Things to Eat in Austin For $5 Max

Despite the hoards of New Yorkers and Angelenos who invade our city each year, the cost of living in Austin hasn’t really gone up (yet).  In good ol’ ATX, we still have rent for $500, beer for $2 and really good meals under $5. These are my favorites.

P. Terry’s (multiple locations) This local chain quality-slaps the paper hat right off the burger juggernaut. Yes, I’m saying it’s better than In-N-Out Burger. Get a hamburger meal (hamburger, fries and beverage) for $4.95. There will be a line. The wait is worth every second.

Veggie Heaven (1914A Guadalupe) A University of Texas-area institution, Veggie Heaven prides itself on being the only strictly-vegetarian/vegan/homeless food-giving Asian restaurant in Austin. Get the Open Sesame noodle dish (cabbage, carrots, squash, zucchini, onions and garlic cooked with brown sauce and topped with sesame seeds, $4.50) or their Tofu Bowl (veg plus fried tofu in teriyaki sauce and served with rice or noodles, $4.60). Five bucks can also get you at t-shirt with the excellent Veggie Heaven logo on it (don’t eat).

Gourmands (2316 Webberville)The sandwiches are over $5, but their homemade bread bowl soups are exactly $5. These behemoth bowls make me crave soup even when the Texas sun is creating sweat rivers down my back (best flavor: all of them, but especially the broccoli beer cheese). 

Thundercloud Subs (multiple locations)This place will make you spit on the (makeshift, symbolic) grave of Subway Restaurant. Get: N.Y. Italian (ham, salami, capicola, cheese, sweet bell peppers and oregano, $4.29 for 6 inch) or The Office Favorite (egg salad, bacon and cheese,$4.59 for 12 inch).

Quality Seafood Market (5621 Airport Blvd.) Okay so the closest body of water to Austin is also home to an epic sea oil catastrophe, but the few seafood spots we have really shine (not an oil slick joke). Quality Seafood has been a local favorite for over 70 years. On Tuesdays get $2 fish tacos with homemade salsa (get the mango), $2 domestic draft beers, and $1.69 sides.

Dolce Vita (4222 Duval St.) In the heart of Austin lies the quaint neighborhood Hyde Park and within Hyde Park lies the European-style cafe Dolce Vita. Fancier food is on offer, but if you’re broke, come for lunch and get $5 paninis that come with a side. Get: The grilled cheese panini on multi-grain or the proscuitto panini on ciabatta.

Juan in a Million (2300 Cesar Chavez) Austin is the breakfast taco (fun game: keep a running tally of the number of taco tattoos you see here— is a lot). The “Don Juan,” is famous (“famous”) for taking down Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food (you know, the critically-acclaimed television series about insane food products). The Don Juan features a “secret” combination of potato, egg, and bacon with tortillas, and one serving of the Don Juan equals 3-4 large breakfast tacos. Cost for this gut-splitting dish: $3.95.

Man Bites Dog (multiple locations) Get: Half-Smoke Dog (smoked beef and pork sausage, chili, cole slaw and Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, $4.99) or the Cartoon Dog (beef frank, peanut butter, grape jelly and Captain Crunch cereal, $3.99). Or get a boring regular dog (still great).

Thanh Nhi (9200 N. Lamar) This hole-in-the-wall local has large Vietnamese sandwiches for $3.49. Thanh Nhi also features quite possibly the friendliest business owner in Austin. You will want to hug the woman who runs the restaurant. And you should (free).

 

Lauren Modery is a freelancer writer in Austin, TX. She loves Rick Moranis.

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17 Comments / Post A Comment

lalaland (#437)

I went to college in Austin about 5 years ago, and I’m so glad to see some of my favorites still on the list! Veggie Heaven and P. Terry are awesome (and I forgot they were so cheap!)

Juan in a Million is ehhhh….hungover college kids on a Sunday? It is a LOT of food, but I would not call it the best Tex-Mex in Austin by any stretch.

Hipstercrite (#1,621)

@lalaland Yeahhh…I’m not particularly a fan of Juan in a Million either, but I chose it because it’s seriously the most taco you’ll get for $3.95. Believe me, I had a long list of other tacos joints.

lalaland (#437)

@Hipstercrite True – I guess the list isn’t best food in Austin, but cheapest! Is that weird backstory still going around about the restaurant? That “Juan” won the lottery and started Juan in a Million and that’s why it’s called Juan in a Million (or now that I think about it, because it is like one in a million…hmm)?

Hipstercrite (#1,621)

@lalaland Oh wow! I’ve never heard that story! Will have to investigate!

j-i-a (#746)

RIGGINS. Anyone know if Del Valle Field still bears the hallowed traces of the Dillon Panthers? If you fly into Austin and love FNL, I’d recommend taking the tiny detour and just breathing in all the Riggins

ranran (#1,002)

Yeah, I think this is mostly a good list, but…..Juan in a Million?! This is literally the first time I have read/heard anyone who actually lives here recommend it in any way.

karrrren (#957)

i’m happy to see juan in a million here, and i’m surprised people don’t like it. the don juan is a kind of ridiculous taco, but i love it for that.

emyh (#1,623)

Some of my fondest memories are chowing down at Juan in a Million. Also +1 for Dolce Vita

probs (#296)

Awww yeah half-smokes

WHERE you get rent for under $500???

Hipstercrite (#1,621)

@Kenneth Bloomer@facebook East side, my friend.

Megano! (#124)

If Diners, Drive Ins and Dives has taught me anything it’s that Austin has pretty great food.

Hipstercrite (#1,621)

@Megano! Austin has really stepped up in the food dept. over the years! You can eat really inventive and high quality food for cheapz here!

pizza (#599)

Austin by far has the cheapest food (and drinks) of any city I’ve ever been to.

I love ATX. I went to TCU and live in FW right now, and many of my craziest, most memorable nights were in Austin. Lots of drunkenness, lots of amazing food, takin a dip in Barton Springs. Damn.

I’m about to move to LA, but I could definitely see myself settling back down in ATX someday. A million times better than Fort Worth.

ranran (#1,002)

Just wanted to add a suggestion: 2 samosas w/ chutney + donut + beverage at Ken’s Donuts = I dunno, def less than 5 bucks. And available 24 hours.

Hipstercrite (#1,621)

@ranran That’s a great suggestion! Love Ken’s!

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