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Priced at $1.50 each, the tacos at Tacos Tierra Caliente cannot be beat
Amy McCarthy/Eater

Where to Find Houston’s Finest Budget-Friendly Eats

From excellent tacos to comforting Cajun fare and super-fast Greek eats, here’s where to dine in H-Town without going broke

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Priced at $1.50 each, the tacos at Tacos Tierra Caliente cannot be beat
| Amy McCarthy/Eater

Houston has an assortment of quality high-end restaurants, but it isn’t always possible to splurge on dinner. Fortunately, the city’s dining expansive scene is also packed with a bounty of budget-friendly restaurants that make dining on a dime totally possible — and dare we say it, enjoyable?

From chef-approved banh mi to fast-casual Indian eats and some of the city’s finest burgers, here’s where to eat the best budget-friendly food in Houston. Go forth, and ball out on a budget.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Treebeards

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9655 Katy Fwy Suite B-3120
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 228-2622
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Treebeards has been churning out Southern comfort plates for more than four decades, and despite its growth with multiple locations across the city, the menu remains affordable. Good ol’ standbys like red beans and rice with link sausage and shrimp etouffee start at just $5, while the chicken fried chicken platter with two sides provides a hearty meal for under $10. Save room for buttercake, a sweet deal at $3!

2. Molina's Cantina

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7901 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77063
(713) 782-0861
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Few restaurants can stand the test of time and continue to deliver quality food at a low-cost price, but Molina’s pulls it off seamlessly. The beloved Tex-Mex restaurant offers several combination plates for under $12, combining beef chalupas, tamales and more, plus the enchiladas de Tejas platter, a duo of chili con carne topped cheese enchiladas — a staple on the menu for six decades.

3. New York Deli & Coffee Shop

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9720 Hillcroft St
Houston, TX 77096
(713) 723-5879
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New York deli-style comfort plates are aplenty at this old-fashioned diner and bagel shop, and always affordable. French toast and pancake platters are just $6.25 while heartier meals like the hot Reuben sandwich and the bagel and lox come with two sides for under $12. Add an eclair or lemon bar for under $3!

4. Ekko's Greek American Deli

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5216 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 622-2625
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This no-frills counter located inside a Galleria-area convenience store is the definition of a hidden gem, known for its mouthwatering Greek eats served fast and at a seriously reasonable price. Gyro sandwiches are packed full of meat — choose from chicken or a lamb and beef combo — and are a bargain at $7.

5. Bubba's Texas Burger Shack

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5230 Westpark Dr
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 661-1622
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In lieu of a traditional beef burger, opt for a bison burger at Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack, famous for slinging buffalo burgers for more than 35 years — and at a bargain for only $7.25. Don’t eat meat? The handmade black bean burger is also a steal for under $5.

6. Ragin' Cajun

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4302 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77027
(713) 623-6321
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Popular for its Cajun fare and easy-going atmosphere, Ragin Cajun offers $5 cups of jambalaya and red beans and rice to pair along with fried seafood platters like the Gulf Coast shrimp, presented with both fries and hushpuppies for $12.

7. Oishii Restaurant

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3764 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77046
(713) 621-8628
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Sushi night can be pricey, but at Oishii, diners can indulge in all of the sushi house staples paired with beer, wine, or sake without breaking the bank. Small plates like seaweed salad, chicken yakitori, fried pork gyoza and agedashi tofu are under $5, while sushi and sashimi options are priced at $1 or $2 per piece. Cut down on cost even more by visiting during Oishii’s famed happy hour during which appetizers are buy one, get one free.

8. Tarka Indian Kitchen

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721 W 19th St Suite #7
Houston, TX 77008
(346) 802-2096
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Dining on authentic Indian street foods, curries and more is made convenient and affordable at this counter-service restaurant with multiple locations around town. Heaping platters of biryani (rice stir-fried with meat, spices, onions and ginger) and spiced lentils, or daal, start at $8 and decadent lamb vindaloo is under $10.

9. Jax Grill

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1613 Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77007
(713) 861-5529
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This relaxed burger bar and grill brings a number of snacks and sandwiches to the table for under $12. The “original” Jax burger, made with a mesquite-grilled patty and topped with traditional fixings, arrives with French fries or tots on the side for $9, and the Bang! Bang! Shrimp, flash fried shrimp tossed in a spicy sauce and served with ranch dressing is a tasty shareable option at $10.

10. El Rey Taqueria

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910 Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77007
(713) 802-9145
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Cuban food cravings are easily satisfied at El Rey, where a feast like the Havana plate, loaded with lean pork in mojo sauce, vegetables, rice and black beans and plantains, is under $12. Pair with a house-made horchata or fresh cantaloupe juice for $3.

11. Tacos Tierra Caliente

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2003 W Alabama St
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 584-9359

Parked next door to West Alabama Ice House, Tacos Tierra Caliente’s tortilla-wrapped meats are priced at $1.50 each on corn tortillas. Order a few al pastor and chicharron tacos, or spend $5 on an excellent torta.

12. AL Quick Stop

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2002 Waugh Dr
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 522-5170
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Tucked inside a Montrose convenience store, AL Quick Stop makes for a very worthy “quick stop”. Gyro and falafel sandwiches are $6.99 and loaded sampler patters combining classics like hummus, stuffed grape leaves, labneh, eggplant and pita bread are $10.99.

13. Lankford's Grocery

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88 Dennis St
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 522-9555
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Lankford’s may be known for its classic and specialty burgers, but there is so much more to try, and plenty for under $10. The fried chicken sandwich, topped with fried pickles or fried green tomatoes, is a must. Early bird? Lankford’s is open bright and early for breakfast with items like French toast with bacon and $5 mimosas.

14. Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

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2900 Travis St
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 520-0710

The banh mi may just be the unofficial sandwich of Houston, and at Cali Sandwich, you can choose from grilled barbecue pork, shredded chicken and more for under $4. Bowls of pho are equally reasonable — a small size starts at around $7, but springing for the large for a dollar more is never a bad idea.

15. Frenchys Chicken

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3919 Scott St
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 748-2233
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Beloved by Houstonians (Beyoncé included!), Frenchy’s remains one of the city’s best spots for a plate of crispy, crunchy fried chicken. Score a two-piece with dirty rice for $6, or chow down on a catfish po’ boy for $5.

Frenchy’s Chicken/Facebook

16. Mandola's Deli

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4105 Leeland St
Houston, TX 77023
(713) 223-5186
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In Houston, the Mandola family name is associated with iconic restaurants and wonderful food, and that is particularly true of Mandola’s Deli, a reasonably priced café with a hefty focus on Italian classics. Here, the deluxe muffuletta and spaghetti with meatballs are both under $10.

1. Treebeards

9655 Katy Fwy Suite B-3120, Houston, TX 77024

Treebeards has been churning out Southern comfort plates for more than four decades, and despite its growth with multiple locations across the city, the menu remains affordable. Good ol’ standbys like red beans and rice with link sausage and shrimp etouffee start at just $5, while the chicken fried chicken platter with two sides provides a hearty meal for under $10. Save room for buttercake, a sweet deal at $3!

9655 Katy Fwy Suite B-3120
Houston, TX 77024

2. Molina's Cantina

7901 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77063

Few restaurants can stand the test of time and continue to deliver quality food at a low-cost price, but Molina’s pulls it off seamlessly. The beloved Tex-Mex restaurant offers several combination plates for under $12, combining beef chalupas, tamales and more, plus the enchiladas de Tejas platter, a duo of chili con carne topped cheese enchiladas — a staple on the menu for six decades.

7901 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77063

3. New York Deli & Coffee Shop

9720 Hillcroft St, Houston, TX 77096

New York deli-style comfort plates are aplenty at this old-fashioned diner and bagel shop, and always affordable. French toast and pancake platters are just $6.25 while heartier meals like the hot Reuben sandwich and the bagel and lox come with two sides for under $12. Add an eclair or lemon bar for under $3!

9720 Hillcroft St
Houston, TX 77096

4. Ekko's Greek American Deli

5216 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77056

This no-frills counter located inside a Galleria-area convenience store is the definition of a hidden gem, known for its mouthwatering Greek eats served fast and at a seriously reasonable price. Gyro sandwiches are packed full of meat — choose from chicken or a lamb and beef combo — and are a bargain at $7.

5216 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77056

5. Bubba's Texas Burger Shack

5230 Westpark Dr, Houston, TX 77056

In lieu of a traditional beef burger, opt for a bison burger at Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack, famous for slinging buffalo burgers for more than 35 years — and at a bargain for only $7.25. Don’t eat meat? The handmade black bean burger is also a steal for under $5.

5230 Westpark Dr
Houston, TX 77056

6. Ragin' Cajun

4302 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77027

Popular for its Cajun fare and easy-going atmosphere, Ragin Cajun offers $5 cups of jambalaya and red beans and rice to pair along with fried seafood platters like the Gulf Coast shrimp, presented with both fries and hushpuppies for $12.

4302 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77027

7. Oishii Restaurant

3764 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77046

Sushi night can be pricey, but at Oishii, diners can indulge in all of the sushi house staples paired with beer, wine, or sake without breaking the bank. Small plates like seaweed salad, chicken yakitori, fried pork gyoza and agedashi tofu are under $5, while sushi and sashimi options are priced at $1 or $2 per piece. Cut down on cost even more by visiting during Oishii’s famed happy hour during which appetizers are buy one, get one free.

3764 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77046

8. Tarka Indian Kitchen

721 W 19th St Suite #7, Houston, TX 77008

Dining on authentic Indian street foods, curries and more is made convenient and affordable at this counter-service restaurant with multiple locations around town. Heaping platters of biryani (rice stir-fried with meat, spices, onions and ginger) and spiced lentils, or daal, start at $8 and decadent lamb vindaloo is under $10.

721 W 19th St Suite #7
Houston, TX 77008

9. Jax Grill

1613 Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77007

This relaxed burger bar and grill brings a number of snacks and sandwiches to the table for under $12. The “original” Jax burger, made with a mesquite-grilled patty and topped with traditional fixings, arrives with French fries or tots on the side for $9, and the Bang! Bang! Shrimp, flash fried shrimp tossed in a spicy sauce and served with ranch dressing is a tasty shareable option at $10.

1613 Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77007

10. El Rey Taqueria

910 Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77007

Cuban food cravings are easily satisfied at El Rey, where a feast like the Havana plate, loaded with lean pork in mojo sauce, vegetables, rice and black beans and plantains, is under $12. Pair with a house-made horchata or fresh cantaloupe juice for $3.

910 Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77007

11. Tacos Tierra Caliente

2003 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77098

Parked next door to West Alabama Ice House, Tacos Tierra Caliente’s tortilla-wrapped meats are priced at $1.50 each on corn tortillas. Order a few al pastor and chicharron tacos, or spend $5 on an excellent torta.

2003 W Alabama St
Houston, TX 77098

12. AL Quick Stop

2002 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77006

Tucked inside a Montrose convenience store, AL Quick Stop makes for a very worthy “quick stop”. Gyro and falafel sandwiches are $6.99 and loaded sampler patters combining classics like hummus, stuffed grape leaves, labneh, eggplant and pita bread are $10.99.

2002 Waugh Dr
Houston, TX 77006

13. Lankford's Grocery

88 Dennis St, Houston, TX 77006

Lankford’s may be known for its classic and specialty burgers, but there is so much more to try, and plenty for under $10. The fried chicken sandwich, topped with fried pickles or fried green tomatoes, is a must. Early bird? Lankford’s is open bright and early for breakfast with items like French toast with bacon and $5 mimosas.

88 Dennis St
Houston, TX 77006

14. Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

2900 Travis St, Houston, TX 77006

The banh mi may just be the unofficial sandwich of Houston, and at Cali Sandwich, you can choose from grilled barbecue pork, shredded chicken and more for under $4. Bowls of pho are equally reasonable — a small size starts at around $7, but springing for the large for a dollar more is never a bad idea.

2900 Travis St
Houston, TX 77006

15. Frenchys Chicken

3919 Scott St, Houston, TX 77004
Frenchy’s Chicken/Facebook

Beloved by Houstonians (Beyoncé included!), Frenchy’s remains one of the city’s best spots for a plate of crispy, crunchy fried chicken. Score a two-piece with dirty rice for $6, or chow down on a catfish po’ boy for $5.

3919 Scott St
Houston, TX 77004

Related Maps

16. Mandola's Deli

4105 Leeland St, Houston, TX 77023

In Houston, the Mandola family name is associated with iconic restaurants and wonderful food, and that is particularly true of Mandola’s Deli, a reasonably priced café with a hefty focus on Italian classics. Here, the deluxe muffuletta and spaghetti with meatballs are both under $10.

4105 Leeland St
Houston, TX 77023

Related Maps