It doesn’t break the bank to have a good meal in Phoenix, especially compared to other large cities like Los Angeles or NYC. But even so, eating a budget can be a challenge. Here are 10 places you can go for a great meal under $10 in Phoenix.
Short Leash Hot Dogs isn’t your typical hot dog place. For starters, the dog — regular, spicy beer hot, beef, bratwurst, chicken, or veggie — comes wrapped in naan, the Indian flatbread, instead of nestled in a traditional bun. Then, you can choose from out-of-the-ordinary flavor combinations like peanut butter, smoked Gouda, bacon, BBQ sauce, and Cracker Jack, or chipotle cream cheese, sautéed onions, and fried pickles. All hot dogs are $6.
Although Short Leash started as a food truck in 2010, it now has two brick-and-mortar locations, plus a fleet of three food trucks you can track on its Facebook page.
Put on your stretchy pants and drive immediately to Gadzook’s Enchiladas & Soup, where your choices are seemingly unlimited. Start by choosing your main dish: two enchiladas, two street tacos, chopped salad, homemade tortilla soup, spicy potato corn chowder, or nachos. Add roasted tomatillo chicken, green chile pork, braised short ribs, or other proteins. Then, finish with sauce, salsa, or crema, all for $7.75.
You can add hand-smashed guacamole, a griddle-fried over easy egg, or goat cheese for a small charge. Forgo those extras, though, and that $1.95 fountain drink won’t put you over budget.
Inspired by the small Texas barbecue joints co-owner Joe Johnston frequented on business, Joe’s Real BBQ serves pecan-smoked meats in a brick building that pays tribute to agriculture in Arizona. You have several options for an under-$10 meal at Joe’s. A one-fourth-pound barbecue sandwich made with your choice of meat and plated with your choice of sides like BBQ pit beans, applesauce, and cheesy potatoes, is only $8.99. The 1-pound baked potato topped with one-fourth-pound of meat and the entrée-sized salad, also with one-fourth pound of meat, are $8.99 as well.
Despite changing locations over the years — now on 7th Avenue, just south of Camelback Road — the Fry Bread House still delivers the same thick, warm treat that earned it the America’s Classic award from the James Beard Foundation in 2011. Try an Indian taco, if you’ve never had one before: a fry bread topped with meat and fillings and folded in half (from $7.29) like a taco.
Or, order the red or green chili stew with fry bread ($7.99). The Fry Bread House also serves burritos (from $6.49) and tamales ($3.65). Split a sweet fry bread drizzled with honey or chocolate ($5.99) with friends, and you’ll still come in under $10.
You won’t have a problem keeping your bill under $10 at this taqueria opened in 2008 by America Corrales and her husband, Terry Bortin. We recommend the carne asada, premium beef marinated in citrus juices, grilled over open flames, and chopped into tasty bits. Order it in a taco ($2.79), burrito ($6.99), or quesadilla ($5.99) along with a refreshing glass of agua fresca or horchata ($2.99).
There are several America’s Taco Shop locations throughout the Valley, but if you’re in the area, eat at the original 7th Street location, considered by many to be the best.
For a taste of the Old World, head to Old Town Scottsdale. A classic brat at The Brat Haus is only $9 and comes with your choice of two toppings ranging from sauerkraut to sweet onion jam. You also have your choice of brat — made-in-house using only all-natural Niman Ranch pork — for no additional charge. Offerings include hot Italian, jerk chicken, polish, and the all-beef dog.
Unfortunately, the hand-cut Belgian fries will put you over budget, but the brats are so good, you might not even miss them. Grab a table on the patio and play games like ping pong, tetherball, life-size Jenga, and darts after you eat.
A supermarket may seem like an unlikely choice for cheap, sit-down eats, but you can score a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the taqueria inside any of Los Altos Ranch Market’s seven Valley locations for a very reasonable price. For example, the 5-taco plate or the stuffed chile relleno come it at only $6.99. Watch for specials on the back page of the store’s ads, which can be found online at the supermarket’s website or Facebook page.
Los Altos Ranch Market’s seafood counter also sells a meal-worthy shrimp ceviche ($6.99 per pound), and the bakery turns out sweet breads, flan, and dulce de leche ($2.99) for dessert.
Pho, a Vietnamese soup of rice noodles and meat in a rich broth, draws hungry hordes to The Great Pho King Food Truck and its Scottsdale brick-and-mortar location, Pho King Kitchen. You can slurp a bowl for only $8 (add $2 more for chicken, Sriracha-braised pork, or tempera tofu). For the same price, nosh on stir fry, a bahn mi sandwich, or the Burrito Phorrito, a mix of stir fried veggies, cheese, kimchi, and other ingredients wrapped burrito-style in a flour tortilla.
The first family of Southern cuisine in Phoenix is behind some of the Valley’s most popular restaurants including Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café and LoLo’s Chicken and Waffles; Christian “Buzz” Buze, the grandson of matriarch Mrs. White, worked in them all. He even opened restaurants of his own before partnering with Beatrice “Bee” Bullock to open food truck BuzznBeez.
Place an order at the window for the 2-piece Southern fried chicken ($8), the catfish po’ boy ($9), or the 5-cheese mac and cheese ($5), all featured on the Food Network. Or, splurge on the fish and chips ($10). An up-to-date calendar showing where the truck will be parked for the day can be found on the BuzznBeez website.
Tortas are enormous, meat-centric Mexican sandwiches you can indulge in for less than $10 at any one of three Los Reyes De La Torta locations. We recommend the signature Del Rey with beans, avocado, eggs, and five different meats. The full sandwich is $10.25, but you can order a smaller version for $7.99. Los Reyes also serves tacos, quesadillas, and burros (most of these selections range from $6.75 to $7.50).
Tip: You can also order a south-of-the-border breakfast here for under $10. Try the huevos rancheros ($7.99) or chorizo and eggs ($7.50).