Cheap Eats Portland: The 10 Best Meals Under $15
When it comes to cheap eats, Portland does things a little differently than most other cities in America. While other towns may talk up their burgers and dogs, or their fold-n-go pizza slices, Portland seems to be hell-bent on proving that you can have a sophisticated gourmet meal for less than $20 and without having to search very hard. The city's thriving food truck culture likely plays a huge role in that, but Portland restaurants have also risen to the challenge, and all that delicious competition can only benefit you and your wallet. And so, without further ado, we present our favorite cheap eats: Portland edition.
Waffles at The Waffle Window
3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd. | Hawthorne
By now, the whole liege waffle trend already feels like old news, but The Waffle Window makes it feel fresh and new again with its phenomenal sweet and savory concoctions. The savory options, such as a blueberry cheesecake-topped waffle—are tempting, but our pick would be the bacon, brie, and basil waffle, which comes with a side of homemade peach jam.
Bahn Mi at Best Baguette
What's in a name? At Best Baguette, it's everything since reviewers generally agree that it's the fresh baguettes that send these bahn mi sandwiches over the top. The barbecue pork and the meatball versions are the perennial favorites, but you really can't go wrong, especially if you pair with a lavender bubble tea.
Hot Pot at Little Sheep Hot Pot
3861 SW 117th Ave. | Beaverton
At $19.98 for lunch, Little Sheep's hot pot technically breaks our $15 dollar threshold, but considering this is an all you can eat affair, we feel ok letting it slide (plus, psst: we have a deal!). Choose one of four variations on the house broth, infused with more than three dozen different spices, then add in ingredients like glass noodles, quail eggs, baby bok choy, and homemade meatballs until you've got your recipe exactly right.
Paella at MF Tasty
3927 N Williams Ave. | Mississippi
It's rare to find a dish like paella on a cheap eats list and even rarer to find one being sold from a food cart. But this is Portland, after all, and often the very best dishes are found in the most unlikely of places. The paella offering changes every week at the "Southwest inspired" eatery, but past incarnations have included chicken, chorizo, and grilled lime or bacon and Washington cost clams, always finished with a sprinkle of smoked salt.
L'Apiniste at Chez Machin
3553 SE Hawthorne Blvd. | Hawthorne
At first glance, this seems like your standard order breakfast plate: eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast. But look closer and you'll notice the toast is actually slices of fresh baguette and the potatoes are not hash browns, but a small crock of perfect au gratin potatoes. No breakfast was ever so simple and sophisticated, and it's subtle touches like that that make Chez Machin one of the top restaurants in Portland.
Fried Chicken Sandwich at Basilisk
820 NE 27th Ave. | Kerns
The Basilisk sandwich doesn't defy gravity: the mess of perfectly crispy chicken thigh, cabbage slaw, and homemade pickles is held in place by a giant steak knife that juts through the buttery bun that bookends it all. Meaning, of course that things are going to get messy once you unsheath it, Excalibur-style. Take a deep breath and succumb to your destiny: this is the one true fried chicken sandwich, after all.
Cafe de Olla at Revolucion Coffee House
1432 SW 6th Ave. | Downtown
You may never look at boring drip coffee the same way again after trying the cafe de olla—a drink concocted of Italian-roasted Mexican coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo sugar. Of course, coffee doesn't really count as a meal, but at just $4 for a large, you'll have plenty of dough left over for one of the cafe's empanadas or blueberry tamales.
The Yolko Ono at Fried Egg I'm in Love
780 SW Broadway | Downtown
Anything placed between the perfectly grilled slices of sourdough at this downtown food truck would probably taste divine, but add in hand-pressed sausage patties, pesto, and a perfectly runny fried egg and yes, it's true: we're in love.
Hawaiian Plate at Mahi Taco
625 NE Killingsworth | King
Drop down just $10 at this too oft overlooked fusion food cart on NE Killingsworth and you'll be rewarded with two tacos, plus heaping helpings of cilantro-lime rice, macaroni salad, and purple coleslaw. Go for the kalua pork or the fried avocado, or do yourself a favor and request one of each.
Maple Bacon Bar at Voodoo Donut
You didn't think we'd get through a list of cheap eats in Portland without a nod to the pink palace of fried dough, did you? Voodoo Donuts may have become quite the tourist trap, but the donuts are still hella good and quite reasonably priced for their size. The maple bacon bar also hits just the right balance of salty and sweet, which can almost fool you into thinking you'll miss that sugar crash later. You won't, but still... that's a tasty donut.
Italian beef, polish sausage, deep dish pizza, and more Chicago food
Fried chicken, juicy burgers, and scoops of ice cream made their way onto our list of 10 "Cheap Eats Atlanta" champs.