African, Indian, and Middle Eastern flavors make this feel like an incredibly exotic excursion for $10–$15 per plate.
Tune Up Café
Where else can you get an El Salvadoran Combo (banana leaf tamale, pupusa, rice) and a brown rice nut burger for less than the cost of a gas-tank fill-up?
Even upgrading to a Shepherd’s Lamb burger or a fried oyster sandwich won’t put dinner over $20. (Adding an adobe mud shake will.)
Housed at the Inn of the Governors, this is a locals’ favorite for a simple but stellar menu of nachos, chili cheese fries, bison burgers, and, never forget, enormous margaritas.
The retro-1950s décor and healthy portions of stick-to-the-ribs Greek/New Mexican/diner food pull in crowds at the historic Plaza location and the roomier (but still slammed) southside café.
The signature burger at this hip Edo eatery—a giant patty topped with crisp pecan-wood-smoked bacon, melty American cheese, and gooey Thousand Island dressing—is the only meal you’ll need all day.
It isn’t romantic, but this cafeteria across from UNM has been a dream come true for hungry (and pobre) Lobos since 1971. The carne adovada burrito is still a steal at $2.25.
La Taqueria Mexico
This downtown gem has only a handful of tables but does a brisk business through the takeout window all day. The taco plates are epic, the fat tortas are a steal, and the burritos are gigante.
Murphy’s Mule Barn
A living relic of the North Valley’s rural past, this diner boasts a counter where men wearing overalls and John Deere caps sit, swiveling and studying chicken-fried steaks the size of hubcaps. They—and the prices—seem unchanged from the last millennium.
Two people on a breakfast date could eat like kings on a pauper’s pay at either location of this old-fashioned diner. At $3.50, the “Penny Pincher” breakfast is just one value on a menu full of great deals.
Taoseños’ favorite Mexican seafood place makes oysters on the half shell and garlic shrimp so affordable you can add on fried ice cream and churros without breaking the bank.
What a great lunch date this French-Latin fusion place is when you order the paella Valenciana and a salade Niçoise. Ordering a bottle of rosé takes it from “cheap date” to “hot date.”
Make meeting for a cup of coffee something a lot more interesting at this Middle Eastern café that specializes in Turkish coffee and French pastry.
It’s hard to find anything on the menu at this Mexican fave that rings up over $10—a smothered burrito banado, a torta de milanesa, even a combo plate with enchiladas, tamale, and chile relleno.
At this downtown diner you can absolutely smother a table in gooey enchiladas, stuffed sopaipillas, and fat burgers for $20.
Do as the sign commands and “Get your buns in here” for the daily lunch special (patty melt, heaping sub) that comes with a side (go for the fries), a gigantic soda, and the best part: two doughnuts.