Greasy spoons now offer most of their specials in this price category—too much, unless it's the $7.75 chicken-fried chicken at PAUL'S COFFEE HOUSE. Behold this marvel of caloric achievement: a massive, tender chicken fillet that's breaded, then slathered in a pepper-spiked gravy thick enough for waterboarding purposes in the wrong hands. It induces a sort of narcoleptic noshing, in which you're lulled into thinking you can finish it off, but know you'll have hell to pay afterward. Pay a visit to Satan—it's that good. 16947 Bushard St., Fountain Valley, (714) 962-7879.

CAFÉ HIRO's dinners are gourmet Japanese fusion sold at fire-sale discounts. But their weekday lunch specials are even better: For $8.95, you'll start with a brisk salad light on the pulpy ginger dressing. Then, a silky vegetable soup of the day. Finally, feast on an entrée complete with big portions of pasta and potato. The panko-encrusted pork katsu and the sauteed jidori chicken are standbys. But you can't go wrong with Hiro's special entrée of the day, whatever it may be. 10509 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 527-6090;

You could go to any number of seafood restaurants, get ripped off by the menu prices, and still have to tip. Or you could go to one of CALIFORNIA FISH GRILL's three OC outlets and be poorer by less than $10 after your fish feast. The white roughy, at $7.49, is the best option: served with coleslaw and rice or fries, it's everything those expensive joints serve, minus a few bucks. And don't bother with the tip, you cheap, cheap putz. 3988 Barranca Pkwy., Ste. B, Irvine, (949) 654-3838; 5675 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 777-5710; 10569 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 252-0001;

OC's cheapest grub: in HB
Tim Melideo
OC's cheapest grub: in HB
A Dosa good food for seven bucks
Jonathan Ho
A Dosa good food for seven bucks

Location Info



1475 S. Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Retail

Region: Costa Mesa

Las Brisas De Apatzingan

1524 S. Flower St.
Santa Ana, CA 92707

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

Nha Hang 1.99

11707 Edinger Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Fountain Valley

El Chinaco

560 W. 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Costa Mesa

Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery

15551 Brookhurst St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Westminster

Lucia’s Tacos & Mulitas

16952 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Huntington Beach

Al Sanabel Bakery

816 S. Brookhurst Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Anaheim

Wholesome Choice

18040 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Irvine

Champion Food Co.

17090 Magnolia St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Fountain Valley

Saffron Grill

17441 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Mediterranean

Region: Huntington Beach

The lord of the Indian buffet is at HAVELI. The coconut-milk-thickened curry and the rich spinach mush that is saag paneer both warrant another helping. The crispy edges of the fried pakoras are also particularly addictive. It's all-you-can-eat at $8.99, which includes naan so fresh it'll burn your fingertips. 13882 Newport Ave., Ste. G, Tustin, (714) 669-1011;

Order the pork chop rice at NICE TIME DELI, and you'll get exactly that: a big plate of rice dribbled with soy-sauce-stewed ground pork, a tofu wedge, and a pork chop as meaty as a catcher's mitt that's slit into flaps and fried to a bubbly crisp. Tinier stomachs can order the pork chop noodle, which replaces the rice with a more manageable bowl of noodles in soup. The pork chop, however, still shines. 5408 Walnut Ave., Ste. A, Irvine, (949) 654-8542.

Let's say you're in Little Saigon, you're really hungry, and a bowl of pho won't do. Enter COM TAM THUAN KIEU's combos. Seven meats—the better ones include Chinese sausage, shrimp wrapped in bean-curd skin, a pork chop, or shrimp skewers—crowd a healthy helping of broken steamed rice. Nine bucks for a plate that will satisfy a giant, a dozen midgets and two normal humans. 14282 Brookhurst St., Ste. 2, Garden Grove, (714) 531-4852.

Ethiopian food is great because they usually pile three meals on one expanse of injera, the spongy national bread of the Horn of Africa. MERHABA offers many meals in this fashion—lettuce with Italian dressing (a remnant of Mussolini's African excursion), some veggies, and different meats equally prepared with butter, onion and chili powder to create some of the world's best sweet-spicy treats. Go with the kelway kiyeh—meat mixed with spices, then heated to hell, all for just less than $10. 2801 W. Ball Rd., Ste. 5, Anaheim, (714) 826-8859;

Relive that nervous feeling when you weren't at all prepared for midterms while you dine with the students at the all-you-can-eat, socially and environmentally responsible buffet that is SOKA BISTRO. You'll stick out like a sore thumb, of course, unless you still look like you could get carded. Breakfast is $7, lunch $9, and dinner all of $10. Pay the toll and eat your fill of tofu and organic salads. Be a saint and help out the undergrads by writing their essays, wontcha? 1 University Dr., Aliso Viejo, (949) 480-4000;

• $10 to $15 •

You're asking for trouble if you want cheap sushi. But there is one exception: KURA SUSHI, a rotating sushi bar where plates start at $1.25 and never exceed $3.25. Budget it right, and you should be full before hitting $15. But for those who just aren't good at math or have no self-control, there's a two-item combo for $9.95. Others who proclaim they've found cheaper sushi than Kura may have a hospital stay coming. 212 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 631-3200;

On Tuesdays between 4 and 7 p.m., the pintxos (tapas) at LIZARRAN TAPAS are discounted to $1, down from the already-great regular price of $1.75. They're topped with such things as crab salad, smoked-salmon-stuffed omelet, salty Spanish sausage, even cream cheese drizzled with chocolate sauce—eat five, and you're set for the night. Eat 10, and you're a freak of nature on the level of that Coney Island Japanese hot-dog guy. 310 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 879-9009;

Ten dollars for an omelet might seem a bit much, but we're talking about the omelets at OLD VINE CAFE. Rising grocery prices have added almost a dollar to their breakfast quartet, but they're still a steal, produced with certified organic cheeses, veggies and cage-free eggs. Order the omelet España—artichoke hearts, manchego, bell peppers and prosciutto—but also ask for a side of their wondrous pomodoro sauce, so you can add the best part of the pizza omelet. 2937 Bristol St., Ste. A102, Costa Mesa, ?(714) 545-1411;

« Previous Page
Next Page »