Affordable Dining

Yummy and affordable! You don't have to break the bank to enjoy a nice meal. Photo Courtesy: Trinh T.
Yummy and affordable! You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a nice meal in Dallas. Photo Courtesy: Trinh T.

By Steven Doyle

As you can well tell we enjoy a great meal. That usually means beef in Dallas. Big steaks that come with an even bigger price tag. But where do you dine when you are on a budget? We searched the city to find some of the sweeter deals on the cheap (and even free) and have compiled the list so you can save up for your next rib-eye at Nick and Sam’s.

Soup and Sandwich
With the cooler weather rifting our way, nothing beats a great bowl of hearty soup. And nothing spells bargain quite like the perfect combination of the soup and sandwich lunch.

Monkey King Noodles: At Monkey King, located at 3014 Main in Deep Ellum, you will find several fantastic soup options. Choose from the spicy beef or chicken, both made with hand-crafted noodles while you wait. The tender beef shank is slow braised and kissed with a spicy chili oil for a perfect wintery bow that is large enough to share for a mere $8.

The Grape: One of the finest bowls of soup in Dallas, the mushroom soup at The Grape has been on the menu for 42 years. You will enjoy this cheap to eat treat for a mere $4.

DaLat Vietnamese: With two locations now to serve its customers, this late-night spot serves both pho and ramen with a serve-yourself garnish bar which includes jalapenos, pickled onions, cilantro and basil. Kick up your giant bowl with one of the variety of sauces including sriracha for more heat and flavor. The very large bowl is only $8.

Jimmy’s Food Store: Known for the largest selection of Italian wines and other necessities, Jimmy’s also makes the best sandwich in Dallas. Whether you choose the house-made meatball sub, or the Italian Stallion, there are no  wrong choices here. Grab a beer or bottle of wine and sit outside and enjoy the sunshine as you devour your lunch.

The Truck Yard: Can we just say that the Truck Yard hosts a shop that makes the best Philly Cheesesteak in Dallas? There, we said it. Find Steak Me Home Tonight just inside the bar area, and be prepared to spend just over $10, but it comes with pickles and a bag of chips.

Salad Days
Salads might be known more as diet food or something your girlfriend orders on the first date. But you can actually get some beefy salads and save a few dollars in the mix.

Jonathon’s Oak Cliff: Although better known for its bodacious chicken fried steaks and one of the better brunches in Dallas, you actually can find a hearty salad at Jonathon’s. Ask for the Working Man’s Salad which comes with bacon, ham, chicken, cheddar, Jack, romaine, and honey mustard. This will set you back a whopping $8.

Celebration: Now celebrating 43 years (ha, take that The Grape), Celebration is your stop for fried everything, with seconds provided just like at your mother’s house. It is not actually disgraceful to order a salad, especially for lunch when it is the Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad with mixed field greens topped with fried pecan-crusted chicken breast, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, candied pecans and bleu cheese. Served with honey Dijon dressing. This is $10.95, but won’t make you feel like a girlie man.

Where’s The Beef?
OK, we know you still want that steak we mentioned earlier, and there actually are some decent steakhouses left that won’t break the bank. We are not talking about the silly national buffet chains either.

Dunston’s: This Dallas favorite has two locations, one on Harry Hines, and our favorite spot at Lovers and Inwood. We like the Inwood location because it has one of the only salad bars we will eat off of in this city. Because we are on a budget, order up the filet which comes with the salad bar and a baked potato, for the low, low price of $11.50. Now that is a true bargain. Pro Tip: Order the housemade Key Lime Pie with a side shot of tequila for the perfect dessert.

Allgood Café: This Deep Ellum favorite has the very best chicken fried steak in Dallas. The tender slab of beef is given the chicken fried treatment and served with mashed potatoes and a fresh vegetable. Go on a night when a killer band is playing for the perfect cheap treat for only $11.99.

Off-Site Kitchen: The stepchild of Neighborhood Services, Off-Site serves the best burger in Dallas. We are not talking monster truck-sized monstrosities, but a great burger on a fresh bun with all the expected additions that your taste buds can handle. Located on the cusp of the Design District, this burger will set you back just over $4.

Seafood and We Eat It
Seafood will be a little more expensive than your average fare, but let’s face it you do not want to eat bargain basement oysters. We have a few spots listed here where you can enjoy something pretty terrific without breaking the budget.

20 Feet Seafood Joint: Top quality seafood abounds without a crazy price tag at this East Dallas haunt that serves some of the best you will find in Dallas. The fish and chips are ethereal, and the clams are the big and meaty versions never ever found in Dallas. Order the fish and chips for $14, and you will want a bowl of the clam chowder as well for $4.

Shuck and Jive: With several locations to choose from, Shuck and Jive has the best catfish around, served many ways including fried and blackened, for $10.99. We love the large portions, whole on bone, and hanging off the sides  of the basket. When crawfish are in season, Shuck and Jive does a great job with the mudbugs, too.

Seafood Shack: There are two locations of Seafood Shack, both serving great seafood with a Latino flair. The daily specials are what you will want to look for, with hot items such as seafood tostados, tacos and more.