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Austin Chefs Confess Their Favorite Cheap Eats

Choice picks from industry insiders.

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El Primo
El Primo
Alex J./Yelp
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Like bartenders and cocktails, chefs have the inside intel on the best places to eat. This time, Eater asked them for their cheap eats recommendations.

Janina O’Leary, pastry chef of LaV
Tamale House East—breakfast tacos, tamales and queso...because queso! Love that it is so close, especially with how much I have been at work lately. I can also eat queso at any time of the day. Salt and Time's Grinder is always tasty and makes it hard for me to try anything else they have on the menu. Launderette—labneh, beet hummus and everything cracker. It is a perfect snack and I love the feeling you get in this restaurant.

David Bull, executive chef of Congress
I love the sake social at Uchiko. It's extremely affordable and always creative. The ox tongue slider, white bean dip and beef fat Sriracha popcorn at Contigo are all addictive and are reduced price at happy hour. You also can't go wrong with the biscuits and gravy and deviled eggs at Red Star Southern. It's only $12 for both! Of course, the old school ramen at Ramen Tatsu-Ya hits the spot every time and it's a steal at around $10 a bowl.

Las Trancas. [Photo: Sandeep G./Yelp]

Shawn Cirkiel, chef at Parkside Projects
From Harlan Scott at Parkside Projects: "There’s this little place near Bullfight, where Shawn has obviously been spending a lot of time these days during construction. It’s called Taqueria la Carnaria. He’s passionate about the homemade corn tortillas."

C.K. Chin, owner of Swift’s Attic and Wu Chow
Ramen Tatsu-Ya because it is really reasonable for what you get there. El Primo because they are my favorite street tacos in town, the pastor, barbacoa and lengua. P. Terry’s has a solid, delicious drive-thru burger without the unwanted chemicals you tend to get when you order inexpensive drive-thru cheeseburgers.

Erica Waksmunski, owner of Red Star Southern and pastry chef at Parkside Projects
Definitely the banh mi dac biet from Ng BMT inside of the Hong Kong market. Best French bread in the city made fresh to order by the most adorable and super sweet ladies. No sandwich is more than five dollars. Tacos Guerrero–The owner of this tiny trailer on the corner of Pleasant Valley and Cesar Chavez makes the tortillas by hand to order and completely over stuffs them with meat. I barely make it through two of them before I'm full. Nothing on the menu is more than two dollars.

Andrew Curren, executive chef and partner at ELM Group
Tacodeli's El Conquistador taco! I love the dried pasilla chile with the braised pork shoulder and avocado. It's my favorite quick snack that is now in my neighborhood (thanks to their new location) as well as on the way to work–and all of my employees love it when I bring a bag of the tacos to the shop!

Xian Sushi and Noodle House. [Photo: Cissy C./Yelp]

Sonya Coté, owner and chef of Eden East and Hillside Farmacy
My favorite "cheap eat" is a refried bean & cheese taco (add onion & cilantro) from Los Comales on East 7th. Love that place.

Jesse Griffiths, owner and chef of Dai Due
Platanos Fritos at El Sunzal–I always get a side of the fried plantains at this Salvadoran restaurant.
Tripas tacos at El Primo–Most people go here for their breakfast tacos, but I always get the tripe taco.
Longanisa tacos at Takeria DF–Everyone does chorizo, but this is one of the only places that serve longanisa tacos.
Samosas at Ken’s Donuts–Why get a donut when you can get a samosa? Or get both.
Jicama spring rolls at Tam Deli–These are a refreshing vegetarian option.

Andrew Wiseheart, executive chef of Contigo and Gardner
Shoal Creek Saloon—They have really good Lone Star and cold oysters.

Ben Edgerton, owner of Contigo and Gardner
Xian Sushi & Noodles—The noodles are hand-pulled in the restaurant while you are eating. It is absolutely delicious.

Ng BMT. [Photo: Meredith O./Yelp]

Bill Mann, director of operations of Qui and East Side King
My favorite inexpensive places to eat in town: Kyoten does an incredible job delivering at the price point that they do. The least expensive item that I probably get the most is Las Trancas’ tacos down on Cesar Chavez. They’re only a $1.50. Tacos are that luxury of Austin.

Kristine Kittrell, chef of Weather Up
La Michoacana tacos and gorditas.

Todd Duplechan, co-owner and executive chef of Lenoir
El Primo. I’ve been eating there ever since I moved to Austin. The super torta is ridiculously good; you should definitely clear your schedule for the day before eating one. They also have really good salsas.
Quality Seafood. Their oysters are the deal of the century. It’s like $18 per dozen. They’re really good oysters and they do a good job at shucking, which not all places do. The beers are cheap and it’s just a fun place.
Swad. Vegetarian Indian food and located up north. I went there with a friend who introduced me to it a year or so ago. They have these huge onion dosas with really great sauces.

Tam Deli & Cafe

8222 North Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78753 (512) 271-6817 Visit Website


2115 Holly Street, , TX 78702 (512) 382-1599 Visit Website

Salt & Time

1912 East 7th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 524-1383 Visit Website

Hong Kong Supermarket

8557 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758 (512) 339-2068

Tacos Guerrero

96 North Pleasant Valley Road, , TX 78702 (512) 939-2308 Visit Website

Los Comales

2136 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702 (512) 480-9358

La Michoacana Meat Market

2237B East Riverside Drive, , TX 78741 (512) 448-9456 Visit Website


1801 Post Oak Boulevard, , TX 77056 (512) 916-4808 Visit Website


2027 Anchor Lane, , TX 78723 (512) 614-2260 Visit Website

El Sunzal

642 Calles St, Austin, TX 78702 (512) 474-7749

Ken's Donuts

2820 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705 (512) 320-8484

Xian Sushi & Noodle [Mueller]

1801 E 51st St #C370, Austin, TX 78723 (512) 469-7878 Visit Website

Swad Indian Restaurant

9515 N Lamar Blvd #156, Austin, TX 78753 (512) 997-7923

P. Terry's

404 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704 (512) 473-2217 Visit Website

El Primo

2011 South 1st Street, , TX 78704 (512) 227-5060 Visit Website

Las Trancas

, , Texas 78702 (512) 701-8287


1500 Spyglass Drive, , TX 78746 (512) 732-0303 Visit Website

Shoal Creek Saloon

909 North Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78703 (512) 474-0805 Visit Website

Kyoten [Closed]

1211 East 6th., Austin, TX 78702 (512) 888-7559 Visit Website

RedStar Southern

1700 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 (512) 962-3674 Visit Website

Takeria D.F. (East 7th)

2020 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702 (512) 619-0715 Visit Website

Taqueria La Canaria

808 East 51st Street, , TX 78751 (512) 662-2952

Quality Seafood

5621 Airport Boulevard, Austin, TX 78751 Visit Website

Tamale House East

1707 East 6th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 495-9504 Visit Website