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ISO Cheap eats Philadephia: looking for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks - all for under $10 a meal

This is a thread I have done in several other cities and now it takes me to Philadelphia. What are your go tos for cheap eats? What else is out there besides hoagies, cheesesteaks and roast porks? Im looking for a place where I could eat there, has some character in terms of owners and staff, and is a generous with portions - I aint on no diet.

Thanks guys.

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  1. For dinner, hit up Hardena on Moore St near 15th. It's a hole in the wall Indonesian rice table place. For under $10 you get a plate of jasmine rice and you get to choose three items from the steam table to top it off. The beef rendang is one of my favorites. You might even have enough left over to spring for a satay.

    1. I just had a great lunch at San Kee in the Wynwood shopping center for $13--a bento box of
      three items, one from columns A,B, and C... My idea of a bargain.

      But, I will tell you the best bargain meals around: Costco in King of Prussia. Where else can
      two people get a fun lunch for $6.52? Sausage and pepper sandwhich, plus one large drink shared. They also have Kosher style hot dogs plus a drink for $1.50. It's kinda far though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bashful3

        There is a San Kee in Chinatown downtown and also in Reading Terminal Market. You can definitely get a nice roast pork/duck platter or noodle soup for well under $10 at either location.

      2. Lots of great places to get pho--a huge bowl for well under $10. Try Pho Ha or Pho 75. Also, the taquerias around 9th street are good cheap meals. Around Rittenhouse, try Philadelphia Chutney Company for dosas.

        1. Sitar India on 38th St near Market St has a tasty Indian buffet under $10 for lunch and slightly over for dinner. Closed on Tuesdays.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Seeker19104

            The Dutch Eating Place in Reading Terminal Market has massive pancakes. It's well under $10 even with an add on like scrapple, bacon, sausage, turkey bacon, or potatoes. They also have two types of french toast and big omelettes. The portions are really big and the atmosphere is great...but you gotta sit at the counter and not do take out to get the full effect. Amish girls take your order. The food is quick and homemade. All kinds of people stop by here. They are only open from Tuesdays to Saturdays. They serve lunch too but it's more of a breakfast place.

            Reading Terminal Market is a good place to get a filling lunch. They do have $7 meal deals too:


            1. re: bluehensfan

              If you are looking for a cheap lunch at RTM, the Sang Kee has a triple dumpling soup that is huge all for about 5 dollars. Three different types of dumplings in a large bowl with cabbage onions and scallions in a flavorful broth. Only downside is the plastic cutlery.

            2. re: Seeker19104

              Second that, I love Sitar India, definitely my Indian Buffet of choice in the Philly area, and very inexpensive for the quality.

            3. Pho and tacos around 9th St are great recs. Also in the Italian Market on 9th St, Paesano's has amazing sandwiches (better than 99% of cheesesteaks), all less than $10 and ample in size. I'd say Paesano's is a can't miss, especially if you are eating < $10. Mama's on 20th St in Center City has great falafel, a large sandwich is $6.00 or so and generous--a whole pita, 7 or 8 falafel balls plus all the fixings. Don't miss the free pickle bar towards the back. For breakfast, Reading Terminal is a great idea as mentioned. You can also get very good breakfast sandwiches at pretty much any street cart in Center City or West Philly, which will be under $5. In general, dinner will be more challenging than lunch so that would be good time to hit the Vietnamese spots in South Philly or Chinatown.

              There are a lot of great options... check out Holly Moore' site for more ideas, I think it will be right up your alley. http://www.hollyeats.com/Philadelphia...

              1 Reply
              1. re: barryg

                Also on 9th are very good tamales (for around $2.50) at Los Amigos Meat Market (maybe weekends only) and pretty good tlocoyos (football shaped tortilla masa "pockets" filled with beans in this case) at the Tortilleria y San Ramon - and they're always happy to give you a free hot tortilla to try with their salsa.

              2. mama's vegetarian at 20th and market is pretty awesome too

                1. What about the suburbs??? If I don't feel like schlepping to center city for a meal, is there anyplace around Abington/Horsham/Willow Grove/Hatboro/Warrington or reasonably close where you can eat cheaply and get a lot of food for your money??

                  6 Replies
                    1. re: paychecktoday

                      Popeyes isn't CHOW, it isn't a Philadelphia chain, and there aren't many Popeyes left
                      in Philly any more, but this is my idea of a secret pleasure naughty lunch.

                      Two pieces of spicy chicken, plus large drink, plus red rice and beans was a treat today
                      on our way home from a funeral. This one was on the corner of Haverford Rd. and City
                      Ave; there is one at the intersection of N. Broad and Huntingpark Ave, and maybe one
                      in the Market East Train concourse.

                      $5.99 + tax. And, if truly ravenous, one could always get a 3 piece platter for a dollar more I think.

                      1. re: Bashful3

                        There are two on S. Broad too; at Catherine St and just north of Snyder Ave.

                        1. re: barryg

                          And a new one just opened on Front near Oregon.

                          1. re: Philly Ray

                            I can see I am not the only Chowhound with a guilty pleasure!

                    2. re: Userfriend

                      Went to a Mexican place called La Morena in Hatboro for the first time on Monday night: http://www.lamorenahatboro.com/menu

                      We had fresh chips drizzled with beans, garnished with cheese, and served with a spicy creamy green salsa and a spicier smoked red salsa; fine guacamole; pretty great tacos (fish, al pastor, lengua) with outstanding char on the lengua (tortillas were just okay), some terrible tortilla soup that tasted like thick chalky tap water; well-grilled nopales that was about 4"x7"; bland chicharron en salsa verde with good beans and meh rice; really enjoyable horchata; and passionfruit agua fresca that was very tart. I think it was about $50 for everything, but you could easily eat for less than $10 and be quite full. Service was friendly and prompt with inquiries as to why the soup was almost completely untouched.

                      Has anyone else eaten here? Is it worth a revisit? If so, what should I get next?

                      Also, revisited El Limon in Conshohocken last night and they were still as good as ever. Not quite in the area mentioned by Userfriend, but the burritos are huge for less than $10.

                    3. Pete's Clown House, 3800 Frankford Ave. (at Pike, near Erie-Torresdale El Stop) for breakfast or lunch. Stuff your self for under $ 10 with generous tip. Food cooked by owner, Ronnie, right at counter. Tons of tables & good, old school staff.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gakski

                        Place looks great and so cheap! Any favs?

                        1. re: blackbookali

                          Creamed chipped beef & home fries.

                      2. Surprised no one has mentioned Lan Zhou and Nan Zhou hand drawn noodle houses in Chinatown. They're among the cheapest places to eat in the city, always under $10 a meal and good for lunch and dinner.

                        And West Philly is full of good, cheap eats. My highlights would be (1) the Vietnamese place at 43rd and Spruce (2) Queen of Sheba, Ethiopian, on Baltimore near 45th...not the only good Ethiopian place but one of the cheapest (3) Le Bercail Restaurant, also Baltimore near 45th...French/African cuisine, more African than French, very cheap, very good. (4) Hummus, a hole-in-the-wall on Walnut near 40th (5) Mexicali on 40th just north of Walnut (6) the Korean place off the back parking lot in the NW corner of Chestnut and 38th.

                        Yeah, that's just what came to mind off the top of my head! Of those (1) has the lightest fare and (3) has the most food for your money.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: cazort

                          Also, ramen from Nom Nom at 18th & Ludlow. Big bowl is $8.50 I think, and worth spending the extra $1 or so for the soft cooked egg. Very good ramen.

                          1. re: cazort

                            Nan Zhou is great...but it's too freaking hot outside these days!

                            1. re: bluehensfan

                              I forgot to mention the New Town Restaurant at 448 N. 9th St. Only open until 3 PM. Great breakfasts & home-made soups. A true Mom & Pop operation with a great waitress. Ample on-street parking.

                          2. Try European Republic in Old City -- Great lunch special for $7 includes a sandwich wrap, homemade soup or their amazing frites, and an iced green tea with honey.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: xtian

                              With a car, Pho 75 would give you a large bowl of wonderful PHo for $6.95, plus free tea.
                              My trick would be to stop in at the cafe next door, and buy a $3 pack of shrimp/pork cold Vietnamese rolls to bring into the PHO 75. Voila: great meal, healthy, for $10.
                              (Adams Ave, not far from the Boulevard)