Food News

Hungry Without a Trust Fund

The Tejas cheesesteak at Will Call is one of the best deals in Dallas at just $11.
The Tejas cheesesteak at Will Call is one of the best deals in Dallas at just $11. Alison McLean
Tired of cocktails that cost as much as a meal, and meals that cost as much as your car payment? (And we wish that were just a witty analogy.) In Dallas, that seems the norm now, as the wicked combo of inflation and gentrification is on track to drain every last cent out of your bank account. Even so, if you think that eating good food shouldn’t involve a loan officer, you may still be in luck — at least for the time being.

Here are 10 local gems where you can still get a good bite for less than $20 and actually be full.

Kalachandji’s

5430 Gurley Ave.
click to enlarge
One of Kalachandji’s best features is a gorgeous courtyard, perfect for a healthy vegetarian meal.
Beth Rankin
Situated in the beautiful East Dallas Hari Krishna Temple, Kalachandji’s is the stuff of folklore. The Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins, REM and Moby have dined in this relatively small vegan restaurant. Known for its medley of fresh vegetable dishes, the buffet here is simply a vegetarian’s delight. The dinner menu changes from time to time, but one can always expect a great tofu dish, fresh salad, tamarind tea, cinnamon bread, and a halva and rice pudding finish, all for $16.95; the lunch buffet is just $13.95. Sit on the patio and take in the water fountain and restaurant cat. It's truly a unique Dallas experience.

Jimmy’s Food Store

4901 Bryan St.
If  you’re looking for that old-school, East Coast sort of Italian food emporium that seems to be half lunch hangout, half specialty store, take your culinary curiosity to Jimmy’s. You'll find a beautiful assortment of Italian cheeses, meats, pastas and canned delights, and the Italian sandwiches are the best in town. Try the $9.99 muffuletta with a $2 fresh espresso to fight the mid-Monday fatigue.

Mami Coco

4519-4501 Bryan St.
Even though the street taco craze has been explored, repeated and ultimately exploited at every corporate restaurant chain possible at this point, let’s get back to the reason they're so appetizing in the first place: They're good, cheap and no-frills fun. At first bite, patrons know Mami Coco’s strictly adheres to this tradition. A plate of tacos will set you back no more than $10, and although cold beer is not served here, the cerveza-stocked gas station next door shares a set picnic of tables with Mami Coco for a perfect hot-summer experience.

Wava Halal Grill

3611 Greenville Ave.
After taking in a show at the Granada Theater, just cross the street to one of the closest things to NYC “late-night bites” you’re gonna find in Dallas. With a satisfying guilty pleasure menu, including cheeseburgers, halal, and gyros, Wava Halal is a must for a hungry night owl on the prowl. Try the lamb and beef gyro for $9.99; it's spiced to perfection, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. Generally, a great-tasting meal here shouldn’t set you back more than $15.


Rick’s Old Fashioned Burgers

11620 Plano Road
If you’re in North Dallas and hankering for a killer fried-chicken sandwich, green beans and mashed potatoes for lunch, Rick’s is your place. Priced at a mere $5.75, this chicken patty is as large as a placemat. Smothered in shreds of fresh lettuce, mayonnaise and sliced tomato, this big bite is a must for any fried chicken lover. Sides are sold separately for around $3 each and are worth every penny. The atmosphere is blue-collar casual, as this place primarily serves the working lunch crowd on-the-go. The double chili cheeseburger and tots is also an easy option for an indulgent lunch. It’s the kind of establishment where if you eat there enough, they actually know your first name, '80s-sitcom style.

Henk’s European Deli & Black Forest Bakery

5811 Blackwell St.
Henk’s European Deli is a Bavarian-style marketplace chock-full of epicurean foods. Imported wines, chocolates, candy and baked goods are just the opening acts here. The lunch and breakfast menus keep things simple and delicious. Wiener schnitzel, bratwursts, German potatoes and the Dutch breakfast are staples and cost around $10.95 for a full meal. If you’re in the mood for a traditional sandwich, the tuna melt is a must for about the same price. Wash it all down with a spot of Munich beer, served in a frosty mug, and finish with the brandy-infused crème brûlée. It's the perfect spot for a Friday lunch.

Will Call Bar

2712 Main St.
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Recycled Wings at Will Call
Lauren Drewes Daniels
At the corner of Crowdus and Main streets, Will Call seems to be racking up brownie points with food critics and patrons alike: the hot wings have been receiving nominations for several “best of” awards around town. For about $20, you can grab an order of hot wings, fries and a cold beer. Every sauce and spice here is made from scratch. If you're in the mood for the cheesesteak with a Latin flare, order one for less than $13. Be sure and check out the pickle French fries with Kool-Aid-flavored ketchup for a throwback snack. Don't diss it ...

Mama’s Daughters’ Diner

2014 Irving Blvd.
They’ve been doing it a long time, and the food shows it. If you’re in the Design District or Medical District around breakfast or lunch, Mama's Daughters' Diner is an easy and greasy-good, no-frills dining experience. The crowd is a city-dweller mash-up: you'll see a guy in coveralls going to town on a giant chicken-fried steak while a working-lunch attorney reviews files with an egg sandwich in one hand and a Cartier pen in the other. For lunch, try Mama’s homemade beef stew bowl, served with hot cornbread and butter for only $8.75.

Latin Deli

5844 Abrams Road
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Latin Deli's Lomo Saltado sandwich
Nick Rallo
This lovely little restaurant off Northwest Highway is best summed up by one menu item and three simple words: Oscar’s Favorite Sandwich. Priced at $9.74, this ham and egg sandwich is drizzled in a spicy sauce, topped with avocado slices, mayonnaise and tomatoes, then wrapped in white paper. It's nothing less than meaty perfection. The order also comes with homemade seasoned fries and a tangy dipping sauce. Or go for the Peruvian lomo saltado with tender sauteed beef. Polish it off with a robust cup of Cuban cafecito, so caffeinated and sugary your stirring spoon will stand up straight. It's within walking distance of a Discount Tire, so it’s the perfect place to brush off the bad news that all four of your tires need to be replaced after driving over the bed of nails that is Haskell Avenue.

GoldRush Cafe

1913 Skillman St.
All East Dallas aficionados know Sundays at GoldRush is an easy place to get a filling breakfast or lunch for less than $25 for two people. Pancakes, eggs, crispy bacon and endless coffee. The food is consistently good, the staff is always accommodating, and if you’re really hungry, they’re always fast. Let’s face it, the night before you probably spent $75 on four drinks. Why not round it up to an even hundred bucks and get a decent meal too?
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