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Meals under $10

Pulled this idea off the Boston board, where there were 15-16 responses and still going strong. If they can do it, by god, we should be able to. The idea is that we've got the holidays fast approaching, and my wallet is feeling pinched. this is for lunch or dinner, and if you can sneak in a beer, so much the better.

i'll start it off...

-9n9 for pho, or a big rice bowl, or a big noodle bowl of some sort. not to mention $2 banh mi. i don't think there's an item on their menu over 10.

-2 gorditas and jarritos at don jose = $6.75. that was lunch yesterday... totally righteous.

-roast grill. if you can eat $10 worth of food there, you have my respect and admiration.

tons more, but lets hear it, folks! happy holidays...
oh-- this is intended for the triangle, nc

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  1. #1 combo at Chik-fil-a
    Any lunch entree at Surin West - try pad thai or chicken massaman w/avocado & cashews
    Black & Blue burger @ G's
    Pig N a Garden pulled pork salad @ Jim N Nicks BBQ
    Gyro @ Purple Onion
    Chicken salad & fruit plate @ O'Carrs
    All of the above are in B'ham (except Chik-fil-A of course)

    1. In many Tulsa places, it's hard to spend more than $10. Here are two ideas:

      A hundred barbecue joints. My current favorite is Reba Dale's, on Cincinnati just north of Apache. It looks like a shack but inside has been decorated like an old fashioned ice cream parlor. And their ribs ... incredible! And the bologna and Polish sausage, while obviously not in the same league, are another guilty pleasure

      Lots of diners serving Ok style home cooking. For example, Shiloh Diner just by the city limits has been around for years, it's always full, and when I asked them if the country fried steak was cooked with lard, they looked horrified to learn that any place could cook it any other way. (Many places use vegetable oil.) It's just off the BA expressway, though it was around before the highway. 12521 E 52nd St,

      3 Replies
      1. re: Brian S

        Sorry about this! I just got back to Tulsa and was so eager to post about it that I didn't notice that this is restricted to North Carolina. But maybe Reba Dale's will deliver!

        1. re: Brian S

          Brian, this old T-Town girl appreciates *any* post concerning Tulsa. I may live in the Triangle, but I definitely know more about the restauant scene in Tulsa than I do around here! I've never been to Reba Dale's but I can certainly second your recomendation for Shiloh's. It certainly isn't a fancy restaurant, but the food is great. And if you're feeling brave, head over to Mr. Tacos on the north side of town for an authentic Mexican burrito. The only seating available is a picnic table or three, but authentic Mexican is worth some sacrifices.

      2. Chapel Hill: When the weather is nice I'd say Weaver Street - a nice plate of roast chicken and greens, maybe, plus a good beer, consumed on the lawn. But eating inside there just isn't as much fun. So I'd say Brixx on Monday nights with the 2-for-1 coupons that come in the Money Mailer - Monday nights are $1.50 drafts (including domestic microbrews), and with 2-for-1 pizzas two people can eat well for $10 each with tip - although I always tip a little extra, I feel so guilty about the small check.

        And then there's always Cosmic Cantina. Durham Cantina, though - I never go to the Chapel Hill one - not worth looking for parking.

        1. a couple questions/comments before i start... is the triangle raleigh, tulsa, and birmingham? or raleigh durham chapel hill? second... chick-fil-a? get that nonsense off chowhound please. in no special order:

          durham lunch: 1. sitar indian buffet $7, with beer: $10.
          2. the federal: great sandwiches, exceptional
          beer selection. $6-7 for sandwich plus beer
          3. the piedmont... it just opened on foster st.
          6 bucks and i got a heaping in house made
          pastrami sandwich
          with field green salad (or fries). they
          have 3 quality beers on tap at all times.
          check out the website:
          www.piedmontrestaurant.com but the lunch
          prices are actually like $2 cheaper than the
          prices online for some reason, it's great!!!
          4. thai cafe, lunch specials $7 to $8, but some
          hounds are less than satisfied here
          5. wimpie's grill- everything is great...
          especially the peach cobbler. cheap!!!

          durham dinner:1. q-shack. options from $6 to $10... 5 beers
          on tap... sometimes one of them is good,
          too. everything's good here, except maybe
          the pulled pork and the beer selection.
          2. los comales taqueria (or any taqueria,
          really), on roxboro near i-85. many great
          meals under $10 with drinks.
          3. james joyce or federal. cheap pub grub
          with great beer.
          4. elmo's diner

          late night: -cosmic cantina, durham. everyone eats here all
          day long, but it's even better after a night out
          on the town. so cheap, so delicious. don't go
          to the chapel hill one because the food is so
          much worse there. i guarantee it... take the
          challenge if you think c.c.c.h. is good.
          -in chapel hill for late night: hector's.
          if you want a hotdog, a burger and rings, or a
          gyro after hours, hectors is the place.

          one-day wonders:lunch on wednesday at the ninth street bakery
          they have this sri lankan named asanga who
          comes in and cooks a hearty vegetarian meal.
          it goes on sale at noon and sells out quickly,
          so grab it while it's hot.

          monday nites at charlie's: 25 cent wings, so
          grab a dozen and you still have $7 for beer.
          (if you bring a date you can get a pitcher for
          $8 domestic crap or $10 for stella artois.
          sunday and thurs at italian pizzeria in chapel
          hill. $8 or $10 for a large pie and pitcher.
          the atmosphere is bonk, with underage unc students
          drinking at the only place in town that doesn't id,
          but hey, pizza and beer for $5 apiece, i'll take it.

          i probably forgot some of my faves, but this is a nice start... feel free to blog...

          3 Replies
          1. re: MOOKIECOOKIE

            late night: -cosmic cantina, durham. everyone eats here all
            day long, but it's even better after a night out
            on the town. so cheap, so delicious. don't go
            to the chapel hill one because the food is so
            much worse there. i guarantee it... take the
            challenge if you think c.c.c.h. is good

            I just don't get the recs for Cosmic Cantina. I've tried just about everything on their menu, and IMO, it's all been pretty bland. Los Comales' burritos are bigger and 1000% tastier than anything I've ever had at CC, and they're not 80% rice, 15% beans, and 5% meat, plus you have a much wider selection of meats. And, you can get Coke or Pepsi made with cane sugar instead of that nasty high fructose corn syrup.

            Other recs:

            Hong Kong: just about everything on the lunch menu is $4.25 and includes steamed or fried rice and an egg roll or soup (hot and sour, egg drop, or won-ton).

            El Paraiso: vying with Los Comales for best Mexican in Durham
            Miranda's: close third; more limited menu, take-out only.

            Federal, Q-shack, Wimpy's.

            1. re: mclaugh

              i like los comales, as you'll see in my blog, but i do still love the cosmic cantina. that being said, i understand that los comales is much tastier than cosmic, but it's the whole recurring "apples to oranges" chowhound theme.

              cosmic aims at making "mission-style" burritos, as they call them on the west coast. it's not great food but it's cheap and easy. i lived mostly in seattle for one summer, and mission-style burritos are convenient, cheap, filling, and portable... which i figured would fit quite nicely on this board. they are, of course, different than authentic mexican, like los comales... and that's not what they're trying to be. sometimes i want a chicken and eggplant or roasted veggie burrito the size of my arm, even if it is "80% rice, 15% beans, and 5%meat."

              you have a great point on quality, but they are different styles of burritos, which is why they can serve up things like eggplant or tofu burritos and not have their authenticity questioned. cosmic reminds me of a west coast burrito joint, minus the fish tacos... and that's their whole theme. they wouldn't stand a chance on the west coast, but in durham and chapel hill: goldmine!!

              i think bland is kinda inaccurate in describing the cantina food. i would call it simple, but not bland. but to each his/her own... maybe you can now get our recs even if you don't share the same opinion... it's just a different style of burrito.

            2. re: MOOKIECOOKIE

              def. second the ip3 rec... that is one of my fave deals. and the thing is, yeah, lots of unc kids, but hey, it's chapel hill. that's sort of the nature of the beast. i don't mind it so much, esp. since i was once one of those kids who'd go and grab a pie and some beers to watch the game. those guys are huge carolina fans in addition to being soccer fans (although i think that a good italian soccer match might supercede the hoops, which is too bad...)

            3. You can't beat Merrit's in Chapel Hill for a cheap BLT or Wimpy's in Durham for a cheap, hand formed burger.

              1. Chick Filet? You are kidding, aren't you? Seriously, I'm not that much of a food snob, but really.....C'mon, Durhamois -throw in Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen - you know you want to.

                My recs:
                Q shack for sure.
                9N9 Pho- I second that one!
                Guglhupf: Beet/Goat cheese sandwich
                Vit Goal - mushroom tofu soup $10.00 including tax and tip. (and I don't mean a Rachel Ray tip!) They have lunch boxes for $6.95 now, but haven't tried one yet.
                Los Comales - you'd explode if you spent more than $10
                A couple of slices from Pepper's Pizza - go for the vibe, if nothing else
                Miso soup and a few items from the sushi-go-round at that place in Chapel Hill near the corner of Franklin & Columbia when you're in a rush. Food for fuel, people!
                What and where is "roast grill", HeelsSoxHound?!

                2 Replies
                1. re: suse

                  okay, Chick Filet and Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen are not... I repeat, NOT, in the same category. Biscuits are an integral part of Southern cuisine, and those that you find at the SBK are pretty darn close to perfect. Fried chicken is also a southern delicacy, but fried chicken has BONES. Once you make it a boneless breast and slap it between pieces of white bread, it's no longer a southern delicacy, it's just fast food.

                  p.s. suse, thanks in advance for the fresh red current tart that you are bringing to my house in just a few minutes! truly folks, if only you could taste suse's baking...

                  1. re: suse

                    roast grill is on west street at the intersection of morgan st. in raleigh. hot dogs only. in house made chili, same recipe from 1946, i believe. only served on a sheet of wax paper. that s will make you right with the lord.

                  2. Folks, please help us keep this board focused on finding great chow that's unique to this area. If you'd like to discuss chow from chain restaurants, please start a thread on the Chains board.

                    1. I just recommended Chai's Noodle Bar and Bistro for kids, and also think it's a good bet for under ten bucks. He's got pretty good noodle soups, especially the egg noodle woup with garlic and your choice of fried tofu (my fave) or sliced chicken or beef. The apps are a little greasy, but cheap, and, let's face it -- delicious -- and nothing on the menu is over ten bucks except the specials.

                      And the bubble tea......Wow. Maybe not quite the real deal, but they sure taste good. You could have one for lunch, they're so filling.

                      I second 9N9, very yummy.

                      Torrero's has a mean bowl of tortilla soup for 3.00. If this is a chain I apologize, I know of one or two others in the area but I think they're locally owned?
                      My husband and I have raging and ongoing disagreements about Cosmic. He would walk there through a blinding snowstorm, but I don't find anything all that distinctive about it. Maybe I'm ordering poorly? I've tried most of the burritos and a quesadilla. At any rate, it's definitely cheap.

                      1. Allen & Son's eat-in lunch special has to be one of the single best lunch deals around. For $5.35 you get a huge pulled pork sammich and a choice of side. They potato salad is really good or if you are feeling truely bad go for their onion rings. For another $1.05 they bring you a glass of ice tea and also a carafe of tea to refill you own glass.

                        If you are feeling really gluttoneous, the two meat combo plate at Rubs is for you. I'd go for the brisket and ribs, plus you get two sides. It's easily enough food for two people really.

                        1. Cary options include:
                          Cool Runnings - try the fish with pickled peppers!
                          Biaggi's pizzas are under $10, spouse loves the Chicken Pietro which is 9.99 at lunch - I don't believe it's a chain since it's independently owned and operated.
                          Abbey Road 10 oz Burger (Paul, cooked medium, please) with righteous onion rings plus the daily special beer, all under $10 before tax & tip.

                          1. Seriously, is Italian Pizzeria actually any good? I've never been in - it looks so seedy. But if the pizza is actually good, I'd LOVE a local place that had 'za and pitchers. Can someone tell me about the pizza there? What style, etc.? Thanks a million ...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Large, yes; cheap, yes; good, well ... er ... um ...

                              First weekend after moving to the Triangle, I was over at UNC checking out the disc golf course.

                              There were a couple of univ. cops cruising through the parking lot when I got back to my car, so I flagged one down and asked where I could get a good pizza.

                              Cop thought about it for a couple of minutes, then flagged down the other cop and asked him.

                              Second cop thought about it for a while then said, "You can't GET good pizza around here." He probably only meant CH and Carrboro, but he might as well have been speaking of the entire Triangle.

                              That was in 2000. Sadly, IMO, it's still true.

                              1. re: mclaugh

                                That is TOO funny (the story about the cops). I pretty much feel that way about Chinese food in CH, but would love to be proven wrong.

                                I actually like (embarrassed, head down) the pizza at Alfredo's in University mall. Nothing like a hot slice right out of the oven. And it is plenty greasy and foldable.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  i personally love ip3. best cheesesteak in town, and the pizza (and this is important) is excellent if you order it well done. it's a big, floppy, NY style slice, and as good as you'll find around here. granted, i'm not comparing to new haven or my personal mecca, pizza regina in boston. i love it, though. and seedy be damned...since when does anyone on this board care about ambience in a pizza parlor? *grin*

                            2. yes... abbey road burger with in-house ground beef. the chili there is also fantastic!!! the onion rings are to die for and it's all really cheap!

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: MOOKIECOOKIE

                                Thanks Mookiecookie, I do love onion rings. What style of pizza do they serve? I tend to like the stuff that is really nice and greasy and you can each slice over as you eat it (so not really crunchy crust).

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  LulusMom, i think you mistakenly mixed up two of my blogs. the onion rings are at abbey road grill in cary.

                                  the pizza is at IP3, the italian pizzeria on franklin st in chapel hill. now, it's not great pizza, but if you like alfredo's you'll like this pizza. it's not great, and you have to ask them to cook it well done because they will leave it a little doughy on special days, but it's as good as you're gonna do in chapel hill. and it's cheap!!!! $10 for a pie and pitcher on sun and thurs.

                                  it is cheap, chapel hill won't knock the big apple off the map, ...it's not good enough to satisfy mclaugh, but what is????

                                  1. re: MOOKIECOOKIE

                                    Da Michele (Naples), Pizza Bianco (Phoenix), Settobello (Las Vegas), DiFara (Brooklyn; the square pies), Bettola (Birmingham, AL), Pepe's and Sally's (New Haven), Il Pizzaiolo (Pittsburgh).

                                    1. re: mclaugh

                                      ohh, you only have to drive 700 miles for a slice... but what if you crave a slice today???

                                      ever had john's in manhattan? probably my fave.

                                    2. re: MOOKIECOOKIE

                                      Oops, sorry about the mix-up. Thanks to you and HeelsSoxHound for the info. We'll definitely check it out, and make sure to order it well done. Sounds like the kind of 'za I like best - floppy and greasy. I've been looking for a place that had pitchers and pizza since we moved to the area.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        I'm an unabashed lover of IP3's pizza and pitcher combo on Sunday and Tuesday nights...for the money and atmosphere it can't be beat...was not a bad place to watch World Cup this summer either.

                                        That said, their pasta offerings seem kind of dismal...so far I've tried the lasagna and baked ziti and both were disappointing. The salads and bread were not that great either.

                                        Has anyone else had any better luck with pasta dishes there? I live extremely close to IP3 and love to stop in for a quick and cheap meal, but I'm not always in the mood for pizza.

                                        1. re: inmybackpages

                                          no, i've never had great pasta there. their sandwiches and other baked stuff (stromboli, calzones) are all pretty good, though. in addition to the aforementioned cheesesteak, i'm a big fan of the hot italian and the sausage parm. both filling and cheap. stay away from the fries, though. sadly, they haven't figured out how to do those yet.

                                2. I found this board a couple of days ago and have been fascinated that the South board is totally dominated by the Triangle area. Very cool. Thought I would chime in with my under $10 faves:
                                  Salsa Fresh - Black bean nachos (addicted...at least twice a week...very glad about new location at davis and Morrisville-Carpenter...only seven minutes from work!)
                                  Parizade - Numerous excellent lunch selections, especially the Sourdough burger with gruyere cheese and caramelized onions for $6.50 (even cheaper if you use the Restaurant.com certificates with friends)
                                  Oakwood Cafe in downtown Raleigh - Without a doubt the best bargain in the triangle. Baby Churrasco steak with white rice and black beans for $7.25. Unbeatable!
                                  Porter's - Third the burger...nice to be able to order medium rare.
                                  Bullock's - Lots of opinions on this place but I've been loving the "SLICED" BBQ sandwich for 32 years (amazing that they still have some of the same waitresses from 1974)
                                  Bocci on Fayetteville Rd in Durham - Lunch brick oven pizza with prosciutto and basil, Nonna's pizza (good enough to eat plain), or the Penne Vodka (great comfort food). Owned by my brother but I would eat there regardless....(;p .

                                  Can't wait to try Los Comales and Super Taq....thanks for the recos.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: klaatu47

                                    bocci was delicious the two times i ate there. i think he has a great concept, i just can't understand why he chose that martha stewart building. i'd probably be there everyday for lunch if it was near downtown durham, where i work... i just can't justify dealing with the mall traffic for a calzone. has he ever thought of expanding or moving? growing up in ny, i feel like the atmosphere of the old building is half the eating experience, and that building reminds me of the terrible suburban sprawl. i loved little italy, and i believe an old building with history is a place for a great italian restaurant... and there's no shortage of historic real estate in durham. but his food is great, and it's the only place i can get a calzone because their sauce is as good as you can find in the area.

                                  2. Some of my favorite Raleigh values are:

                                    Sushi Thai - salad with ginger dressing, edamame, st pork gyoza, and 4 salmon sushi - $10
                                    Neomonde - Make your own sampler (4 items) - baba ghanouj and mujaddarah are killer. Sampler and basma for dessert - $8
                                    Rockford - most of the menu is under $10

                                    1. Just back from 9N9 with the inevitable P1 tongue-burn to show for it.

                                      One thing: if we're talking under $10, with gas at ~$2.50/gallon, I think it's not only what's great for under $10, but also what's great for under $10 and under 15 miles from wherever I am right now.

                                      Since I'm in RTP/South Durham right now:

                                      1) Add my vote to the list for 9N9, of course.
                                      2) Ditto Vit Goal Tofu Restaurant -- I'm particularly partial to the oyster tofu soup, but the mushroom is also pretty great. Heck, so far they've *all* been pretty great.
                                      3) Park Diner -- CIA-trained chef, CIA-trained owner/baker, but it's cafeteria-style on styrofoam plates, so the most you can spend is around $8.95. They've got salads/sandwiches (including in-house roasted roast beef & turkey), but the best bets are the hot entrees. I've been especially happy lately with the Italian-style (meaning tomatoes and red wine, I guess) pot-roast, as well as a similarly-prepared pork shoulder. You get your entree plus a choice of two side vegetables. Last month around Thanksgiving, they were doing a lot of turkey-related catering so Bryan had a bunch of turkey livers; he sauteed me some with white wine & mustard & they were divine. Only open for lunch M-F.
                                      4) Spice & Curry -- I still haven't gotten around to ordering off the menu here, because the buffet lures me in every time. There's some ownership overlap between Spice & Curry and Udupi, and although the buffet is still a buffet (i.e. there's still dried-out tandoor chicken on it), it seems like there's a wider selection/rotation of vegetable dishes than at a lot of the other Indian buffets.

                                      The other day I noticed that the Jamaican half of Sal's Birdland had split off & moved into the kiss-of-death hidden storefront where Uncle Frenchy's used to be (and the Indian sweet shop has been for the past few years), in the backmost strip-center next to Big Lots, behind the Dog House & Vit Goal. Haven't been in there yet, and I almost don't want to, as I'm afraid it will spoil my overly-fond memories of Uncle Frenchy's.

                                      Other neighborhoods:

                                      In the 9th Street area, I'm pretty fond of the frybread taco at Xiloa; get the shredded pork in the red sauce.

                                      And of course, on Wednesdays & Saturdays there's the harder-core Vietnamese menu next door at Banh's. The vegetarian special (fried tofu, sticky rice, broccoli & bok choy, all swimming in black bean sauce) is justly famous, although I've had it so many times I developed some kind of black bean salt oversaturation & I've had to lay off for a while. If you've only been to Banh's on the other 5 days of the week, or if you've ordered off the regular menu or the steam table, then you've missed the only food really worth seeking out there.

                                      Moving east towards downtown, my votes of course go to Federal and Piedmont (which is apparently do-able at lunch for under $10, though I haven't attempted it myself yet).

                                      In Chapel Hill/Carrboro:

                                      Lately I've been returning frequently to the Mediterranean Deli, primarily for the Baba Ghanouj, but more generally for the fact that you can get the 3-way vegetarian selection for like $6.

                                      Sandwhich's sandwiches are, IMHO, actually worth the $8+ they charge for them, but if you can't clear that hurdle yourself, don't forget the various African Tuna combinations at the Skylight Exchange. The rest of the sandwiches on the menu range from okay to serviceable to hits-the-spot (assuming you're in the mood for, say, a peanut-butter-and-banana), but the African Tuna with bacon is divine.

                                      The fish tacos are the best thing at Carrburritos, and can be had for under $10. I'm still trying to figure out why, with Don Jose across the street, they don't start offering soft corn tortillas as an option.

                                      And finally, of course, nearly everything on the menu at Fiesta Grill can be had for under $10

                                      I can't say much about Raleigh, since I haven't lived there in 10 years & only get over there about once a month, but when I *do* get over there, a trip to the Roast Grill, or to Dalat for the now-semi-secret Banh Mi, is usually in order.

                                      I'm not sure if it's possible to make a meal solely on them, but the beef patties at Cafe Cafe/Mawa Royal African Cuisine (behind the Denny's/Bahama Breeze on Wake Forest Rd. just outside the Beltline) are quite possibly the best savory-filling-in-a-pastry-pocket food items in the Triangle.