Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Rice Village (Save Room for Some Dessert)

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We've been rounding up our favorite budget lunch spots in different neighborhoods around town. So far, we've covered Montrose, River Oaks, Midtown, Upper Kirby and EaDo.

Today, we're looking at the shopping mecca that is Rice Village.

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

Honorable Mention: Coppa Osteria, for their walk-up pizza-by-the-slice window; Kubo's Sushi Bar & Grill, for their $9.95 combo roll specials; and Brown Bag Deli, for their no-fuss sandwiches on the go (okay, mostly for their chocolate chip cookies).

5. Sweet Paris Creperie and Cafe

We're all for enjoying a Nutella crepe for lunch, but if you prefer savory, this creperie and cafe won't disappoint. The Dijon-spiked ham and Gruyère ($8.00) -- smothered in a rich, velvety béchamel -- is a fantastic version of the classic; and the bright le Californian ($9.95) -- with turkey, pepper jack, avocado and truffle oil -- feels light and rich all at once.

4. Yum Yum Cha

Come to this family-run dim sum shop for the made-to-order dumplings, stay for the sweets. Instead of carts of dim sum whizzing by, Yum Yum allows you to order using a picture-book menu, with each dish designated as small ($2.15), medium ($3.15) or large ($3.90). We love the savory barbecue pork steam buns, pan-fried chicken dumplings and ginger-laced beef tripe. Come with friends and order a couple of dishes to share. And don't forget to add on tea; according to the menu, when "Yum Yum Cha" is said quickly, it's an invitation to "drink tea."

3. D'Amico's Italian Market & Café

This Italian market and cafe has one of the best weekday lunch deals around. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can enjoy three items from the daily special board for only $7.95. Choose from freshly made snapper Milanese, spinach lasagna, hearty bolognese, soups, salads and more. They even have dessert (we're suckers for their mini cannoli). But that's not all -- in addition to the specials, they make almost any Italian sandwich under the sun (think muffulettas and sausage & peppers) and even fried shrimp and crawfish po-boys.

2. Café Rabelais

There are enough sub-$10 salads and sandwiches at this French bistro for it to have the No. 2 spot on our list. Come in for lunch (Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and try the braised pork sandwich ($9.95), which is soaked in a sweet and savory honey-thyme sauce and topped with pickled onions and carrots; or the sandwich au poulet ($7.95), a tender sautéed chicken breast topped with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and leafy greens. All sandwiches are nicely sized and come alongside twiggy and incredibly crisp frites. Even the fresh salads are filling; We love the de cherve pane ($8.95), a spring mix with warmed goat cheese, country ham and hazelnuts.

1. Istanbul Grill

A little piece of Turkey in the heart of Rice Village, this tiny restaurant has plenty of Turkish pizzas and sandwiches going for less than $10. Try the imam bayildi ($4.49), a marinated, roasted and stuffed eggplant dish that is not to be missed; the classic döner sandwich ($6.99), a boldly spiced gyro with lamb and beef so tender it practically melts in your mouth; or the brick-oven pizza-like lahmacun ($4.49, or $9.99 for two with a side of charred eggplant dip), topped with minced lamb, tomatoes, peppers and fresh herbs The kabobs are just over $10, but for a few extra bucks they are well worth a try.

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