$7 at Bell Street Cafe

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Where: Bell Street Cafe, 800 Bell Street (under the Exxon Building)

What $7 gets you: Surprisingly fresh and cheap food.

Dining under the Exxon building, right next to the Houston Press building, means that you will be eating with a million suits who do business just a few floors up. There's a lot of guys in dress clothes and delicate comb-overs who probably make an untold amount of costly and wide-sweeping decisions before they belly up to the salad bar, or settle in with a fresh-grilled cheeseburger and fries with the boys from accounting.

Nothing gets one in the mood to chow down better than Fox News reporting how we're all gonna die of swine flu. There's a huge screen television on one side of the dining room beaming Fox News in. Dire headlines about the economy and sly Obama-bashing abounds. Just recently, news of the swine flu turned each lunch break into a sobering half-hour of introspection on mortality, with dizzying crawls on the bottom of the screen to match.

But hey, the food's awesome.

Today, Chicken Veronique was the featured dish from the main gourmet station. This section of the café offers up juicy prime rib, barbecue and all manner of fancy chicken dishes, with heaping helpings of vegetables and other sides galore, five days of the week. All for the price of a pack of cigarettes.

The plate included a slice of battered chicken, smothered in a mushroom and grape sauce, a scoop of lightly oiled pasta and a scoop of brussel sprouts.

Recommended? Yes. For seven bucks, you could get a bag of "blech" from a fast food place, or ride high at high at a puny sub shop. But at Bell Street, you can eat like a king for the same amount of scratch. Okay, not exactly. But you can eat like a well-fed corporate minion with a J. Crew addiction.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.