You don’t have to stick with the dollar menu to eat cheaply. Here’s our guide to eating on a budget:
It’s hard to be both nostalgic and modern, but the Burger Bank blends both. With a 52-year history, the South Side drive-thru restaurant has been a mini-burger destination (two for 80 cents), but owner Don Falcone’s expanded the menu: Philly cheese steaks, German bologna sandwiches with pepper jack cheese, and marinated grilled chicken breasts. The Burger Bank faithful are unperturbed by the changes because Falcone also has invested in the location. A repaired roof, new equipment, and a paint job keep this iconic eatery serving the community. 1617 S. Weinbach Ave.
Wok ’N Roll
Once upon a time, this Chinese restaurant was a fast-food fish place. Revamped late last year with a more international fare, Wok ’N Roll is quick (try the drive-through), but inside, a staff serves you (please wait to be seated). The combo meal is emperor here, though: sweet and sour chicken or General Tao’s chicken (yes, Tao) with egg rolls, egg drop soup, or crab Rangoon — at a $5 average. 311 S. Green River Road
Gator’s Fish House
The menu items at this restaurant inside a home are exactly that: homely. No reservations required. No candlelit dinners. Just lunch. In a place where you can sign your name on the wall and sit at the mix-and-match dining room furniture. You have two options: fish sandwich or hamburger. The fish sandwich is best. 1203 N. Main St.
Charlie’s Mongolian Barbeque
Restaurants should offer choices, and in that regard, Charlie’s Mongolian Barbeque has plenty. Stack your plate as high as you can — everyone else does. For first-timers to the stir-fry buffet, be brave. To begin, choose spaghetti or rice noodles. Then, select from a variety of vegetables. Add beef, seafood, or poultry. The chef prepares your dish at a circular grill. At your table is a bowl of rice and container of tortillas. Make a sandwich wrap or a dish served atop rice. No matter how you eat it, your belly should agree with the quote on Charlie’s T-shirts: “I’m a happy stomach.” 315 E. Diamond Ave.
Wisconsin Cheese Soup (Fresh Harvest Deli)
In a restaurant filled with warm pastels on the walls, it’s only appropriate the Wisconsin cheese soup at Fresh Harvest Deli is a comforting golden yellow. The thick, dairy-based soup ($2.73 for a small cup) is served piping hot on Wednesdays, and don’t let the name fool you: It doesn’t taste over-the-top cheesy. It’s creamy and savory. The cheese stands alone. 101 N.W. First St.
Baja Fish Tacos (Bonefish Grill)
Bonefish Grill, known for fish dishes from around the world and top-shelf martinis, has an atmosphere big on ambience — a place to see and be seen. Yet, on the menu is this affordable plate: the Baja fish taco, just under $9. Blackened on an oak fire grill, fresh tilapia is placed in a grilled flour tortilla and layered with shredded romaine, chimichurri sauce (herbed olive oil), and fresh mango salsa, then topped with a lime sour cream sauce. Pair this dish with the Patron margarita. 6401 E. Lloyd Expressway
Is it healthy? Not this menu. Do we care? Not at all. For Taco Tierra patrons, lunch starts as early as possible to hit the daily specials. We say 11:30 a.m. is the optimum time to eat the $1.99 sancho on Mondays, the 78-cent hard taco on Tuesdays, or the $1.09 bean burrito on Wednesdays. Wait. Let’s get there at 11:15 a.m. 420 S. Green River Road (Continued on page 2)[pagebreak]
Turoni’s Pizzery and Brewery
The skinny supermodel crust is legendary. It’s crispy and crunchy — and anything but store-bought. So, Chicago-style lovers beware; Turoni’s is not your pizza. This dish belongs to Evansvillians. To top our mozzarella cheese-lacquered pizza pies, we choose from a variety of ingredients: Italian sausage, pepper rings, jalapenos, tomatoes, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, Italian chicken breast. The perfect-pie side: Vinny’s Lager, an all-malt, German-style Pilsner brewed at the North Main Street location. A pint’s available at all three Turoni’s restaurants, including the spot in Newburgh. 408 N. Main St.; 4 N. Weinbach Ave.; 8011 Bell Oaks Drive, Newburgh
Roca Bar and Pizza
For a restaurant that claims to have made the first pizza in Evansville in 1953, the Roca Bar should have a pie worth experiencing — and it does. The original on the South Side is just as well known as its Newburgh counterpart, and the thin, crispy crust is consistent at both locations. Complement any pizza with the Italian salad. 1618 S. Kentucky Ave.; 8309 Bell Oaks Drive, Newburgh
The décor at Eric Weber’s restaurant near the University of Evansville is best described as “college dorm meets pizza parlor”: checkered tablecloths, dim lighting, and photos of grinning customers. Weber, a Cornell University grad, says it’s “fun to play around” with pizza toppings, hence his specialties that include taco pizza and clam scampi with ricotta cheese pizza. Many slices are less than $2. 2011 Lincoln Ave.
Souvlakia Sandwich (Deerhead Sidewalk Café)
Every Friday and Saturday night, the crowd packs tightly inside the Deerhead Sidewalk Café for jazz and rock performances, and it’s a fine feeling to know the faithful love live music just as much as you do. But, another feeling you have, that’s called hunger. Satisfy it with the Deerhead’s souvlakia ($6.25): an open-faced pita sandwich, stuffed with charbroiled pork or chicken and feta cheese, topped with sautéed onions and green peppers and served with a dollop of tzatziki, a tangy cucumber sauce. The music fuels the soul; the sandwich fuels the body. 222 E. Columbia St.
Steak Fajita Spud (Spudz-N-Stuff)
Spudz-N-Stuff has more than 40 spuds to cater to your tater craving (plus pitas, sub sandwiches, salads, and brownies). Near the University of Southern Indiana, owner Jason Dicken knows the student budget well: “Free Brownie Mondays” and a Washington off a purchase on “Starving Student Sundays.” But you don’t have to be a college co-ed to enjoy the steak fajita spudz ($7.25). This spud — topped with cheddar, mozzarella, steak, sautéed onions, bell peppers, and sour cream — is one festive plate. 5225 Pearl Drive
Chicken ala Crema (Angelo’s Italian Restaurant)
Several years ago, Angelo Jawabreh, owner of Angelo’s Italian Restaurant, was making chicken Marsala when he accidentally poured Alfredo sauce over the dish. After tasting the botched entree, he deemed his error serendipitous and named it “chicken ala crema,” topping a bed of linguine with lightly breaded chicken cutlets and creamy Marsala wine sauce. The dish is mid-priced ($14.99), but it’s rich enough for two meals.
305 Main St.