Dining out on a budget doesn't have to mean settling for second-rate fare. Every true foodie knows menu prices aren't synonymous with quality — you just have to know where to look.
Many mom and pop restaurants serve up entrees far superior to their high-end counterparts at a fraction of the price. Find out where to get the best cheap eats in every state, so you never make the mistake of overpaying for a great meal again.
Alabama — New China Town
- Mongolian Beef $7.75
Open every day but Sunday, New China Town in Birmingham serves up delicious Chinese fare at impressively affordable prices — which is perfect if you want to eat out but still save money. Yelpers rave about the Mongolian beef, and the generous portion size will leave you satisfied on all fronts.
If you don't eat meat, the restaurant serves a vegetarian version of this dish for $6.45. New China Town also allows you to order takeout online, because sometimes the best pairing for a delicious entrée is your couch.
Alaska — Top Bop
- Poke Bop $9.99
Head to Top Bop's Muldoon Road location in Anchorage to satisfy your hunger without breaking your budget. Yelp reviewers praise the poke bop, touting it as fresh and flavorful.
Already an incredible value, this sparkling clean restaurant has a coupon for $1 off any entrée on Yelp, so be sure to send it to your phone prior to your visit. Drawing inspiration from Korean, Japanese and Chinese fare, one visit might be all it takes for this Asian fusion restaurant to join your list of favorites. If you're a tourist who's seeing the top Alaska sights, it's also a good option for sampling the local fare.
Arizona — Veggie Village
- Kung Pao Chicken $8.95
Located in Phoenix, Veggie Village serves up mouth-watering Asian fusion fare with a twist — all menu items are meatless. Yelpers aren't missing the meat a bit. In fact, people rave about the restaurant's Kung pao chicken, consisting of zucchini, bell peppers, dried peppers, peanuts, snow peas and meatless chicken.
All items can be customized to fit a vegan diet, making the restaurant a great fit for everyone. Enjoy eating guilt-free without sacrificing an ounce of taste at this E. Northern Avenue gem.
Arkansas — Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Cooking
- Spicy Chicken $9.50
The name says it all. Mr. Chen's Authentic Chinese Cooking serves up affordable fare sure to delight your taste buds. If you can take the heat, order the spicy chicken, which comes with rice and can be tailored to satisfy your preferred level of zest.
This family-friendly restaurant is great for groups, and it's also attached to an enormous Asian grocery store. Feed your hunger, then head over to the market to stock your kitchen pantry.
California — Ktown Pho
- Pho Tai $7.49 (small) or $8.49 (large)
If you want cheap eats in Los Angeles, head to Koreatown for a truly delicious experience. Situated on Western Avenue, Ktown Pho is an unassuming spot offering serious bang for your buck.
Consisting of thinly-sliced rare steak cooked in a steaming bowl of delicious broth, the pho tai has won the Yelp seal of approval. Technically, you have a choice between a large and small bowl, but go big and save the rest for later if you can't finish it on the spot.
Gilroy Garlic Festival: California Has Cheap Food Festivals, Too
Colorado — J’s Noodles Star Thai
- Country Pad Thai Noodles $8.95
If you're in Southwest Denver, make a beeline for J's Noodles Star Thai, one of the best cheap restaurants around.
Yelpers applaud the country pad thai noodles, with many claiming it's the best take on the dish they've ever had. Treat your taste buds to rice noodles stir-fried with tamarind, radishes, egg, bean sprout, green onion, ground peanuts and your choice of chicken, beef, pork or tofu.
Connecticut — Chap’s Grille
- The Final Exam $9
Yale isn't the only place serving up final exams in New Haven. Decidedly more delicious, Chap's Grille's version of The Final Exam consists of two pancakes or French toast, two eggs any style, bacon, sausage and home fries.
Many Yelpers consider this meal a cheap eats staple, as it's a seriously tasty value. If you're not a morning person, don't worry, the restaurant serves breakfast all day long.
Don't Miss: Free Things to Do in Every State
Delaware — Newport Family Restaurant
- Grilled Chicken Breast Platter $9.50
One of the most charming mom and pop restaurants around, Wilmington's Newport Family Restaurant is a gem. The menu is filled with items sure to rouse your hunger, but the grilled chicken breast platter is a standout. Enjoy grilled chicken, two vegetables and bread and butter at a seriously reasonable price. Going strong since 1982, this restaurant is cash only, but if you forget, there's an ATM onsite.
Florida — A Bit of Saigon
- Pho Bo $9
If you want a quality meal without a high price tag, head to A Bit of Saigon on Jacksonville's Southside for traditional Vietnamese fare. Rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, this is clearly one of the best cheap restaurants in town. Made from scratch, Yelpers are partial to the pho bo, which is beef noodle soup, with a choice of cooked beef, rare beef, beef meatball, tripe or tendon.
Georgia — Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant
- Sweet and Sour Chicken $7.75
You don't have to follow a meatless diet every day to enjoy Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant's delicious take on Chinese food. Located approximately 15 miles northeast of Atlanta, this Chamblee outpost serves up vegetarian sweet and sour chicken so tasty, you won't believe it's not actually chicken. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, but otherwise open until 10:30 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends, making it a great spot when you need a late-night bite.
Hawaii — Pho Bistro 2
- House Special Pho Combo (regular-sized) $9.45
Whether you're a Honolulu local or a tourist, Pho Bistro 2 offers cheap eats that don't disappoint. The menu includes much to choose from, but give the house special pho combo a try. A meat lover's delight, the dish is a mix of rare steak, brisket, tripe, beef balls and tendon. All pho is seasoned with the bistro's special spices and served with a generous portion of fresh vegetables.
Idaho — Dixie’s Diner
- Eggs Benedict $8.79
One of the most charming mom and pop restaurants in Idaho Falls, Dixie's Diner is serious about its food. Breakfast is an all-day event at this eatery, so take heed from local Yelpers and order the eggs Benedict. Your taste buds will thank you for delighting them with this open-faced English muffin, topped with hickory-smoked ham, two poached eggs and the restaurant's creamy hollandaise sauce.
Illinois — Cafe Orient 33
- Bulgogi $9.95
Chicago is a foodie's delight, but when it comes to cheap restaurants, Café Orient 33 is the standout. Located in Albany Park, Yelpers flock to this Korean eatery for its bulgogi. One bite of marinated beef — served with a side of white rice — will have you hooked. The restaurant is closed Tuesdays, so plan your visit accordingly.
Learn Their Tricks: Sneaky Ways Restaurants and Bars Convince You to Spend More
Indiana — King Wok
- Bun Bo Hue $8.99
Indiana's best cheap eats can be found at King Wok on Lafayette Road in Indianapolis, across the street from the Lafayette Square Mall. This family-owned Vietnamese restaurant offers authentic dishes and a cozy ambiance.
You won't be disappointed with the bun bo hue, a spicy vermicelli soup with beef and pork. Paired with fast and friendly service, don't be surprised if you turn into a regular at this restaurant.
Iowa — High Life Lounge
- Chicken Pot Pie $9.99
A delightful Des Moines dive bar, the High Life Lounge is as serious about its food as its commitment to the "Champagne of Beers." Yelpers have vouched for the chicken pot pie, consisting of a puff pastry stuffed with chicken and vegetables, topped off with a smothering of gravy.
A local celebrity in its own right, the establishment was featured on the Travel Channel's "Man Vs. Food." Already one of the best cheap restaurants around, Yelp offers seven percent cash back if you join its rewards program and pay at High Life Lounge with a linked credit or debit card.
Don't Get Duped: Worst Gourmet Food Items to Order at a Restaurant
Kansas — Chiang Mai Thai
- Padd Thai $6.95
For cheap eats in Kansas, look no further than Wichita's Chiang Mai Thai. Yelpers are obsessed with the restaurant's padd thai, and multiple even call it the best in town. Sure to delight, the dish contains stir-fried noodles, green onions, ground peanuts, bean sprouts and your choice of chicken, pork, beef or shrimp. Located two blocks from McConnell Air Force Base, this casual eatery is a great spot for a quiet family dinner.
Kentucky — Shamrock Bar & Grille
- Bangers and Mash $8.99
Gloriously Irish, the Shamrock Bar and Grille on Patchen Drive in Lexington is one of the best mom and pop restaurants for your buck. Naturally, you'll want to order the pub favorite, bangers and mash, which consists of grilled sausages and Guinness gravy, topped with a serving of mashed potatoes. A great place to watch the game or catch up with friends, this late-night spot is open until 2:30 a.m. on weekends and 1 a.m. on weeknights.
Louisiana — Pho Bistreaux
- Vegetarian Pho $8.75
Thanks to Pho Bistreaux, you don't have to drop a ton of cash to enjoy a great meal in New Orleans. Located in Leonidas, Yelpers have glowing remarks for the vegetarian pho — served with rice or vermicelli — so consider going meatless, even if that's not your typical diet.
Plan accordingly: The restaurant is not open on Mondays, it closes at 3 p.m. on Sundays and it's not open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Maine — Tu Casa Salvadoreno Restaurant
- Chicken Burrito $7
Dishing up cheap eats in Portland's East Bayside section, Tu Casa Salvadoreno Restaurant offers authentic Salvadoran fare. Great for groups, the chicken burrito has earned high marks from Yelpers as a sure bang for your buck. Served with lettuce and refried beans, your stomach will thank you. Please note, the restaurant is closed on Saturdays, but is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday.
Maryland — American Asian
- Thai Panang Curry Combination Platter $9.75
Open every day of the year except Thanksgiving, American Asian has been paying homage to East Asia since opening its doors in 2008. Located in Halethorpe — just outside Baltimore — Yelp critics agree the Thai Panang curry is a must-order.
You can get the most for your money by opting for the Thai Panang curry combination platter, which includes the dish served with chicken, beef, shrimp or vegetarian, along with rice, a pork egg roll and your choice of wonton soup, egg drop soup, hot sour soup, miso soup or soda.
Massachusetts — New Dong Khanh
- Pho Sate $7
Instead of dropping serious cash on a fancy meal in Boston, head to the city's Chinatown neighborhood for authentic Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine from the family-owned New Dong Khanh. Yelpers recommend the pho sate, a beef noodle soup dish composed of thinly-sliced rare beef flank steak, served with a dollop of sate sauce. It also comes with white rice noodles, bean sprouts and mint leaves, which you can be added to your liking.
Save Money Before Dinner, Too: 101 Ways to Save This Summer
Michigan — Taqueria Mi Pueblo
- Super Burro Dinner $7.55
If you're looking for a cheap restaurant that can satisfy a serious hunger, Taqueria Mi Pueblo in Southwest Detroit is your place. Hailing from Jalisco, Mexico, the owners take pride in serving fresh, authentic fare.
Put your appetite to the test with the super burro, a 12-inch flour tortilla stuffed with tomato, cilantro, onions, cheese and your choice of meat. Add rice and beans to the side for the complete Super Burro Dinner. Cheese on top can be added for $1 more.
Minnesota — Quang Restaurant
- Com Ga Xao $8
Visit Quang Restaurant in the Minneapolis neighborhood of Whittier to stretch your dollar, without sacrificing an ounce of quality. This family-owned Vietnamese restaurant has been serving up delicious cheap eats since 1989. Order the com ga xao — lemongrass chicken caramelized with onions — despite the spicy notation on the menu, Yelpers claim it isn't too hot to handle.
Mississippi — Mr. Chen’s
- Chen's Crazy Spicy Chicken $8.50
If you're in Jackson, run, don't walk to Mr. Chen's, located on Interstate 55 North. Yelpers can't get enough of Chen's Crazy Spicy Chicken, making this the obvious choice, especially if you like your food spicy and cheap. When it comes to the level of hotness served up, you're in the driver's seat, so opt for anything from not spicy to extra hot.
Missouri — Vietnam Cafe
- Bun Thap Cam $7.25
If you want to enjoy the cheap eats at Vietnam Café in downtown Kansas City, line up. Rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, this Vietnamese establishment doesn't take reservations, but tends to draw a serious crowd.
When ordering, you really can't go wrong, but opt for the bun thap cam — Vermicelli topped with pork, shrimp and egg rolls. Customize the dish to your liking with fresh bean sprouts, chopped iceberg lettuce, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, a side of the eatery's house fish sauce and a topping of crunchy peanuts.
Montana — Murry’s
- Fruit Yogurt Waffle $8
Known for serving up cheap eats with a twist, Murry's in downtown Helena has an inventive menu that will keep you coming back for more. This breakfast, lunch and brunch spot has a thing for creative waffles, so do yourself a favor and order the fruit yogurt waffle. This involves your choice of a Murry's Belgian waffle or an oatmeal waffle, topped with Greek yogurt, seasonal fruit, Murry's Original Granola and real maple syrup.
Nebraska — Salween Thai
- Pad See Yew $7.95
Salween Thai's Radial Highway location is among the best cheap restaurants in Omaha. Yelpers stand behind the pad see yew, a dish made with wide rice noodles, broccoli, carrots, sauce and your choice of chicken, pork, beef or tofu. Plan your visit accordingly, as the restaurant closes from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is not open on Sundays.
Nevada — Thai Pan Cuisine
- Pad Thai $7.95
The best cheap eats in Nevada can be found off the Strip in Las Vegas at Thai Pan Cuisine. The restaurant website touts its pad thai as the best in town, a statement Yelpers overwhelmingly support. Obviously, you'll order the pad thai and your taste buds will thank you for treating them to a glorious mix of rice noodles, egg, tofu, bean sprouts, scallions, peanuts and your choice of chicken, beef, pork, tofu or veggies.
New Hampshire — Golden Tao Restaurant
- Szechuan Spicy Beef Combination Special $7.95
Rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, Manchester's Golden Tao Restaurant stretches your dollar by delivering serious taste. The Szechuan spicy beef combination special is an excellent value, consisting of the main course and a choice of one appetizer — egg roll, chicken wings, chicken fingers, crab rangoon, beef teriyaki, chicken teriyaki, fried shrimp or boneless ribs. Plus, you'll get pork fried rice and your choice of hot and sour soup or egg drop soup.
New Jersey — Taqueria Viva Mexico
- Pollo Flautas $8
Head to Taqueria Viva Mexico in Jersey City to satisfy your inner foodie without going broke. The pollo flautas are one of this cheap restaurants' most popular items — and many Yelpers have vouched for them — so take this as your ordering cue. When your meal arrives, sink your teeth into the five rolled crispy tacos topped with sour cream, lettuce, Mexican cheese, your choice of hot sauce and avocado.
New Mexico — Papa Nacho’s
- Machaca Burrito $9.49
Papa Nacho's treats Albuquerque to authentic Mexican fare at refreshingly low prices. Yelpers know food, and they can't get enough of the machaca burrito, so follow their lead. As if the burrito wasn't filling enough on its own, you'll also get a side of beans and cheese, smothered in red or green chile sauce.
New York — Saigon Shack
- Classic Beef Pho $9
Saigon Shack is the place for cheap eats in New York City. Located in Greenwich Village, this popular Vietnamese spot is cash only, but patrons are undeterred. Yelp foodies rave about the classic beef pho --a noodle soup containing fresh thinly-sliced raw beef, topped with scallions, cilantro and onions. The dish comes with a side of bean sprouts, jalapeños, basil and lime, so you can tailor it to your liking.
North Carolina — Taqueria La Unica
- Chimichanga Dinner $8.99
Delight your taste buds with a trip to family-owned and operated Taqueria La Unica in Indian Trail. Yelpers have glowing reviews for the chimichangas, so order the dinner and feast on the deep-fried flour tortilla, stuffed with ground beef or chicken, topped with nacho cheese. As if that's not enough food on its own, you'll also get a side of rice, beans, lettuce, tomato and sour cream.
Make Dessert Yourself and Save: 15 Best Things to Dip in Chocolate Under $5
North Dakota — Viet Palace
- Pho Tai Bo $9.25
Pricewise, Viet Palace in Fargo falls into the cheap restaurants category, but the quality of the food makes it a serious value. Rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, one visit to this Vietnamese restaurant will turn you into a regular. Deciding what to order can be a challenge, but opt for the pho tai bo — a beef meatball and sliced beef rice noodle soup. Customize it with the bean sprouts, lime, jalapeno and basil served on the side.
Ohio — Maya
- Burritos Deluxe $8.75
Stuff yourself silly with gloriously cheap eats at Maya in Berea. The burritos deluxe dish at this Mexican restaurant comes with not one, but two burritos — one chicken and beans and one ground beef and beans — covered with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. A meal that size means you'll likely have leftovers, making it an even better value.
Oklahoma — Couscous Cafe
- Gyro Platter $8.50
It's one of Oklahoma City's cheap restaurants, but Couscous Café offers serious international flair. Yelpers recommend the gyro at this Moroccan and Mediterranean spot, so get the most for your dollar by ordering the gyro platter. In addition to the delicious gyro meat, the platter includes rice and a Moroccan salad.
Oregon — Chai Thai
- Evil Jungle $9
Housed in a delightfully unassuming strip mall in Portland's Hazelwood neighborhood, Chai Thai is the spot for cheap eats. Yelpers swear by the Evil Jungle — Thai special curry sauce, rice noodles, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, basil and your choice of chicken, pork, beef or tofu — so follow their lead and see what the fuss is all about.
Pennsylvania — Cafe Nhan
- Bun Bo Hue $9
When in Philadelphia, keep your eyes peeled for Cafe Nhan, as blinking might cause you to miss this tiny Vietnamese spot. Yelpers are crazy for the bun bo hue, so take their advice and order it. Plan to have a new favorite meal after one bite of this spiced, Hue-style beef noodle soup. This Passyunk Avenue eatery is closed on Sundays.
Don't Miss: The Most Insane Restaurant Markups
Rhode Island — Pho Horn’s
- Pho Dac Biet $8.95 (small) $9.95 (large)
Tucked away in a Pawtucket strip mall, Pho Horn's is a hidden treasure. This authentic Vietnamese restaurant offers plenty of palate-pleasing options, but give the pho dac biet a try. Enjoy your choice of rice noodles — pho — or yellow noodles — mi-- with sliced steak, well-done brisket, flank, tendon and tripe in a beef broth with scallions, onion and cilantro. Make the soup your own with the bean sprouts, fresh basil, sliced lime and jalapeños served with it.
South Carolina — Real Mexico Restaurant Y Tienda
- Taco Dinner $7.99
Enjoy a delicious Mexican feast at Real Mexico Restaurant Y Tienda in Columbia without breaking your budget. Order the taco dinner to sink your teeth into three beef or chicken tacos — hard or soft — topped with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. The meal also comes with a side of rice and beans, ensuring you leave feeling fully satisfied.
South Dakota — Lam’s Restaurant
- Spicy Pho $9.99
The best cheap eats in South Dakota can be found at Lam's Restaurant in Sioux Falls. Multiple Yelpers have vouched for the spicy pho, so place an order and enjoy it for yourself. Served with beef shank and seasoned with lemongrass, the restaurant menu claims it isn't too hot to handle, making it a pleasing choice even if you don't typically gravitate toward spicy foods. This Vietnamese restaurant is closed on Mondays.
On the Other End of the Spectrum: These Five-Star Restaurants Are Worth Every Penny
Tennessee — King Market Cafe
- Pad Malaysian $8
Located inside the King Market grocery store on Antioch Pike in Nashville, the King Market Café is a popular Thai restaurant serving up cheap eats. Yelpers can't get enough of the pad Malaysian, so take this as a sign that it's really, really good. Treat your taste buds to this stir-fried flat thick rice noodle dish, containing eggs, Chinese sausage and sprouts, with your choice of chicken, beef, pork or tofu in a spicy Sriracha and soy sauce mix.
Texas — Aim Thai Restaurant
- Fried Rice Meal $6.99
Family-friendly, cheap restaurants aren't necessarily known for serving outstanding cuisine, but Aim Thai Restaurant in the Acres Homes neighborhood of Houston is the exception. This authentic eatery has an extensive menu, but opt for a classic fried rice meal. A choice of chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, ham or tofu allows you to make the dish your own.
Utah — Tosh’s Ramen
- Karai Ramen $9.95
Treat yourself to a gourmet meal without breaking your budget at Tosh's Ramen in Salt Lake City's Liberty Wells area. There's plenty to choose from, but Yelpers overwhelmingly cite the karai ramen as their favorite, so trust their judgment.
Vermont — Papa Frank’s Italian Restaurant
- Lasagna $8.50
Brimming with old school charm, Papa Frank's Italian Restaurant in Winooski serves up cheap eats and friendly service. It's hard to go wrong with your order at this neighborhood joint, but the lasagna is a favorite of many Yelpers. Choose meat or vegetarian, and enjoy it with a side of pasta and garlic bread.
Virginia — San Jose Mexican Restaurant and Taquiera
- Burrito al Pastor $9.99
Enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine made from scratch at San Jose Mexican Restaurant and Taquiera in Virginia Beach. Delicious cheap eats are plentiful at this fun eatery, but go for the burrito al pastor. This large burrito is stuffed with marinated pork, beans, rice, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream, and topped with cheese sauce.
Washington — An Nam Pho
- Steak and Brisket Pho $7.95 (small) $8.95 (large)
Dine on authentic Vietnamese fare at An Nam Pho in Seattle's Roosevelt neighborhood. The restaurant offers plenty of dishes you might not have seen before, so treat yourself to an order of the steak and brisket pho. Served with rice noodles, yellow onion, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, your choice of broth — traditional beef, chicken, vegetarian or spicy beef — and a side of bean sprouts, lime and fresh Asian basil.
West Virginia — Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill
- Pulled Pork Dinner with Sweet Potato Casserole and Mac and Cheese $9.50
If you're in Charleston, delight your palate with a trip to Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill. Rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, this barbecue spot is a local favorite. Yelpers rave about the pulled pork, so make it a dinner with the eatery's mouth-watering sweet potato casserole and mac and cheese as your sides. Prepare to leave with the meat sweats.
More Great Eats: The Best Barbecue Deals in Every State
Wisconsin — El Salvador Restaurant
- Salpicon $8.99
Visit El Salvador Restaurant in Milwaukee's Lincoln Village area to take your appetite on a Central American vacation. Be adventurous and order the salpicon — a dish containing boiled beef mixed with onions and spices. These cheap eats will satisfy your hunger and broaden your horizons.
Wyoming — Penny’s Diner
- Chicken Fried Steak $9.99
One of Cheyenne's most charming mom and pop restaurants also serves seriously good food. Quell your hunger pangs with the chicken fried steak, listed on the menu as an all-time favorite. Savor this eight-ounce portion of beef that's battered, fried and dripping in savory country gravy. Your dinner also comes with a garden salad, vegetable and choice of potato, ensuring your appetite will be satisfied.