Get your grub on cheap in P-town

So, you’ve handed over your tuition, bought your textbooks, pens, pencils, folders and notebooks, and you’ve lugged them all back to your fresh digs and are starving and penniless.

So, you’ve handed over your tuition, bought your textbooks, pens, pencils, folders and notebooks, and you’ve lugged them all back to your fresh digs and are starving and penniless. No to worry—check out these great spots where you can get a satiating meal for under a mere $5.


Cha! Cha! Cha!

All hail the burrito! Filling and nutritious, a bad burrito is as rare as bad pizza, and even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. The burritos at Cha! Cha! Cha! will have you feeling you’ve got a new lease on life, if not a need for a nap—these puppies are huge. The restaurant also offers a wide selection of other cheap, delicious eats. Most prices on the menu don’t exceed $3 or $4, and there are locations all over town.

Locations: 1208 N.W. Glisan St.; 3433 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.; 4727 N.E. Fremont St.; 2635 N.E. Broadway, 1605 S.E. Bybee Blvd.
Open: Mon. to Thurs. 11a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Laughing Planet Café

Featuring an eclectic mix of ethnically diverse foods, Laughing Planet offers everything from the Chairman Meow rice bowl (steamed Asian-style veggies and brown rice with peanut or shiitake sauce) to the Che Guevara, a burrito with plantains, sweet potatoes and barbeque sauce. The café caters to vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike and does it for cheap. With four locations in Portland, tasty food is just a bus ride away.

Locations: 3320 S.E. Belmont St.; 992 N.W. 21st Ave.; 3765 N. Mississippi Ave.; 4110 Woodstock Blvd.
Open: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Hot Lips Pizza

Using fresh, local ingredients, Hot Lips will ensure you get the most of your pizza experience. They also offer vegan pizza, though it’s not daily. Best of all, nothing costs more than a few dollars. Check ‘em out right across the street from the Ondine Residence Hall on Southwest Sixth Avenue.

Locations: 1909 S.W. Sixth Ave.; 721 N.W. 9th Ave.; 5440 N.E. 33rd Ave.; 2211 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. Open: Sun. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.


Half and Half

923 S.W. Oak St.
Located just down the street from Powell’s City of Books, this cozy coffee shop keeps itself stocked with local zines and artwork. Coffee is always $1 and they have a decent selection of soda and beer. Their “Good Morning” sandwiches are delicious. For lunch, Half and Half has the best grilled cheese in town. The most expensive sandwich will run you around $6.50. Be sure to save a little extra to tip the kids behind the counter.

Open: Mon. to Fri., 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


909 S.W. Park Ave.
This upscale restaurant located just past the South Park Blocks has the best sushi happy hour in town, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close every day. You can get amazing sushi rolls for 75 cents to about $1.25, and they have great deals on sake.
Open: Sun. through Thurs., 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Fri. and Sat., 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Voodoo Doughnut

22 S.W. Third Ave.
Voodoo Doughnut is the best place in town to indulge your sweet tooth with an interesting mix of sugary selections. Voodoo boats an impressively bizarre variety of delicious, cheap pastries, with everything from a maple bar topped with bacon to a voodoo doll doughnut (complete with cherry-filling blood) to vegan options. Cash Only.
Open: All the time except from 2 p.m. Sun. to 6 a.m. Mon.


My Father’s Place

523 S.E. Grand Ave.
This diner is decked out with cozy booths, old stained glass lighting fixtures, pinball, pool tables and Lotto machines. The place draws in a mixed crowd, and don’t be surprised to stop in for breakfast and eat among people finishing up a long night. Cheap bar food (delicious au gratin potatoes with onions and peppers for breakfast, and deep fried poppers and shrimp late night) and darn good Bloody Marys, too.

Open: 6 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily.

The Red and Black Café

2138 S.E. Division
Collectively owned, Red and Black is a great spot to eat a locally-made meal, sip a beer or some good coffee and tea or just meet with friends. They focus on strengthening the local community and promoting sustainability, and has a laid-back and warm atmosphere. The food here is vegan-friendly, and, as always, cheap.

Open: Mon. to Thurs., 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Fri., 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 pm; closed Saturdays; Sun., 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Original Hotcake and Steak House

1002 S.E. Powell
If the smoky bar scene isn’t your thing (or you just want good diner food really late), go to the hotcake house. Amazingly filling pancakes and breakfast items, great sandwiches and steaks too.
Open: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


La Bonita

2839 N.E. Alberta St.
La Bonita is a great place to get a truly authentic Mexican meal for mere pocket change. They have a wide selection to chose from: they serve lengua (cow tongue) and to tamales. Their chili sauces are great.

Open: Wed. to Thurs., and Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.


121 N. Lombard
Javier’s serves 24-hour tacos. That’s right—24-hour tacos. They have burritos, too—all the usual suspects as well as some choices for the more-adventurous eater. The burrito with french fries is quite good, reminiscent of a childhood peanut butter and jelly sandwich shoved with potato chips.
Open: 24 a day, seven days a week

Black Cat Café

1203 N.E. Alberta St.
On the corner of Northeast Alberta Street and12th Ave., Black Cat is a good place to go for coffee sipping and web surfing. Great paninis and bagel sandwiches served with potato chips and fruit, as well as Wi-Fi and computers you can use for a nickel every eight minutes. Nice booths for studying and couches for reading or meeting with friends or holding a study group.

Open: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Gotham Tavern

2240 N. Interstate Ave.
Located just up the hill from the Mississippi/Albina Yellow Line MAX stop, Gotham has a great all-ages happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close, Monday through Saturday. Try the hot chicken wings or an order of shrimp ceviche with pico de gallo, avocado and tortilla chips. The best part is that it’s all only $3, which leaves you enough for a PBR or a decent tip.
Open: Mon. through Thurs. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sun. 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.