Seattle Cheap Eats

Meal Deals

By Kathryn Robinson and Allecia Vermillion June 11, 2012 Published in the July 2012 issue of Seattle Met


Bakeman’s Restaurant
It doesn’t get much realer downtown than the classic turkey sandwich that’s been freshly made in this basement deli line for 42 years. Real as in roast turkey and shredded iceberg on soft wheat bread with mayo; real cheap as in $4.95.

Mama’s Mexican Kitchen
Sometimes only the least-authentic Mexican food will do. The hard-living grande dame of Seattle’s Mexican restaurants is a microcosm of its Belltown environs—loud, rowdy, freely flowing with booze. Sop it up with a honking burrito or prawn and cilantro quesadilla.

Pecos Pit BBQ
When a joint is lunch only and outdoor seating only, and there’s always a line—you’ve hit cheap eats pay dirt. Here it’s in the form of sloppy barbecue pulled pork or brisket sandwiches, ferociously sauced on a hardworking onion bun. 206-623-0629

Red Mill Burgers
In its 18 years, Red Mill has collected as many fans as any joint in town, for burgers thick with fixins (check the mountain of bacon by the stove!) and made with care.

Spud Fish and Chips
Even on the dreariest Seattle day, summertime can be achieved by sitting in a plastic booth, contemplating both the watery view (body of water varies by location) and a crisply breaded piece of halibut perched atop a pile of fries.

Cheap Cheap Slice at Ballard Pizza Co.
You can visit Ethan Stowell’s new Ballard slicery in the wee hours of the weekends, but customers need not be buzzed to enjoy the massive, fold-it-up wedges of pizza, which start at $2.50.

Hot Dog at Costco
Seriously: It’s not weird for nonmembers to visit Costco just to eat a hot dog. Quarter-pound beef franks cost $1.50, which includes bottomless soda and unobstructed views of the tire sales center. Scoff if you must, but this would cost $10 at the ballpark.

Burger at Dick’s Drive-In
The Holy Grail of cheap eating in this town, requiring but couch-cushion change for thin-patty, soft-bun burgers redolent of ketchup and sweet pickles; fries flimsy and greasy and loaded with salt.

Tamales at El Paisano
Pssst: The best tamales in town come from inside a big steel warming drum in a Mexican butcher shop in White Center. Thick corn crusts conceal zingy surprises like queso panela, jalapeno, and pulled pork, at a buck apiece. 206-763-0368

Banh Mi at Saigon Deli
The grilled pork banh mi at this International District joint—mouth-shreddingly crispy baguette, charry marinated pork, crunchy pickled vegetables, searing jalapeno—packs more flavor into $3 than any other spot in Seattle. Period. 206-322-3700

Wee Hours Gyros at Aladdin Falafel Corner
The small gyro ($5) at this hardworking Ave outfit is plenty big enough when it’s 1am and you want a soft sandwich that loves you back. Take it to go. 206-548-9539

Cheesesteak at Calozzi’s
Philly-born Al Calozzi serves up $8, foot-long hangover antidotes until 4am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. He preaches the gospel of Cheez Whiz without being pushy—and he just might make you a convert. 206-467-9449

Pizza at Hot Mama’s
Highly scientific afternoon research has confirmed that these Pike/Pine slices aren’t just delish when wolfed at 2am—their springy light crusts and vivid toppings (we are partial to the pesto) are legitimately terrific, and therefore underpriced, all the time.

Dumplings at Pel’Meni Dumpling Tzar
The most exotic eats you’ll find at 2am, this haunt near the Lenin statue features Russian dumplings called pelmeni —filled with beef or potato and served with curry, vinegar, sour cream, cilantro, and brown bread.

Tacos at Taco Gringos – CLOSED
The most sophisticated drunk tacos in town make a fitting end to a night of $10 cocktails on Capitol Hill. Three daily tacos include fillings like rabbit or goat. They’re $2 each and on the dainty side, so order accordingly.

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