Cheap eats

7 delicious San Antonio restaurants for budget-friendly meals

7 delicious San Antonio restaurants for budget-friendly meals

Larder San Antonio sandwich
Larder's customizable sandwiches make an affordable lunch or dinner. Larder/Facebook

Between back-to-school shopping, end-of-summer vacations, and huge electric bills, wallets can start to feel thin in August. But that doesn’t have to mean an endless diet of hot dogs and ramen. Some of San Antonio’s best restaurants also happen to be affordable, serving filling dinners for less than $15 and lunches and breakfasts for under $10. Give your oven (and air conditioning) a rest this month with these budget-conscious feasts.

The Cove
This funky Alamo City institution uses organic produce and sources beef from the same ranch as downtown’s decidedly upscale Range, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t deals. The $11.75 super nachos with beans, cheese, chopped spinach, and ground beef are hearty enough to be shared by two people. And guests can buy a couple of tacos for well under $10. Kids eat cheaply, too, with a $5.95 meal that includes a main, side, and a drink.

Dignowity Meats
This Houston Street shop offers separate menus for lunch and dinner, but both are just as affordable. From 11 am to 3pm on weekdays, it’s all about classic deli sandwiches, like a smoked chicken salad and grinder-style salumi made on artisan bread. Dinner features loaded baked potatoes, pulled pork sliders, or a take on Frito Pie. Diners can also choose their own adventure by pairing a la carte meats with an assortment of mouthwatering sides. All can enjoyed for around $12-$15.

Lala’s Gorditas
It doesn’t get much more inexpensive than Lala’s three puffy taco plate for $5.75 or the gigantic Gordo gordita for $3.50. Both come loaded with choice of ground beef or chicken and can be bulked up with cheap adders like refried beans. Rifle though the couch and you’re sure to have enough for a rich caramel flan, a fountain drink, and a guacamole cup.

Rooms at Hotel Emma may fetch a princely sum, but the sandwiches served from its downstairs market are a more everyday indulgence. For $9 gets guests a stuffed creation customized with freshly baked breads, house smoked meats, and fancy accoutrements like cremini mushrooms. Pair it with a $5 salad for a more substantial meal or a $3 burnt marshmallow and toffee crispy rice treat if it’s payday.

Mr. Juicy
Acclaimed local chef Andrew Weissman flipped from falafel to burgers when he opened this spot inside the former Moshe’s space in June. And San Antonio has rightly flipped over the quality fare served at fast food prices. The three burger choices range from a basic hamburger at $4 to a double cheeseburger at $6. Combos with fries and a drink are priced from $8-$10. Make sure to pony up an extra buck for the creamy peppercorn sauce (although, regrettably, it will require you to order the burger “wet style”) and save room for the outrageously gooey cookies.

Pollos Asados Los Norteños
There are plenty of eateries where San Antonians can buy a meal for less than a Jackson. At this spot, $20 will buy enough food for the entire day. Order the whole chicken for $13.99, which comes with all the fixings. A couple of sides and a few more tortillas will stretch the meal even further. Penny pitching has never been so delicious.

Prices have risen since Schilo’s debuted in 1917, but San Antonio’s longest continually running restaurant is still mindful of economy. There are plenty or options under $15 for both lunch and dinner like a three-sausage platter served with bread and a side or the huge honey ketchup-glazed meatloaf with a dollop of German potato salad. Of course, the biggest bargains are in the morning hours. With two eggs, ham, hash browns, and a biscuit, the $8.50 Papa Fritz Breakfast will keep diners going well past noon.