With one of the strongest sandwich games around and a diverse array of casual neighborhood spots, Philly is an eating destination even — and sometimes especially — for diners on a budget. It would be impossible to name all of the most affordable dishes that keep this city running, but to start, here are 20 of the best bets for tacos, falafel, burgers, banh mi, jerk chicken, and much, much more.Read More
Philly’s Best-Value Restaurants, Mapped
Great deals on pho, falafel, fried chicken, roast pork sandwiches, tomato pie, and more
Jamaican D's Caribbean & American Restaurant
If you love leftovers, future you will thank past you for ordering a platter of jerk or curry chicken from Jamaican D’s on Chelten Ave for lunch or dinner. There, a large platter comes with two sides — the plantains and the collards are a must — and for under $20, you’ll have enough food to last you through at least two meals. Preorder on Grubhub for pickup.
One of the best things about Philly is that you can a cheesesteak pretty much anywhere and it’ll never break the bank. One of the worst? Spending $10 on a cheesesteak that doesn’t hit the spot. At Dalessandro’s, you’ll rarely have that problem. Enormous, juicy steak sandwiches with onions, mushrooms, and Whiz go for under $15. Call to place a preorder.
Love & Honey Fried Chicken
After getting Questlove’s seal of approval, Love & Honey was an instant Philly hit. For $10, enjoy 7 buttermilk fried chicken tenders, or for $12.50, you can get a crispy Nashville hot chicken sandwich with slaw and sweet pickles. Sides include Nashville tater tots and Southern-style potato salad. Online preorders are recommended.
Open only for breakfast and lunch, Johnny's is a quintessential staple for breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs, and even cheesesteaks. A basic breakfast or dog will cost less than $5, and only a truly hefty meal here will break the $10 mark. The hot sausage is always a good move, and for a Philly original, grab a combo — that's a hot dog and a fish cake on the same bun — and make sure to add some pepper hash.
Siddiq's Real Fruit Water Ice
No Philly map would be truly complete without a water ice mention, and while it may not fill you up like a falafel or a banh mi, Siddiq’s Real Fruit Water Ice will make you forget you had lunch plans. Flavors like mango lemonade, white grape, and cantaloupe are all made with real fruit and a large goes for only $5. Add on a funnel cake for an additional six bucks because why not?
West Philly is a treasure trove of excellent eats, including flavorful fare from Ethiopia and parts of West Africa. This Senegalese favorite in University City serves whole grilled fish, rotisserie chicken, lamb chops, and more in portions that are much bigger than you’d expect for the cost.
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House
Go for the hand-drawn and shaved noodles, served in soups or stir-fried dishes, in a number of combinations that should satisfy almost any taste — and then keep coming back to eat through the rest of the menu. Portions are bountiful and prices are affordable across the board, making Nan Zhou one of Chinatown's many must-tries.
Saad's Halal Restaurant
With its Middle Eastern dishes and student-friendly prices, it’s easy to see why Saad’s is a West Philly favorite. Sandwiches (shawarma, kebabs, falafel, and more) are hearty and almost all around $10 or $12, and the vegetarian side of the menu trends towards $9. Beyond falafel and kebabs, Saad's also makes a good cheesesteak. The food here is halal.
Manakeesh Cafe Bakery & Grill
Manakeesh is a Lebanese bakery and cafe specializing in, of course, manakeesh. The filling flatbread (which has a few spellings in English) comes with a choice of toppings at this halal eatery, like za’atar and labneh or spiced ground beef, with prices hovering around $10. Hummus, falafel, kebabs, sweet and savory crepes, pastries, and fruit smoothies are also served here.
Jezabel’s Argentine Café & Catering
At Jezabel’s Cafe, diners can enjoy empanadas, alfajores, and more of Jezabel Careaga’s Argentine delights, and a variety pack of four empanadas will fill you up for a few hours at only $18. Don’t miss the Argentine breakfast pastry box — a filling chef’s selection of eight delicious pastries goes for only $32.
Reading Terminal Market
From Bassett’s Ice Cream to Beiler’s Donuts to El Merkury’s pupusas and Hershel’s pastrami sandwiches, Reading Terminal Market is a giant destination for many of the affordable eats this city has to offer. Whether the mood strikes for a roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s or an Amish-style soft pretzel from Miller’s Twist, the only mistake one can make at Reading Terminal is going there already full. The market is open daily from 8 .a.m to 6 p.m. Check the website regularly for an updated list of vendors.
Goldie (multiple locations)
Goldie, the falafel spot from the team behind the award-winning Zahav, has a tight menu of sandwiches, fries, and one of the city’s coolest drinks: tehina shakes. They’re delicious, dairy-free, come in a few flavors, and can be had for just $6. Walk out feeling full for under $15. Another good option is Dizengoff from the same owners, where hummus is a full-on meal with meats and seasonal vegetables, plus fresh-out-of-the-oven pita, Israeli pickles, and chopped salad.
Tomato pie is a perfect food: It can be eaten at any time of the day, taken on any excursion near or far, and will almost always fill you up. It’s pizza, simplified. At Sarcone’s Bakery, you can get a $4 slice of tomato pie, alongside seeded Italian rolls and $6 pepperoni bread. It’s cash only.
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On Washington Avenue in South Philly, this popular Indonesian restaurant serves up Sumatra-style hand-made egg noodles, satay, pork and rice platters, and seafood soups, each for under $10.
There’s no shortage of excellent pho and other Vietnamese specialties in Philly, but for a full-service, all-around option, Nam Phuong is a local’s go-to. The huge menu includes all kinds of soups, broken rice platters, noodle dishes, and much more, with the choices below $12 outnumbering those above that mark.
Ba Le Bakery
A banh mi is a beautiful thing: crusty bread with pickled veg, cilantro, and flavorful meat or tofu, it’s easy to find a great one in Philly. At Ba Le Bakery, the options are as endless as the prices are low. From steak to pork kebab to lemongrass chicken, every sandwich can be preordered online, all for under $10. Add a boba drink to your order and still stay under $20.
A great neighborhood bar is important. A great neighborhood bar that serves an outstanding $6 burger is indispensable. And the price tag is really just icing: For fans of classic, backyard-style burgers, the burger is the best in the city.
Among the bounty of restaurants on East Passyunk Avenue sits this little British pie shop serving traditional savory pies. Keep it classic with beef and onion or try whatever filling chef-owner Sam Jacobson is making special for the day, and always opt for a side of mashed potatoes in a parsley liquor. Sausage rolls and sweets are also on the menu.
John's Roast Pork
Whether it's the eponymous roast pork with sharp provolone or a great cheesesteak, John's remains the go-to rec for Philly's signature sandwiches. It's out of the way if you’re not already in South Philly, but worth the trip. It’s also a fantastic option for breakfast sandwiches.