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've moved outside the loop to the ever-expanding Woodlands area. With tons of families and new developments, including ExxonMobil's soon-to-be-completed 385-acre campus, the already-booming restaurant scene is sure to continue growing. While there are tons of upscale hotspots around, we're looking at the places that offer quick and cheap, but still fantastic, lunches.
Here's our list of the best cheap (less than $10) lunch spots that this area has to offer:
Honorable Mention: Pallotta's Italian Grill, located just east of I-45 in Conroe, for their classic Italian and $5.95 weekday pasta specials; Jax Burgers, Fries and Shakes, for their upside-down burgers, garlic fries, and thick shakes; and Kim Son Café, for their Vietnamese vermicelli bowls and pho.
Personal pies are just $9-$10 at both of these Woodlands pizza joints. Head to Grimaldi's for authentic Brooklyn-style coal-fired pies and to Crust for more creative toppings.
At New York import Grimaldi's, thin-crust pies are crisp and light, while calzones, loaded with melted and gooey ricotta and mozzarella cheese, are perfect for the hearty appetite. We like coming with a crowd and sharing an Antipasto Salad -- with sweet roasted red peppers, salami, olives, house-made vinaigrette, and freshly baked bread ($9 for a small, $13 for a large) -- and a large pie or calzone ($16 to $18). Add toppings like artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, Italian sausage and anchovies for $2 to $4.
At Crust Pizza, you'll find the made-from-scratch dough is a bit thicker, but that's all the better to hold toppings for pies like The Jerk -- loaded with Jamaican jerk chicken, caramelized onions, bell peppers, bacon, and two kinds of cheese; or the Old Smokey -- piled high with spicy sausage, jalapeños, red onions, cilantro, smoked mozzarella, Cheddar, and ranch. There are tons of hot subs, pastas, and salads, all for under $10, as well.
Come to this family-owned café for a true home-style Mediterranean and Greek lunch. Share a plate of hummus, baba ghanoush, or stuffed grape leaves for around $3, then move on to the main event. Tender and juicy shawarma sandwiches -- filled with spit-style slow-roasted chicken or beef, tomatoes, pickles, and onions -- come with a side of creamy slaw for just $5.99. Or try the gyro platter ($8.99), which comes stacked high with juicy sliced beef, rice, pita, cucumber salad, and tzatziki sauce. 3. Eden Café
This mom-and-pop cafe knocks out killer sandwiches, soups, salads and more. Try the Cuban Sloppy Joe ($8.25), a saucy shredded beef sandwich served on toasted Cuban bread; or the Chicken Panini ($7.95), a hollandaise-sauce-smothered chicken sandwich topped with Swiss and basil. All sandwiches come with cottage-fried potato chips, potato salad, or sweet potato fries, but for just $8.25, you can make it a half sandwich and add a cup of the soup of the day (we love the "chowda" Fridays). Feel like a burger? No problem. Try an Avocado Burger ($7.95), topped with fresh avocados, jack cheese, and a housemade avocado-and-jalapeño aioli for good measure.
This specialty grocer located in the heart of the Waterway district has plenty of high-quality gourmet food to-go, but it's The Sandwich Bar located inside the market that really gets us. Skip the more expensive bistro in favor of this made-to-order sandwich bar for quick and stellar burgers and sandwiches. Specialty burgers like the Royal Burger -- topped with freshly made guacamole, maple-pepper bacon, grated frites, and a fried egg -- will run you $10, while a 4-ounce Dijonnaise-slathered juicy beef patty is just $6 on a challah sesame seed bun. Try a hot signature sandwich like the honey-sesame-glazed Seoul Pork ($8); or just build your own ($9 for meat, $7 for veggie). With fresh breads, house-made spreads and top-quality fillings, you can't go wrong.
Come to this road-side 'cue stand for some of the best barbecue in the city. Fatty, tender brisket, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork, smoked turkey, and spicy sausage can be served as plates ($8.25 for one meat with two sides) or in tacos (2 for $6.25) and sandwiches ($5.95 to $9.95).
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We like the Bob-bert ($6.25) a juicy, smokey and fatty brisket sandwich with pico, green chile ranch, barbecue sauce, pickles, onions and jalapeños. Sides of creamy potato salad, barbecue baked beans, and housemade slaw are just $2, but for an extra $.25, we suggest getting the thick and creamy macaroni and cheese. Or go for the gold and try a giant baked potato ($8.95) loaded with your meat of choice, sweet cream butter, real sour cream, cheddar, and green onions.
Be sure to come early, as the hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. 'til they're sold out (which is usually around 2 or 3).
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