Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Chinatown

The crispy whole catfish at our No. 4 spot is topped with fried pork skin. Need we say more?
The crispy whole catfish at our No. 4 spot is topped with fried pork skin. Need we say more?
Photo by Groovehouse

We've been rounding up our favorite budget lunch spots in different neighborhoods around town (See the complete list at the end of the post).

This week, we're moving to the dining mecca that is Chinatown. With its huge number of incredible and authentic restaurants -- from family favorites like Fung's Kitchen to younger, hipper joints like Mala Sichuan Bistro (where you'll want to spend more than $10) -- it was hard to narrow the list down. But, of course, we did.

With a focus on fantastic cuisine and even more fantastic prices, here's our list of the best cheap (less than $10) lunch spots that this area has to offer:

Honorable mention: Chicken pho at Pho Ga Dakao and Pho Thai Binh (for dry pho), the two lobster special at Confucius Seafood, sushi lunch specials at Sushi Miyagi.

Our No. 5 pick's Szechuan wontons are plump and spicy.
Our No. 5 pick's Szechuan wontons are plump and spicy.
Photo by Mai Pham

5. Xiong's Café

If Beijing-style dumplings are your thing, try Xiong's Café. Steamed, broiled, and pan-fried dumplings are handmade, large, and cheap. Walk up to the counter at this unassuming hole-in-the-wall to grab a menu (the menu on the wall is written in Chinese). Once you pick out and pay for your dumplings (credit cards accepted), head over to the DIY sauce station, which offers garlic, vinegar, ginger, and spices in addition to a pre-made dumpling sauce and hot millet porridge. Plump but thinly-wrapped spicy Szechuan wontons (12 for $4.50) are served with hot chili oil and crushed peanuts, while pan-fried pork jiaozi (8 for $5.95) are meaty, thick and doughy.

But it's not all dumplings here; come also for outstanding Peking noodles, hearty beef soup, crispy fried chicken wings, and bubble tea.

4. Saigon Pagolac

Lunch specials ($5.25 to $6.50) at this Vietnamese joint located in the back side of Dynasty Mall include roasted Cornish hen, charbroiled beef, and pork chops served with steamed pork cakes, rice and lettuce. Bowls of pork meatball or shrimp vermicelli and pho filled with flank steak, brisket and tripe will run you just $4.95 to $6.95.

If you're dining with a group, skip the lunch menu altogether and head straight to the DIY Vietnamese fajitas. Matchsticks of carrots, sliced cucumbers, sprouts, basil and mint are brought to the table, along with rice-paper wrappers and a butane-fired cooktop with a sizzling cast-iron skillet. Cook your own lemon grass-marinated beef, shrimp, squid, or a combination of all three, for just $13.95 to $21.95. Squeeze on a few drops of fiery hot sauce, then get ready to rock and roll.

This story continues on the next page.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >