When keeping a budget, finding money for food can be tricky, but if you plan accordingly, you can have an inexpensive meal without spending over $15.
Eating out in Miami is often a treat, an occasional necessity, but almost always more expensive than dining at home. However, with a few simple tricks and a little research, the indulgence of restaurants doesn’t have to be a drain on your pocketbook. You can save money without sacrificing the experience by knowing where to go (see below) and practice a few of these money-saving tips:
- Bigger can be better: With portions being the huge sizes they are nowadays, it’s easy to get filled up without clearing your plate all on your own. If on a date, keep it reasonable by splitting an appetizer and a meal to cut back on the overall tab if you know the servings are substantial. One main entree can also be stretched into two meals by simply saving your leftovers for lunch the next day; make sure you tailor your order to something that will keep and reheat well.
- Be smart with your spirits: Make your buck stretch further by finding the BYOB (bring your own booze) restaurants in your city. This will allow for dinner and drinks on a much smaller budget. Always ask about drink specials too. Whether it’s two-for-ones or just discounted house wines and wells, you can shave off a decent portion of the tab if you’re willing to step away from the premiums.
- Keep an eye on the clock: Happy hours are not just for drinks, as many places will offer food specials as well. If you are willing to dine earlier or later, you may be able to save on both your meal and your drinks.
- Have a nose for specials: Many places will have weekly specials, some every day of the week. Whether it’s the college cliché of Taco Tuesdays or half-price Mondays, get to know the schedule of the restaurants nearby and frequent them on those days.
- Sides can steal the show: Free bread or chips and salsa? Unlimited fries? Side salad included? Keep an eye on the extras and a smaller, lower-priced meal could be plenty to fill you up.
Try these restaurants and local hangouts that provide a tasty dinner for under $15, and don’t miss out just because you’re on a budget.
I Love Pizza
7105 Collin Ave.
Miami, FL 33141
I Love Pizza has two locations in Miami serving up the finest pizza with the freshest ingredients. A regular pie costs around $22, but on its website, there are ongoing coupons that can save you a bundle. Get a large Manhattan pizza (margherita pizza) for $7.99 and add on a two-liter drink for $3.75, which totals to just under $15 with tax to feed not only yourself, but two to three other people. If you are by yourself, go on Monday to get a New York-style cheese pizza slice for 99 cents. Order two slices, a regular drink and a 10-inch Nutella pizza for dessert and you’re just under $15.
6451 Sterling Road
Davie, FL 33024
Almost everything at this Vietnamese restaurant is under $10 and the portions are humongous. As referenced by its namesake, Pho 79 serves mostly pho, a Vietnamese soup consisting of chicken or beef and vegetables, served in a bowl large enough to feed three to four people, and only costs $9.95. Add on a drink that ranges from $1 to $4 and you’ve got a meal under $15. If soup isn’t your thing, you can always order the com dia, a rice platter with pork, chicken or ribs. Excluding the com dac biet, these platters cost $9.75 at the most.
3 Chefs And A Chicken
8195 S.W. 40 St.
Miami, FL 33155
If you’re a local and you’ve been to Pollo Tropical or Chicken Kitchen, you’re familiar with each establishment’s respective chicken chops. Well, 3 Chefs And A Chicken has its own version called the Chefén and you can get in flavors like the Asian Sous Chefén or the popular, guacamole-topped Top Chefén. The restaurant itself is basically a homegrown fast food joint but the portions are huge and the food is delicious. The Cheféns range from $6.25 to $8 and drinks are $2.04, so you have a dinner that you won’t be able to finish that costs less than $12. Fast food or not, it’s inexpensive and healthier than your standard fast food chain.
Chez Le Bebe
114 N.E. 54 St.
Miami, FL 33137
Most think that $15 can’t get you much, but in the case of Chez Le Bebe, it can get you an exotic meal that has been featured on “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern from a restaurant that has been voted Best Haitian Restaurant by the Miami New Times. Here you can order quality Haitian food staples like cabrit, otherwise known as goat, and have it beautifully arranged on a plate, which is in stark contrast to other Haitian establishments that completely disregard presentation. The highest menu item is $12 and when you add on a drink, it’s nearly $15 total. You just can’t beat those prices.
The Filling Station and Garage Bar
95 S.E. 2 St.
Miami, FL 33131
The Filling Station and Garage Bar is what happens when TGI Fridays loses the flair and has a fling with a bar. This place claims to have the best tots in town and judging by the always crowded atmosphere, that would be correct. Here you can order burgers and tots and get all of the greasy goodness that you’ve come to expect from a bar. This is a jeans and t-shirt kind of place that you will love, with most meals topping off at $10 and drinks just over $2.50. The end result is a delicious, filling meal at an affordable price in a family-friendly atmosphere.
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Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida. Since then, Niema has worked in film, television and commercials as a Production Assistant and Production Coordinator. Some of her films have included Bad Boys II and I Am Number IV. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.