The Lenten season officially starts tomorrow. We hope we've convinced you not to pick on food and drink this year as you ponder what to give up. Our final idea: spend less money by eating well on the cheap.
The Lenten season officially starts tomorrow. We hope we've convinced you not to pick on food and drink this year as you ponder what to give up. You could vow to drive less and walk more (preferably to one of these sweet eateries). Or quit texting at the table and head somewhere where conversations are encouraged. Maybe you could stop snoozing (here's one way to use that time wisely), or trade in your Starbucks addiction for a brew at a local coffee shop.
If none of these sounds like a winner to you, try this one on for size:
No. 7: Give up splurging, and enjoy Columbus' cheap eats. A meal out doesn't need to break your budget. There are plenty of ways to eat well on the cheap. We've got a look at two weeks' worth of great eats on a budget here. And our sister publication, Columbus Monthly, ran a great guide in its November issue.
Treat Yourself: Here are a few more of our favorites:
The food is dirt cheap at most of Tina and Randy Corbin's restaurants-Club 185, El Camino Inn, Philco Bar + Diner-but menu-wise, Little Palace may be my favorite. It's a simple but classy seat-yourself bar with a generous happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays) and dynamic fare. You could fill up on the apps menu alone, which includes Blue Jacket Dairy cheese curds, short rib poutine and several vinaigrette salads. If you're there for lunch, order the lamb or veggie gyro ($4), made from an old recipe passed down by the previous owners. (Little Palace was formerly a Greek diner.) If you stop in for dinner, go with the hearty lasagna ($10) or the Strip Steak served with polenta fries and red pepper aioli ($16).
While local food truck Paddy Wagon is always on the move, you can always find their permanent Jailhouse pop-ups inside Little Rock Bar in Italian Village and Scarlet & Grey Cafe just north of Campus. The focus at Jailhouse S&G is beef brisket and chicken. Order their Bourbon-Glazed Brisket Tacos ($8 for two tacos) made with house pico de gallo, red slaw and Sriracha sour cream. Or go with the boneless chicken fingers (three for $5/six for $9) served with a choice of sauce, including Asian Orange, Bourbon Glaze and Sweet BBQ.
Jailhouse Rock, on the other hand, is all about hot dogs. Owner Zach James' favorites are The King ($4.50), made with apple-wood bacon, banana relish and spicy peanut butter sauce, and the Carmella ($4.50), topped with gnocchi, ricotta, vodka sauce, red onion and red pepper flakes. You can also build a custom dog (all of which are sourced from The Good Frank), starting at $3 plus toppings.
There's not an item more than $10 at popular taco shop Los Guachos. Time your visit right, and you can take advantage of even better deals-like buy one, get one al pastor tacos on Monday (translation: two tacos for $1.50), and $2 gringas (flour tortilla with al pastor, cheese, onion, cilantro and pineapple) on Wednesdays. There's a lot more to explore on the menu outside of their popular al pastor, too. Our favorite? A torta (basically a Mexican-style sandwich) loaded with beef brisket, refried beans, onions, avocado and mayo for $7.
We're big fans of everything chef Henry Butcher does at Creole Kitchen in the King-Lincoln District. It's safe to assume anything your order at the carryout-only spot will feed you twice-the portions are huge, while the prices are not. Bring a friend to share the Jackson Po' Boy ($12.95) topped with catfish, shrimp and crawfish; or opt for a half portion of Seafood Jambalaya or Crawfish Etouffee, both $8 each.
Looking for fine dining? Check out our story on fine dining on the cheap here. (While one of the restaurants featured, DeepWood, has since closed the reminder of the information is accurate.)