Cheap Eats in Alpharetta

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I eat out a lot. I’ve got the waist line to prove it! Working on Windward Parkway offers well over a hundred places within an easy range for a lunch hour. I’ve almost tried them all.

But eating out as a cubicle critter can get expensive. $10 to $15 lunches are fairly common, especially if you go somewhere decent. So I thought I would write about cheap lunchtime eats in the area. Sure you can go to fast food and get a value meal, that’s not what I’m talking about. I want fast food prices in a sit-down atmosphere. Can it be found around here? You bet!

Chinese Food

It is intensely competitive for these folks, especially during the lunch hour. As such they offer a significant value over their dinner prices. Authentic this food isn’t. If you don’t mind the Americanized version of the cuisine, then you’re in good shape. Try Simon’s on Old Milton. Again, very westernized grub but the prices are good. Most lunch entrees with chicken or beef will set you back $6.50 or so. Also try Lin’s on Windward. This place seems to be even more Americanized than I remember. They don’t offer a lot of choices in the lunch items. You’re stuck with the soup of the day unless you want to pay an upcharge. But it is a lot of food for the money. Watch out for their notoriously surly service. And like most Chinese joints on Windward, the decor is beautiful.

Xian China Bistro is by far my favorite Chinese joint on Windward, but they don’t exactly fall into the cheap category, even for lunch. Nevertheless, they are worth a mention.

And while this isn’t exactly Chinese food, don’t overlook the Thai restaurants in town. Satay House is a terrific lunch value with enormous portions. Their coconut soup is to die for.

Mexican

Again, very Americanized grub. I quickly lose interest in most of the ubiquitous Mexican restaurants around here.  Don’t even pretend to be authentic when you’ve got Speedy Gonzalez on the menu. Aye carumba!

But… there are some amazing values to be found on the lunch menus at these places. Try La Parilla. They have a $5 lunch special which includes a Coke. Most joints will ding you two bucks for a Coke these days. If the meal doesn’t fill you up, choke down a few baskets of chips and salsa. Most of the other Mex joints have similar prices for lunch. These would include El Porton and El Azteca. I’m pretty sure I saw a speedy with beans at El Porton once for $4.50. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that.

Costco

Sure, it isn’t exactly a full service restaurant, but no article on cheap eats around here can be complete without a hat tip to Costco. These guys are Clark Howard cheap. Their little snack bar has hot dogs, pizza and a bunch of other random stuff for next to nothing. You’ve probably got enough money in your car’s ashtray to eat here. And I’m pretty sure you don’t have to be a member. I’m never asked for my card when I order. I don’t care for much of the stuff here except the churro. If you can catch them right after they are made… on my! It is the best dollar you can spend on Windward Parkway.

Leave me a comment if you know of other dirt cheap eats in Alpharetta. These are tough times, right?

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