By JENNIFER K. BAUER
What once sounded ridiculous is now so acceptable it almost seems unreasonable to ask, “Where can I find a good meal for less than $6?”
For our story “Cheap Eats,” Inland 360 explored the Quad Cities’ culinary landscape in search of sustenance for less than $6. Some wondered if it was an impossible quest. There were parameters. First, no national chains (or gas stations) were considered. Everyone knows you can stuff yourself at these places for pocket change but the money you saved will later be spent on heartburn aids and laxatives. Nor did we consider Costco or your kitchen — they are not open to the general public. We looked for local venues where most of the food was less than $6, versus just a cup of soup, a pastry or during happy hour. It’s not an all-inclusive list, but according to the answers we got when we asked our readers on Facebook, it hits some of the favorites and maybe a couple you didn’t know about.
Daily’s Bakery, Clarkston
If you hit Daily’s Bakery in Clarkston for breakfast you’ll find an array of home-cooked choices for less than $6, including a hearty slice of homemade quiche that could carry you through half the day. Other meals include a breakfast sandwich or a full plate of biscuits and gravy ($4 for a half plate). Toast and avocado is favored among those looking for lighter fare ($3.25), add an egg for $1.25.
700 Sixth St., Clarkston, (509) 751-2253
HAMBURGERS AND SANDWICHES
Cougar Country Drive-In, Pullman
America’s hamburger joints helped set the bar for cheap and filling food decades ago. Things haven’t changed at Cougar Country Drive-In, a Pullman institution for 40 years. Prices are affordable to college students and families and they’ve adapted to people’s changing tastes by including selections like the $4.99 Black Bean Burger. Other full-sized choices: Cheeseburger for $4.94, a Hoagie Dip for $5.54, Grilled Chicken Sandwich for $4.99, a bowl of soup for $3.50 and a large plate of fries for $2.99. For children, the not unsubstantial Cub Burger is $2.24. For these prices you can squeeze in dessert. Sundaes are $2.79. A dipped kid’s cone is 99 cents.
760 N. Grand Ave., Pullman, (509) 332-7829
Four-Ten Drive In, Clarkston
A visit to Clarkston’s Four-Ten Drive-In is a trip back in time. Car hops take orders from your car window. Among their hamburgers is the Chili Burger for $4.99, the Betty Boop burger with mushrooms and Swiss for $3.59, or the Jalapeno Hot Rod for $3.59; add bacon or ham for $1.25. Among other choices: a Krab & Swiss sandwich is $4.10, a BLT is $4.99, a Tuna Melt is $3.99 and a Grilled Cheese sandwich is $2.59. Besides regular or fresh cut curly fries, there’s sweet potato fries for $2.99.
1296 Bridge St., Clarkston, (509) 758-4908
Sharp’s Burger Ranch, Lewiston and Clarkston
View the long line of cars in the drive-through lane at noon and you’ll realize another favorite stop for a classic burger and fries meal is Sharp’s Burger Ranch in Lewiston and Clarkston. A Ranch burger with double meat, cheese and fries is $3.99. A Triple-Triple with a triple meat patty, Swiss and two slices of American cheese is $3.59. A regular cheeseburger is $1.79 and a hamburger is $1.59. A chicken breast sandwich with Swiss is $3.89, while a fish filet sandwich is $3.69.
1241 Bridge St., Clarkston, (509) 758-8081; 1227 21st St., Lewiston, (208) 743-3031
Mikey’s Gyros, Moscow
Mikey’s Gyros has probably introduced more than a few college students to the joys of tabbouleh, feta and falafel. A long line can stretch down the hall and out the door at lunchtime at the little restaurant that was dishing out hummus long before it made its way to the region’s grocery stores. On the chalkboard above the order counter one can select a substantial Greek Gyro for $4 or Falafel with cheese for $4.50. An Avocado Pita is $4.75, while a Pita Burrito is $4.50. Spinach Pie is $4.25. A bowl of soup or a cup of tabbouleh is $3. A hearty Greek Gyro Salad is $6.
527 S. Main St., Moscow, (208) 882-0780
Jose’s Tacos, Clarkston
The spice and heat of Mexican food can turn a cheap meal into an adventure. When selecting a taco those who are choosy seek authenticity. One of the latest arrivals to the area is Jose’s Tacos, serving from a truck on Bridge Street in Clarkston. Tacos (choices include beef, marinated pork, pork with pineapple or roast chicken) are $1.75 each. Tostadas are $3. A side of rice and beans is $1.75. The Ceviche Tilapia Tostada with tilapia, tomato, onion, cilantro, cucumber and avocado cooked in lime juice is $3.50. Sopes with your choice of meat are $3.
905 Bridge St., Clarkston, (509) 780-7045
Taco Cecey, Lewiston
Another favorite for an authentic taste of Mexican food is Lewiston’s Taco Cecey, which has evolved from a street stand into a building. Flavor your food with a variety of green and red sweet, spicy and hot sauces. You can find breakfast as well as lunch and dinner with lots of choices for less than $6.
1350 Main St., Lewiston, (208) 553-2600