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Best Cheap Eats in Houston

Everything is bigger in Texas, but the bill doesn't have to be. We scoped out places to get the most bang for your buck — and to satisfy all your diverse food cravings — and came up with a list combining the tried-and-true with the hot and new.

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La Calle Tacos

Tacos, tostadas and tortas — oh my! The spotlight is on Mexican street eats at this cantina in Downtown. Elote, a traditional street snack of mesquite-grilled corn dressed with mayo, Cotija cheese, chili powder and a squeeze of fresh lime, is presented directly on the cob here for just $5.99, and the choose-your-own-adventure Chilinga Tacos — you get five for $9.99 — make for a hearty platter with rice and chorizo beans. Visit on Taco Tuesday for the real bargain, though: Any taco, at any time of day, costs only $1.

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Photo: Jenn Duncan

Cantina Barba

This onetime taco truck turned brick-and-mortar spot keeps things simple with a menu of taco-house essentials tacked to the wall and tubes of housemade red and green salsa on the bar tops. At $2.50 a pop, asada and smoked pork tacos are a bargain even with add-ons like creamy chunks of avocado or beans, and the $4 mango slushie should most definitely be amped up with a shot of tequila.

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Photo: Jenn Duncan

Oishii

The crowds pack into this unassuming sushi bar in Greenway and fill their tables with colorful jewels of raw fish and more. Yakitori and deep-fried shrimp tempura will run you $3.50, hand rolls are $2.50, and single pieces of flounder, Spanish tuna and whole scallop are just $1 each. Big spenders may even spring for the ice cream-topped fried banana for dessert — at $4.50, relatively steep compared with the $1.50 red-bean mochi.

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Photo: Jenn Duncan

Aladdin

In Houston, there are plenty of food trucks where you can score a falafel and gastropubs where you can indulge in a decent gyro, but for a no-nonsense Mediterranean meal with all the fixins, you go to Aladdin, in the heart of Montrose. For $12.99, you can fill your belly to the brim with the entree-and-two-sides combo; the challenge is deciding which entree and which sides to choose. Meat from the lamb shank glistens on its oversized bone, and the ultra-fluffy pita-pocket pillows are meant to be dipped in the extra sauce from the spicy lamb meatballs. Resist the urge to fill up on the spinach pies.

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