Your growling belly has the appetite of a professional athlete, but your depleted wallet has the funds of a poor college student. How do you reconcile the two? We’ve created a guide for that. Feast on any of these tasty meals for $10 or less. You’re welcome!
Soul-warming stew and fixings
The spot: Sabor Latino Restaurant, Palm Beach Gardens
The meal: Sancocho de Res (short rib stew)
Fill up here on an ample, soul-warming bowl of Colombian-style beef rib stew. This is not your ordinary bowl, but one swimming with root and starchy veggies (yuca, green plantain, potato), cob corn, hunks of short rib and a sprinkling of cilantro. The broth itself is deep in flavor in the way long-simmered stocks are clear yet rich. Have your sancocho by the bowl or as a combo that’s complete with generous fixings.
The price: $7.49 a hefty bowl, $10.99 for a “completa” (yes, slightly over budget but it’s a combo), which is served with white rice, salad and sweet plantains.
Insider tip: The soup is served only on Tuesdays and Fridays. Spring for the “completa” – you’ll have leftovers for the next day’s lunch!
-- Liz Balmaseda
Tamal for your tummy
The spot: El Punto Latino, Royal Palm Beach
The meal: Tamal Valluno
This is a Colombian cornmeal tamal stuffed with pork, peas, carrots and other goodness and steamed inside plantain leaves. The result is an aromatic, meaty, oversized dumpling that pops with flavors, including the unmistakable perfume of the leaf. Have you ever found love in a banana leaf? This dish is it.
The price: $8.99.
Insider tip: If you’re still hungry, spring for an empanada – they’re just $1.25 apiece.
-- Liz Balmaseda
Chicken Not So Little
The spot: Havana Restaurant, West Palm Beach
The meal: Breaded chicken cutlet with fixings (bistec de pollo empanizado)
Behold the crispy golden magnificence of this Cuban-style chicken “empanizado” (breaded). Slice it in half and you still have a good-sized lunch portion. For the price, you get more than an ample chicken cutlet topped with raw onions – you get two respectable sides. Choose black beans and white or yellow rice, moro-style rice (rice and beans cooked together) and fried sweet plantains, boiled yucca and fries, or your preferred duo.
The price: $8.99
Insider tip: Skip dessert and split a frothy, sweet Cuban-style milkshake with your lunch date for $3.99. Tropical options include mamey, mango, papaya, guanabana and banana.
-- Liz Balmaseda
Big honkin’ pizza
The spot: Romeo’s Pizza Kitchen, West Palm Beach
The meal: two slices of thin-crust pizza and a soda
This is one of the best combos in town, two slices of delicious cheese pizza and a drink for less than five bucks. We’re not talking skinny, demure slices, but respectable servings of crispy-crust pizza that’s topped with a swoon of rich melted cheese. As you’re savoring each slice, you’ll wonder how they got the crust so perfectly crisp without burning it. Who knows? Who cares? There’s pizza to devour.
The price: $4.75
Insider tip: Skip the toppings. The cheese pizza is perfection.
-- Liz Balmaseda
Tasty Venezuelan arepas
The spot: Chikita’s Venezuelan Food, West Palm Beach
The meal: Venezuelan arepas (corn-flour pockets), are not the sweet yellow corn-and-cheese arepas you see at most local events. These are crispy white-corn pockets, similar to a Mexican gordita. They are filled with beef, chicken, ham, melted cheese, avocado and other fixings. The result is a savory mix of South American seasonings, meats and vegetables.
The price: Each arepa is $3.75. You’ll be satisfied with two arepas ($7.50). A water or can of soda is $2. That brings your total to $9.50.
Insider tip: Chikita’s is hard to find as there’s no sign outside its address. That’s because it’s a small counter service spot inside a BP gas station. Trust me, it’s worth walking in. The most popular arepas are the Reina Pepiada (chicken/avocado) and carne mechada (shredded beef and cheese). Once you order, ask for a free side of garlic-cilantro sauce or “picante.” Buen provecho!
-- Julio Poletti
A heap of Cuban comfort
The spot: Tulipan Cafe & Bakery, West Palm Beach
The meal: Roasted pork lunch special
The combo of delicious roast pork with moros (black beans and rice, cooked together) and a side of yuca should be labeled “lunch special for two.” It’s a heaping amount of homemade deliciousness. The pork is tender and juicy with just the right amount of grilled onions. The black beans and rice is studded with flavorful bits of sausage. And the yuca makes for a creamy, garlicky side.
The price: $7.25
Insider tip: Tulipan offers different lunch combos daily for $7.25. Add a small café con leche for two bucks and you’re still under $10. Trust me, you’ll need the pick-me-up after that filling lunch.
-- Laura Lordi
Zen wallet, Buddha belly
The spot: Thai Lotus, Tequesta
The meal: one lunch entrée (like red curry, Panang curry), one fried spring roll, plus a soup of the day
Thai Lotus’ curry is dialed in to the perfect balance: freshly sautéed vegetables with a crisp edge, a spot-on amount of coconut milk, it’s never overly sweet as can happen at some other local places. The spice always packs a punch (gauged out of 5 stars based on a local Thai cook’s palate, which is great for spice lovers, potentially alarming for the timid). Choose chicken, pork or tofu with your curry. The fried tofu holds firm texture and soaks up the curry sauce like a champion. Chicken and pork are excellent choices!
The price: $9.95
Insider tip: This is not on their website. It’s on the dine-in menu.
Find it at: Thai Lotus, 137 North US 1, Tequesta; 561-743-0069
-- Nick Manzino
Mangia, amora, afforda!
The spot: Pizza de Roma, West Palm Beach
The meal: two slices of pizzak, plus soda
This pizza is cut by the slice of another standard – a generous standard, to be sure. These slices have a thin to medium crust, tasteful sauce, and elegant cheese. Shake some Parmesan and red pepper flakes over your slices, fold ‘em up, and stuff your face happily. (Whoa, there, killer! Wipe the grease from the sides of your mouth.) Quick, tasty, affordable – benissimo!
The price: $4.95
Insider tip: Order this special before 3:00 p.m.!
Find it at: Pizza de Roma, 5615 S. Dixie Hwy , West Palm Beach; 561-547-2348
-- Nick Manzino
Does your stomach speak Spanish?
The spot: Union Bakery, Lake Worth
The meal: Ropa Vieja, served with arroz blanco, frijoles negros or congris, and maduros or yuca, plus a colada.
Enjoy this shredded beef dish and all its juicy flavors over a mound of white rice and black beans (or congris, beans and rice mixed). You’ll get a side of plantains that have a light, crispy texture and are ripe with natural, caramelized sugars. Your tongue will mambo among flavors of bright bell peppers nestled in the sinewy beef, the black abyss of beans invading your plate, and the soft, steaming rice.
The price: $8.30 plus $1.50 for the colada of Cuban coffee
Insider tip: The place has a small diner atmosphere, limited tables and a counter, so hit this spot around 1:30 p.m. after the local rush; and a little Spanish goes a long way.
Find it at: Union Bakery, 2111 N. Dixie Hwy Lake Worth; 561-586-6962
-- Nick Manzino
A Fresh take on Asian Cuisine
The spot: Fresh Element, West Palm Beach
The meal: Crunch Roll or create-your-own noodle bowl
Get your sushi on here. This roll is fried on the outside, giving a classic sushi roll a kick that’s sure to fill you up. The pieces are bigger than you’d expect and as fresh as could be. Not feeling sushi? (Is there such a feeling?) Try the noodle bowl. You’ll get the option to add in tofu, chicken or vegetables. You’ll also choose your own topping, with tasty options like honey garlic, sesame seed, Thai coconut curry and more.
The price: $10 for the roll, $8.25 for the bowl
Insider tip: Their website usually offers coupons, so check it out before you visit. Also, they deliver!
Find it at: Fresh Element, 711 Village Blvd. #103, West Palm Beach; 561-683-1028
-- Meghan Faiella
Saucy Shrimp Tacos
The spot: Churrasco Fusion, West Palm Beach
The meal: Shrimp tacos
What makes these a hit? It’s the tender, salty shrimp. It’s the light sauce that makes the taco juicy. It’s the authentic corn tortillas. Tacos are $2 a pop but there’s no way you’d be satisfied with just one of Churrasco’s shrimp tacos. They are bursting with flavor and, with a little salsa over top, the right kind of spicy.
The price: $2 per taco (at $6 for three, you’ve got the perfect serving)
Insider tip: Grab a can of refreshing mango nectar to compliment your quickie taco lunch or dinner.
Find it at: Churrasco Fusion, 708 Belvedere Rd., West Palm Beach; 561-530-3125.
-- Corvaya Jeffries
The All-American breakfast
The spot: Great Wraps, West Palm Beach
The meal: Breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon and home fries (seasoned potatoes).
Dixie Highway lunchtime staple Great Wraps may be best known for fresh, made-to-order wraps, but it also serves breakfast. Don’t expect anything fancy, but expect it to be good and filling. Expect the hearty, generous meal you need to recover from a long night out or the plate that’s going to give you fuel to handle Monday like a boss.
The price: $5
Insider tip: Ask for hot sauce and drizzle it over your warm home fries.
Find it at: Great Wraps, 2409 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach; 561-832-2940.
-- Corvaya Jeffries
Boba, spice and everything nice
The spot: Art of Boba, West Palm Beach
The meal: Bahn mi and Popping Boba
I can’t think of a sub-sammie-and-drink combo that makes me happier than this one. The Lemongrass Beef bahn mi is a little more than 6 inches of Vietnamese heaven. The spicy crunch of the fresh jalapeño and the tart sweetness of the pickled veggies are palate-pleasers — especially on a hot, South Florida day. And do yourself a favor: Ask for extra cilantro. It adds a brightness to the sub and the refreshing flavor brings out the lemongrass of the beef. As for your thirst, Popping Boba is basically a happy party in your mouth. Choose your tea, like the peach green tea lemonade (shown), and and the popping boba or fruit jellies of your choice. These little bursts with flavor add texture to your drink.
The price: $4.50, plus 3.75 for the Popping Boba
Insider tip: There’s Jenga and great music, so take a friend, grab a table and chill a while.
Find it at: Art of Boba, 2905 N. Military Tr., Suite H, West Palm Beach; 561-557-2996
-- Samantha Ragland
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