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THEY WANT HOW LITTLE? Reasonable Beyond Belief Food Pricing In Austin Part 1

Poster Dilley informed us of Garrido's ten dollar 3 course lunch special and that sounds incredible.

This post will narrate how reasonable certain Austin restaurants are when it comes to pricing their food.

I haven't been to Players in awhile but I do recall them putting out a really good burger combo for about $5, which is half what a lot of places around town charge.

Where are y'all going to get the good bargains in town?

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  1. Ronnie's Real Food Cafe is currently offering an all-inclusive FIVE course meal on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday for only $20. That's appetizer, soup, entree, salad, dessert, coffee or tea, tax, and tip. Ronnie greets you at the door, makes the food, serves the food, and cleans the table after you leave. Kinda like going to dinner at a kindly uncles house.

    Ronnie's Real Foods
    205 S Commons Ford Rd, Austin, TX 78733

    1. Bahn Mi at Tam Deli or Thanh Ni. Don't remember the exact cost at either, but both are very reasonable.

      Tam Deli & Cafe
      8222 N Lamar Blvd Ste D33, Austin, TX 78753

      3 Replies
      1. re: TroyTempest

        You can get a Bahn Mi sandwich, one spring roll (you have to smile and ask politely) and a cream puff for about $5.50 at Tam's.

        What about the Pollo Asada places? Used to be you could get whole grilled chicken, beans, tortillas and salsas for $10. Haven't been in a while.

        Garrido's is a great deal for being downtown. The tortillas are usually fresh and tasty. Highly recommend asking if they have the brisket taco with truffle aoli (which is a bit off topic at $5 but worth splitting if you go).

          1. re: TroyTempest

            El Pollo Rico is a recent discovery of mine. The fact that you can go through a drive through and buy a whole chicken, tortillas, and two sides for 13 bucks (ish) tickles me! The tacos are really good two, and I love how they put half a lime in my bag without me even asking.
            I just finished eating a Vietnamese ham bahn mi from Tam's...So, do they put crack in the bread or what? If I don't get Tam Deli every, hmmmm, two weeks I get cranky, so I schlep from the south and its always totally worth it.

            Tam Deli & Cafe
            8222 N Lamar Blvd Ste D33, Austin, TX 78753

          2. Not sure if there's an online menu anywhere or not, but Little China over on Metric near Parmer (close to the North Ridge AustinCC campus) has great lunch specials.

            Their lunch specials, if I recall correctly, include soup, fried rice and egg roll and cost about $4.95 to $5.95.

            Good portions, really good food.

            Little China
            1921 Cedar Bend Dr Ste 101A, Austin, TX 78758

            1. Sarah's Mediterranean Market seems (te me) to be pretty cheap for what you get.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rudeboy

                Second that. A full dinner plate is about $7. Tasty food, friendly people.

                El Greco
                3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

              2. Baguette House: Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) and a pate chaud (flaky pastry with pork) all for less than $5.

                Baguette House & Cafe
                10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

                1. Romeos' does $30 for 2 entrees, 1 dessert or appetizer and a liter of house wine!
                  Also have live music in the piano bar nightly.

                  1. I should add that that lunch special is only available Tue - Fri.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Steven Dilley

                      is this a twitter/facebook/whatever special?
                      i don't see it on their website.

                      1. re: dinaofdoom

                        I've never seen it on their website, but they'll hand you the special menu along with the regular lunch menu upon being seated. Might be worth calling ahead, just in case.

                    2. I should add Arpeggio grill here. The regular menu is already pretty good, but during lunch, they offer a meat and three sides option that is an amazing bargain. I can't find the menu online, but I believe it's about $6. For me, this usually means kofta kabob, hummus, falafel, and tabouli, but they also have gyro meat, schwarma, Greek salad, fatoush, dolmas, and probably some more things that I'm forgetting. Oh, and rice and pita come with!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gilintx

                        Buyer beware. I can only speak for the beef and chicken shawarma, but we found the meats to be VERY low-quality. At a time that we were ravenously hungry, we could only get through half.

                        1. re: gilintx

                          Second that strongly. The $7.99 lunch deal is the bomb. Meat choice + 3 great, fresh sides...salad..bread..best food-of-it's- type in Austin, great taste, huge portions! Don't miss this place!

                          Arpeggio Grill
                          6619 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

                        2. Some of the best deals in town:

                          1. Free nacho bar at Happy Hour at Chuy's
                          2. New Oriental Korean Market on Airport
                          3. Buffet Palace at 3:30 pm on weekdays (pay lunch price, dinner starts at 4 pm)
                          4. Baguette House in Chinatown ($3.50 for a large sandwich)
                          5. Mr Gattis buffet, but only when you have a 2-for-1 coupon (they send out often), which works out to $3.75/person. I make special requests. Also a decent salad bar.
                          6. Thai House on Burnet (2-for-1 lunch buffets on weekends = $6.50/person, refillable drinks, tax and tip inclusive)
                          7. Fresh Choice, when you have the 25% off coupon for email sign-up on their website (~$6/person)
                          8. Has anyone been to the vegetarian buffet at the Buddhist Temple on Cap Tx Hwy? (suggested donation $5)

                          Fresh Choice Restaurant
                          9761 Great Hills Trl, Austin, TX 78759

                          Buffet Palace Restaurant
                          2601 S Interstate 35 Ste B200, Round Rock, TX 78664

                          Baguette House & Cafe
                          10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: conquer

                            La Reyna has a free taco bar at happy hour also.

                            1. re: achtungpv

                              And great lunch specials daily. $5.99 I believe.

                          2. Lunch at Thai Cuisine on Parmer (next to Tomo). Buy an entree (~$8) and get full access to the soup, salad, and appetizer bar. Fill up from the bar and save most of your entree for dinner.

                            Thai Cuisine
                            4101 W Parmer Ln Ste F, Austin, TX 78727

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: verily

                              this is definitely one of the best deals around.
                              it's available saturdays and sundays, too, so you can pig out on cheap thai any day of the week.

                              1. re: dinaofdoom

                                I third that one, although I usually feel kinda bad about asking for the to go box if I fill up too much on the buffet. If you are a big eater, you could do some serious eating here....

                              2. re: verily

                                Java Noodles on E Oltorf has a similar deal.

                                Java Noodles Restaurant
                                2400 E Oltorf St Ste 14, Austin, TX 78741

                                1. re: verily

                                  thai cuisine has a morgan's deal today:
                                  $9 for $20
                                  and, it can be used at lunch, which includes the appetizer bar.

                                  (i hope this link works; it prompts you for a city and your email first, but i subscribe already)

                                2. I haven't been in a while, but La Tapatia used to serve an incredible amount of okay to fairly good mexican food for an incredibly low price.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                    they still do!
                                    love the chips with the salsa and green sauce.
                                    i always order the same thing: combo plate w/ chicken and pork.
                                    it comes with tortillas, rice and refried beans, and avo/tomato/shredded lettuce.
                                    with a hefty tip i walk out for about $8.50, with leftovers for another meal.

                                    they also have a really good 3 breakfast taco deal (i think it's $2.50 for two ingredients?).
                                    if you don't mind them all wrapped up together, it's great.
                                    sometimes i bring a boatload into work for my team and it costs a lot less than any other place around.

                                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                                      Sorry, I just don't understand the fascination with La Tapatia. The times I have been it was usually barely OK, and the last time I went with a friend it was horrid. And expensive to boot! I can find much better food for much less almost anywhere else. I have never been for breakfast though, so maybe that is their specialty.

                                      1. re: danny_w

                                        Second that. Tapatia is only OK, while my little nabe joint, Olmecas, has $2.99 breakfast plates till eleven every day & the food rocks. Blows away Tapatia!!!

                                        Olmecas Mexican Restaurant
                                        2121 E Oltorf St Ste 16, Austin, TX 78741

                                      2. re: dinaofdoom

                                        I am speaking of the north 183 location btw.

                                        1. re: danny_w

                                          I've had the same experience at La Tapatia. We live right by the 183 location and won't go because it's so bad. Maybe I'll try the breakfast tacos sometime.

                                          1. re: stephanieh

                                            The 183 and Anderson Mill location is completely different than the other locations. And is the only one I would eat at.

                                            In the past I have enjoyed their chicken flautas plate, crispy chicken tacos and all breakfast items. They used to serve the best chorizo, it was not dripping grease like most but yet was still very tasty. Now the chorizo is greasy and not as flavorful. The other breakfast items seem the same. Breakfast is the only meal I would go for.

                                            1. re: missmitzi

                                              i had a breakfast plate today and it was good and cheap.
                                              eggs scrambled w/ meat (mine was bacon), refried beans, potatoes, a slice of ham, tortillas and salsa.
                                              it was $2.98 with tax if you go before 11.

                                              1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                I finally tried the breakfast tacos. They are good and cheap! Their potatoes were cooked perfectly and the chorizo had good flavor, plus they were generous with it. I wish they were a little friendlier, but I'm glad you guys talked me into trying them again.

                                                1. re: stephanieh

                                                  did you get the 3 bundled together deal?
                                                  because that is some serious bargain chow.
                                                  i have ordered a boatload for my team at work.
                                                  if i went somewhere else, it would have cost a fortune for 2-4 dozen.
                                                  people never seem to mind prying them apart.

                                                  if you like heat, be sure to ask for the green sauce.
                                                  it's not a verde, but it is quite delicious.
                                                  they don't usually give it unless you ask.

                                                  lately the wait staff have been SO rude and/or non-existent.
                                                  because it's so cheap, i try to shrug it off.

                                                  1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                    I didn't get the 3 bundle. I got two 3-ingredient tacos for $3.03. I had chorizo in both and they were well-stuffed with chorizo. Some places put too much egg, but theirs was well-balanced. I have to get cheese on my bfast tacos. It's a weakness of mine.

                                                    I didn't get the green sauce. I'll ask next time now that I know. I can handle the attitude if I'm getting food to-go, but it discourages me from wanting to eat in.

                                                    1. re: stephanieh

                                                      we have the same weakness-- to me, it's not a breakfast taco w/o cheese.
                                                      nb: they charged me $2 to add cheese to my $3 breakfast plate.
                                                      so, i won't be doing that again.

                                                      as for other options nearby:
                                                      los reyes' breakfasts cost more, but they have good lunch deals.
                                                      their margs are $7 but they are literally an enormous goblet.
                                                      got one at lunch once and learned my lesson.

                                                      jardin corona has a lot more breakfast taco meat options, but they also cost more.
                                                      their lunches are okay if you stick to a combo, otherwise it's pricier.

                                                      1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                        Funny, I've eaten lunch and dinner at Los Reyes and Jardin Corona, and never once did it occur to me they might serve breakfast. I'm not from Austin originally, so I haven't gotten accustomed to "regular restaurants" being open for breakfast.

                                                        Enormous goblet of margarita... I think I hear it calling my name!

                                                        Jardin Corona
                                                        600 S Bell Blvd Ste 13, Cedar Park, TX 78613

                                    2. I'll have to chime in in order of confidence.

                                      Fabi & Rossi's happy hour - muscles are fantastic and when served with bread and a glass of wine is my favorite happy hour in town.

                                      Simplicity on Sunday evening - prices drop considerably and food is quite good.

                                      Happy hour at Gumbo's - Beers are average price, but we usually share a salad and a half price appetizer, cup of soup and are plenty full for under $25.

                                      Guarded - happy hour nachos at Berry Hill on 360 (beef fajita, no guac, extra green chile) is under $10 and easily feeds both of us...but beers are expensive

                                      Din Ho - if you're a group willing to share this place is da-bomb. The $5 soup alone is humongous!

                                      Pino's - best damn tacos in town and super-cheap and the salsa is to die for. Always a stop on the way to/from the boat

                                      Taquerria Arrandas on Burnet - not gourmet by any stretch, but where can you get two huge fajita burritos and two beers for under $10. We just douse our burritios in the two salsas (funny - they won't give you the other one unless you specifically ask for it)

                                      Frans - Another great staple, non-fancy but darn-good burger for under 5 bucks.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: amysuehere

                                        Taquerria Arrandas on Burnet - my absolute favorite for tacos (always get the pork) and migas (the best in town!).

                                        1. re: danny_w

                                          Actually, their enchiladas are pretty darn good as well. Of course it's all because of the tomatillo sauce. I think those are still under $5 for two with rice and beans, but it's been a while since I got them.

                                          1. re: danny_w

                                            They have pretty good breakfast tacos, mainly because of that white cheese.....it has a nutty flavor and melts really well. Anyone know what kind of cheese that is?

                                            The carne asada plate is a real good deal. There's nopalitos and green onions all over it.

                                            PS - if you look them up in the phone book, it is under Taqueria Guadalajara

                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                              My only complaint (and it's minor), when I get tacos for everyone (they're HUGE btw) is that they pack them two to a aluminum wrap, which makes them stick together. It is really great cheese, though.

                                              1. re: amysuehere

                                                The State of Bean and Cheese Tacos In Austin Part 1:

                                                Tamale House #3 on Airport Blvd

                                                .92 cents tax incl.

                                                Plenty manteca, great salsa

                                                I finished my 7 part State of Carnitas and am down to one final installment on State of Barbacoa in Austin Texas series' so I figured it's time to start another one.

                                                Everythings a good value at Tamale House.

                                                Tamale House
                                                5003 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

                                              2. re: rudeboy

                                                rudeboy, I asked last time I got the breakfast tacos at Arandas on Burnet. They told me Monterrey. They do seem to put plenty of cheese on them... not too much, but enough that you can tell they have good melty cheese on them. Some places skimp on cheese.

                                                2129 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

                                                1. re: stephanieh

                                                  Thanks for the info - I wonder what Monterey Cheese actually is? SOme sort fo monterey jack?

                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                    Good question. I remember she just said "Monterey", but in my head I assumed she meant Monterey jack.

                                          2. I like Taqueria Chapala on East Cesar Chavez for breakfast. All plates are $2.79 if you get there before 11 am, and they include beans, your choice of eggs (huevos rancheros, huevos a la Mexicana, scrambled eggs w/ chorizo, etc.), potatoes, and tortillas. It's not the *best* food you can find, but it's incredibly well priced.

                                            1. Strawberry cupcake for a buck at Tamale House #3 on Airport Blvd.

                                              Let's enjoy the cheap food on Airport as long as possible as the city has seen fit to remake the old street "just like South Congress Avenue"

                                              Tamale House
                                              5003 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                                I know about the project on airport, but why is "just like South Congress Avenue"
                                                in quotes?

                                                1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                                  I'm sure others in the city don't mind the run-down shambles of Airport as they're cruising by at 50 mph, but as a nearby resident, I wouldn't mind if the City encouraged redevelopment with infrastructure improvements (my kingdom for a sidewalk, safe places to cross, maybe even some landscaping) and zoning that encouraged redevelopment of the myriad tire/rim/used car shops and convenience stores.

                                                  The seeds are there, like the destination restaurants (Tamale House, Quality Seafood, House Pizza).

                                                  1. re: heyzeus212

                                                    those kind of redevelopments often do cost you your kingdom. tamale house ain't getting by selling 85 cent tacos and paying soco rents. and the tire/rim/used car car shops gotta be somewhere. needs to be a low-rent neighborhood somewhere for low-paid folks, why run 'em off of airport for the sake of landscaping. nothing personal, heyzeus. just venting. been priced out of a lot of newly hip neighborhoods in my day. including this one.

                                                2. I am almost embarassed to put my comment in, but when I am looking for cheap eats I have 2 go-to places.

                                                  Taco Cabbanan's happy hour is half price nachos and $1.5 ritas, so I go with a freind, order 2 ritas and we split a large beef fajita nacho for $6+tax out the door.

                                                  My other spot is Serranos.. fairly similar deal. I get the stuffed Jalapenos for $1.50 and a rita for $2.50 (or a pint of beer for $2) then I just graze the nacho bar untill I am full. $3.50-$4 + tax & tip.. not bad.

                                                  The food sucks, but it is super cheap.

                                                  1. Cheko's in Brentwood has 99 cent breakfast tacos that have twice as much filling as any other standard breakfast tacos. Authentic fillings, too, in addition to the standard stuff there's chicharron, nopalitos, and machacado.

                                                    1304 W Koenig Ln, Austin, TX 78756

                                                    1. Titaya's on N. Lamar has a $6.50 lunch menu Mon-Fri 11:00am-2:30pm. The portions aren't huge, but big enough for me to take half home for later if I'm smart, or big enough to feel uncomfortably full if I'm not too smart about it. Lunch comes with free soup too!

                                                      1. A huge, moist chicken tamal ($2) and a loroco pupusa ($2) at Costa Del Sol makes a tasty meal for under $5.

                                                        Sunflower Cafe has a delicious small-but-filling squid salad with fresh herbs for about $4.

                                                        You can get a fairly generous torta, w/sliced avocado, on a nicely toasted bolillo, for about $4 at El Pollo Rico. Chicken much better than pastor (no surprise!). Quality depends greatly on when you go, but I believe things are better during the day on weekdays.

                                                        Milto's has a pesto cheese bread, topped with tomato slices, a nice late-night snack or light meal for under $4.

                                                        Any of the rice plates at Ho Ho, Din Ho, or First Chinese BBQ [a heaping plate of rice topped
                                                        with BBQ pork, marinated chicken, and a garnish of pickled vegetables for $6-something is a hearty lunch or dinner. Balance the meal with a side of Chinese broccoli or other greens for about $1, and you can still get your fill for under $10, incl. tax+tip.

                                                        If fast food is allowed, Popeye's Tuesday leg-and-thigh deal for $1 is impressive.
                                                        And until the end of the month, you can get a 6-inch Subway cold cut combo for $2.
                                                        For sheer quantity-to-cost ratio, the all-you-can-eat places are nearly unbeatable, of course.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: budgethound

                                                          How about 3 two-ingredient breakfast tacos on handmade corn tortillas for $2 at Mi Casa (on Research Blvd, facing Sea Dragon; can't see them from the road!) or a little more than that at Maria's (behind Mama Roux)?

                                                        2. The downtown Whole Foods is having a sale on Herve Mons Camembert. $3.99 for an 8 oz round.