Brown bagging has never been my thing. Even in desperate times, it feel a bit kindergarten sitting in the lunchroom with a brown banana and leftovers.
as gas prices skyrocket, grocery bills soar and my paycheck seems to
shrink ever smaller, I’m beginning to eye the old lunch box with a
little more tenderness. Fingering through a week’s worth of food
receipts, it’s shocking to realize that $8 to $12 lunches are pretty
much the norm, and sushi splurges of $20 and up less than infrequent.
Time to tighten the money belt and suss out lunches with a slimmer economic profile. But hey, let’s not get crazy. They’ve still got to taste, well, reasonably good.
Here’s my list — along with a little help from my friends — of solid $5* and under meals
around the region. But hey, everybody’s got their fave. So add them
already and help save your fellow BiteClubbers a little cheddar.
Asian that’s fast, hot and oh so cheap
Lee’s Noodle House: Bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) filled with beef, veggies and a few mysteries (of the pleasant sort).
Simply Vietnam: BBQ
pork spring rolls filled with noodles, lettuce, mint and pork come in
threes and are enough for a light lunch ($4.25). 966 North Dutton,
Santa Rosa, 707.566.8910.
Go Go Wok: Typical Asian fare,
but made to order rather than sitting on a steam table for hours on
end. Lunch specials are massive and easily feed two, so take a friend.
791 Marlow Rd # 4, Santa Rosa, (707) 575-8868
Ohana Hawaiian BBQ:
If you can’t splurge for the Kalua pork plate lunch ($6.50), you can
get a bowl of BBQ chick or grilled Spam Saimin (noodles) for $3.75.
2150 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 571.8882.
Mexican that makes your wallet say, Ole
Crispy Salvadorian corn cakes filled with cheese, beens and other
goodies are under $2 each and Yuca fries are a filling meal in
themselves for under $5.1403 Maple Ave, Santa Rosa, 544-3141
Subdjoe recommends the half pints of rice and refried beans, fruit and drink from the Latin grocer, Lola’s on Petaluma Hill Road, for under $5.
The cheese enchilada plate at Mexican-chain, Rubio’s, is $4.99 (before tax), and a favorite of Star.
Las Palmas is
a step up from the usual cheap Mexican fare, and a favorite of
BiteClub. The tacos al pastor ($1.99 each) are a best bet. Taqueria Las
Palmas, 415 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, 707.546.3091.
Slice or weenie?
Ferrous digs the two slice and a drink deal from the Petaluma-based pizza chain Fregene’s
(160 Petaluma Boulevard North). Outposts are open in Cotati (554-B East
Cotati Avenue) and the recently-opened Sebastopol (789 Gravenstein Hwy
Hot dogs are always a cheap eat, and Mattock recommends David’s Hot Dogs on the Windsor Green (near Powell’s) or Code 7 (177 Healdsburg Ave) in Healdsburg.
A one-piece lunch of fish and chips at Mel’s Fish & Chips comes in at $4.99. 1016 Hopper Ave., Santa Rosa, 578.1954
Big Boys Buns & Burgers in Larkfield serves up a 1/3 pound fresh-made burger for just $4.95. 406 Larkfield Shopping Center, 546-6835.
Jr.: The only chain that gets a BiteClub seal of approval for their
buns–and I don’t mean the $6 burger, either. The plain old Famous Star
with cheese is the closest thing to homemade we’ve found.
* With tax, some of these lunches top out just over $5, so bring along some of that spare change from under your sofa cushions.