Inexpensive and cheap are two completely different things. Not everyone has a ton of coin to blow on a lunch now and then, but financial restrictions don't necessarily have to relegate you to the likes of Chipotle and Jersey Mike's. Here are some great lunches that will cost you more than a Subway combo, but deliver big with high quality ingredients and big flavors. Think of it as a splurge we can all afford.
Tei-An (pictured above) I've written about Tei-An's ramen dish a ton, but there are many menu items that won't break the bank for lunch. This Matsutake Soba costs $19 because the mushrooms it uses are so expensive. If it's too pricey try any of the other soba dishes (all of which are cheaper) or the jewelry box lunch, which is only $14.
Carbone's What, you don't like Italian hoagies? Get the meatball or the eggplant parm instead. The sandwiches run around $10 apiece but they're each packed with some of the best meats money can buy and they're on great crusty bread too.
Ali Baba LDD knows all about this lunch buffet. You get all you can eat for $10 and a drink is $2. This plate is mostly meat, but what I really love is the roughage they serve. Hummus, tabbouleh, yogurt sauce and salad are are healthy and you can eat till you pop.
Mughlai The lunch buffet at Mughlai costs $11.95 ,and it's the best buffet I've encountered in a long time. Check out their buffet schedule to see what you like, pick a day and go. You'll head back to the office with a fiery mouth and a full belly.
Lemongrass This bowl of pho costs $10.95 at lunch and comes with a nice chicken salad as a starter and a peeled orange to close. The three together make a substantial meal and at this price, it's a steal.
The broth leans heavily on star anise and cinnamon, which may annoy some, and neglects tendon and tripe, which is definitely a sin, but it's a great bowl of soup. The noodles have snap and a springy, chewy texture that lend themselves to delightful slurping.
Bolsa Mercado When you make your own deli meat, good things happen. If the turkey sandwich isn't for you, try saying no to the pastrami with braised cabbage.
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Samar This shawarma sandwich may be the best thing wrapped in bread you can get downtown. Flavorful hanger steak and tabbouleh are a match made in heaven. Just make sure you request freshly baked bread from the tandoor over. Otherwise you'll get some pre-packaged crap.