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Walnut Creek Magazine

Cheap Eats

Nov 13, 2019 11:26AM ● By Pam Kessler

CHEAP EATS

From Burmese tea leaf salads and Italian deli sandwiches to Mexican grilled shrimp bowls and Chicago-style hot dogs, there are a lot of delicious cuisines to eat in Walnut Creek. We’ve found some great places, with unbeatable calorie-to-cash ratios, where you can dive into a sea of international flavors for under $25. Go ahead, live a little, your taste buds will thank you.

By the Walnut Creek Magazine Team
Photography by Jessica Freels, Sarah Grunder, and Kyle Luman


 BURMA 2 1616 N. Main Street

The Price: $10-$12 appetizers, $15-$18 entrees

Delicious and complex, Burmese cuisine is a melting pot of flavors. Tea leaf salad ($12) is a standout—shredded romaine tossed with yellow beans, peanuts, seeds, fried garlic, jalapenos, and pungent tea leaves. It’s a tasty dish for lunch, add samosas and chicken curry at dinner.

Makes Cents: M-F lunch entrees ($12-13) come with coconut rice.

 

 

HERITAGE EATS 24 Broadway Lane

The Price: $10-$20 tacos, wraps, and bowls

This fast-casual restaurant’s Med Falafel Wraps are already standard for grab-and-go noshing at Broadway Plaza. The pita-swaddled bundle of falafel, greens, quinoa tabbouleh, slaw, cucumber, lemon tahini, and tzatziki amps up with a spicy sauce ($9.70). Dirty fries are a game changer: pulled pork, cheese, boom sauce ($8.54), and even lower calorie options like the Grilled Shrimp Salad perk your palate topped with slaw, Pico, corn, pickled onion, and creamy cilantro dressing ($11.55).

Makes Cents: Free waffle fries with adult meals M-F; Kids (12U) eat free on Mondays.

 

 

BRODERICK 1548 Bonanza Street

The Price:  $14-$16 burgers, $10 Banh Mi fries

This edgy gastropub dishes up scratch made, over-the-top burgers, fries, and wings. The juicy Johnny Cash boasts a ½ pound of Angus Beef topped with cheddar cheese, applewood bacon, sweet peppers, fried onion crisps ($15.50.) A fabulous Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich is doused in sriracha Bleu cheese sauce, bacon, pickles, lettuce, and tomato ($15). Naked fries accompany burgers. Extra napkins required.

Makes Cents: Buffalo wings ($7), sliders ($9), and well-cocktails ($4) during Happy Hour.

 

 

CALIFORNIA FISH GRILL 2910 Ygnacio Valley Road

The Price: Grilled fish and two sides $8.79-$13.99

It’s a franchise and a good one. Twenty-eight locations and growing. The contemporary menu is deliberately simple, offering about a dozen species of fish and shellfish, including scallops, all sustainably sourced. Order at the counter, find a comfy booth, then relish in the laid-back atmosphere. This is a delicious place for seafood lovers who want to please their palate and their wallet.

Makes Cents: Kid’s get grilled/fried chicken or shrimp with a side of fries for $4.75.

 

MIXED GRAINS 1615 Bonanza Street

The Price: $7-$10 small plates, $12 rice bowls, $18-$22 BBQ

Fresh ingredients and spicy chili paste have an invigorating effect in Bibimbap bowls filled with fluffy rice, colorful vegetables, and creamy egg. Sweet and tender barbecued beef short ribs come with white or purple rice. Korean condiments called banchan complement the meal: kimchee, spicy cucumber, seaweed salad, and pickled daikon.

Makes Cents: Mini noodle bowls for kids $7.

 

 

NOAH’S BAGELS 1930 Mt. Diablo/Countrywood Shopping Center

The Price: $1.49 New York-style bagel, add shmear for $1.69

It’s the closest we come to the real deal without schlepping to Oakland. Biting into a savory fresh-baked Noah’s bagel layered with crème cheese, lox, tomato, capers, cucumber, and onion ($8.48) is a delicious hands-on experience. Order a sweet chewy cinnamon raisin or heavily sprinkled everything. There are over 20 kinds of bagels baked here daily.

Makes Cents: Get a dozen to freeze at home. The Bakers Box includes two shmears for $15.75.

 

GENOVA DELICATESSEN 1105 S. California Blvd. and Countrywood Shopping Center on Treat Blvd.

The Price: $7.99-$12.99 made-to-order sandwiches

The Italians know their food and Genova’s is our little slice of heaven. For decades, they’ve been slicing Mortadella, roast beef, Genoa salami, pastrami, and prosciutto on custom grinders and stuffing them with cheese (+$2), pickles, peppers, lettuce and tomato. Pull a number, pick a fresh roll from the bin, and place your order. Sandwiches are big enough to split, so grab a couple of salads on the side. 

Makes Cents: Devour a delicate cannoli for dessert ($4.99).

 

STADIUM PUB 1420 Lincoln Avenue

The Price: Hot dogs about $5; Add garlic cheese fries $6.49.

Around for decades, Stadium Pub, with its wall-to-wall sports memorabilia, has all the sights, smells and sounds you’d expect from a well-worn sports bar, including kosher-style hot dogs made with Vienna Beef. You can’t go wrong with The Original ($4.49) on a poppy seed bun topped with mustard, relish, onions, fresh tomato, and a dill pickle spear. Add hot sport peppers if you dare.

Makes Cents: Taco Tuesday touts $2 tacos, $2 pints and $2 margaritas. Friday Fish Fry features beer battered Icelandic cod, fries and coleslaw for $12.49.


KEVIN’S NOODLE HOUSE 2034 North Main Street

The Price: $7.50-$10.75 Pho bowls

High energy and bold flavors, along with cold beer, make this casual restaurant a worthy destination. Pho (classic Vietnamese noodle soup) is offered in three sizes and 18 variations. A tasty mix of meat, chicken, and/or seafood in robust broth (beef is the best) with stalks of basil leaves and noodles. Spike it with plenty of sriracha sauce. Add some refreshing shrimp rolls ($7.75) on the side to what might be the best lunch or dinner deal in our food-crazy city.

Makes Cents: Kid-size Pho is $5.25. Also get fried chicken wings ($9.50) to dip in addictive Vietnamese soy sauce.

 

BOUDIN 12 Broadway Lane

The Price: $7.99-$9.99 chowder and chili soup bowls

Gluten and carbs may be out of fashion, but you’d never know it from the hordes of Broadway Plaza shoppers who line up at Boudin for a taste of San Francisco. Freshly baked sourdough bread bowls are filled with piping hot white clam chowder in iconic Fisherman Wharf fashion. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the bakery’s mothership on Jefferson Street in SF and watch the bread bowls being made.

Makes Cents: Make it a combo. Add a half sandwich to your order $9.99 or salad $11.39.

 

SABORES DEL SUR 3003 Oak Grove Road

The Price: $5.75-$6.75 empanadas, $2.50 alfajores

She built her reputation on dreamy alfajores (cookies filled with dulce leche), but Chilean-native Chef Guisell Osorio also constructs savory empanadas that deserve the same love. At her rustic outpost on Oak Grove Road, authentic South American dishes are drawing diners from across the Bay Area. The plump, perfectly baked chicken, veggie and beef empanadas are a main attraction, easy to devour alone or with a hearty bowl of chickpea soup. For a shot of spice, dip in hot sauce.

Makes Cents: A box of 12 small dulce leche cookies is easy to gift at $12.95.

 

THE CHEESESTEAK SHOP 1626 Cypress Street

The Price: $5.49 to $11.59 classic to king-size hoagies

Thinly sliced beef. Gooey melted cheese. Peppers and onions. A crispy-doughy roll. In truth, there's not that much to Philadelphia's famous sandwich, but cheesesteak, originally created in the 1930s, is still heartily satisfying after all these years. Simple ingredients come together in sinful harmony at The Cheesesteak Shop where mushroom renditions are nearly as wonderful as the classic.

Makes Cents: Make it a combo with seasoned fries and a soda for an extra $3.

 

BABALOU’S 1645 Bonanza Street

The Price: $5.50-$10.95 salads, wraps, gyros, and kabobs.

A playful atmosphere attracts a casual crowd looking for an affordable Middle Eastern menu featuring aromatic meats and tempting salads. Lamb shawarma tossed in tahini is stuffed in a griddled lavash wrap with onions, yogurt, and hot chili sauce. Add feta cheese ($1.75). Silky hummus, rich baba ghanoush, and lemony tabbouleh are a few of the salad choices.

Makes Cents: Falafel balls are $1.95 for three; Dolma $2.50 for four.


TACOS WALNUT CREEK: 1690 Locust Street

The Price: Tacos ($3-$5), Burritos ($6-$12), Fajitas ($14.75-$16.75)

The unofficial national dish of Mexico gets an authentic lift at this casual family-owned restaurant that moved into the former Andy’s Sushi spot over the summer. Locals are lining up for classic taco flavors like the El Pastor smothered in grilled onions, cilantro, pineapple, and chipotle salsa ($3) and the Spider, cheese stuffed corn tortillas with whole beans, tomatillo sauce and avocado ($4.75). Plates are rounded out with rice and beans at a small additional charge; self-serve chips and salsa are on the house.

Makes Cents: Feed your kids a cheese quesadilla with rice and beans, and a small drink for $7.50.

 

SLICE HOUSE: 1500 Mt. Diablo

The Price: $5.35-$7.00 slices

Grab-n-go devotees got lucky when pizza champion Tony Gemignani opened an East Bay outpost in downtown Walnut Creek. Slice House dishes a daily pizza special but also cuts up popular classics like The Grandma, a well-oiled, mozzarella and tomato square pan pie. It’s straight up comfort food.

Makes Cents: Meatballs are three for $5; Wings nine for $14; Fresh-baked chocolate chips three for $6.