20 Cheap Eats Under $10 Around the U.S.

By Zagat Staff  |  August 13, 2013
Credit: Macchialina, Miami

Can you still get a decent meal for under $10? With surging food costs and restaurant prices, it's become increasingly difficult to find real values when dining out. But this week we're celebrating all things cheap eats and rounding up low-budget deals in cities around the U.S. Keep these 20 picks from 12 cities in your back pocket for your end-of-summer travels. 

  • Credit: Cherie Cincilla

    NYC: Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

    The spacious East Villager takes a Shake Shack-style model and applies it to the crispy bird that became so famous at Blue Ribbon restaurants throughout the city. Orders are placed at the counter, and the menu includes chicken burgers and unique ice cream flavors (carrot habanero, anyone?) if you want something to go with your golden brown wings and thighs. Many of the dinner combos and by-the-piece offerings will set you back only $10 or less.

  • Chicago: Fish Sandwich at Big & Little’s

    Whether it's grilled tilapia tacos, soft-shell crab po’ boy or fish ’n’ chips, diners get big flavor for a little price. The fish sandwich cost just $6.50, but it's much more satisfying than a Filet-O-Fish.


  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Los Angeles: Tacos at Ricky's Fish Tacos

    Tacos are best when they’re cheap. For less than $10, you can eat at least two or three with a cerveza or agua fresca on the side. You can’t go wrong with Ricky’s Fish Tacos, which moved from Los Feliz to the LAX-C complex in Chinatown, for the Baja-style batter-fried fish or shrimp tacos topped with cool cabbage, crema and pico de gallo.


  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Chicken and Donuts at Federal Donuts

    Despite all the national attention it’s gotten, the fried chicken at Federal Donuts is still a damn good deal: $9 gets you a full half-bird (choose the chile-garlic or Shabazzi), plus a donut and Japanese pickles on the side. Be warned: it's filling.


  • Austin: Kebabs/Falafel at Kebabalicious

    Whether it’s 1 PM or 1 AM, the sirenlike call of the Kebabalicious trailer is strong. Think fluffy falafel and luscious lamb kebabs with a kick of spicy and creamy tzatziki with a side of zucchini fries, plus a brick-and-mortar location coming soon.

  • Boston: Compliments

    The food truck scene in Boston is a gold mine of cheap eats. But among the latest offerings we have to laud Compliments. Its fresh and seasonal focus raises the stakes on quality while keeping price points at typical food truck cheapness: think $7 sirloin sliders and tuna melts.

  • Chicago: Fried Chicken at Crisp

    The house specialty is Korean fried chicken - stick to the original “Plain Jane” that's marinated, coated with spices, dipped in batter and deep-fried. Half of a signature, BBQ, buffalo or “Seoul Sassy” bird runs around $9.

  • Credit: Macchialina

    Miami: Tortino Di Melanzane at Macchialina

    This tiny, neighborhood, small-plates Italian is putting its own spin on pizza, pasta and red-sauce classics. Away from the madness of the SoBe strip, this joint is packing them in even on a Sunday night. The tortino de melanzane (eggplant parmigiano) here is done daintily in a small portion, resembling almost an eggplant terrine and served in a small baking dish atop red sauce with crusty slices of garlic-rubbed toast for a mere $9.

  • Washington, DC: Tacos at Taqueria Nacional

    You'll feel like you're dining in a small Mexican town at Taqueria Nacional's transporting new 14th Street N.W. digs - especially since practically everything on its menu is under $10.

  • Credit: Flickr/telstar

    San Francisco: Bao at The Chairman

    The truck formerly known as Chairman Bao, now called The Chairman, offers boundary-pushing takes on the Chinese bao, or steamed bun. You can typically find it and other reasonably priced takes on hybridized cusine at the Off The Grid mobile markets around the Bay Area.

  • Los Angeles: All-day Happy Hour at Drago Centro

    Downtown, Drago Centro’s happy hour goes all day long and includes deals on cocktails, wines by the glass, beers, and dishes like polenta with cauliflower and brown butter, panini and pizzas for under $10.

  • Boston: Taco Tuesdays at Tremont 647

    This South End spot from Hell’s Kitchen alum Andy Husbands has a buzzing social scene - especially on Taco Tuesdays, when neighborhood pals spill gossip over $2 tacos and too many cocktails.

  • Philadelphia: Burger at Fountain Porter

    There’s no need to sacrifice quality if you don’t feel like spending upwards of $15 on your gourmet burger. Fountain Porter sells a solid patty for just $5, possibly the best deal on East Passyunk.

  • Credit: Samer Farha

    Washington, DC: Fried Chicken at GBD

    Fried chicken is having its moment, and few do it better or cheaper than Golden Brown Delicious - aka GBD - below DuPont Circle where a drum and thigh lunchbox, with a choice of side and a crème fraîche biscuit, costs $8.

  • Denver: Pork Gyro at Old Major

    The upscale farm-to-table trend has permeated the Denver food scene at this hot spot that butchers, cures and makes everything in-house. For $7, snag this take on a gyro as a starter, featuring grilled pork, pickled onions, greens, hummus, heirloom tomato and tzatziki.

  • Credit: Alden Gewirtz

    NYC: Prawns at Corvo Bianco

    Elizabeth Falkner's newest project, an Upper West Side Italian spot, has affordable antipasti including prawns with cocoa nib romesco for $9.

  • Austin: Croque Madame at Chez Nous

    Sometimes the atmosphere is just as important as the food. But who knew you could eat for cheap at some of the nicer restaurants in town? Chez Nous’ lunch menu boasts a classic croque madame for $8.50 that will leave you satisfied with plenty of cash to spare.

  • Credit: Flickr/sjsharktank

    San Francisco: Pearl's Deluxe Burgers and Super Duper Burger

    This is a city of burgers, no doubt, but you don't always want to spend double digits for a decent one - and you don't always need bone marrow and truffles on top. That's one reason why the outposts of Pearl's Deluxe Burgers and Super Duper Burger do so well with their classic offerings, each under $7.

  • Nashville: Crispy Fried Chicken Skins at Husk Nashville

    This newest outpost of Sean Brock's Husk is tearing up the Nashville food scene and offering starters like the fried chicken skin with hot sauce, honey and thyme for a measly $9.

  • Louisville: Duck Liver Terrine at Decca

    SF chef Ann Pettry is behind the stoves at Decca, one of the hottest restaurants in Louisville right now. But you don't have to break the bank in order to get a taste of this trendy spot. For just $10, get a plate of their housemade duck liver terrine served with grilled bread, cherry mostarda and pickled vegetables.