Cheap eats does not have to be fast food or ramen. I do love Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried’s grilled chickens, Chick-Fil-A wraps, Jimmy John’s and any fruit or juice smoothie, but you have to be more adventurous then chain chowing. Let your stomach decide what’s worthy when you have $5 or less.
Brocato’s Sandwich Shop: This Columbus Drive hotspot rocks at lunch, and once you bite into the meaty pressed Cuban, deviled crab or overstuffed potato, you’ll understand why.
Go Go’s Greek Grill: Fresh and healthy is not just a slogan here thanks to the vision of three amigos who serve up gyros and falafel in a flash. You can get it to go or enjoy it at two locations (USF and Westshore). This Olympus haven turns fast food into great meals. Enjoy a salad (low carb or regular) or sandwich (pita or wrap), then choosed your stuffing (savory chicken, steak, pork, gyro, Greek or Mediterranean veggies) and top with lettuce, tomato, cukes, onion, black olives or sliced pepperoncini and splash it with Greek vinaigrette, spicy tzatziki or other dresses. Best sides are the potato salad, Greek lemon potatos, hummus and feta. Opa!
Ho Ho Choy: Chinese dim sum, chop suey, pork lo mein, luncheon specials and your future in a cookie—what good fortune to have found this noodle house on Fletcher Ave.
Jerk Hut: With one location downtown and another on E. Fowler Ave., the hottie Jamaican favorite been serving curry goat, chicken and shrimp for twenty years. Their zesty jerk sauce is mmm’ good and its secret ingredient (nutmeg? rum?) is much debated. Sample the pepper shrimp, beef and veggie patties, curried veggies with roti or savory oxtail stew. Enjoy live reggae on Fri. and Sat. and and all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch at Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille and Rhum Bar (Fowler).
Taco Bus: In San Diego, taco stands beckon from every corner, serving guac-loaded taquitos to the drunken as they drive through at 2 a.m. Not so lucky here, I was thrilled to discover this mobile lunch truck, which now has a permanent location on the corners of Nebraska and Hillsborough Avenues. Taco styles from Mexico’s many regions (Monterey, Yucatan, Mexico City, Sinaloa, Puebla and more served up with rice and refried beans. Don’t miss the fish or shrimp tacos, vegetarian specials (butternut squash tostada, tofu fajitas, roasted poblano peppers topped with Mexican cheese) or the burritos and quesadillas. Finish with flan and wash it all down with Mexican sodas, Horchata or fresh fruit agua frescas. Enjoy the same authentic, affordable cuisine at two other Tampa Bay locations— Plant City and Fletcher Parkway.