Just because you want a cheap bite to eat, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice the quality. We’ve created a list of five places to grab a bite to eat that won’t empty your wallet and won’t make you question all of your life’s choices hours later into the night. These five establishments don’t just serve great food; they do so at incredible prices, with signature dishes ranging from $5-10. Additionally, all five are located within the city limits and showcase different cultures, neighborhoods and local food trends.
Lloyd Taco Trucks. What else is there to say about Lloyd Taco Trucks? Since opening in 2010, they’ve helped create a thriving food truck scene that is continuously growing. They also introduced locals to what tacos should and could taste like. It’s almost easy to take them for granted. Since adding a third truck last year, they are literally everywhere. What most people seem to forget is how cheap their menu is. For ~$10 you can order a gigantic burrito and an order of nachos (complete with housemade queso). They also offer a weekly rotation of creative specials that fans consistently go out of their way for (see Carne Asada, above). All of the food is prepared fresh daily and they try their hardest to use the best possible ingredients. The meat is hormone free and raised in the most humane conditions. It’s the perfect match of quality and quantity.
Shish Kabab Express. It’s easy to drive by Shish Kabab on Hertel Ave and not think twice. It’s a small restaurant that blends in with the other Middle Eastern establishments on the strip. However, if you do stop, you will be rewarded with one of the best deals in Western New York. The restaurant focuses on Iraqi cuisine, a first for the city of Buffalo. Their menu includes great shawarma plates (shaved off the spit in-house), a very good rotisserie chicken and other great specials (all near ~ $11), but you’ll want to skip right to the Iraqi samoon sandwich. Yes, the samoon (fresh bread baked in-house) looks like a football but has a crunchy exterior and light and fluffy interior (similar to a pita). They fill this sandwich with your choice of meat (kabob, beef, chicken) or falafel, a variety of veggies and delicious garlic sauce. For just $5, it’s one of the best sandwiches in Buffalo.
Sazon Criollo. Located on a residential street (Hudson) on the West Side, Sazon Criollo is serving fantastic Puerto Rican cuisine in an unassuming location. All of the Puerto Rican classics are on the menu. You’ll find freshly made pastellios (empanadas), chicken and rice plates and monfongo dinners (mashed plantains served with meat). While those are all great and well priced, it’s their sandwiches which make Sazon Criollo one of the top Cheap Eats in Buffalo. Their chicken and steak sandwiches are impressive in both size and price (~$6) but their Cubano and Tripleta ($8, each) are the stars of the show. The Tripleta includes perfectly toasted rolls that barely hold in massive amounts of roasted pork, sliced ham, lettuce, mayo, cheese and roasted chicken. Not only could these sandwiches easily feed two, they are also so delicious that I would gladly pay double .
Pho 99. When I think of Buffalo’s best Cheap Eats, it’s impossible to not think of Pho 99 (or 99 Fast Food). They’ve been around for years, nearly the entire menu is under $10 and their portions are gigantic. The restaurant has recently changed ownership but on my most recent visits, I’ve found the food is still excellent and incredibly cheap. The weather is getting colder, so it’s a perfect time to get a gigantic bowl of pho (classic Vietnamese soup) for just $7.50 ($9 if you want to really challenge yourself or share with 2-3 other people). I like to order mine with rare beef on top (pictured above). Just let the beef sit in the broth for a few seconds and cook to your ideal temperature. Not looking for soup? Check out #36, BBQ Pork with shredded pork and a fried egg served on top of rice. Also just $8.25.
Suzy Q’s BBQ Shack. Not only is Suzy Q’s BBQ Shack serving some of the best BBQ in Buffalo, but it is also one of the best deals in town. The Riverside location is modest from the outside, but once you walk inside you’re hit with an intoxicating scent of smoked meat. Most dishes are well under $10, which is a steal considering the level of quality. If you’re having a difficult time trying to figure out what you’d like to try, order a Piggy Pig (a massive pile of food, layered with different sides) or one of their ‘Heap’ BBQ Dinners that comes with two meats and a side (starting at just $9). Just make sure you get their early; once they run out of something, it’s truly gone for the day. P.S. Order the sausage and thank me later.