Not too pricey places for out of towners [Dallas]
I work on Lovers Lane and love both, Dunstan's (Lovers Lane) and Celebration. Also on Lovers Lane. Celebration's evening dinners are all you can eat.
Btw, Dunstan's, serves a 5oz. bacon wrapped filet grilled over a mesquite fire for only $8.95 at lunch. And, it comes with (your choice) 2 sides. Best lunch deal in Dallas.
For an interesting steak place, you might try Love and War in Texas. The food is nothing mind blowing, but out-of-towners seem to love this place. It's what they expect Texas to be.
For Tex Mex, if you're doing brunch, Mattito's also seems to impress. It's the biggest Tex Mex buffet I've ever seen. Again, the food is pretty standard, but my relatives from California loved it.
Both these places easily fit your budget.
Steak is out for under $20 ( or one you would enjoy is)...Tex Mex is what we will look for and skip the margaritas or you'll go over 20...On Lovers across from the Inwood theater is Rafas...very good mexican..Any El Fenix for the cheese enchilada dinner should do the trick...Avila's on Maple is a good one or Matt's in Lakewood...If this guy is from somewhere where he cannot get good Tex-Mex, he will enjoy all of them...Maybe if you go with beer rather than Margaritas you can easily do it under 20...just stick to enchiladas for the most part....
For Steak might be slightly over $20 but not by much is Dunston's Steakhouse on Harry Hines at Empire Central. It has been a Dallas landmark for years before the steakhouse boom arrived. The steaks are cooked on several open pit mesquite fires in the dining room. It is not real fancy but just a solid and inexpensive steak done well. I like it as my steakhouse when I don't have the energy to cook one....which is very rare.
For Tex-Mex I have my favorite four:
Escondidos on Butler near Parkland Hospital. Many of the doctors and nurses from the hospitals eat here for lunch and it is just a great literally "hole-in-the-wall" place. I happen to like the Jaquins special (#2) because you get one of just about everything on the menu but it is a daunting portion of food....if you do finish it prepare for a food coma to follow. Make sure you try a fried taco....they are quite the diet buster!
Tipicos on NW Hwy and Bachman Lake (next to El Pollo Regio, usually clouding up the street with charcoal smoke...great chicken here also too) close to Love Field. Tipicos has a great cheese enchilada plate w/rice&beans. Their refried beans are perhaps some of the best in the city. I still have a few more places to try. All round good food can be found at Tipicos and it won't break the bank.
El Paisa has several locations I like the one in Carrollton the best just b/c it is closes to Lewisville. There are 2 locations on Harry Hines running north from NW Hwy to 635 and one on Walnut Hill between Harry Hines and I35E. Great breakfast and all around taqueria style dishes.
A fourth is El Ranchito my wife loves the thicker corn tortillas here. I like just about anything on the menu. They sometimes have mariachis playing around and it can get loud at times. The food is great and the road less travelled in this part of Dallas. on Jefferson across from the Fiesta.
I agree that steaks under $20 in Dallas proper is a tough proposition. But if you travel about 20 min west of I35, there's a Trail Dust in Arlington which has pretty good tasting and selection of "budget" steaks AND has live music nightly (per their website) - http://www.traildust.com/locations.html
There's also Logan's Roadhouse in Lewisville, about 20 min north of 635. Also good tasting steaks on the cheap. http://www.logansroadhouse.com/lets_e... Buckets of peanuts on each table to munch on while you wait.
For Tex-Mex in Dallas, I'd hit up Ojeda's or Herrera's (sp?), both on Maple. If you go to Herrera's, try the Crazy Nachos - They're a meal!
The options aren't great for steak under $20 - at that point go down to Rudolph's and buy a steak and grill it yourself. I don't remember the prices at Dunston's, but the location on Harry Hines has prime steaks (the location on Lover's is not as good) and it's not super expensive.
The Grape does have their bistro steak frites dinner for around $20. It's a great value and we really love it, but it's not a steakhouse. They also have a superb hamburger available at lunch on Fridays and at Sunday brunch - probably the best burger in town. The Grape also has an excellent happy hour with reasonably priced snacks and wine from 5-7 M-F.
For Tex Mex, we like Matt's in Lakewood, but there are a ton of places on Maple Ave like Avila's that are excellent and equally inexpensive.
First Chinese BBQ is also excellent - get the pork and duck combo and the beef flat noodles.