Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in the East End

Caprichos mixtos are just as good as the tacos de trompo at this No. 1 pick.
Caprichos mixtos are just as good as the tacos de trompo at this No. 1 pick.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

We've been rounding up our favorite budget lunch spots in different neighborhoods around town. So far, we've covered Montrose, River Oaks, Midtown, Upper Kirby, EaDo, and Rice Village.

With head honcho Ninfa's on Navigation, its newly aquired neighbor El Tiempo, and plenty of hole-in-the-wall joints, the East End has its fair share of great lunch spots. Today, we're bringing you our favorites.

Here's our list of the best cheap (under $10) lunch spots that this area has to offer:

Note: For the purposes of this post, the East End is based off of the this official map, which roughly places its boundaries at Clinton Drive to the north, I-45 to the south, 610 to the east and parts of 59 to the west. This does not include EaDo, but does include plenty of other neighborhoods, such as Eastwood, Magnolia Park and the Second Ward.

Honorable Mention: Moon Tower Inn, for its intricately-topped, punch-packing wild game dogs (the later opening hours -- 2:00 p.m. on Mon. through Thurs. -- is the only reason it did not make the final list) and Bohemeo's, for its laid-back atmosphere and cheap Baja-style shrimp and fish tacos.

Feel like family with classic home-style Italian at our No. 5 spot.
Feel like family with classic home-style Italian at our No. 5 spot.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

5. Mandola's Deli

This family-run neighborhood restaurant and deli, nestled on the corner of Leeland and Cullen, has been serving classic Italian fare since 1975. Come in for Italian-style po' boys -- like the ham-salami-and-cheese-packed Deluxe ($4.59 for a small, $5.39 for a large); or the Italian Beef ($7.39), stuffed with gravy-drenched roast beef and melted mozzarella cheese. Be sure to try their traditional Italian red sauce in the form of Spaghetti and Meatballs ($6.99), spinach Lasagna ($7.99), or a Chicken Parmesan sandwich ($8.99). After the home-style meal and a chat with the friendly Mandolas, you're sure to feel like family.

4. Champ Burger

Another family-run neighborhood favorite, this old-timey burger joint has been serving up some of the city's greatest burgers since 1963. And the prices are old-timey, too. Get a greasy Champ Burger w/ Cheese for just $3.89; or up the ante with the "original Texas Size Steak Sandwich" -- stuffed with chicken-fried steak -- for just $4.39. Overflowing baskets of steak or chicken fingers with fries, salad, Texas toast and thick gravy can be had for $5.49 and $7.49, respectively, and a good 'ole chili cheese dog is just $2.69. Be sure to grab an umbrella-covered table while you wait for your order, and remember, they are open on weekdays only.



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