Cheap and Good Eats

Top Five

Montrose has its fair share of fantastic dining, from upscale classicsMark'sandHugo'sto trendy new kids on the blockUchiandUnderbelly. But don't be fooled; there are also plenty of amazing hole-in-the-wall eateries in this hood.

Today we're focusing on the small joints that offer the best bang for your buck. Here's our list of the best cheap (under $10) lunch spots in Montrose.

5. Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine

If you want to feast like a king on the cheap, Aladdin's cafeteria-style lunch is the way to go. All items are available à la carte, but we can't skip the $9.99 (or $8.99 for all vegetables) lunch special, where you can choose one entrée and three sides from the vast array of dips, salads, roasted vegetables and succulent meats set before you. We love the hot fresh pita, tabbouleh salad, Lebanese mashed potatoes and shish kebab. Oh, and the roasted cauliflower, baked chicken, fried falafel and lamb shank. No matter what you choose, the guys behind the counter will load up your plate, so you're sure to walk away happy.

4. Eatsie Boys Cafe

With all-day breakfast and monster sandwiches, soups and salads under $10, you can't go wrong with this food-truck-turned-Montrose cafe. We like the Tough Guy ($10), a cold fried chicken sandwich with slaw, sriracha ranch dressing and bread & butter pickles; the shaved Brussels sprouts salad ($9), with roasted beets, bacon and Meyer-lemon vinaigrette; or the aptly named "Trust Us" soup ($6), a never-before-seen matzoh ball pho that is out of this world. Tacking on the boys' housemade ice cream may put you over the $10 limit, but it's oh so worth it.

3. BB's Café

If you're ever in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, you can always transport yourself straight to Nola at this Creole-style eatery. And in true Southern fashion, the prices are right. Feast on $8 bowls of Maw Maw's hearty gumbo and jambalaya or $7-$9.50 giant po-boys filled with Southern favorites like fried catfish, dressed roast beef and oysters. Those are sure to fill you up, but if you're willing to spend a little extra, we suggest sharing a plate of the queso-, roast beef- and gravy-topped fries ($9). You'll never want to leave Nola again.

2. Lankford Grocery & Market

This friendly, down-home restaurant has been serving up comfort food since it opened as a grocery in 1939. The cash-only spot serves lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., so stop by for your fix of classic sandwiches ($3.75 to $6.95; think BLTs and tuna melts) and old-fashioned, messy-as-all-hell burgers ($5.75 to $9.75 for a triple) smothered in toppings like mac and cheese, habanero sauce and wasabi pineapple. Don't miss their famous daily lunch specials ($8.95) for cheesy beef enchiladas, chicken-fried steak and Texas hash that will ­rival even your mama's.

1. La Guadalupana Bakery and Café

Tucked away in a mini strip mall, this bakery and café is a true Montrose gem, offering hearty Mexican classics at unbeatable prices. Fill up on authentic barbacoa gordi tas and sopes ($3.99,$2.50); rich, flavorful pozole ($8.50); green chicken enchiladas ($9.99); or Veracruz-style steamed bass ($9.99). And we haven't even gotten to the good news: The cafe serves breakfast throughout the day, has fantastic baked goods (try the tres leches and croissants) and is BYOB. Montrose, we think we have ourselves a winner.

Chef Chat

Baker Spotlight
Belen Bailey, Sweets by Belen.

Molly Dunn

You don't have to graduate from a culinary institute to be a successful baker. Belen Bailey, owner and baker of Sweets by Belen, proves that a love for a mother's sweets and treats, combined with a passion for baking, is more than enough to make a name for yourself in the Houston culinary world.

As a child, Bailey lived in Peru and became accustomed to having sweets or desserts with just about every single meal.

"I started baking because back in Peru, my mom and my grandma always had some kind of treat — something sweet, at home," Bailey says. "In Peru, the people have the main dish and then soup, but in my house it was the main dish and dessert. So when I moved to Louisiana, I started looking for something sweet. After a while, I was missing my mom and my grandma's sweets."

Bailey didn't go to culinary school. Instead, she attended college in Peru, where she studied nutrition and biochemistry. When she moved to America in 1997, she enrolled in Louisiana College and soon became a Spanish teacher at a local school. As if that weren't enough on her plate, she added baking after school was over for the day.

Soon she realized that baking was her true passion, despite her mother's previous apprehension about her having a career in baking.

"I remember my mom and my grandma baking on the weekends, especially Sundays, when it was like a family reunion, and so when my mom came and she saw that I already have people...that were calling me to order cakes and treats, she would start crying and she said, 'Why are you doing this when I always wanted you to go to school?' And I said, 'Mom, I went to school; I finished school; I did all of this, but this is what I really, really like to do.'"

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano