4 Rivers Smokehouse
multiple locations, 4rsmokehouse.com
With the opening of 4 Rivers’ City Hall location, the smokehouse officially becomes lunch-appropriate. Any of the signature sandwiches (we like the burnt ends, $8.99) comes with two sides and will put you in a food coma back at your desk; consider a sideboard sampler instead – three of those sides plus a biscuit, $6.99.
1124 E. Colonial Drive, 407-999-2656, anhhongorlando.com
Even within the tough competition of Mills 50, the Anh Hong special banh mí is a cut above: ham, pâté, sausage, pork, headcheese and pickled vegetables on buttered French bread for just $2.95. If you’re squeamish about variety meats, choose the sunnyside-up egg sandwich for $3.50. Add a Vietnamese iced coffee for $2.75 and this is still the cheapest lunch of the bunch.
Arepas & More Café
207 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-5262, arepasandmore.com
This Milk District mainstay predates that neighborhood name by about a decade; their pollo guisado (chicken stew) is total grandma food and, ladled over a plate of rice and beans, one of the best deals in town at $4.99.
22 E. Pine St., 407-730-7499, artisanstableorlando.com
We’ve developed an unhealthy attachment to the grilled gorgonzola sandwich (tomato, bacon, gorgonzola cheese and balsamic caramelized onions on multi grain bread, $8) and equally strong feelings for the city’s best pasta salad, a buttery-shalloty Israeli couscous.
Baoery Asian Gastropub
617 E. Central Blvd., 407-849-9779, baoery.com
Chef Greg Richie’s latest concept, an “Asian gastropub,” might not technically belong on a list of cheap eats. But it’s nice to explore a new joint once in a while, and a dish of the rich, kimchi-laced mac & cheese ($5) and a pile of crisp tempura broccoli ($5) come in inder $10 … if you don’t count tax and tip.
424 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-2241, beefyking.com
An Orlando classic. The sandwich platter offers a dollar-to-volume ratio that can’t be beat: any Beefy King sandwich plus Beefy Spuds (tater tots), coleslaw and a kosher dill pickle for $7.30. You’ll have enough of your ten left over for a small milkshake ($2.25).
multiple locations, bentocafesushi.com
Choose a presentation (bento box, noodle bowl or over rice), choose a preparation (there are dozens) and choose a protein. With so many choices, you could eat here every day for months without repeating, but we find ourselves alternating between the surprisingly spicy red curry over rice ($7.25 with chicken or tofu) and the Korean beef with peppers and scallions over udon ($8.25).
Beth’s Burger Bar
24 E. Washington St., 407-650-4950, and 5145 S. Orange Ave., 407-888-1190; bethsburgerbar.com
A single burger is just $3.49; add a slice of Swiss (99 cents), some grilled onions and some mushrooms (75 cents) and you’ve still got enough of your 10-spot left for a side of frickles ($3.49).
1915 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-4494, bikkurisushi.com
Known for some of the most reasonably priced sushi in Orlando, Bikkuri offers a lunch special that’s equally budget-conscious. From a list of about a dozen rolls, choose two for $7.99, or one roll plus two nigiri for $5.75.
Black Bean Deli
1835 E. Colonial Drive, 407-203-0922, blackbeandeli.com
Their swanky new location in Mills 50 is a nice spot for a leisurely lunch (or a quick breakfast). Linger in the side room with their lunch special: a half Cuban sandwich and a cup of black beans for $6. Add a side of avocado sauce (50 cents) and a pineapple Jarritos ($1.50) and you’re still under $10.
4100 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-282-9453, blazepizza.com
Blaze Pizza blazed into UCF students’ consciousness when they opened earlier this month by giving away free pizza all day. While not free, the 11-inch pies are still startlingly inexpensive – $7.95 for any pie, whatever toppings you choose. Flat broke? The simple pie (red sauce, mozzarella, parm) is just $5.
5695 Vineland Road, 407-352-0101, bordergrillorlando.weebly.com
The torta, aka “Mexican style sandwich” is a crowd-pleaser: We like the asada, served on roll with mayo, refried beans (in the sandwich), lettuce, tomatoes and sliced avocado. Comes with with chips and salsa for $6.79.
1632 N. Mills Ave., 407- 270-9538; brasstapbeerbar.com
It may be tough to stay under your $10 budget when confronted with Brass Tap’s beer menu, with its concise descriptions of more than a hundred brews on tap. But stay the course and order the pepperoni and peppadew pizza, a spicy 7-inch pie on a salty pretzel crust for $7.99. It’s petite but powerful.
multiple locations, burgerfi.com
One of the area’s first “better burger” joints BurgerFi elevates the classic fast-food cheeseburger, fries and milkshake into something much swankier. With American cheese, bacon, maple syrup, grilled onions, a hashbrown patty, ketchup and fried egg, the monster-size Breakfast All Day burger ($7.67) turns tomorrow into Fast All Day.
Carmel Kitchen Wine Bar
140 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-513-4912; carmel-kitchen.com
We tried the grilled lemon chicken and artichoke flatbread (with fontina, arugula, lemon and basil; $8.99) as part of their Bite 30 menu, and we can vouch: legit.
Chicken Salad Chick
12101 University Blvd., 407-867-4900, chickensaladchick.com
The Alabama-based chain serves up (almost) nothing but chicken salad, with a hefty down-home sprinkling of y’alls and sugars. The Original Chick special gets you a scoop or a sandwich made with one of 15 different varieties of chicken salad (we’re partial to Fruity Fran, with apples and grapes) plus a side salad, pickle and cookie for $7.69.
610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-843-2667; asouthernaffair.com
Get a two-piece “plenty plate,” two pieces of fried chicken plus two “fixins” (collards, fried okra, creamed corn, mac & cheese or a dozen more choices) for $7.99, or go for the sideboard sampler – three of those Southern-fabulous sides and a slice of cornbread for $7.49.
Dandelion Communitea Café
618 N. Thornton Ave., 407-362-1864, dandelioncommunitea.com
Midday Monday is usually a madhouse at Dandelion, seeing as it’s “Giddyup Monday,” an almost-half-price take on their uber-popular Giddyup, a roll-it-or-bowl-it concoction of housemade veggie chili topped with diced tomatioes and scallions, vegan queso or organic cheddar, and a handful of blue corn chips. Regularly $9, it’s just $5 on Mondays – order online to shave off a little line time.
multiple locations, edensorlando.com
Eden’s Fresh offers one of the best deals around for health-conscious lunchers – their large salad (greens plus five toppings) are just $5.78; add Boar’s Head protein for another $2.10. (You could make it a wrap for the same price, but if you’re watching calories – don’t.)
Ethos Vegan Kitchen
601 S. New York Ave., Winter Park, 407-228-3899; ethosvegankitchen.com
Doesn’t matter if you’re vegan or not, everybody loves Ethos’ coconut curry wrap ($8.95): grilled tofu chunks slathered in curried vegan mayo and tossed with celery, raisins, raw walnuts, shredded coconut and mixed greens, then wrapped in a spinach tortilla.
La Femme du Fromage
3201 Corrine Drive, 407-571-9947, lafemmedufromage.com
Tonda Corrente’s cheese stall at East End Market serves up a dreamy grilled cheese sandwich – we’re talking a serious four-cheese blend on Olde Hearth bread, not some Kraft Singles-on-Wonder mess – and from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, it’s just $3 for a half or $6 for a whole (which is why this year we gave it a Best of Orlando Writers’ Pick: “Best Excuse for a Late Lunch”).
Frank & Stein’s
150 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-412-9230, frankandsteins.com
Brighten up the workday with the German dog: a beer brat topped with sauerkraut, diced onion and spicy beer mustard on a pretzel bun for $6. (Keep that beer theme going by adding a pint of Genessee Cream Ale for $3.50 and stay under your $10.)
7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-203-8856; freshii.com/us
Eating lunch at Freshii is not just doing your wallet a favor; your arteries will thank you as well. Steep yourself in nutrients with one of their bowls, which run from $5.99 to $7.99 – we like the Mediterranean with quinoa, greens, tons of veggies, feta, almonds and red pepper sauce.
1515 Lee Road, 407-291-1165, on Facebook
This new sandwich spot offers “over-stuffed” heroes; we say it deals in overstuffed customers. The Italian Stallion (salami, sopressata, capicolla, prosciutto and pepperoni, with roasted red peppers plus all the usual sub toppings; $8.99) will gallop right over you.
The Gnarly Barley
7431 S. Orange Ave., 407-854-4999; thegnarlybarley.com
It’s more of a bar than a restaurant, but Gnarly Barley’s chipotle brisket tacos with Tiger sauce give us reason to live. (What, we like it hot.) Just try to resist the vast craft beer menu if it’s a work day.
multiple locations, orlandogoldenkrust.com
The Bronx-based Jamaican chain is known for its spot-on patties, but a full meal – protein plus rice and peas, steamed veg and plantains – can be had for well under $10. We like the goat curry, $7.95.
22 E. Washington St., 407-841-5626, and 2406 E. Robinson St., 407-896-5626; gringoslocos.net
Their tasty “street tacos” (soft corn tortillas filled with your choice of chicken, beef or roasted pork, topped with onion, cilantro and lime) are two for $5.49 or three for $7.49.
Hawkers Asian Street Fare
1103 N. Mills Ave., 407-237-0606, eathawkers.com
Almost every small plate on the menu is under $10, but it’s not easy to get two and still stay under, so the trick is to know which are satisfying solo. Soup is always a good bet for filling up, and Hawkers’ roast duck noodle soup ($8.50) is among the best: Fat, chewy udon noodles bathed in savory broth and swimming with crunchy yow choy and lush slices of roast fowl.
Hot Krust Panini Kitchen
8015 Turkey Lake Road, 407-355-7768; hotkrust.com
The sandwiches at this Sand Lake mainstay have legions of loyal fans; we’re partial to the Gobble Gobble Turkey ($5.99): roasted turkey, bacon, red onions, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, spinach and cranberry sauce on crusty bread.
Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop
3405 Edgewater Drive, 407-985-5841, hubblybubblyfalafel.com
The meats are delicious and their falafel is justifiably famous, but the sneak star of the menu is Georgie’s Lentils ($6.99). The lentil bowl is a perfectly seasoned protein bomb that you can top with various fresh and pickled vegetables (seriously do not pass up the hot-pink pickled turnips) plus a swipe of hummus. Add a bit of pita and you hit the cheap lunch trifecta: delicious, filling and healthy.
862 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-636-9722, hummushouse.com
A Middle Eastern assembly-line type place, with six different types of hummus. Choose pita sandwich or rice bowl, choose a protein (we think the grilled chicken is the best option, and it’s also the cheapest at $7.39), choose your toppings. Unfortunately tabouli and fried cauliflower, two of the menu must-haves, are an extra 99 cents each. Our advice: Add the cauli to a rice bowl or the tabouli to a sandwich.
651 N. Primrose Drive, 407-896-6763; ilpescatoreonline.com
Sometimes it’s a good thing to sit down to a nice hot meal instead of scoffing a sandwich on the run. Treat yo’self to a plate of baked manicotti or cannelloni (with garlic bread and a salad, $8.25) and feel like an actual grown-up.
1600 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-5255; infusionorlando.com
Nothing on the lunch menu reaches the $10 mark, so go nuts on this mostly vegetarian menu. As mentioned on the previous page, we’re partial to the cauliflower-chickpea tacos ($8), served with with crispy kale slaw, cilantro guacamole and sour cream.
2950 Curry Ford Road, 407-802-2947, myjjsgrille.com
A Mexican-Mediterranean take on Chipotle-style dining. Choose burrito, salad, pita or rice bowl (ranging from $6.50 to $7.40) and choose your own adventure by topping with your own personal picks of meats, legumes, fresh veggies and sauces. Don’t skip the J-Bouli.
Junior Colombian Burger
5389 S. Kirkman Road, 407-355-3506, juniorcb.com
One generally feels the craving for a messy Colombian-style burger late-night, post-bars, after inhibitions have loosened, but there’s no reason you can’t eat one in the middle of the day. Junior serves a double cheeseburger combo for $9.59 (because what the hell, might as well have fries too).
501 N. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-647-9099; on Facebook
One of the most authentic diners in the area has amazingly low prices: Get a Philly cheese steak with sliced sirloin, provolone and onions for $5.75 and a root beer float for $2.55.
King Cajun Crawfish
914 N. Mills Ave., 407-704-8863, kingcajuncrawfish.com
Not just a bargain-basement spot to get your crawfish on, this tiny Mills 50 joint also offers a substantial lunch special: a shrimp or oyster (or chicken, if you’re chicken) po’ boy plus fries and a drink for $8.95.
250 S. Orange Ave., 407-608-4181, latinsquarecuisine.com
Smack in the middle of the Central Business District is this café serving warm, homey Latin cuisine. The menu is mostly Cuban, but there’s a South American twist here and there – like the roasted chicken served with garden-green chimichurri sauce. A quarter-chicken with a side of roasted potatoes ($4.99) is garlicky comfort on a plate.
Lazy Moon Pizza
11551 University Blvd., 407-658-2396; lazymoonpizza.com
UCF-area pizza joint Lazy Moon has some of the best meal deals around – because college kids, I guess? You can’t beat the Boxcar Willy special: a gigantic slice and a pint of PBR for $4.75.
Mamak Asian Street Food
1231 E. Colonial Drive, 407-270-4688, mamakasianorlando.com
The menu of small plates makes for a great mix-and-match meal with friends, but for a quick cheap lunch, we choose the Malaysian asam kari: tamarind-infused coconut curry cooked with tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, onions and the protein of your choice – shrimp, fish, squid, chicken beef or tofu – over jasmine rice, for just $8.50. There will be leftovers.
Mark’s Caribbean Cuisine
10034 University Blvd., 407-699-8800; healthyjamaicanfood.com
A big plate of love for $7.99: aromatic brown stew chicken served with rice and cabbage and a side of plantains. Don’t stint on the Scotch bonnet hot sauce.
7325 Lake Underhill Road, 407-270-6505, themeatballstoppe.com
Choose from seven kinds of meatballs and five different sauces, then pick a presentation – over salad, in a sandwich, etc. We liked the spicy pork ($8.75) with roasted tomato sauce, atop white bean ragout with salad and focaccia on the side.
435 E. Michigan St., 407-422-2583; mediterraneanblue.net
It may seem counterintuitive to order the “Provence sandwich” in a Greek restaurant, but trust us: the sliced ham, Brie, herbes de Provence-infused butter and Dijon mustard on “artisan bread” served hot ($6.70) is the right idea.
multiple locations, mellowmushroom.com
The portobello Reuben hoagie ($6.49 for a half) is a huge, “meaty” sandwich stuffed with grilled portobello mushrooms, Swiss cheese, Bavarian-style sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing on a crunchy rye roll. You may need to take a desk nap.
4550 S. Kirkman Road, 407-290-0991; mrspotato.net
Mrs. Potato takes rösti (kind of a mega-hash brown) in a Brazilian direction, stuffing the tender inside with various ingredients, from cheese and onions to chicken stroganoff. Three are priced at $9.99: baked beans, pulled chicken, and the aforementioned stroganoff. But if you’re really seeking the cheap, get the your filling of choice on a baked potato instead for $3 less.
Olea Mezze Grill
400 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-335-4958; oleagrill.com
bowl 8.29 (base, protein, tw spreads, toppings, dressing)
It’s one of those “Chipotle-style” joints: pick your grain base (basmati rice or couscous) and top with your choice of protein, spreads (like hummus or tzatziki) and toppings, plus a dressing if you want it, for $8.29.
Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa
1326 N. Mills Ave., 407-203-0866, pigfloyds.com
The butter chicken taco ($2.95 each; one is perfectly satisfying; two would be plenty) is juicy chopped chicken and jasmine rice topped with creamy orange tikka masala sauce, pickled jalapeños, roasted pumpkin seeds and cilantro, drizzled with yogurt “crema” and served on a flour tortilla. Aaahhh.
multiple locations, pitapitusa.com
The Pit is a late-night classic – some are open as late as 4 a.m. – but shouldn’t be overlooked as a healthy lunch option. We crave the chicken souvlaki pita, grilled and bursting with crunchy vegetables doused in secret sauce ($6.59).
Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria
67 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-0865, pompomsteahouse.com
Before there was Tako Cheena, there was Pom Pom’s – Pom Moongauklang’s gift to Orlando’s 24-hour hungry. Pressed sandwiches range from $6 to $9, and Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving is justifiably famous, smashing an entire Turkey Day dinner (cranberries, stuffing, mashed potatoes and all) between two slices for just eight bucks.
Quickly Boba & Snow
3214 E. Colonial Drive, 407-270-4570; facebook.com/quicklyorlando
Sure, it’s a boba and slush spot, but they’ve got the savory goods, too. Grab a basket of Taiwanese-style popcorn chicken ($4.50) for spicy crunch and a side of summer rolls for some fresh veg ($3.99). Or have macarons for lunch ($2 each), it’s your life.
5080 W. Colonial Drive, 407-203-6777, on Facebook
Sapporo recently raised prices, bringing a bowl of their shio, miso, shoyu or pork tonkotsu ramen up to $9. That’s still amazingly low for a bowl of killer broth swimming with chewy noodles, pork slices, bamboo shoots and naruto-maki.
Se7en Bites Bake Shop
207 N. Primrose Drive, 407-203-0727, facebook.com/se7enbites
If you only think of Se7en Bites for sweet treats, you’re making a mistake – their savory menu is tight. The grilled pimento and bacon sandwich ($8.50) is manna from a Deep South heaven.
119 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 321-203-5130; 8359 International Drive,
We may not be New York, where the Shack often boasts lines hundreds long, but it can get crowded. The burgers are worth the wait though, as is the Shackmeister dog with cheddar cheese sauce and ale-marinated chopped shallots ($4) sided with crinkle-cut fries in more of that addictive cheese sauce ($3.95).
Singh’s Roti Shop
5244 Old Winter Garden Road, 407-253-2900, singhsrotishopnyc.com
This popular Pine Hills hangout (with a sister restaurant in Queens) is worth a try, no matter what time of day, but it offers a most satisfying cheap lunch: the chana roti, just $6, could feed a family of four. Those with less ambitious appetites could pick up a few doubles ($1.50 each) and a tamarind-sauced saheena fritter ($2).
Sloppy Taco Palace
4892 S. Kirkman Road, 407- 574-6474; stporlando.com
A two-“Sloppy Taco” basket comprises a pair of lightly fried, flaky flour tortilla shells stuffed with chicken, steak, pork or ground beef, plus pico de gallo, plus queso sauce, plus black beans and rice, plus OMG you’re gonna need a post-lunch nap ($7.95).
3162 E. Colonial Drive, 407-286-3390; smashburger.com
It’s a chain, but each location has a local specialty. Here it’s the Central Florida burger, with pimiento cheese spread, spicy brown mustard and fried green tomatoes for $6.29. Add Smashfries (tossed in olive oil, rosemary and garlic) for $1.99.
165 S. Orange Ave., 407-650-9134; spiceburgr.com
There are a lot of fancy specialty burgers here, all of them under $10 (unless you really go nuts with the add-ons), but for our money, it’s the traditional burger that sings: organic grass-fed beef patty on a buttered toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, mayo, pickle, fried onions and cheese – plus a heap of the tastiest fries we’ve had all year.
Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road, 407-623-3393; stardustie.com
It’s the “5 Easy Pieces” sandwich we keep coming back for: buffalo mozzarella, sliced tomato and eggplant, roasted red peppers and pesto, pressed ’til it’s crispy, yours for nine bucks and change.
Super Rico Colombian Bistro
57 W. Central Blvd., 407-426-7007; superricocolombia.com
The “Spicy Perro” ($5) is a Nathan’s all-beef frank anointed with various “signature sauces,” topped with jalapeno relish, crumbled bacon and fried shoestring potatoes, and sprinkled with queso blanco. This dog’s got a bite.
Sus Hi Eat Station
4498 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-826-1682; sushieatstation.com
Custom-build your own roll, bowl or wrap at this UCF hotspot; prices range from $6 to $10, based on format and special ingredients. A rice bowl with spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, sweet potato, scallion, mango, coconut, tempura flakes and ponzu adds up to just $7.50.
932 N. Mills Ave., 321-236-7457, takocheenaorlando.com
Also in Mills 50, Tako Cheena’s Latin-Asian tacos and burritos quell hunger pangs and desktop lunchtime boredom. Pick up the three-taco special – choose from Thai peanut chicken, panko-crusted cod, Asian braised beef, tom yum mojo shrimp and Indian curry-dusted crispy tofu – for $7.98; add a bottled Mexican Coke for $2 and you’ll juuuuust squeak in at $10. (OK, sales tax will take you over $10, so skip the Coke if you’re gonna be strict about it.)
2952 Curry Ford Road, 407-849-0810, theoskitchen.com
Theo’s Greek restaurant has been an Orlando fixture for more than two decades, and they’re rightfully known for their gyros and shawerma. But it’s an open secret that they also fry up some succulent, crispy Southern-style chicken; a three-piece box (with roll and two sides) is just $6.99.
This N That Eats
1811 N. Orange Ave., 407-757-0810, thisnthateats.com
Chef Jason Schofield serves as a chef-consultant to a roster of high-profile restaurants throughout Central Florida, which may account for the gourmandise in the anything-but-simple sandwiches he serves from behind the This N That counter. We can’t get enough of the Mexican torta ($7): a sesame seed-paved roll spread with refried beans and piled with chorizo, queso fresco, avocado, tomato and leafy greens.
Toasted Crafted Grilled Cheese
1945 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-960-3922; 10783 Narcoossee Road, 407-930-8682; igettoasted.com
Try the Big Cheese: four cheeses (cheddar, Jack, Muenster, Swiss) plus arugula on locally sourced levain bread, $5.75 – add truffle-rosemary fries for $2.50. This place is seriously vegan-friendly, too — your dairy-free friend can get basically the same sandwich as you. The Truffle Melt is house-made vegan cheese plus truffle oil, arugula and cracked black pepper for $6.25.
1224 E. Colonial Drive, 407-228-7053, on Wix
The banh cuon made our Nosh Pit column last year, and for good reason: The pork and mushroom-filled rolled rice crepes (found on the specials menu for $7.95) are a perfect midday umami blast.
multiple locations, whichwich.com
Which ‘Wich offers the ultimate in personalized service – you can fine-tune the details of your ’wich down to every last detail. That much choice makes our head spin, though, so we go with one of the sandwich chain’s pre-sets: the chipotle avocado BLT ($7.50).
1035 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-4840, zonafresca.com
We’re flirting with breaking the no-fast-food rule with this one, but since there are fewer than a dozen locations and Zona Fresca’s SoCal-style Mexican is genuinely choice, we’re including it. Stack a two-taco combo plate (with beans, cilantro rice and chips, plus your choice of salsas from the bar) with one char-broiled shrimp on a soft corn tortilla and one machaca beef in a crunchy shell for $6.25.