In Orlando, a city known for its incredible food offerings, good food is a given. Celebrity-chef-helmed spots, inventive new concepts, and grubbin’ cheap eats in Orlando easily find a foothold among diners who know what they like. Food is so important to the social fabric here that each September the city pays homage to the food scene with its annual restaurant month.
The Best Cheap Eats in Orlando
The only thing better than scoring a delicious meal at a great price is scoring the best delicious meals at the best prices. These cheap restaurants in Orlando offer both mouth-watering dishes and enticing price points that will leave you hard-pressed to walk away hungry.
When that Mexican craving calls, you must answer it. At Gringos Locos, you can do that without emptying your wallet. The simple menu at this Orlando cheap eats establishment has earned a cult following with its selection of fresh tacos, burritos, and sides. Locals flock here evenings between 4 and 8 for happy hour, when tacos are only $2 each. But even the regular prices won’t break the bank: A southeast chicken salad is the most expensive menu item and it rings in at $7.99.
When you’re a sandwich joint that has been in business for over 40 years, you know you’re doing something right. Royalty among cheap restaurants in Orlando, Beefy King has been serving up roast beef sandwiches since 1968, and has a very loyal following. A regular-sized sandwich is just $4.55, and combo meals are $7.75. Despite its name, this spot is not just about the beef. You can order ham, turkey, pastrami, corned beef, and BBQ pork options as well.
Mrs. Potato may be the ultimate “meat and potatoes” spot. The lowly potato gets its due at this restaurant where rosti potatoes get the Brazilian treatment. Stuffed with the meats and vegetables of your choosing, the potatoes transform into dinner-plate sized pockets of everything delicious. Guy Fieri has even raved about this cheap place to eat in Orlando on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Best of all, these filling menu items won’t deplete your vacation budget—dishes range from $8 to $10 on average.
The taco offerings at Bartaco focus on fresh ingredients. Tuna and rock shrimp share the counter with pork belly and duck in this cheap restaurant in Orlando’s quest for the perfect meal. It’s a great spot when you’ve got a mixed meat-eating/vegetarian crowd. Choices like portobello with queso fresco, cauliflower, and falafel will be appreciated by both. The “high tide” happy hour between 5 and 6:30 on weekdays offers drink specials that range from sangria to anchojito verde. The kids’ menu takes the spice factor down a notch and adds things like fruit skewers and steamed broccoli to the mix.
There are tacos and then there are “takos.” The cheeky play on the Mexican staple fuses Asian and Latin American flavors into uniquely delicious creations at this spot known for cheap eats in Orlando. Specialty takos include Thai peanut chicken and Indian yellow curry. Or, get beyond takos with intriguing options like Korean hot dogs or butter chicken burrito, all for $10 or less per person.
Looking to carb-load? You’d do well at Sticky Rice. The casual and cheap restaurant in Orlando specializes in Lao (from Laos) cuisine and focuses on one simple concept: a ball of very sticky rice (about the size of a snowball) that you eat by pulling off pieces and dipping it in one of two savory sauces. If you like protein with your rice, you’ve got several tasty options including lemongrass pork sausages and pieng gai (sticky street wings). Pull up a seat at the picnic-style tables and tear off as many paper towels as you need.
Beth’s Burger Bar
Sometimes all you really need is a two-handed burger that won’t disappoint. Beth’s Burger Bar promises that and more. Named Best Local Burger in 2014 by Orlando Sentinel and again in 2016 by Orlando Magazine, the burger options here aren’t menu items, they’re build-your-own masterpieces. Select your burger size and type, customize it with your favorite toppings and sauces, and add the side you desire. There are a few signature items: The Peanut Butter burger adds cheddar cheese, grilled onions, A1 sauce, and peanut butter sauce to your patty. And the Double D challenge is a four-patty burger with eight slices of bacon, five different cheeses and more. Whatever your choice, save room for one of this stand-out cheap eats in Orlando hand-spun milkshakes. The ample whipped cream and toppings make them meal worthy all on their own.
Take one fluffy steamed bun, fill it with the toppings you crave, and surrender it to your mouth. Once you go bao, you may never go back to tacos and wraps. At this small, cheap restaurant in Orlando, local chef Vic Nguyen offers up the beauties for under $4 each. Meat lovers will enjoy the Hogzilla, (thick-cut braised pork belly, pickled carrots and daikon, ground honey-roasted peanuts, and cilantro) and vegans will be equally impressed with the Veganville (crispy tofu with a shallot, ginger, and pepper relish, and topped with scallions and sesame seeds). Dessert options, including one laced with Nutella, are also popular.
Lazy Moon Pizza
What if all you needed was a slice of pizza to fill you up? What if that slice was the biggest one you’d ever seen? Slices are ridiculously large and prices incredibly small at this haven of cheap eats in Orlando, so it’s a win-win. Pick a “Lazy Fave” like “The Buff” (red sauce, blue cheese crumbles, buffalo chicken, buffalo sauce and baked ranch) for $6.50 or the El Fidel (mustard base, Mojo pork, ham, dill pickle slices, and mozzarella) for $7, or create your own masterpiece. While you wait, grab a drink and play a game of bocce ball on-site. The motto that fuels the Lazy Moon Pizza philosophy is one any tourist can get behind: Eat, Drink, and Be Lazy.
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– Original reporting by Heather Greenwood-Davis
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