Cookbook author Anna Thomas once said, “We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” I passionately agree, but I’m also an advocate for eating delicious, high quality food on a budget. I previously brought you my guide to eating on the East End for less and I am excited to introduce some other venues that will keep both your tummy and your wallet joyful with cheap lunch options, without sacrificing any of the quality.
I may try to stick to my dairy-free, unprocessed sugar, occasional kale-shake lifestyle, but let’s be clear; when I text “Avocados” to my husband, I don’t mean, “please stop at the store and bring me home fruit.” Without needing any clarification, my husband will appear at our door with our usual. For me, if I don’t choose one of the shrimp or fish options (which will take you about $1 over the budget) I opt for the Avocado Quesadilla (bacon, blue cheese, cheddar and jack cheese, salsa, red onion and avocado dressing on the side). The sweet man who makes this little stop on his way home from work prefers the John Burrito which is a specialty—chicken, rice, beans, cheese, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. The best part? Most burritos, three packs of tacos, and taco salads are only $7.99 with a soda! Kids meals are available for $5-$6.
Please hold your applause to the end of this article—which is probably going to be tough because I am about to tell you that Bobbique offers an entire lunch menu (with six options) at just $7.95. My favorite is the Caesar salad with chicken. If you think I’m boring, I’m just going to say two words in my defense: Cornbread croutons. I’ve been known to order one to go so I can bring it to the office the next day.
But perhaps you’re old school and want to order barbecue at the barbecue joint. I get it. My recommendation is the smoked sausage sandwich which is brushed with BBQ sauce and topped with slaw. Did I mention that these meals also come with sides? The collard greens are my favorite, but choices include: Potato salad, coleslaw, mac n’ cheese or baked beans. For $1 more and totally still under budget, you can upgrade to homemade fries or sweet potatoes.
Phayathai is a regular in my rotation of favorite eateries. My two preferred dishes are the shrimp with cashew nut sauce and if I am feeling particularly spicy, either shrimp or tofu in basil sauce (over rice). All lunch dishes come with a choice of chicken soup or thai salad served with a house dressing. There are over fifteen lunch options to choose from with chicken, beef and shrimp starting at $7.95 (or you can get duck or tofu for $8.95). I’m not done yet. If you stuck to the earlier choices, then you still have $2 to spare for a delicious thai iced tea or coffee (strongly brewed sweet tea/coffee with milk).
4. East Coast Burrito Company
Okay, yes, I know this is another burrito option, but hear me out, you can literally Build-A-Rito for $8.95! How could I possibly leave this off my list? Let me take you through the architecture of a burrito. First, you need the proper foundation, in this case Spanish rice, black beans, pico de gallo and sour cream. Next we need a proper protein and you get to choose from eight options ranging from carne asada to spicy tofu and even beer battered fish. Next, we need to choose some cheese! Here you can again, choose from traditional options like Jack or queso fresco or you can be daring and add blue cheese crumbles or smoked gouda (in.your.burrito!). We need to finish it off with salsa and sauces—like avocado ranch. The final step is wrapping this baby up with a choice of tortillas or naked in a bowl. I’m drooling as I write this. Want to be extravagant and use up that extra $1 in our budget? Go ahead and add two extras such as chorizo or fried onion straws.
5. My Hero
What makes this hero shop so special? Ask any of the people who queue up all the way out the door to the street and they’ll likely say that the sandwiches are not only good, but they’re absolutely ginormous! Don’t be discouraged, the line moves quickly and the wait is worth it. My Hero’s motto is: “Each hero a meal in itself,” but if you’re not up to an eating challenge, you can easily wrap up half of any of the generously sized heroes (all under $10) and have yourself dinner too. My choice for top contenders include The Champ (ham, capicolla, proscuittini, genoa salami, and provolone with the works) or The Cuban (if you’re lucky enough to get this sandwich which frequents the specials menu just grab plenty of napkins for this messy, delicious, goodness).
Greenlawn and Port Jefferson
When you think Italian for lunch on a budget, you’re probably thinking of your usual slice of pizza and a beverage, but lucky for you, there’s Ruvo. Not to pass over the spectacular oodles of delectable sandwich and flatbread options, but I am talking entrée selections like: Sole Oreganata (toasted fregola, vegetables, toasted breadcrumbs and scampi utter), Steamed Mussels (choice of marinara or white wine and garlic butte over spaghetti), and Chicken Parmesan served with spaghetti. All for just $10!