$7 at Laredo Taqueria

Where: Laredo Taqueria, 915 Snover, 713-861-7279. Open Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

What $7 gets you: Almost anything on the menu. Tacos are $1.50 or $2, breakfast and dinner plates cost $5.50 to $7.50. The most expensive item is $8.

We had an asada de puerco taco, a spicy chicken breakfast taco and a half-liter Mexican Coke, all for $5, tax included. For two more bucks we could have added two sides but the tacos were enough to fill us up.

It's easy to accidentally pass this place up for the fancier Mexican restaurants further west on Washington, moreso now thanks to Hurricane Ike's destruction of its sign. But inside the yellow building with pink trim and fences across the street from Pearl Bar (look for the generic "Mexican Cafe" sign on its roof), you'll find taco truck prices in a diner-like setting.

A $1.50 taco (there are about 20 types on the menu) comes with a simple selection of toppings: beans or no beans, sometimes rice, always served on a homemade tortilla. Simple is better here since the filling itself is so flavorful. Laredo also sells more unusual fare, including nopalitos, mole and on the weekends, menudo for $5.50. A handwritten sign lists the special of the day. Plates range from pick-two-tacos with two sides to more complex dishes, such as tamales or huevos rancheros with pork chops. In addition to soft drinks, you can get flavored fruit waters (coconut, tamarindo) at $2 for a large.

Recommended? Definitely. Laredo Taqueria is widely bandied for its breakfast tacos, a reputation verified by lines that stretch around the building weekend mornings. You won't wait for long -- orders are placed assembly-line style and with clockwork precision. Just make sure you know your order before you get to the counter.

The interior is nothing fancy: typical diner-style tables with red vinyl-covered chairs. Telenovelas play on a screen above the cola cooler and wait service is limited -- they'll refill your water, bring you hot sauce and bus your table, but you're responsible for the rest. On busy days you may have to sit with a stranger. But you know what they say. Good value comes with a price.

Lucky for you: Coffee is free on Mondays if the Texans win.

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