The Best Cheap Eats in Phoenix

Find the best dishes in and around Phoenix for $10 or less.

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Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Photo By: Jackie Alpers

Overstuffed Gyros and Falafels at Pita Jungle

When it comes to filling lunches, it’s a Jungle out there. A Pita Jungle, to be precise. The local chain offers a vast array of Middle Eastern dishes, including tzatziki-topped gyros ($8) of fresh-carved beef and lamb in fluffy pita, and tahini-slathered falafels ($7.39) crisped with mixed greens, onions and pickles. Pair them with guava lemonade.

Crazy Wood Oven Enchiladas at Gadzooks

Gadzooks! It’s an enchilada craze! This soup and enchilada spot has cafeteria-style line where diners pick between house-made, freshly pressed corn or corn/flour blend tortillas, with a choice of fillings. Next, it’s time to choose between red or green enchilada sauce, cheese and an optional egg on top (the addition of which still keeps the price under $10). The platter goes into the wood-fired oven before it’s time to pick cold toppings like slaw and pickled red onions.

The What the Cluck at Nocawich

Tempe is the "college town" part of Phoenix and Nocawich’s What the Cluck ($9) is the perfect, modern, college-town sandwich. A large, deep-fried chicken breast sits between sweet pickles, honey-Dijon mustard and slaw on a surprisingly sweet Parker House roll.

Bagels at New Wave Market

Before opening New Wave Market, Country and Sergio Velador did their research. They went on a bagel-tasting trip to New York City, then used their baking expertise to analyze what they tried in order to develop a true New York-style bagel for Scottsdale. One of their secrets is a sourdough ferment they created, followed by hand rolling the dough before the necessary boiling and baking. Pack an everything bagel with Chula Seafood’s smoked salmon, pickled shishito peppers, cucumber, red onion and caper cream cheese ($10).

Authentic Chihuahua-Style Tacos at Tacos Chiwas

There’s a reason that Tacos Chiwas has a devoted following — its tacos are top-notch. Vegetarians rave about the calabacitas, with Mexican squash, corn, white onion and cheese. For meat eaters, carne asada, carnitas, al pastor, tripe, tongue and barbacoa loom, as well as the Taco Chiwas, with beef, ham, two kids of chiles and cheese. Mix and match or get them all — at $2.50 per taco, it’s worth getting an assortment.

The Fry Bread Tacos at Fry Bread House

These deep-fried, fluffy bread-based tacos are about the size of medium pizza, folded over. Fry Bread House’s Ultimate Taco ($9) is topped with a generous portion of beans, red or green-chili beef, onions, lettuce, sour cream and yellow cheese.

Crispy Shredded Pork Tacos at Crujiente

The crunchy taco is often forgotten in favor of the soft taco, but for those who prefer the snap of a shell, head to Crujiente which fittingly translates to "crunchy." The shredded pork taco ($5.50) includes pepper jack cheese, cabbage, green chili and salsa.

The Five Spot at Matt’s Big Breakfast

When it comes to cheap, filling and delicious, Matt’s Big Breakfast nailed the formula, creating the Five Spot, which is super-cheap, super-filling and, well, super. Bacon, eggs, grilled onions and cheese on a roll seems like a standard, but their carefully chosen, and often locally sourced ingredients levitate it above the rest. The name’s now a slight misnomer, as The Five Spot is now $5.95, but it’s still one of the best deals in town.

Very Mucho Burrito at El Guello Canelo

Not all carne asada is created equal. Factors varying from the wood type used for grilling, to the seasoning can have an effect on the taste of the thinly sliced, grilled and chopped steak. El Guello Canelo in West Phoenix gets it right — even the James Beard Foundation agrees, naming the restaurant an America’s Classic for its famous Sonoran hot dogs. The Very Mucho Burrito ($9.25) wraps their carne asada up in a huge flour tortilla with cheese, pinto beans and cabbage. Be sure to visit their salsa bar for all of the extra fixings. Add a guacamole tower, with enough dip for a crowd, for $7.25.

Hot Dogs on Naan at Short Leash Hot Dogs

Short Leash serves a variety of hot dog styles including brats, chicken sausages and vegetarian wieners served on naan instead of tucked into a traditional bun. They have a few locations, including at the outdoor Biltmore mall. Creative combinations ($9) include a version topped with mac and cheese and vegetarian chili, one with mango chutney and mayonnaise, and the Sunny, with grilled pears, prosciutto, arugula, goat cheese and honey.

Small Celebration Cakes at New Wave Market

Want to throw a party for yourself, all by yourself? No problem! Only six inches wide and festive as can be, these happy little cakes covered in rainbow nonpareils are edible joy and only $8.50 at New Wave Market.

Cap’n Crunch Crusted French Toast at Culinary Dropout

Two breakfast classics unite in this sugar-packed dish at Culinary Dropout. Bread is dipped in cereal milk custard, then covered with crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal, fried and then drizzled with more custard ($8). There’s a side of maple syrup for anyone who wants to add even more sweetness.

Go to: Culinary Dropout

Lamb Chop Duo from Prado at Prado

Tapas are supposed to be small plates for sharing, but at Prado in the Omni Hotel at Montelucia, the lamb duo is a nice little meal for one, brightened with mint pesto ($7).

Cookie Cups at Fatty Daddy’s

There’s nothing vanilla about this creative gelato shop, where flavors include tropical sorbets and cereal-flavored scoops. The shop is renowned for its Fatty Daddy’s Cookie Cup, with ice cream, a macaron an da toasted marshmallow, ideally in a waffle cup ($6.25).