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Ask Eater: Where Can I Find a Meal for Under $10?

In a post-dollar slice society, finding a lunch with a single-digit price tag is tricky

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A picture of a margherita pizza at Life of Pie.
Margherita pizza from Life of PIe.
Brooke Jackson-Glidden/Eater Portland
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Welcome to Ask Eater, an Eater Portland column where the site’s editor and reporter answer questions from readers and friends. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form with the subject line ‘Ask Eater.’

Hi Eater,

Where can I find literally anything to eat under $10?



Hey, Thunderbird — we get it. With food prices and the cost of living skyrocketing, it feels like trying to track down a dollar slice has become impossible. Obviously, there’s a reason for that: A lot of restaurant owners and workers are dealing with those same issues, and can’t keep menu prices where they were even a year ago. Still, we have to eat, right? There has to be something worth eating for under $10, right?

Of course, we have our affordable dining map, which has a few options for under $12. But, to keep things interesting, let’s set some tighter parameters: Here, I’ll only include full meals for under $10, which will include tip. In other words, nothing listed here can exceed, say, $7, which leaves room for a $2 tip. That way, the final bill is still in the single digits.

  • Happy hour margherita pizza from Life of Pie: We have to start with a classic. Life of Pie, which has locations in Northwest Portland and on North Williams, offers its whole margherita pizza for $7 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which makes it a smart option for lunch. I’m not going to include any other happy hour options on here, but considering this happy “hour” runs for seven hours every day, we’ll let it slide.
  • Banh mi: There are a number of spots where you can find a filling lunch for under $7, if you’re into crispy baguettes layered with pickled vegetables and jalapeño. At An Xuyen, a Vietnamese ham, smoked ham, and headcheese banh mi clocks in at $5.50, and many of the others on the menu are right in that range (think: barbecue pork, meatball, lemongrass chicken, etc.); that leaves enough money for one of the shop’s guava cookies. There are also sandwiches at Best Baguette, Binh Minh, and House of Banh Mi that are $7 or less.
  • Cheeseburger from Mid City Smashed Burger: There are a number of inexpensive burgers available throughout Portland, but when it comes to both price and quality, the smash burger at this cart is likely going to come out on top. For $6, you’ll get two crispy, caramelized Painted Hills beef patties, American, and its “smashy sauce” on a Franz bun. There are also options like chicken nuggets and fish sandwiches that stay in that same price range.
  • Two bao from Bao Bao: This one brings me back to my college days — on the weekends, my roommates and I would hit up Taiwan Bakery in Boston and get giant bags full of fluffy pork bao, which we would stick in our freezer and eat for lunch through the week. Two bao are usually pretty filling, especially if you’re smart about which bao you choose. When I’m at this Northeast Couch restaurant, I like to go with something like the curry chicken, which includes hearty stuff like potatoes and carrots, as well as a sweet red bean bao. It’s like dinner and dessert. One bao is $3.50.
  • Sushi from Sushi Ohana: Conveyor belt sushi is one of my favorite inexpensive date ideas, because it’s usually not super expensive and it’s a fun way to spend an evening. You can get Sushi Ohana rolls to go, though, if that’s your bag. A four-piece California roll and a four-piece rainbow roll is $6.90 total. A six-piece avocado roll and a spicy salmon hand roll is $6.50. And for something a little outside the sushi canon, a bowl of tuna poke and a bowl of miso soup is $7 even.
  • A bean-and-cheese burrito from La Bonita or El Coyote: You can get two (or even three!) tacos at a number of different carts and taquerias around town for under $7, but for something heartier — read: a burrito — La Bonita’s bean-and-cheese is just $6.50, and El Coyote’s is just $5.50. If you’re willing to spend a whopping $10, you can get Coyote’s burrito and one of its knockout carnitas tacos for $8.25, leaving $1.75 for a tip (over 20 percent).
  • Bagels: A breakfast of champions. You could go to literally any bagel shop and spend less than $10, but we’re partial to the bagels at Bernstein’s. For something particularly filling, an egg-and-cheese bagel at Spielman is $6.
  • Skewers at Pot & Spicy: The tasty skewers at this individual hotpot spot are only $1.89 each or around $5 for three, either deep-fried or boiled. There are around 30 different options of skewers, which range from pork belly to gizzards to shrimp to oyster mushrooms. Add a broth for 99 cents, or go with something completely different like a shao bing, a stuffed Chinese flatbread available for under $5.
  • Pizza slices: Okay, it’s not a dollar slice, but a number of shops still sell a slice for well under $7.

I’m sure there are countless other options to consider — Portlanders, if you have a favorite meal for under $7, we want to hear about it.