Looking to eat well and not spend a fortune? Well look no further. Austin has no shortage of great places to eat on a budget. No need to sacrifice your tastebuds when dining on a dime. This restaurants on this list will ensure satisfaction and leave some cash in your wallet.
The sushi happy hour is notoriously cheap and it’s practically all the time. With many sushi options and rolls costing $1.50 to $5.00, you can afford to indulge in a few cocktails, too.
With an Elvis theme and all kinds of crazy crap on the walls, Chuy’s might be the most vibrant environment for Tex-Mex. Favorites include Southwest Enhiladas with succulent white meat chicken and blue corn tortillas, or the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo, which has…everything. This place isn’t packed everyday for no reason. No matter where you are in Austin, there’s always a Chuy’s nearby.
A no-frills drive through with flavorful chargrilled chicken. A whole chicken and sides of fresh tortillas, rice, beans, grilled onions, and red and green salsas is only $13.85. Perfect for a night of healthy take-out or a picnic in Zilker Park.
The tiny joint on Oltolf cranks out fresh, delicious Mexican lunches to legions of Austinites. Although many consider it a secret gem, everyone knows this is a great lunch spot with to-die-for mole. Limited dinner hours and seating.
Both locations are immensely popular for entrees like Slow Roasted Pork and Mac, Pan Roasted Chicken, and Chopped Steak. Dinner prices average at about $12 a plate. Make sure to save room for their famous battered fries.
When Adam Richman attempted the Don Juan breakfast taco eating challenge, the world paid attention to this little East Austin eatery with bars on the windows. A cheap breakfast favorite, Juan’s also offers affordable lunches and dinners. Lots of great tacos! Bonus, if Juan is there, you’ll get the best handshake of your life.
Open 24 hours and featuring consistently good food, the Magnolia is an Austin classic. Both the regular menu items and specials feature local and organic ingredients. Way more hip than your typical diner, the food that comes out of the kitchen is always special, always better than it has to be. 95% of the menu is under ten bucks which feels like a steal when the food is this good.
The small chain specializes in everything pasta, be it Asian, Mediterranean or American. Not just an economical place to dine, but it’s surprisingly diet friendly. Nutritional information is listed right on the menu so you know exactly what you are geting. Most items fall within the 400-500 calorie range, but there are plenty of options for those who desire something more indulgent, like the famous Truffle Mac.
Austin’s own little drive-through chain has won the hearts of even the healthiest eaters. The hormone and antibiotic-free, all natural beef make some of the tastiest burgers served out of a window. But their chicken and veggie burgers hold their own, too. Served with award-winning fries and fresh lemonade, this is a no-brainer for a fast and cheap meal.
Need a fishy fix? Let Quality Seafood Market cook their fresh fish to order, however you like it. Want to eat like King Triton? Stop in for the lobster dinner special on Saturday nights, only $19.99.
Just go. Order anything. Be delighted.
This under-appreciated restaurant in South Austin serves healthy, savory meats, hummus, and all your Middle Eastern favorites. Stay awhile and enjoy an after-dinner hookah.
Austin has a generous offering of Thai food, but none as satisfying as Titaya’s, in this blogger’s humble opinion. Try the curries, the specials, the desserts. Try it all! You can afford it.
A good way to get to know an Austinite quickly is to find out their favorite Torchy’s Taco. Do they prefer the Baja Shrimp? Then they are classy. The Green Chili Pork? Loyal traditionalists. Taco of the Month? Bold adventurers. I mean, they are all good. It’s a beautiful world we live in, where every personality and every taco is special.
What are some of your favorite Cheap Eats in Austin? Leave a comment and let me know.
*This post featured some photos from local photographer Elizabeth Shear. Check out her site to see more of her work.