delivers tasty breakfast and lunch favorites for $9 or less. The braised pork shoulder with spicy green papaya slaw ($9) is a must-try.
Naming the best Philly cheesesteak may well be an impossible task, so why not try them all and decide for yourself? Zagat's list of 14 essential Philly cheesesteaks is a good place to start, and most are under $9. The first one featured is Joe's Steaks and Soda Shop in Northeast Philly.
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.
The Persimmon Cafe in Charleston 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.
It is hard to miss the Purple Pie Place in Custer, 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.
Memphis is known for barbecue, but the fried chicken at Gus's World Famous Hot and Spicy Fried Chicken is giving barbecue a run for its money. As one Yelp reviewer writes, "BBQ?! Forget that! Come to Memphis for the fried chicken!!!" A three-piece, white-meat plate is $8.15. There are new locations opening across the country.
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."
Bruges Waffles Frites serves waffles and fries, of course, but also seven delicious waffle sandwiches ($7.99 to $8.99). 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.
Expect a wait, but reviewers say it's worth it. Pho Hong in Burlington gets 5-star reviews from pho veterans and "virgin ethnic food eaters" alike. The traditional Vietnamese soup is served with noodles, herbs, lime, and a protein, and guests are welcome to BYOB.
Eamonn's A Dublin Chipper in Alexandria 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).
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 ($2.95).
Simply Banh Mi gets 4.5-star ratings on Yelp and TripAdvisor, so it must be doing something right. The namesake Vietnamese sandwiches are served on a baguette with cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, pickled root vegetables, and a protein. Prices start at $6.50. Rice and vermicelli dishes start at $7.50.
Pies Pints in Charleston has local beers on tap and makes some of the best pizza in town. Ten-inch pies start at $9 and most draft beers are $5 or less. 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.
The primary draw at the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee 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" ($8); two Bavarian pretzels ($8); beer cheese soup ($5 to $7); and beer-battered Polish sausage slices ($8). The weekend brewery tour is $10 and comes with four drink tokens and a pint glass to take home.
The Bread Basket in Cheyenne offers a bread-of-the-month club and sells fresh baked goods daily. Try one of the breakfast pastries ($1.69 to $1.99) or a sandwich for lunch ($5.59 to $6.99). On TripAdvisor, one reviewer says the bakery is "very much worth finding if you are just passing through; all the locals are already there."