The Best Cheap Eats in Every Single State
White tablecloths, extravagant wine lists, Michelin stars…there’s a time and a place for a fancy-shmancy meal. But there’s nothing more satisfying than affordable, amazing food. Here: some of the best budget bites ($10 or less) in every U.S. state, plus D.C. (You know, in our humble opinion.)
Alabama: Sweet Tea Fried Chicken Sandwich at Saw’s Soul Kitchen ($7.69)
Since Saw's opened in 2009, it's become the gold standard of soul food and BBQ in Birmingham. And while there's no such thing as a bad fried chicken sandwich, a version this good is hard to come by. It's perfectly fried, juicy and smothered in Alabama white BBQ sauce.
Multiple locations; sawsbbq.com
Alaska: Bacon Cheeseburger at Arctic Roadrunner ($6.50)
Since 1964, this Anchorage joint has been serving some of the best burgers in the whole state. Remember this golden rule: When bacon is on the menu, you order it.
5300 Old Seward Hwy. Anchorage; 907-561-1245 or facebook.com/Arctic-Roadrunner
Arizona: Bacon and Mac Dog at Ted’s Hot Dogs ($4.93)
In 1927, Greek immigrant Theodore Liaros bought a hot dog stand (the original Ted's) for $100. Today, it's still a local favorite...because mac and cheese is a far better hot-dog topper than ketchup or mustard.
1755 E. Broadway Rd., Tempe; 480-968-6678 or tedshotdogs.com
Arkansas: Fried Catfish Basket at Flying Fish ($9.50)
This low-key Little Rock eatery serves all the Cajun classics, from po'boys and grits to jambalaya and crawfish. But the fried catfish basket, featuring two enormous fillets served with hushpuppies and fries, never disappoints.
511 President Clinton Ave. Little Rock; 502-375-3474 or flyingfishinthe.net
California: Carne Asada Burrito at La Taqueria ($6.75)
Say hello to the OG Mission-style burrito. These flour tortillas come stuffed with pinto beans, salsa, grilled beef and avocado…but never rice (according to these guys, that’s just filler). It’s worth the wait every. damn. time.
2889 Mission St., San Francisco; 415-285-7117 or facebook.com/LaTaqSF
Colorado: Empanadas from Maria Empanada ($3.19)
Head to this homey Argentinian café for savory South American pastries. We can’t resist the breakfast version, made with scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, chorizo and salsa.
Multiple locations; mariaempanada.com
Connecticut: Hamburger Sandwich from Louis’ Lunch ($6.25)
Buns are overrated. Once you try one of Louis’ legendary burgers on toast, you may never turn back.
261 Crown St., New Haven; 203-562-5507 or louislunch.com
Delaware: Sandwich at Patty’s Deli ($9)
When every sub on the menu costs less than $10, you’ve got a tough decision to make. Locals love the homemade chicken salad sandwich and the roast beef, paired with herbed boursin cheese.
517 S. Bedford St., Georgetown; 302-253-8692 or pattysdeli.net
Florida: SOBE Club at La Sandwicherie ($9.70)
It’s hard to go wrong at this South Beach sandwich mecca, but after a morning of sun and waves, we find ourselves craving this summery turkey-Brie-and-avocado combo.
Multiple locations; lasandwicherie.com
Georgia: Rib Sandwich At Fat Matt’s Rib Shack ($6.75)
When the ribs are so juicy and tender, they literally fall off the bone, we're talking about a pretty serious sandwich. Order it with a side of mac and cheese (or two).
1811 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta; 404-607-1622 or fatmattsribshack.com
Hawaii: Poke Bowl at Ahi Assassins ($7)
Choose from a selection of fresh fish caught daily, then add brown or white rice and a handful of sauces like shoyu garlic, chili oil or spicy ahi. It’s the biggest, tastiest bowl of fresh fish you’ll ever eat, we promise.
2570 S. Beretania St., Honolulu; 808-372-2930 or ahiassassins.com
Idaho: The Gaucho at Tango’s Empanadas ($3)
You might not expect to find great Argentinean food in the middle of Idaho, but Tango's is the place to go for fried pastries stuffed with meat, cheese and veggies. Our go-to: The classic "Gaucho," with ground beef, eggs, olives, onions, peppers and loads of spices.
701 N. Orchard St., Boise; 208-322-3090 or tangos-empanadas.com
Illinois: Double Dog with Fries at Gene and Jude’s ($3.56)
There are no seats and no ketchup offered at this cash-only, grab-and-go stand. But let us be frank…these Chicago-style dogs are no joke. (See what we did there?)
2720 River Rd., River Grove; 708-452-7634 or geneandjudes.com
Indiana: Tamales at the Tamale Place ($3.49)
Plump and bursting with flavor, this unassuming spot in Indianapolis is known for its savory and sweet versions of the traditional Mayan dish.
5226 Rockville Rd., Indianapolis; 317-248-9771 or thetamaleplace.com
Iowa: Single Patty Walking Ched at Zombie Burger ($8.79)
Not only is this burger topped with mac and cheese, but the bun itself is made of breaded and fried mac. TBH, we’re weak at the knees just thinking about it.
Multiple locations; zombieburgershakelab.com
Kansas: Double Cheeseburger and Tots at Town Topic Hamburgers ($7.90)
At this 24-hour burger shop with three locations in the Midwest, patties are smashed on the grill, then salted and topped with pickles, grilled onions and melted American cheese.
6018 Johnson Dr., Mission; 913-362-8830 or towntopic.com
Kentucky: Chicken Étouffeé at Bourbon n’ Toulouse ($6.50)
This Lexington mainstay is the place to go for authentic Cajun food, especially the beloved spicy chicken and gravy. It isn’t the prettiest plate, but it makes up for its appearance in serious flavor.
829 Euclid Ave., Lexington; 859-335-0300 or ilovecajun.com
Louisiana: Le Pig Mac at Cochon Butcher ($10)
One thing’s for sure: You shouldn't be watching your waistline in NOLA. This towering take on the Big Mac blows McDonald’s out of the water.
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans; 504-588-7675 or cochonbutcher.com
Maine: Literally Anything at The Holy Donut ($3.50)
Twelve bucks gets you a dozen of these freshly baked treats. And trust us, you’re gonna want all the maple bacon doughnuts you can get your hands on.
194 Park Ave., Portland; 207-874-7774 or theholydonut.com
Maryland: Quarter Chicken at Sardi’s Pollo a la Brasa ($9.25)
Your poultry is pulled right off the spit when you order. We’d splurge an extra dollar for light meat, which comes with two sides (hellooo, double serving of fried plantains).
Multiple locations; sardischicken.com
Massachusetts: Italian Sub From Monica’s Mercato ($9)
Hoagies, grinders and heroes need not apply. In Boston, they’re called subs, and you’ll find the best of the best at this North End Italian salumeria. Half of a “small” sandwich will keep you full for lunch and dinner.
130 Salem St., Boston; 617-742-4101 or monicasmercato.com
Michigan: Pupusas at Pupuseria y Restaurante Salvadoreno ($2.25-$2.80)
Not only is "pupusa" fun to say, this Salvadorian snack also happens to be really tasty. At Detroit’s Pupuseria, thick corn tortillas are stuffed with everything from pork and refried beans to chicken and cheese. Don’t forget an order of sweet fried plantains on the side.
149 Livernois Ave., Detroit; 313-899-4020 or facebook.com/pages/Pupuseria-Y-Restaurante-Salvadoreño
Minnesota: Grilled Pork Bánh Mì at Lu’s Sandwiches ($5)
The BBQ-style grilled pork at this Vietnamese lunch spot is served on a French baguette (freshly baked in house, to boot), and it’s topped with cilantro, pickled veggies, jalapeños and pork pâté.
Multiple locations; lusandwiches.com
Mississippi: Barbecue Ribs at Bully’s Restaurant ($10)
Great news, cheap eaters: Almost everything on the menu at this local favorite is ten bucks or less. Including these juicy ribs that come with two sides (we recommend the spicy collard greens) and cornbread. Yum.
3118 Livingston Rd, Jackson; 601-362-0484 or facebook.com/Bullys-Restaurant
Missouri: Tacos at Seoul Taco ($2.50)
This Korean-Mexican-fusion joint knows a thing or two about good tacos. And at less than $3 a pop, we’re ordering one of each: spicy pork, chicken, bulgogi beef and marinated tofu, all topped with secret “Seoul sauce.”
6665 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis; 314-863-1148 or seoultaco.com
Montana: Cinnamon Roll at The Western Café ($2.95)
From the biscuits and gravy to the huevos rancheros, there’s almost nothing on this café’s menu over ten bucks. But the real winner is the homemade cinnamon roll, plucked fresh from the oven and glazed with gooey vanilla icing.
443 E. Main St., Bozeman; 406-587-0436 or thewesterncafe.com
Nebraska: Croque Garçon at Block 16 ($7.25)
It's Alton Brown's favorite burger in the country, so it's certainly good enough for us. If a cheesy croque-madame sandwich and a perfectly greasy burger had a baby, it would be this delightful creation served on ciabatta with truffle mayo.
1611 Farnam St., Omaha; 402-342-1220 or block16omaha.com
Nevada: Tacos Carne Asadas at Tacos el Gordo ($2.25)
Stick with a classic like the beloved beef asada, or get weird with one of the unconventional cuts like tripe and lengua. (We’ll let you Google that one for yourself.)
Multiple locations; tacoselgordobc.com
New Hampshire: Eggs Benedict at Four Aces Diner ($9)
There are few things we appreciate like a good old-fashioned diner. Especially one that is a) incredibly affordable and b) serves a mean eggs Benedict. Stick with the classic or spend an extra buck to have your Benny served over corned beef hash.
23 Bridge St., West Lebanon; 603-298-5515 or 4acesdiner.com
New Jersey: Italian Sub from White House Sub Shop ($10.40)
Yes, this delicious mountain of cold cuts is over ten bucks, but it’s easily shareable between two hangry people on their way home from a rough night at the casino.
2301 Arctic Ave., Atlantic City; 609-345-1564 or whitehousesubshop.net
New Mexico: Green Chile Breakfast Burrito at Pantry Restaurant ($8.75)
On any given morning, this cozy diner will be packed with locals scarfing down breakfast burritos. Tip: Order it smothered in Santa Fe’s signature green chile sauce.
1820 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe; 505-986-0022 or pantrysantafe.com
New York: Double Hot Dog and Potato Puffs at Walter’s Hot Dogs ($7.60)
This roadside pagoda has been a Westchester County landmark since 1919. From the grilled, split buttery hot dogs to the creamy potato puffs and the homemade spicy mustard, this place is the real deal.
937 Palmer Ave., Mamaroneck; 914-500-5029 or walterhotdogs.com
North Carolina: Milkshake at Cook Out ($2.79)
Drive-through dreams come true at this fast-food chain with locations throughout the south. The milkshakes come in 40 flavors, including Oreo mint and strawberry cheesecake. And they're straight-up life-changing.
Multiple locations; cookout.com
North Dakota: Spaetzle from Wurst Bier Hall ($8.50)
If you’ve never tried spaetzle, it’s basically the German version of rich, crispy mac and cheese. And in a city made up of mostly Bavarian immigrants, there’s no better place to try it.
630 First Ave. N, Fargo; 701-478-2437 or wurstfargo.com
Ohio: Three-Way at Skyline Chili ($6)
Head to this Cincy staple for a three-way. Oops, let us clarify: We’re talking about the menu’s staple item, a heaping portion of spaghetti topped with chili and cheese.
Multiple locations; skylinechili.com
Oklahoma: Cheeseburger and Fries At Nic’s Grill ($9.50)
This cash-only, always-busy dive in Oklahoma City boasts one of the most beloved burgers in the state. Say yes to bacon and jalapeño on top (as if we needed to tell you that).
1201 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Oklahoma City; 405-524-0999 or facebook.com/Nics-Grill
Oregon: Chicken Kati Roll at Bollywood Theater ($10.50)
Taste the Far East by way of the Pacific Northwest. At Bollywood Theater, the specialty is Indian street food, and our favorite is the chicken kati roll. It’s like a burrito, with meat, egg, chutney, paneer and picked vegetables wrapped in doughy Indian flatbread.
Multiple locations; bollywoodtheaterpdx.com
Pennsylvania: Three-Piece Chicken from Federal Donuts ($9.25)
Few places do fried chicken and doughnuts like this Philly institution. The three-piece fried chicken basket comes with a warm cake doughnut glazed with honey. Total perfection.
Multiple locations; federaldonuts.com
Rhode Island: Falafel Plate at East Side Pockets ($8.10)
This Brown University hang has been keeping ravenous, penny-saving college students well fed for two decades. Eight bucks gets you an overflowing plate of giant, homemade ring-shaped falafel over rice with tahini, hummus, pickles and veggies.
278 Thayer St., Providence; 401-453-1100 or eastsidepocket.com
South Carolina: Grits Biscuit Bowl at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit ($5)
Bread bowls, you’ve officially been replaced. This portion of creamy, cheesy grits comes served inside a melt-in-your-mouth homemade biscuit.
Multiple locations; calliesbiscuits.com
South Dakota: Cheesesteak at Philly Ted’s Cheesesteaks ($9)
Locals say this Rapid City shack makes the best sandwiches in town. You can choose from about two dozen juiced-up versions of the classic Philly cheesesteak, but the dangerously cheesy original will always be our order. (We should mention the $9 sandwich could feed a small army.)
Multiple locations; phillyted.com
Tennessee: Small Fried Chicken Plate at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken ($9)
A small plate at this beloved Nashville chicken joint gets you a perfectly crispy breast and wing, plus two sides, bread and pickles. We’re looking at you, pimento grilled cheese and slaw.
Multiple locations; hattieb.com
Texas: Asian Fried Chicken at Three Little Pigs ($8)
In a city full of food trucks, this Asian-inspired trailer is in a league of its own. We dream about the fried chicken topped with sweet chili sauce, wasabi mayo and sesame coleslaw.
6507 Burnet Rd., Austin; 512-653-5088 or 3littlepigsaustin.com
Utah: The Benni at Roots Café ($9.95)
This cute café near Salt Lake City offers about a dozen mouthwatering breakfast items for under $10. Our go-to: the eggs Benedict, topped with heirloom tomatoes and a creamy homemade hollandaise.
3474 S. 2300 E., East Millcreek; 801-277-6499 or rootscafeslc.com
Vermont: Spring Rolls at Pho Hong ($3.75)
This BYOB Vietnamese spot by the University of Vermont is always full of budgeting college students. The best way to start any meal there is with an order of spring rolls, two translucent rice paper rolls filled to the brim with pork, shrimp, veggies and vermicelli. Extra dipping sauce, please.
325 N Winooski Ave., Burlington; 802-865-8031 or facebook.com/phohongvt
Virginia: Fried Chicken at Mama J’s Kitchen ($8)
In the mood for soul food? Look no further than this Richmond eatery, where you can fill up on a plate of fried chicken with corn muffins for less than ten bucks. Feeling ambitious? Grab a generous side of candied yams or mac and cheese for $3 bucks more.
Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, 415 N. First St., Richmond; 804-225-7449 or mamajskitchen.com
Washington: Pho Bo at The Pho Bac ($9.75)
Rainy Seattle days call for a piping-hot bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup. The beef pho at this cozy shop comes with a whole lotta meat (steak, meatballs, brisket, tripe and tendon) and rice noodles in a rich broth.
1240 South Jackson St, Seattle; 206-568-0882 or thephobac.com
Washington, D.C.: Original Chili Half-Smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl ($5.95)
There’s only one thing to order at this D.C. institution: the half-smoke. This big, juicy half-beef, half-pork sausage, loaded in Ben’s tangy, hot chili, is not your average hot dog.
Multiple locations; benschilibowl.com
West Virginia: Any Burrito at Black Bear Burritos ($8-$9)
There’s a build-your-own-burrito option on the menu, but we stick with the house specials. Try the “Wing It,” a drool-worthy, spicy buffalo chicken burrito topped with blue cheese.
Multiple locations; blackbearburritos.com
Wisconsin: The Big O at Oscar’s Pub and Grille ($7.25)
Even the hungriest customers will have a tough time devouring the Big O: 8 ounces of meat topped with chipotle Jack and Gouda, bacon, fried onion, chorizo and jalapeños. And forget the ketchup. This monster comes with guacamole for dipping.
1712 W. Pierce St., Milwaukee; 414-810-1820 or oscarsonpierce.com
Wyoming: Half a Dozen Chicken Wings at the Bird ($7.50)
Ask the locals and they’ll tell you this spot has the best burger in the state (and they aren’t wrong). But it’s the spicy buffalo wings that have us coming back for more.
4125 US-89, Jackson; 307-732-2473 or thebirdinjh.com