Having one of those weeks where you’d rather hire a cook than go grocery shopping? No problem. As long as you are not tied to a single location or fixed meal time or style, you might actually be surprised by how far you can make $20 stretch when dining out in Philly. Check out some of these hot spots to get your next food fix without breaking the bank.
Breakfast on a Budget
Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat — With locations on South Street and in Northern Liberties, Honey’s ‘Bargain Breakfast’ rivals that of any diner. Between 7 and 9 a.m. on weekdays, $4.95 buys you 2 eggs your way with potato latke, grits or home fries, toast and coffee — OR — a short stack with choice of morning meat and coffee.
Lunch for Less
Tap Room on 19th (South Philly) — You don’t need happy hour to find bang for your buck here. Stop in for Burger Mondays when LaFrieda Taproom beef burgers and veggie “Bonzo” burgers are half-price all day. Or if tacos are your thing, Taco Tuesdays feature 3 different house-made tacos for $2 each all day long, plus drink specials.
Sakura: The affordable lunch special has become commonplace for any quality takeout/delivery sushi joint. This writer’s personal favorite is Sakura on Spring Garden, where the sushi is always fresh and the wait time 5 minutes ago. The lunch special features miso soup and salad plus any 2 rolls for $8.50 or any 3 rolls for $11.50. Farther south, Hibachi 2 Go at Broad & Snyder offers virtually the same lunch special minus the extras at $7.95 for 2 rolls or $10.95 for 3.
El Rey (Rittenhouse) — The weekday lunch special at this Stephen Starr spot runs from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes two courses plus chips and salsa, all for $9.99. During happy hour (5-6:30) wash down dollar tacos with a $3 Modelo or $4 house margarita.
Best Bargain Happy Hours
$5 apps have become standard happy hour fare, but these places have either one-upped that or are offering something a little different.
East Passyunk — Two of the new kids on the block also happen to boast two of the neighborhood’s more satiating happy hours. Bing Bing Dim Sum is a must-try with $5 bites and cheap drink specials, including $2 High Lifes, the always interesting $5 bartender’s choice cocktail, and $10 off cocktail pitchers available from 5-7 on weekdays and 3-5 on weekends. Up the Avenue one block north at Joe Cicala’s authentic Southern Italian pizzeria Brigantessa, the highlight is the $10 margherita or marinara pizza from the huge wood-fired Gianni Acunto oven, which was handmade in Napoli with ash from the slopes of Vesuvio. Or if you fancy something a little less, well, fancy, continue heading north on Passyunk to Queen Village’s Dive Bar, where the pizza is free weekdays from 5 to 7 along with $2 beer of the week and well drinks.
Alla Spina (North Philly) — Marc Vetri’s Italian gastropub at Broad & Mount Vernon offers half off select local drafts, $.75 wings, $1 oysters and half off select apps from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Among the apps are the house-made pretzels with spicy beer cheese and beef fat french fries, both for $3, the mortadella hot dog for $4, or the pig’s head bruschetta if you’re feeling adventurous.
Supper (South St) — From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., $12 buys you any 3 snacks listed on this upscale modern American cuisine menu in an urban farmhouse atmosphere. Normally priced between $7 and $9, current snack options include deviled eggs of the day, cornmeal hush puppies, tamale fries, and smoked chicken wings in birch beer, black pepper and buttermilk.
Oysters: the best of the buck-a-shucks…
Oyster House (Center City) — Philly’s original buck-a-shuck located on Sansom St., stop in Wednesdays through August for not one but two 1-lb Maine lobsters for just $28.
Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House (University City) — Every Monday, oysters are $1 all day, and Doc’s also has a late-night happy hour from 10 to 12 with cheap drink specials and $5 select apps.
Snockey’s (Pennsport) — Located at 2nd and Washington, The Original Snockey’s has been around since 1912 and is home to the “Clammy Hour.” From 4 to 6:30 p.m. during weekdays and 1:30 to 4 on weekends, treat yourself to a number of food and drink specials including $.66 raw or steamed clams and $.95 raw or fried oysters.
Stateside (East Passyunk) — Half-priced drafts and whiskey specials complement dollar oysters between 5 and 7 p.m. at this small plate-centric American gastropub.
Continental (Old City) — $1-2 tapas bites supplement the standard 3-4-5 happy hour special from 5-7 p.m. The Midtown location also has half-priced regular cocktails as well as half off select plates.
Dandelion (Rittenhouse) — Yet another Stephen Starr offering, this British pub offers $2 snacks along with $3 select drafts and $4 house wines from 5-7.
Drinker’s Tavern (Old City) — The Old City location offers $1 hot dogs & $1 tacos during happy hour while drafts are half off. On Tuesday, tacos are $1 all day
St. Stephen’s Green (Fairmount) — Between 4 and 7 p.m., apps range from $3 to $5 along with $4 select drafts and well drinks. Current highlights include the creamy polenta fries, BBQ roaster wings and chicken nachos, buttermilk fried chicken tenders, butternut squash & goat cheese risotto balls, and hummus with grilled pita.
South Philadelphia Tap Room (Newbold) — The late-night $2 chef special tacos are the hook, but the draft list is always impeccable at this South Philly institution. The tacos rotate weekly (follow @sptaproom on Instagram to stay in the know), but the kitchen stays open until 1 a.m. daily with plenty of other options under $6.
Bridgid’s (Fairmount) — Peter McAndrews is back on the scene at this neighborhood favorite. If hunger strikes during the week between 11 p.m. and midnight, Shut up ‘n’ Eat is one of the city’s better deals out there. For just $5 a plate, the chef will whip up whatever he feels like (no requests), meaning you could end up with just about anything from a savory pasta dish, to a skate wing, or something even weirder. Don’t fret, you’ll always get bang for your buck.
Lorenzo & Sons (South St.) — Open til 4 a.m., the cheese slices are $3.50 these days, but you still need two plates for one slice.
Wawa (everywhere) — Because whether you’re waking up at 5 a.m. or just going to bed, Hoagiefest knows no start or end time. Also, Skittles are 2 for $2.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments!