Have you ever tried to define “American food”? It’s a deliciously complex undertaking, isn’t it? America’s cuisine, like its culture, is diverse and exciting. Where can you get kimchi tacos and paneer pizza? America! As you travel the 50 states, you’ll see a range of prices, too. When it comes to tasting your way through the home of the free, it’s important to save money on cheap foods…so you can eat more.
We created a series of guides to America’s best cheap places to eat, so you can navigate each tasty town on a budget. Get the highlights here and pack your stretchy pants!
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston’s best cheap eats are all about student-friendly menus in historical haunts. Flour Bakery + Café is a charming place to get savory and sweet eats at multiple locations. Living that plant-based life on a budget? You’ll dig the flavorful bowls at veggie-forward Spyce. Before you say “Bye, Boston,” sample real New England clam chowder at The Boston Chowda Co. in historic Quincy Market.
2. Atlantic City, New Jersey
When it comes to cheap eats in Atlantic City, local eateries are very serious about serving up delicious dishes for small budgets. Get your hands on an unbelievably fresh fried platter from Barbera Seafood Market, opt for ramen and boba tea at Empire Kitchen, or order the Italian sub at White House Sub Shop. Each one is a landmark and serves some of the yummiest food in town.
3. Honolulu, Hawaii
Between wicked waves and sunset strolls in Honolulu, order Hawaii’s own innovation Spam musubi from Musubi Café Iyasumi. Crave a classic bento with island vibes? Make Highway Inn your go-to for some of the cheap Honolulu food on the island. And when you need short ribs ASAP, Helena’s Hawaiian Food is the locals-approved place to be!
4. Key West, Florida
Encircled in beaches and spectacular dive sites, Key West can work up your appetite pretty quickly. Start the day with a cheap breakfast of eggs and grits—and heaps of personality—at Harpoon Harry’s. Cuban Coffee Queen is the epitome of beach town casual and makes oh-so affordable eats and drinks. If coffee counts as cheap food, so does beer. First Flight Brewery has a tropical outdoor patio and $5 happy hour specials. Bottoms up with the best cheap eats in Key West!
5. Maui, Hawaii
Maui makes it easy to find some of the best cheap restaurants in the country. Tin Roof is famous for its Polynesian breakfasts for early morning surf trips or late-morning comfort food. For casual diner delights, head to Tasty Crust in Wailuku. And when you want a grab-and-go snack in the quiet community of Haiku, order a fresh loaf from Aunty Sandy’s Banana Bread.
6. Miami, Florida
In Miami, the vibrancy of Caribbean and Latin cultures takes the lead and you can taste it in Miami’s cheap eats cuisine. Start your day with coffee and carbs at Salty Donut; their seasonal selection is as inventive as it is yummy. Then, enjoy traditional cortado coffee and Cuban-style croquettes at Versailles, or make a splash My Ceviche—a seafood place that serves wild fish and colorful bowls.
7. Washington, D.C.
Is the U.S. capital on your must-visit list? Then you need to know where to find good cheap places to eat in D.C.—believe it or not, the White House doesn’t give out cheeseburgers. Instead, dig into D.C.’s famous chili and half-smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl, or eat your favorite sammie with a twist at Wicked Waffle. Feeling fresh? The salads and falafel at Zorba’s Café will hit the spot.
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a great place to sample some of the best cheap eats in the world. You can get three beignets for under $3 at Café du Monde—need we say more? Well, you can’t live on delectable donuts alone! Mother’s Restaurant is known for their baked ham, and Killer Poboys makes savory sandwiches with a lot of attitude and small prices. So, make sure you save room for sammies when you explore NOLA’s best cheap eats.
9. San Francisco, California
This NorCal city is known for its billion-dollar tech companies and expensive views of the Pacific. So, when you’re eating your way through San Francisco on a budget, consider us your best travel buddy. And the best friends help you find tacos, like the super affordable hand-helds at Street Taco and Super Duper Burgers. Taste San Francisco’s Cantonese heritage in food form at Sam Wo Restaurant, a city favorite since 1907.
10. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville cheap eats are hearty, bold, and perfected by generations of tasting and sharing. You’ll find that truth at the bottom of an $8 gravy-smothered biscuit plate at aptly named Biscuit Love, or in the carefully crafted pastries at Vegan Vee. Music City’s signature dish will have you singing for more at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken—it’s fried, hot, and easy on the budget. Yum!
11. Asheville, North Carolina
Many travelers think of Asheville as a beer town, but the local food scene is just as refreshing as the award-winning libations. Laughing Seed Café is sure to make your taste buds smile, whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or a gluten-free omnivore. Looking for a chic experience with a budget-friendly price? Sovereign Remedies is the perfect place to get affordable boozy brunch. Top off your menu of cheap Asheville eats with handmade sweets from Vortext Doughnuts.
12. Bay Lake, Florida
Bay Lake and the Orlando area is where you’ll find the best cheap places to eat when you’re exploring popular theme parks. Keep up with the kids with a little help from the folks at Foxtail Coffee Co., a coffee roaster and pastry slinger. For lunch, indulge in some good ol’ fashioned biscuit sandwiches at Holler & Dash Biscuit House, then make sure everyone in the family has something fresh, healthy, and delish at Greenbeat. Cheap restaurants near Orlando are all about balance, especially when you’re park hopping.
Food brings people together and gives us energy for our most memorable experiences. Now that you know where to find some of the best cheap restaurants in the U.S., let the adventures begin!
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