Cheap eats are plentiful in Austin, where tacos, food trucks, and happy hours flow freely. This made participating in Eater’s cheap eats food challenge, well, not easy, but easier. The proposed rules meant that the $10 limit didn’t include tax or tip, and beverages like water, coffee, and beer didn’t count, either (thankfully). For me, variety was important, so I didn’t repeat cuisines. Otherwise I would’ve just had tacos all day, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I also wanted to make sure I ate three meals, which is something I don’t always necessarily do.
I overslept, which meant my eating adventure was delayed, but it eventually began with a walk to Veracruz All Natural on Manchaca Road. I debated whether I desired my normal order of a migas taco for $3, or I could save $.75 with the al pastor. If I wanted to call this breakfast, I’d have to get eggs, right? So migas it was. When I finally bit into my taco, which I overloaded with salsas, I knew I made the right choice. The fresh tortilla and the spicy mess of eggs, tortillas, peppers, and avocado made for a reliably filling meal.
Dollars remaining: $7
After an interview on East Sixth, I killed some time at the Grackle. Reading magazines and drinking beer? Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t hungry, but I’m betting the two beers I drank had something to do with that.
Dollars remaining: $7
For my early supper, I wanted something very simple and cheap, because I knew I wanted to head north for my second dinner. The answer was P. Terry’s. A burger without cheese is blasphemy, so I ordered a single cheeseburger for $2.60 from the walk-up window on South Lamar. I skipped my usual addition of jalapenos, but I stupidly forgot to ask for complimentary pickles. Always get the pickles. The combination of the sauce and lettuce made the burger too slippery, so I ended up eating each item individually.
Dollars remaining: $4.40
I was ready for more food after the 30 minute drive up to Chinatown Center, home to a strip mall full of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese restaurants. Because of the budget factor, banh mi was my only option. Lily’s Sandwich was still open, so I ordered the banh mi dac biet for $2.93. The menu described it as a "gourmet sandwich," but the woman at the counter explained there were three cuts of meat, pate, vegetables, and butter. The sandwich was the best thing I had eaten in a long time: the layers and textures of meat worked in unison with the crunch of daikon and carrots. It was so satisfying that I saved the second half for later.
Dollars remaining: $0.47
Since I was in the area anyway, I browsed through the aisles of MT Supermarket. While exiting, I noticed a bubble gum machine, and because I hadn’t had dessert yet, I went for the $.25 berry blast. It was huge and not that great. Bad call.
Dollars remaining: $0.22
Leftovers: One half of a banh mi sandwich for lunch the next day