Portland is a great eating town. There are plenty of places to drop big bucks on a meal — and while eating at Caiola’s, Street & Co., or Fore Street is definitely an experience to have, you’re not likely to look to those places to fill you up when your cash is low.
Not to worry: we know the spots you are really looking for, the ones with low prices, big portions, and that don’t make you sacrifice taste.
TU CASA People walk past Wild Burrito without noticing it, Herb’s Gully and Granny’s get all the student traffic, but this gem — tucked away on 70 Washington Ave. — gets all the love. Why? Because the El Salvadorian establishment is the only authentic Latin American food in town: killer burritos, mammoth plates of fried plantains, and a nice outdoor seating area. Best of all: it’s BYOB. 207.828.4971
BIG SKY Your best bet for a lunch on the go. Fast and polite service, just-baked bread, and great cold sandwiches (all hovering around $6) made with fresh ingredients. Seventy-five cents’ worth of avocado lifts each one from good to great. It’s also a reliable choice once the winter soup jonesing starts. Inside 28 Monument Square’s Public Market House | 207.228.2040
158 Maine’s best bagels and a nice backyard make this an essential stop for any college student, whether you’re at nearby SMCC or not. Massive egg sandwiches are all around $5, and new additions the Hot Canuck (with Canadian bacon) and Grecian Goddess (spinach and creamy feta) are a big hit. A newly expanded lunch menu features a sloppy joe made with tofu. 158 Benjamin Pickett St, South Portland | 207.799.8998
BANGKOK THAI Portland’s many good sushi restaurants (check Sapporo and Yosaku) are the toast of our ethnic-food scene, but you can only afford it so often. Bangkok Thai, on the other hand, is at minimum a weekly habit. Vegetarian rice and noodle dishes run for $6.50, and a variety of soups and appetizers run cheaper in a pinch. Bonuses: they’re fast; take-out’s a cinch; and it’s clean as a whistle. 671 Congress St | 207.879.4089
OHNO CAFÉ Your breakfast sandwich king on the peninsula. Made to order on bialy bagels and English muffins, they’ve got fake meat, real meat, and avocado-laden options for three or four bucks. On more frivolous days, the lunch specials (usually around $9) are huge and uniformly dope. 87 Brackett St | 207.774.0773
Cheap Enough Eats
FLATBREAD Hardly a hidden jewel — expect at least a half-hour wait almost anytime you go — but one of the best dining casual dining experiences in Portland. A great list of micro-brews on tap; an emphasis on the freshest, localest ingredients; and seriously the best salad in town. Bring a date, split a salad, and split a pizza. You’ll leave stuffed, happy, and ready to cuddle. 72 Commercial St | 207.772.8777
BONOBO Joining Flatbread on the mega-fresh gourmet pizza scene, this West End establishment seems to be hitting its stride pretty quickly. The pizzas are smaller, but crispy and more generous with the toppings; inventive salad specials and stronger dessert options (tiramisu, crème brulée) make it a worthy competitor. At the corner of Pine and Brackett sts | 207.347.8267