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What do you get when you cross a French dip sandwich with a Philly cheesesteak? The Peto at Roots Cafe. Thinly sliced roast beef mingles with melted, peppery cheddar cheese before being placed on a fresh baguette smeared with a flavorful horseradish avocado spread, caramelized jalapeños and sweet onions. A house-made au jus is served alongside. The Porto, the vegetarian version of this sandwich, features a marinated and grilled portobello mushroom instead of beef.
Roots Cafe » 3474 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City; is 801-455-1799.
Got a favorite cheap eats dish?
We’ve eaten our way across the valley to compile this list of Tribune staffers’ Cheap Eats favorites, but we’d like to hear meals we’ve missed. Send your local favorite dishes ($10 or less) and hall of fame candidates (entrees that serve up to four people for around $20) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write “cheap eats” in the subject line of the email, and we’ll consider your favorites for future dining stories.
Cheap eats hall of fame
These are some of our favorite cheap-eats dishes that deliver enough food to feed two — or more — people.
$12.95 » Dinner platter
The dinner platters served at The Other Place, a Greek-American diner, includes a choice of moussaka, pastichio, or dolmathes as well as soup and salad, choice of potato, vegetable, bread and even dessert. If the soup of the day includes lemon-rice (avgolemono), order it. And when you order your salad, ask for the complimentary feta cheese the comes mounded on top. By the time you’re ready for dessert, including red velvet cake, you’ll probably have to ask for it to-go — which the cheerful staff will welcomingly do. The Other Place Restaurant, 469 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City; 801-521-6567.
$18 » Molcajete
The massive entrée, served at Rancho Market, gets its name for the hot lava rock in which it’s served. It starts with a gooey fondue of homemade green salsa, chunks of Monterey Jack cheese and fried strips of prickly-pear cactus, called nopalitos. Well-cooked pieces of chicken and beef strips are placed on top, as are roasted green onions, fried whole jalapeños and strips of fresh Mexican cheese. The mound is then garnished with a few deep-fried shrimp. Served with tortillas and salsa, the dish arrives at the table sizzling and bubbling. Rancho Market, 4071 W. 5416 South, Kearns; 801-966-2400.
$21 » The Fat Kid pizza
This 20-inch New York-style thin-crust pizza at Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery features spicy pepperoni, fresh spinach and creamy ricotta. It’s perfect for folding; if a line of grease doesn’t run down the back of your hand, you aren’t enjoying it properly. Maxwell’s East Coast Eatery, is at 1456 Newpark Blvd., Park City, 435-647-0304; and 9 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-328-0304.
$8 » Lazy Day deluxe
The concept of this dish is simple: The Lazy Day deluxe consists of a fried chicken breast half that is placed atop a feather-light biscuit and topped with bacon, then cheddar, then a fried egg. Made-from-scratch hash browns help to sop up the sausage gravy that smothers the lot. Sure it’s deluxe, decadent even. But considering the use of wholesome ingredients and the care with which each component was prepared, every forkful is necessary. A word of warning, though: This stuff is addictive, and the true breakfast of champions.
Lazy Day Cafe » 2020 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City; 801-953-0311.
$7.99 » Gyro and fries
Cottonwood Heights Cafe has a flavorful gyro plate of fresh lamb, purple onions, tomatoes and a tasty sour cream sauce — not yogurt — all stuffed into soft pita bread. Add steak fries with some of the state’s best fry sauce, and it’s a filling meal.
Cottonwood Heights Cafe » 2577 E. Bengal Blvd., Cottonwood Heights, 801-947-0760.
$7.95 » Soup and salad lunch combo
Cinegrill’s namesake salad is a classic: lettuce topped with provolone cheese, pepperoni and peperoncini and served with a dressing of olive oil, wine vinegar, garlic, Gorgonzola cheese and herbs. Add in a generous bowl of minestrone and two garlic rolls, as well as a great atmosphere and quick service for the perfect lunch.
Cinegrill » 344 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-328-4900.
$7.50 » Burrito al pastor enchilada style
Fast-casual restaurant that serve massive burritos are everywhere, but Chunga’s Mexican Food feels like the real deal. The burritos come stuffed with beans, rice, cheese and your choice of meat. The restaurant’s specialty is al pastor — pork with pineapple. The reddish-colored meat spins on a rotisserie behind the counter, something akin to Greek gyro meat. Regular burritos are $6.50, but pay the extra dollar to get it smothered with enchilada sauce. It’s big enough to split with a friend or save for leftovers.
Chunga’s Mexican Food » 180 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City; 801-953-1840.
$7.50 » Liberty’s special burger
Vegetable burgers are notorious for coming straight out of a box. Not at Washington Square Cafe, where Liberty’s special burgers are made fresh from quinoa, a touch of curry and other fresh ingredients and topped with sliced avocado and hummus. This lunch favorite comes with Greek salad and grilled veggies, and its name pays homage to cafe owner (and dancer) Liberty Valentine.
Washington Square Cafe » 451 S. 200 East, Salt Lake City & County Building, first floor; 801-535-6102.
$7 » Hummus ’n’ olive sandwich
It takes a little work to find Cafe Solstice, as it’s inside a Salt Lake City import shop. But customers who find this hidden gem will enjoy a reasonably priced menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and baked items all made from scratch. The hummus ’n’ olive sandwich contains the restaurant’s signature olive tapenade made with a mixture of black and green olives. With carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and a choice of bread, this sandwich is good enough to turn even an olive hater into a fan. It’s served with chips and salsa and a side salad.
Cafe Solstice » 673 Simpson (2240 South), inside Dancing Crane Imports, Salt Lake City; 801-487-0980.
$6.99 » Grilled Reuben
I’ve never been able to eat an entire grilled Reuben sandwich at one sitting at Penny Ann’s Cafe. The sandwich is served loaded with thinly sliced corned beef, juicy sauerkraut, melted swiss cheese and tangy Thousand Island dressing and then grilled between two slices of marbled rye breaded. Make it a combo for just $2.49 extra and get a choice of chips, fries, soup, coleslaw, or a garden or Caesar salad and a drink.
Penny Ann’s Cafe » 1810 S. Main St., Salt Lake City; 801-935-4760.
$6.75 » Cevapi sandwich
All the food at Cafe on Mainis affordable, but for something unique try the cevapi, considered the national food of Bosnia. Finger-sized links — usually made from ground beef or lamb —are grilled and served inside a thick, chewy pita bread known as lepinga. Raw white onions, a mild red pepper spread — called avjar —and either sour cream or a creamy feta-like cheese complete this hearty sausage sandwich.
Cafe on Main » 2701 S. Main St., Salt Lake City; 801-487-9434.
$6.50 » Keiko’s luau ribs
If it’s Wednesday, it’s Keiko’s Luau Ribs day at Out of the Box Café. These tender ribs come with a choice of salad — go for the popular Asian chicken salad with lettuce, shredded chicken, carrots, cucumbers, green onions, rice sticks and wonton strips — and a huge mound of rice, a serving large enough to feed two. The rest of the Japanese-American menu includes bento boxes, salads and Hawaiian favorites.
Out of the Box Cafe » 50 W. Century Parkway (2950 South), Suite A, South Salt Lake; 801-463-4905.
$6 » The Spicy meatball sub
Vegetarians who can’t keep up with the on-again, off-again schedule of the yummy Union Street Eats food truck are in luck. Buds, a storefront restaurant that opened the last week of September, features a couple of Union Street’s favorites on the menu. Buds’ original menu items are also a treat. The spicy meatball sub features tasty vegan "meatballs" — made with pinto beans and grain — grilled peppers and onions, a tangy marinara sauce and a nice "cheese" sauce, all on a toasted hoagie. It’s a little messy, but tastes quite good.
Buds » 507 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City; 801-521-4522.
5.99 » Kalua pig plate lunch
Mo’ Bettah Steaks specializes in the plate lunch, a quintessential offering of Hawaii cuisine. The hearty kalua pig plate lunch starts with tender pig (you can also order steak or teriyaki chicken), and is served with two scoops of rice (white or brown) and a side salad (green or macaroni). There’s also a choice of sauce. If you like it slightly sweet, order the restaurant’s signature sauce — you can even buy a bottle and take it home for your leftovers. The small plate lunch is plenty big, but hungry diners can order a large for $7.99.
Mo’ Bettah Steaks » 335 W. 1830 South, Salt Lake City; 273 West 500 South, Bountiful; and 2095 North Main St. Logan.
$5.99 » Philly steak sandwich (6-inch)
Moochies’ fans argue this is the best Philly steak sandwich in town and with good reason. Generous portions of sliced steak (or chicken), melted American cheese and onions and, if you wish, jalapeño sauce all served on a fresh bun. Grill peppers or mushrooms are worth the additional $1. If you’re really hungry, there’s a 12-inch sandwich for $9.99. If Philly steaks aren’t your favorite, try the other specialty, the meatball sub.
Moochies » 232 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City; 801-596-1350.
$5.95 » Golden Spike burger
The rocket scientists at Alliant Techsystems in Promontory say the hamburgers atGolden Spike Burgers in nearby Corinne are out of this world. It turns out those brainiacs do know more than just how to send astronauts into space. The namesake burger is a gigantic meal, stacked with a grilled beef patty, cheese, lettuce, fried onion rings, bacon and thick slices of avocado. You could add fries and a drink for an extra $2.85, but the Golden Spike Burger is more than enough, even for a starving aeronautical engineer.
Golden Spike Burgers » 3960 W. Highway 13, Corinne, 435-744-2400.
$5.95 » Eggplant parmigiana
The eggplant parmigiana is on the appetizer list at Per Noi Trattoria, a tucked-away Sugar House neighborhood eatery, but it’s the perfect vegetarian entrée or shared dish with tablemates. The eggplant isn’t breaded and fried but rather sliced and seared before being stacked between layers of moist mozzarella and bright marinara sauce.
Per Noi Trattoria » 1588 E. Stratford Ave.; 801-486-3333.
$5.85-$8.85 » Peruvian roasted chicken
Originating in 1950s Lima, pollo a la brasa is Peruvian roasted chicken, and boy, it’s good. At El Rocoto, you can order your pollo by the quarter ($5.85), half ($8.85) or full bird ($15.85). Orders come con papas y ensalada — that’s a side of thick fries and dressed green salad to you and me. Whatever size you choose, this mild chile-rubbed chicken is flavorful and some of the best around.
El Rocoto » 3904 W. 3500 South, Suite B, West Valley City; 801-963-2657.
$4.40 » Chicken cordon bleu
Chicken cordon bleu is the Friday special at the Intermountain Medical cafeteria, a place that smashes stereotypes about hospital food. There are lots of choices and the atmosphere is decidedly non-medical — it’s a really nice place. The food is decent cafeteria fare. And if you really want hospital food, there’s always Jell-O. Add red potatoes and a vegetable to the Chicken Cordon Bleu and it’s plenty of food for $6.90.
Intermountain Medical Cafeteria » 5121 S. Cottonwood St., Murray; 801-507-5000.Next Page >
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