by margaretrosejones - 0 Reviews - 24 List
Sometimes you get what you pay for; other times you get way, way more. In Portland, eating on a budget is no reason to sacrifice good taste--you just have to know where to go. Here's a list of cheap eats in Portland that will save you a bundle. (Photo: Nicholas' falalel by Flickr user Roland)
Updated: July 27, 2011
The India Chaat House "lunch special" is a cheap eater's saving grace. For $5, you get six "courses" of vegetarian food: a rotating combination of fresh naan, lentil and rice dishes. The best part is that it's enough food for two--or, if you're flying solo, you just bought lunch and dinner.
Xuyen Bakery is one of those inexplicable anomalies. For about $2 to $3 a sandwich, it serves the cheapest banh mi sandwiches in Portland, and it's also one of the most delicious. Each sandwich (try the lemongrass pork or the vegetables and tofu) comes with the traditional jalapeno, cilantro, cucumber, carrots and radish and is served on Xuyen's own freshly baked baguette. The only downside is the less-than-convenient location, but you'll more than break even on the extra gas.
Need to feed a small army? March them down to Dalo's Ethiopian bakery for the vegan platter, which includes stewed split peas, spinach simmered in onions, lentils, sauteed vegetables, and plenty of warm, spongey injera bread. Just $6.99 gets you the "small" (translation: enough food for three) and $13.50 will buy the "large" (disclaimer: this has never actually been finished, by anyone).
Tucked behind this humble panaderia, just beyond the pi?atas and Mexican cokes, is Taqueria Santa Cruz--yet another way that moving to St. John's could save you money. Prices range from $1 to $1.50 (try the cabasa), the salsa bar is free, and you can help yourself to the smokey, homemade red sauce, which is good enough to eat on its own. Recent inquiries about lard usage cast some suspicion upon the "vegetarian" burrito ($4), but you can't argue with the price.
Every weekday from 4pm to 6pm, the Happy Hour at Spirit of 77 is short but very sweet. Order off of the $3 menu--Beefeater gin and tonics, corn dogs with sriracha ketchup, house-made nuts, and something called a "party pizza," all from the mastermind chefs behind Olympic Provisions. Plus, major points for the free pop-a-shot hoops.
Once you've ordered one of Nostrana's $5 late-night pizzas, you will never, ever eat subpar pizza again. These are wood-fired, simply dressed, classic Italian pies, and yes, they are $5 after 9pm. Also on the $5 menu: the charcuterie plate, the Caesar-style salad, and a lovely little selection of drinks.
Here's the secret to eating insanely cheap at Nicholas: The mezza platters "for one" ($9) are plenty big for two. Whether you order the vegan (humus, falafel, tabouli, mjadra and garbanzos), the vegetarian (subs the mjadra and garbanzos for spinach pie and manakish), or the meat (subs the sides for a lamb pie and beef kafta), your meal will be accompanied by an enormous, pillowy-soft blanket of fresh, hot pita bread. Inordinately big appetite? At $17.75, the platter "for two" is still plenty cheap.