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Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in the Washington Corridor

You'll find lunch specials on enchiladas and more at our No. 5 pick.
You'll find lunch specials on enchiladas and more at our No. 5 pick.
Photo by Brooke Viggiano

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).

Today, we're moving onto the bar-and-restaurant-packed Washington Corridor. With favorites like BRC Gastropub, Coppa Ristorante and Max's Wine Dive, there are plenty of great dining options here. We certainly love all of those places, but we're looking to lunch for a bit less.

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

Note: For purposes of this post, the Washington Avenue Corridor is defined as the strip of Washington running from Westcott to Studemont, with a few blocks north or south on either side. Anything further west of Westcott we'd consider Rice Military; anything further east of Studemont we'd consider the Old Sixth Ward.

Honorable Mention: Los Dos Amigos, for their home-style Tex Mex and standout cheese enchiladas, Polovina Italian Café, for their $7.95 3-course lunch specials, and The Counter, for build-your-own burgers and solid fries.

5. TQLA

You may think this trendy tequila bar and restaurant would be a bit pricier, but lunch plates are served daily * Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for just $5.95 to $9.95. And just because they are lunch-size portions, that doesn't mean they are small. We love the blackened tilapia drizzled in tequila-lime butter, or the cheesy burrito loaded with chicken, beans, rice, caramelized onions and green chiles. If you're looking for something lighter, the soup and salad combo -- a bowl of veggie-packed, spicy chicken fajita soup and a field greens salad, tossed with jicama, red peppers, cucumbers and a tangy serrano-vinaigrette -- is a refreshing, but filling, meal.

*Note: Thank you to our reader wuwu for pointing out that TQLA is no longer open for lunch Monday through Thursday.

Wild is the name of the game at our No. 4 pick.
Wild is the name of the game at our No. 4 pick.
Photo by Troy Fields

4. Sammy's Wild Game Grill

It's all about the antelope, venison, buffalo, elk, kangaroo and more at this Washington Avenue burger and dog spot. Come in for a plump pheasant dog ($6.75), served in a soft and chewy pretzel bun with your choice of toppings (may we suggest fried onions, bacon and jalapeños?) and sauce (we love the Cajun rémoulade, but try the ghost pepper if you're a spice fiend). A saucy and tender BBQ Pulled Boar Sandwich will run you just under $10, while a good ole juicy Angus beef burger is just $7.95. And if you come with friends, be sure to split Sammy's Wild Fries ($4.75) -- the thin, crisp fries are tossed with a fried egg, bacon bits, chives and shredded cheese.

 

The beef fajita tacos are fall-apart tender at our No. 3 spot.
The beef fajita tacos are fall-apart tender at our No. 3 spot.
Photo by T.Tseng

3. Taqueria Laredo

This old-timey taqueria almost always has a line out the door. And for good reason. Freshly hand-made tortillas (just like your abuela used to make) are soft, supple and perfect for holding mounds of fall-apart chicken, pork and fajita meats. Add beans, rice and hot sauce and call it a day. For about $2 a taco (cash only), you can't go wrong. We suggest frequenting the place so you can get better acquainted with their daily lunch specials, too.

We could eat the ramen from our No. 2 pick every day of the week.
We could eat the ramen from our No. 2 pick every day of the week.
Photo by Mai Pham

2. Soma Sushi

While the specialty rolls at this sushi bar are understandably over $10, there are enough other lunch choices that certainly fit the bill. And did we mention they are incredible? Come for a bowl of decadent and luscious pork belly ramen ($9), filled with handmade noodles, caramelized, fork-tender pork belly, shiitake mushrooms, greens, pickled ginger and a partially boiled egg. The yolk oozes into the tonkotsu (pork-based broth), adding the most amazing richness and velvety mouthfeel. For a bit more heat, try the spicy miso ramen ($9). But if it's still sushi you're feeling, the lunch sushi combo -- with three pieces of nigiri, a four-piece California roll and a four-piece spicy tuna roll for just $8 -- is the way to go.

 

We love Cuban and fish tacos at our No. 1 pick.
We love Cuban and fish tacos at our No. 1 pick.
Photo by Brooke Viggiano

1. El Rey Taqueria

It goes way beyond tacos at this Cuban and Mexican counter-service and drive-through joint, though that's not to say the tacos aren't delicious. We love the Cuban taco, loaded with chicken fajitas, black beans, plantains and sour cream, or the El Rey, stuffed with flaky, freshly grilled tilapia, red cabbage and habanero mayo. Both are only $2.55 each; but for $7.99, you can pick any three tacos and get a side of Mexican rice and pork-laced charro beans.

But like we said, it's not all about the tacos. El Rey's golden-skinned rotisserie chicken is pure magic, and at just $8.99 for a whole (or a half along with a side of rice, beans, salad and tortillas), you're sure to walk away happy. And it may be even better shredded into their spicy and hearty chicken tortilla soup ($4.39 for a small, $7.25 for a large).

See our other Top 5 Budget Lunch Lists:

Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Montrose Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in River Oaks Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Midtown Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Upper Kirby Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in EaDo Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Rice Village Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in the East End Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in the Galleria Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in The Woodlands Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Old Downtown

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Related Locations

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BRC Gastropub
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Coppa Ristorante Italiano - Closed

5555 Washington
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713-426-4260

www.copparistorante.com

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Max's Wine Dive

4720 Washington Ave.
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713-880-8737

www.maxswinedive.com

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Los Dos Amigos - Closed

5720 Washington Ave.
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713-862-0462

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Raia's Italian Market - Closed
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The Counter

4601 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007

713-966-6123

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4820 Washington Ave.
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713-861-2726

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TQLA - Closed

4601 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007

281-501-3237

tqla.com

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Sammy's Wild Game Grill

3715 Washington Ave.
Houston, TX 77007

713-868-1345

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El Rey Taqueria

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