This article was last updated October 14, 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, check restaurant hours/menus before you go.
As Charlotte grows — and rent increases — the cost of dining out increases, too. Fortunately for your wallet, these 50 spots have kept their core menu items under $10.
(1) Lamb and beef gyro at Little Village Grill, $4.99
When I asked our Instagram followers to share their favorite place for cheap eats in Charlotte, Little Village Grill was the No. 1 suggestion. The low-key greek restaurant now has two locations in Uptown. Everything on the menu is $5.35 or less. Expect a line out the door during lunch.
Locations: 710 W. Trade St. and 901 E. 4th St.
(2) Asada tacos at Tacos El Nevado, $2 each
The real thing. Many dishes at Tacos El Nevado originate from Oaxaca — a state and city in Mexico that is known for its food.
Locations: 4715 Central Ave. and 4640 South Blvd.
[Related Agenda guide: 17 Hispanic- and Latinx-owned restaurants to visit for Hispanic Heritage Month]
(3) Burger at What the Fries, $6
Chefs Jamie Barnes and Greg Williams are behind this crazy popular food truck. They’re known for their loaded fries, but the burger is a good deal at $6. Add on seasoned fries for $5 or cheesy fries for $11.
Locations: What the Fries moves around the city daily. See full schedule.
[Related Agenda guide: What The Fries food truck serves what may be the city’s best loaded fries]
(4) Pig Mac at Papi Queso, $10
One of Charlotte’s most popular food trucks is now a food stall in Optimist Hall. Its grilled cheese menu includes the Pig Mac with slow-smoked Cheshire pork, mac and cheese, and caramelized onions for $10.
Locations: In Optimist Hall (1115 N. Brevard St.) in between Felix Empanadas and Honeysuckle Gelato.
(5) Cheesesteak at Clover Joe’s, $7.75
I’m from the Philly area, and this is real deal. Find the takeout sandwich shop in Latta Arcade.
Location: 124 Brevard Ct.
(6) Grilled pork banh mi at Le’s Sandwiches, $4.50
The Charlotte institution has been serving up traditional Vietnamese sandwiches since 2004, and nothing on the menu is over $5. First timer? Read this. Vegetarian: No. 11.
Location: Asian Corner Mall, 4521 N. Tryon Street
(7) 5-piece wings at Chex Grill & Wings, $5.99
With six locations and more than 35 wing flavors, Chex has become a go-to wing spot for the Charlotte area since 2014.
Locations: Freedom Drive, The Plaza, Concord, Davis Lake, Gastonia, and University.
[Related Agenda guide: 12 must-try wing spots in Charlotte — with flavor recommendations at each]
(8) Pimiento cheese at Dish, $5.94
Since 2019, Dish is under new ownership with Sweet Lew’s owner Lewis Donald taking over. The Dish classics remain, though. Don’t leave without getting the pimiento cheese (served hot or cold).
Location: 1220 Thomas Ave.
(9) Speedy Gonzalez at Anita’s Mexican Grill, $5.25
The gas station gem is a favorite among in-the-know fans of Mexican food. The Speedy Gonzalez combo comes with a taco, enchilada, rice, beans, chips and salsa.
Location: 2904 Yorkmont Rd.
(10) Chicken and lamb combo at Halal Food Cart, $5.99
Expect to wait in a winding line during peak hours at this landmark food cart at the corner of Trade & Tryon. (Yes, even in a pandemic.) The chicken and lamb combo is their most popular dish. Cash only, but if you order from Postmates, you can get around that.
Location: Corner of Trade & Tryon
(11) Burger “all the way” with cheese at Brooks’ Sandwich House, $4.95
A resilient Charlotte staple, Brooks’ reopened in January after losing co-owner Scott Brooks in a tragic shooting in late 2019. It then closed for a couple months due to the pandemic, but Brooks’ is back again.
Location: 2710 N. Brevard St.
[Related Agenda guide: 25 best burgers in Charlotte]
(12) Two If By Land at The Yolk, $8
Consistently rated the best breakfast in Charlotte, the Uptown Yolk in 7th Street Public Market serves breakfast all day. The Two If By Land comes with cheddar grits, two eggs, and toast.
During the pandemic, it’s open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for curbside brunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Location: 7th Street Public Market, 224 E. 7th St.
(13) Kinda fried turkey sandwich at Pinky’s Westside Grill, $7.95
Herbed turkey breast, provolone, bacon, basil, tomato and garlic-parmesan spread. Vegetarian: Get The Nature Boy veggie burger “White Trash Style.”
Address: 1600 W. Morehead St.
(14) The Char Heel at JJ’s Red Hots, $3.99
JJ’s best-selling dog is smothered in chili, slaw, diced onions and yellow mustard. They have veggie dogs, too.
Locations: Dilworth, Uptown, Ballantyne.
(15) Pork BBQ tray at Bar-B-Q King, $7.95
True story: When Guy Fieri was in Charlotte for NBA All-Star weekend, I asked him what his favorite restaurant in Charlotte is. He said, “I can’t say that, I’ll get in trouble, but I do really like Bar-B-Q-King.” The west Charlotte takeout joint has been serving the city since 1959.
Address: 2900 Wilkinson Blvd.
(16) Giant slice at Benny Pennello’s, $4-$5
The slices from their massive 28-inch pies are bigger than your head, and they serve until 3 a.m. on the weekends.
Address: 2909 N. Davidson St.
(17) Chicken Torta at Rhino Market, $7.99
Pulled chicken, avocado, provolone, jalapenos, tomato, lettuce, and mayo on ciabatta. Ted raves about it. Vegetarian: The Tofu You is the truth.
Locations: Wesley Heights, Uptown, NoDa, Charlotte Airport, South End.
(18) Nachos at Sabor Latin Street Food Grill, $8.95
A mountain of tortilla chips topped with queso, refried beans or black beans, lettuce, sour cream, pico, guacamole (no, it’s not extra!), and your choice of protein. Vegetarian: Get tofu ranchero as your protein.
Locations: So many.
(19) Quarter chicken plate at Price’s Chicken Coop, $7.35-$8.20
A Charlotte institution. Cash only.
Address: 1614 Camden Rd.
(20) Hashbrowns “all the way” at Midnight Diner, $5.99
This 24-7-365 diner is the place to be for late-night eats after the bars close. The “all the way” upgrade on the hashbrowns adds cheese, ham, and onions.
Address: 115 E. Carson Blvd.
(21) Classic Mac at Jack Beagle’s, $2.95
The perfect low-brow drink pairing is a heaping bowl of mac & cheese. You can also order one of the loaded $5.95 macs, including chili mac, mexi-mac, and pimento mac.
Locations: NoDa, Morehead, Mt. Holly.
(22) Chicken kebab plate at Jasmine Grill, $9.99
Served with rice and one side of your choice.
Address: 5033 South Blvd.
(23) 12-inch Italian at Sandwich Max, $9.25
It’s their second-most popular sandwich, and we like a runner up. Looking for #1? It’s the TCB — Turkey Cordon Bleu, a.k.a Takin’ Care of Business. Vegetarian: Try the garden burger or build your own veggie sandwich with hummus.
Locations: 1941 E. 7th St. and 1601 South Blvd.
(24) Po Boy Sandwiches at Po Boy’s Lowcountry Seafood Market, $6.95 – $9.95
Choose from fried catfish, flounder, shrimp, softshell crab, and more.
Address: 3022 Freedom Dr.
(25) Burrito at Johnny Burrito, $8.78 (with a $0.50 discount if you pay with “cash-eesh”)
You’ll find this crazy popular burrito counter in the basement of Wells 2. Vegetarian: Veggie burritos are $8.08.
Address: 301 S. Tryon St.
(26) Chili mac at Lupie’s Cafe, $7.75
Choose from four types of chili — Texas, Southern, vegetarian, or Cincinnati — served over spaghetti noodles or mac and cheese with a side of cornbread.
Address: 2718 Monroe Rd.
[Related Agenda guide: LGBTQ+ owned restaurants in Charlotte to support during Pride month (and always)]
(27) Chicken Torta at Sav/Way, $7.50
The cash-only sandwich counter features 20+ torta options.
Location: 4459 Central Ave.
(28) Zack’s Special at Zack’s Hamburgers, $6.79
Old-school, family-owned burger and Southern comfort food restaurant on South Boulevard. They call your order over a speaker, which is just fantastic. Zack’s Special comes with two ground beef patties with double American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mayo, and “special sauce.”
Location: 4009 South Blvd.
(29) Belgian frites at The Good Wurst Co., $4.95
Good Wurst is a fusion between a New York-style deli and a European street food stand. Almost everything on the menu is less than $10. The Belgian frites come with European mayo, curry ketchup, and chopped onions.
Location: 3001 Central Ave.
[Related Agenda story: Now open: New York-style deli meets European street food at this new Plaza Midwood restaurant]
(30) Italian Stallion at NoDa Bodega, $8
Simple, pressed sandwich made with prosciutto, finocchiona, coppa, fresh mozzarella, basil, and peppadew relish on a baguette. It’s one of our 15 best sandwiches in Charlotte.
Address: 1200 E. 36th St.
(31) Chili cheese dog at Green’s Lunch, $3
Greens has been a Charlotte staple for 91 years. Don’t let the “lunch” fool you; they serve breakfast, too.
Address: 309 W. 4th St.
(32) Big K “all the way” ($3.95) and a soft-serve cone ($2.25) at Mr. K’s
Mr. K’s opened its doors on South Boulevard way back in 1967.
Address: 2107 South Blvd.
(33) All-you-can-eat enchiladas at Three Amigos, $8.99 on Thursdays
Come hungry. Choose from beef or chicken enchiladas with rojo, verde, or poblano sauce.
Address: 2817 Central Ave.
(34) Small Block burger at The Diamond, $5.95
One of our 25 best burgers in Charlotte. Add cheese for $0.50.
Address: 1901 Commonwealth Ave.
(35) Totchos at VBGB, $7.25
Nachos but with tots. Beer cheese, black bean and corn salsa, sriracha honey, sour cream, and picked jalapeños.
Location: 920 Hamilton St.
(36) Fat Boy Burger at Original Chicken & Ribs, $5.95
Double cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, slaw, and chili.
Address: 1100 Beatties Ford Rd.
(37) New York Style Reuben at Bedder Bedder & Moore, $9.99
Bedder Bedder & Moore has been open for over two decades. Its remaining location is a hidden amongst the office parks of Tryon Street, but the reuben is legit.
Address: 3501 S. Tryon St.
(38) Grilled pork banh mi at Crispy Banh Mi, $4.95
Almost everything on Crispy Banh Mi’s menu is under $5. The most popular sandwich is the grilled pork.
Locations: 5100 South Blvd. and 2934 Shamrock Dr.
(39) Build-your-own bowl at YAFO Kitchen, $8.99+
If you skip the meat, a build-your-own bowl at YAFO is under $10.
Locations: SouthPark, Plaza Midwood, Dilworth.
(40) Carolina Patriot at Another!? Food Truck, $10
This food truck’s take on a lobster roll, but with shrimp.
Location: Rotates. Full schedule is updated on Instagram.
(41) Sushi roll at New Zealand Cafe, $3.75-$9.25
Or if you’re more of a nigiri person, they’re only $1.25 each.
Location: 1717 N. Sardis Rd, Ste. 6-A
(42) Any sandwich at Common Market, $7.50+
The entire deli menu is under $10. Breakfast sandwiches, sandwiches, salads. You can’t go wrong. Tons of veggie options.
Locations: South End, Plaza Midwood, Oakwold, Rock Hill (coming in 2021).
(43) Reina Pepeada at Arepas Grill, $9.95
Reina Pepeada literally translates to “curvy queen.” It comes with chicken, avocado, cilantro, and mayonnaise packed into a delicious corn arepa. If you want to add a kick of heat, ask for a side of the green “picante” sauce.
Location: 4740 Old Pineville Rd.
(44) 10 wings at Ty’s Wings & Tings, $8.99
Go with the Hennessey BBQ flavor a.k.a. “Henny wings” as owner Ty Noble calls them.
Location: 5708 N. Sharon Amity Rd.
(45) Whiting “samwich” at Skrimp Shack, $6.45
This fish sandwich is as big as your face.
Locations: 8328 Pineville-Matthews Rd., Ste. 301 and 3718-A Central Ave.
[Related Agenda story: Skrimp Shack on Central Avenue is now open]
(46) Burrito at Picante, $5.75 on Tuesdays
Burritos and burrito bowls are $5.75 on Tuesdays. They’re normally $6.69+.
Location: 1500 W Morehead St., Ste. A
(47) Bacon, egg, and cheese at Local Loaf, $8.50
Order it on a brioche bun.
Location: 800 E. 35th St.
(48) Chicken Shawarma Double at Le Kebab Grill, $9.99
This Mediterranean spot serves falafel, shawarma, and, as the name implies, kebab. Go with the chicken shawarma double, which is two pressed pita wraps with sliced grilled chicken, pickle, garlic mayo, and a side of fries.
Location: 350 E. McCullough Dr.
(49) Pho at Lang Van Vietnamese Restaurant, $9.95
This Shamrock Drive landmark was at risk of closing in 2020 due to the pandemic, but diehard fans rallied around the restaurant and donated over $61,000.
Location: 3019 Shamrock Dr.
(50) Gyro pita at Mad Greek, $9.75
We’re ending we’re we started: with a gyro. Mad Greek is another Charlotte classic, located on South Boulevard.
Location: 5011 South Blvd.