Downtown Lunch on the Cheap: 9 Bang for Your Buck Dishes

If you work downtown, we’ve got your inexpensive lunch conundrums solved. From grab-and-go to sit down service, these 9 under $10 dishes will get you through lunchtime satisfied with a full belly and less of a ding to the wallet.

Alejandro’s Cafe: Daily Lunch Special – $5.50

31 N Scott Ave / (520) 623-3277 

Served with chips and salsa, Alejandro’s Daily Lunch Specials vary by day of the week, such as the Chicken Fajitas on Monday or the Burro with your choice of meat on Thursdays. Even if you venture off the specials menu, you’re not likely to break ten bucks (2 tamales with beans, lettuce and tomato is just $4) and all their portions are generous.

Other Standouts:

  • Chicken Fajitas on Monday
  • Burro w/ choice of meat on Thursdays
  • 2 tamales with beans, lettuce and tomato for $4

 

Caffe Milano: Fusilli alla Pizzaiola – $7.25

46 W Congress St / (520) 628-1601

This is somewhere you could take a client or three. For a classy midday meal without the bill, tuck into Caffe Milano’s for cheap lunch specials, sucsh as a big bowl of fusilli with spicy red sauce, black olives, capers, garlic and oregano, served with Italian bread.

Other Standouts:

  • Fusilli with spicy red sauce, black olives, capers, garlic and oregano, served with Italian bread
  • Penne al Gorgonzola in creamy sauce with spinach
  • Antipasti Milano with parma prosciutto, genoa salame, mortadella with pistachos, brie, provolone, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, olives, steamed potatoes and Milano salad on a bed of mesclun

 

Empire Pizza: Italian Grinder – $7.75

137 E Congress St / (520) 882-7499

Get your hoagie fix with Empire’s Italian Grinder, heaped with pepperoni,salami, provolone, lettuce, onion, tomato, hot peppers, and italian dressing. Dine at a table or have a seat at the bar and chow down.

Other Standouts:

  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Veggie Grinder

 

Korean Taco at Gio Taco

Korean Taco at Gio Taco

Gio Taco: 3 Taco Combo – $9

350 E Congress St / (520) 882-8226

Get a side of chips and salsa with any three creative Gio tacos, like the “Korean BBQ” beef short rib with mango and carrot slaw, or “M’s Veggie” with sweet potato “chorizo” on a spinach corn tortilla.

Other Standouts:

  • Koren BBQ Short Rib Taco
  • Metzger Dip Taco
  • Citrus Marinated Grilled Chicken Burito

 

Maynards Market: Tuna Sandwich  – $8

400 N Toole Ave/ (520) 545-0577

Tuna Sandwich at Maynards Market in Tucson

Tuna Sandwich at Maynards Market in Tucson

If it’s a classic sandwich you’re craving, head on down to Maynards Market for a gigantic fresh baguette brimming with albacore tuna salad, bibb lettuce, radish, hard cooked egg, fresh herbs, and baby pickles with a smear of mayo. For an even cheaper lunch, buy tuna salad and other prepared foods by the pound from their deli case.

Other Standouts:

  • Tuna Salad Sandwich
  • Caprese Panini with Fresh House-Pulled Mozzarella
  • Roasted Pork + Applewood Ham Cubano

 

Miss Saigon: Bun Ca Cari Dua – $8.99

47 N 6th Ave / (520) 884-4778

Pho at Miss Saigon

Pho at Miss Saigon

With a menu this big and this good, where do you even start? Miss Saigon‘s delicious authentic Vietnamese fare is a must for a quick casual lunch with lots of shared plates. Try the grilled catfish topped with coconut curry over vermicelli noodles and greens or any of their beef pho soups. They also have a full vegetarian menu.

Other Standouts:

  • Bun Ca Cari Dua
  • Pho Tai
  • Bun Bo Hue

 

Sparkoot: Portabello Burger – $7.50

245 E Congress St / (520) 623-4477

Airy and cozy, Sparkroot is known for its delicious Blue Bottle coffee and great atmosphere. But they also have a food menu worth tasting. If you’re hungry, get the marinated mushroom burger topped with walnut pesto on a house-made bun, served with greens.

Other Standouts:

  • Portabello Burger
  • Sweet Potato Tacos

 

Daily Special Board at Little Cafe Poca Cosa

Daily Special Board at Little Cafe Poca Cosa

The Little One: Daily Offerings

151 N Stone Ave, Tucson

Located on the SW corner of Alameda and Stone, this hidden gem is cash only, closed by 2:30, and totally worth it. Latin-inspired, homemade specials change daily, but you can expect to find delicious, inexpensive dishes like fish tacos, chilled gazpacho and Pollo en Chile Ancho y Tamarindo.

Other Standouts:

  • Fish Tacos
  • Chilled Gazpacho
  • Pollo en Chile Ancho y Tamarindo

 

Urban Fresh: Green Goddess Wrap – $7.95

73 E Pennington St, Tucson / (520) 792-9355

Sweet Potato Scone at Urban Fresh in Tucson

Sweet Potato Scone at Urban Fresh in Tucson

Perhaps the healthiest lunch spot downtown, Urban Fresh is one of our favorite juice and smoothie bars around. Fuel up on a tasty and filling Green Goddess wrap, stuffed with avocado, kale, cucumber, pea shoots, basil, sundried tomato pesto, and green hummus.

Other Standouts:

  • Green Goddess Wrap
  • Any item from daily special board

Nina is a Creative Nonfiction MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, a food writer and a recipe addict.

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