If you’re like us and still recovering from holiday bills, you may be trying to adhere to a more responsible food budget. The tricky thing is, we all still want to treat ourselves to a break from the kitchen with a tasty meal out on the town. Well, we’re pleased to have put together a list that showcases the best places in town to grab a filling meal without having to add to the pile of debt on your credit card.
Welcome to Steeltown Chowdown’s Top 10 Hamilton cheap eats for 2019!
Todd: No cheap eats list is complete without a shawarma entry and we’re lucky to have a number of good ones in Hamilton. Without a doubt my favourite is Nabil’s Shawarma and my menu item of choice is a Chicken Shawarma plate served slightly spicy for under $10. It’s usually enough for two meals for me!
Mush: I’m not a very adventurous eater (is shawarma even adventurous?) so I like that I’m not left out here. I can grab a gyro and rice or some tomato and cucumber salad and can still get the same big portions at a good price without getting out of my comfort zone.
Mush: Not the cheapest place on our list but you can’t beat the value here. My go-to is the Schnitzel Cordon Bleu — it’s their awesome schnitzel with ham and swiss cheese on a fresh bun. Add a side of their famous homefries and you’re full for around 10 bucks.
Todd: Denninger’s is that place I always take friends because everyone’s happy with all of the selection. With the exception of me IF they choose something other than a Big Rudy. It’s why Mush and I can’t go together; who passes up on a Big Rudy? That schnitzel with its cheese, bacon, and Rudy sauce slathered on their always-fresh onion bun is perfect.
Mush: We’re spoiled with so many great breakfast spots in the city, but not many have kept the quality the same while keeping prices as low as they were the last time the Cats won the Grey Cup. Get the 3-egg omelette wrap with home fries and you’re good to go for breakfast AND lunch.
Todd: What I love about West End Diner is their gyro. Not since T&G Tasty Lunch at Woolco Plaza back in the 80’s have I had a better version at a diner. I like to visit around 1 o’clock because the Gyro is rammed full of deliciousness and likely to hold me over for the rest of the day. It’s sort of like a diet as you get to skip a meal. Sound logic by my account.
Mush: You know the old saying “In Hamilton, there’s a Tim’s on every corner?” That’s kind of like Mike’s Subs, as wherever you are in the city, you’re never too far away from their ridiculously fresh buns and big portions. Get the Torpedo and you’re set for 2 lunches at around 7 bucks.
Todd: Something I always remember about the Mike’s Subs on Upper James is that they have a lottery machine. So with all the money you’re saving with these penny pinching tips, you’ll be able to invest it into some scratch tickets and Lotto Max numbers!
Todd: Duarte’s is home to the Hefty Hoagie. They’re another iteration of the many awesome hot table and sandwich counters in Hamilton that I love but I think they are the most proficient in the quality to value equation. You have to be adventurous to visit as its convenience store entrance can be rather off putting. But trust me when I say to just go in, keep walking left, and you’ll find your lunchtime haven. If you save enough on cheap eats this month then splurge for the Natas do céu (Creamy Heaven) for dessert here!
Mush: Like Todd said, this place can be confusing and intimidating for folks like me. But if you conquer your fears you’re rewarded with one of the best sandwiches in the city at a rock bottom price. Million dollar idea: tour guides who show you how to order in strange, unfamiliar restaurants.
Todd: I like to order the hamburger here but the thing is it isn’t a traditional hamburger by your typical definition. This polish lunch counter serves up mielone kotlety, typically made with a mix of pork and beef (I couldn’t tell you their recipe but it’s damn tasty). It’s then breaded, fried, and covered in sauteed onions.
Mush: I’m 100% in on any place that serves perogies as a side dish. And that way you can grab a sandwich with a “side” of perogies and get a couple of meals out of it to amp up the value even further!
Todd: We posted on Steeltown Chowdown about Alfredo’s Place in early December and realized by everyone’s reactions that this is the best known hidden gem in the city. It’s in a black hole of unique restaurants on the mountain, so Alfredo’s really stands out. I ordered the medium panzerotti and that fed two of us for two separate meals. The service here is really outstanding as well, making it no surprise that so many people hold them in such high regard.
Mush: Their lunch specials are some of the best in the city. A small, 2-topping pizza or meatball sub for 5 bucks, TAX INCLUDED! I might have to get a job on the mountain just to take advantage of this more often!
Mush: Unfortunately chip trucks seems to be a dying breed around the city, which is why it makes me so happy to see this truck every time I drive past this intersection. 4 bucks will get you more fries than you could possibly eat, with grease that immediately soaks through the bag. Or you could go with the fish and chips if that’s your Friday tradition!
Todd: As a kid I used to ride my bike up to this chip truck to have a pogo and fries with gravy. To be honest, I’m not sure the prices have changed since then, nor has my palate. Fresh cut fries, deep fried anything, and some sweet memories along the way!
Todd: Wok Express is Hamilton’s own food court Chinese cuisine staple. Found in four different malls in the city and nowhere else, every single one serves up a heaping pile of abundant deliciousness. This is the kind of place where you don’t need to go to the gym for arm day after carrying their take out containers. You know it’s cheap eats when you can’t understand how they stay in business serving you so much for so little.
Mush: Among the many things I like about Wok Express is that they seem to have different options than what many other places like it typically serve. Specifically, they make some great thick lo mein noodles that can be tough to find elsewhere, especially at this price. I get those with the sweet and sour pork and I’m stuffed about a quarter of the way through.
Mush: Many of us know about the abundant sandwiches and low low prices at Springer’s, and we now know about their shadow Cold Pizza economy. And underrated gem here? Breakfast sandwiches. Skip the chains and come here for breakfast sandwiches that are 50% larger and 25% cheaper than everywhere else.
Todd: Mush is absolutely right about the sandwich bargains here, but do watch out for their hours. I did the dirty work for you: open 8 am to 5 pm every weekday, 7:30 am to 4 pm Saturday and closed on Sundays. Look at the clock — does it fall within those open hours? Then why are you still reading this? Enjoy!
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Authored By: Todd & Mush of Steeltown Chowdown (IG: @steeltownchowdown)