Thanks perhaps to a lingering recession, or possibly the wave of deal-of-the-day websites, restaurants — upscale and casual alike — have become generous with their dining deals.
For hungry consumers, there is an undeniable excitement that comes from finding your favorite steak sold at a fraction of the regular price. Or, when you hear about a culinary hot spot selling a complete meal for less than five bucks.
That’s why we have scoured the town to bring you the very best in eating-on-the-cheap. Some options are really cheap — as in less than a buck. (Say what?!) Others afford the chance to experience fine dining at deeply discounted prices.
On the following pages, sink your teeth into more than 40 items and dining options that are sure to save you a little dough. And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a new favorite dining destination at the same time!
Oklahoma Joe’s pulled-pork sandwich has such a cult following that it’s received epic national attention from food celebrities and national media such as the recent shout-out in men’s fashion mag GQ. It often tops the lists of our nation’s best BBQ. A beloved meal on its own, Joe’s pulled-pork sandwich is the perfect combination of saucy and meaty and is a delicious value at just $5.39.
Leawood, Olathe and the original gas station location in KCK
Smokey’s on the Boulevard
Johnson County newcomer Smokey’s on the Boulevard proudly boasts the best value in KC for full pork spare ribs. Weighing upwards of 3 pounds per order, the savory selection is available by walk-in or at a handy drive-up window for just $16.99.
14521 Metcalf Ave.
Pizza & Pasta
Avelluto’s Italian Delight
Just around the corner from the Johnson County Driver’s License Bureau on Martway, Avelluto’s Italian Delight is a crowded venue at lunchtime. The cafeteria-style eatery offers home-style Italian fare at fast-food prices. The crisp calzone, just $4.69, is oozing with cheesy goodness, freshly baked from the paddles of the pizza oven.
(Olathe Location only)
Monday night at Johnny Brusco’s Olathe location, grab a jumbo slice of cheese pizza for just $1.25 per slice. The special is available for both dine-in and carry-out. Or, dine in with a table of six or more and get two large pizzas for just $20.
10540 South Ridgeview Rd.
Waldo Pizza is a Kansas City staple for the pizza enthusiast. Monday through Saturday, from 11 to 2 p.m., you’ll find the Wornall Road eatery packed with devotees enjoying a plethora of offerings from the well-stocked unlimited pizza buffet bar. Brimming with several of the most popular selections, including at least one gluten-free item, plus a loaded salad bar and a dessert pizza, this meal is a steal at just $7.99.
7433 Broadway (75th & Wornall)
Italian Gardens TO GO
John David and the Chairman himself, Carl DiCapo, have finally opened the highly anticipated Italian Gardens To Go drive-thru-only restaurant near 119th & Metcalf. Now, those who’ve missed the signature taste of the iconic downtown Italian restaurant need wait no longer. All the same flavors and recipes have made their way south. On-the-go diners can now pull up to a speaker and order a bucket full of classic Italian Gardens pasta for the incredible price of $24.99. Order red sauce, meat sauce, meatball or Italian sausage pasta. In a rush? Need something just for one? Grab an Italian sausage or meatball-stuffed sandwich for just $1. You read that right — just one crisp bill will satisfy your inner meatball or sausage aficionado.
7335 West 119th St.
Chez Elle Creperie
Located in the converted historic Summit Theater building in the Crossroads, Chez Elle Creperie serves up a little slice of Paris with 26 different crepes to choose from — and friendly staffers do their best to invoke all the charm of a Parisian sidewalk café. Start your morning with the “Bonjour Crepe” as you say “good morning” to your taste buds with bacon, ham, egg and cheddar or Swiss cheese. Your wallet will be as full as your stomach because this delicious breakfast costs only $5. If the sweet, savory or breakfast crepes aren’t your cup of tea, try the scones, eggs, muffins, quiche and coffee.
The Reserve offers an elegant downtown dining experience and affords a taste of both foreign and domestic breakfast cuisines under $10. We recommend the “American Breakfast,” a serving of two eggs any style, country sausage patties or crispy bacon, breakfast potatoes and your choice of toast or assorted fruit. For just $9, the “European Breakfast” serves a croissant or toast, an assortment of fresh-baked muffins, fresh fruit and hot coffee or tea.
1111 Grand Blvd.
Get your morning rolling with spare pocket change at neighborhood favorite Niecie’s Restaurant. Order the popular Sunrise Breakfast Special: two strips of crispy bacon or one grilled sausage patty, one egg, crispy toast or warm biscuit with a cup of fresh brewed coffee — all for just $3.25.
Kate’s Kitchen prepares a classic breakfast of two eggs, potatoes, and toast for a mere $5.15. That deal is on every day of the week. Add a side of bacon, sausage or ham for $1.99. Kate’s place, named for the owner’s toddler daughter, who is often in the house, is filled with a loyal crowd of satisfied regulars and its friendly staff. Saturday and Sunday, patrons have to scramble to find a table, but the atmosphere is cozy and inviting and the menu offers a wide variety including omelets, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, French toast, waffles, cinnamon rolls, and biscuits and gravy.
8002 North Oak Trafficway
The Wooden Spoon
A family-owned restaurant with freshly prepared, made-to-order food, The Wooden Spoon is a small establishment with big appeal. The dining experience is intimate with only six tables, but the friendly owners, Wayne and Tina Yake, make you feel like a part of the family. The breakfast burritos feature farm-fresh scrambled eggs, homemade Pico de Gallo, shredded Vermont cheddar, and bacon or sausage for only $3.99. Regulars rave about the egg croissant sandwiches, omelets and the owner’s special breakfast creation, the panwich — egg and bacon sandwiched between two fluffy pancakes. A tasty breakfast experience for only $4.49.
11823 College Blvd.
Dolce Baking Company
Since 2007, from-scratch bakery darling Dolce Baking has been satisfying the sweet pastry cravings of Kansas Citians far and wide. And for a couple of bucks and pocket change you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a heavenly morning meal fresh from the oven. Scones are the perfect compliment to your cup of joe, and for just $2.65 they are bottom-line friendly, too. Or go all the way with an orange cinnamon roll the size of a baseball for $3. Flaky croissants in several flavor combinations range between $3 and $4 and gooey coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate are just $2.35.
6974 Mission Rd.
Dos De Oros Taqueria
Looking for a street taco fix? This place comes very close to a taqueria you’d find in small-town Texas. Guaranteed to fill you up for under $6, starting with the tostadas at $2.25 each. The burritos are gargantuan and are smothered in an interesting lip-smacking white cheese sauce.
650 E. Blue Ridge Blvd.
Mondays you’ll find Salty Iguana packed with taco lovers buying baskets brimming with the crispy delights for just $1.50 apiece. These aren’t your Mama’s tacos — think perfectly thin, crispy corn shells jammed full of beef, lettuce and cheese. Served with well-balanced salsa and complimentary chips. You’ll be well-fed for a fraction of what you’d normally spend at an upscale Mexican restaurant.
8420 W. 135th St.
Any given Tuesday night, you’ll find a swarm of sports-minded Mexican food fans crunching the famous “taco Tuesday” deals at Tanner’s Bar & Grill. Titled T-N-T Tuesday, which stands for Tacos (.75 cents), Nachos (4.99) and Tannerritos, Tanner’s signature burrito ($5.99), you’ll find a veritable feast for pennies and a host of Margarita and beer specials to complete your bargain meal.
Various locations throughout Kansas City
Staking its claim as the “original home of the fishbowl Margarita,” Torreon has a cozy, authentic Mexican atmosphere. For a delicious and budget-friendly meal, try any of Torreon’s specialty dishes made from scratch with fresh ingredients daily, like the Pina quesadillas or fish tacos. All single tacos, enchiladas, tostadas and chalupas cost a mere $2.75 and come with a side of rice and beans if you order two or more. For a small after-dinner treat, try a cup of Torreon’s rich Mexican coffee.
9129 Elmhurst Dr.
Carmen’s Cocina II
$5 daily lunch specials make this Olathe spot a local favorite. Try the Picadillo platter with your choice of flour or corn tortillas for $5.52 or a burrito with drink for $4.49.
The most popular day of the week for Carmen’s is Tuesday, when tacos are a staggeringly cheap 89 cents.
15296 Mur-Len Rd.
Cactus Grill’s famous espinaca, a carryover from its sister restaurant Jose Pepper’s, is a bargain when purchased with a regular entrée. Only $1.49 gets you a sizeable bowl of the creamy blend of jalapeno cheese, onions, ripe tomatoes and a touch of spinach served with perfectly crisp hot tortilla chips. Two house Margaritas will only set you back $7, and they make the perfect complement to the salty and savory apps.
11849 Roe Ave.
Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
New York Dawg Pound
Some say you can only find the best hot dogs in New York or Chicago, but the New York Dawg Pound says otherwise. For more than 20 years, the restaurant owners have combined Midwestern “no-nonsense” dining with an authentic, New York all-American food tradition. Their unique topping selections cater to every palate. For example: the peanut butter and bacon-topped “Goofy Dawg” is ideal for the adventurous. All single hot dogs cost under $5 with the option to create your own or choose from a variety of favorites such as the “Boston Terrier” — a standard “dawg” covered in savory baked beans, cheese, bacon and onion for just $4.25.
7702 Shawnee Mission Pkwy.
Five bucks may be the dominion of the fast-food burger, but we’re partial to BRGR’s substantial “bag of burgers” deal. Every Monday night between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m., BRGR offers a complete four-person burger meal. The carry-out-only combo-pack includes four full-size signature burgers, featuring an 8-ounce patty on an onion bun smothered in caramelized onions with pickles and American cheese (regularly priced $8.25) plus four servings of fries. $20 for all that is tough to beat!
4038 West 83rd St.
Harry’s Country Club
Step back in time and enjoy rolled-back pricing, too, at Harry’s when you order the famous Boca soy burger. This veggie burger is topped with juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce and flavorful onions and served with fries and a pickle for $8.75. If you’re a meat-lover, have no fear, as Harry’s offers a great selection of other dishes, an unrivaled beer selection, and cheap prices all wrapped up in the tongue-in-cheek Roy Rogers-style modern day saloon. The atmosphere is fun and the outdoor patio is perfect for warm summer evenings. The jukebox is filled with period favorites and the live music enhances the experience.
112 E. Missouri Ave.
Monday nights don’t have to mean the same old hamburger helper and bad TV. Grab a buddy or two and head over to Johnny’s Tavern in Overland Park where it’s karaoke night. It’s also half-price pizza night — for under $20 you can chow down on the gargantuan New York-style stone oven pizza, enjoy a pitcher of beer and watch the interactive floor show that gets your week off to a great start. Ditch the Monday blues with high-energy entertainment and a satisfying meal for mere peanuts!
6765 W. 119th St.
Blanc Burgers + Bottles
On Mondays, Blanc Burgers celebrates date night. Lucky for you as you treat your beloved to gourmet burger dining for about half what you’d normally pay. Share one of several starters followed by two individually-selected burgers and your choice of a shared side item complemented by your choice from a selection of bottled wines. The whole thing will set you back just $39.95 per couple.
10583 Mission Rd.
Soups & Sandwiches
Every Tuesday, you can sink your teeth into one of Kansas City’s most gigantic tenderloin sandwiches at Freddy T’s in Stanley. For just $5.99 you’ll get a plateful of Pork T served with fries. Wash it down with a cold bottle of beer or a favorite well drink for just $2.
7920 West 151st St.
Best Regards Bakery
Every week, Best Regards Bakery features one of its signature grilled cheese sandwiches for $4.99, and it includes a side and a chocolate Ganache sugar cookie. Faith’s turkey club grilled cheese includes Asiago cheese bread, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, turkey and bacon toasted to perfection. You’ll have no trouble tasting the Asiago in the bread, and it pairs beautifully with the gooey cheddar on the inside.
6759 W. 119th St.
Firehouse Subs offers both hot and cold submarine sandwiches in two sizes: 8-inch and 12-inch. The Firehouse Meatball is served on white or wheat roll, sliced open but not cut through, and is loaded with tasty, golf-ball-sized meatballs, then covered in marinara with slices of melted provolone. While it may be possible to pick it up and eat it like an ordinary sandwich, you might consider using a knife and fork for this hefty option. Purchased with a drink and chips, the 8-inch sub is just $6.99. Note: be sure to ask them to toast the bun for extra crunch, and go for the hot and sweet sauce. It has a kick, but if you like a little heat, you’ll love the Firehouse blend.
7521 West 119th St.
Soup and sandwich is just $6.95 daily. This neighborhood favorite is only open for lunch and is strategically located to be convenient for Sprint Campus and Corporate Woods employees who want to grab-and-go or sit for a quick bite in the unpretentious space. Once you’ve had a taste of the made-fresh-daily home-style soup, you’ll be hooked. Sandwiches are made from bread that’s baked fresh every day. Each slice is cut nearly 2 inches thick and heaped with a generous portion of turkey, pastrami or ham. Choose from a number of fresh toppings to complete your custom order. We suggest you try the turkey club with cheddar cheese and thick-cut bacon.
Lobster Tostada for $11 includes sautéed lobster with ginger sauce topped with Asian slaw, avocado and cilantro. If you prefer, substitute shrimp for lobster.
5041 West 117th St.
“Friends with Benefits” is a Tuesday-only, buy-one-get-one lunch deal. All you have to do is grab a friend, print off a certificate found on RA Sushi’s Facebook page, and get there before 3 p.m. You and your pal order two dishes from a selection of lunch specials, and one of them will be free. Yes, it’s that easy — and delicious.
11638 Ash St.
The newly opened Pacific Buffet has all your favorite Asian dishes and then some. The most affordable way to catch the flavor of this new spot is by visiting the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, $7.29 for adults and $4.29 for children. It’s a pretty safe bet it will satisfy any Asian cuisine craving. Traditional Chinese appetizers, soups, salads, sushi and sashimi a la carte are featured, as well as a Mongolian grill. The buffet is offered every day.
8725 Metcalf Ave.
A trip to China might cost you thousands of dollars, but a quick trip to Chen’s Kitchen will only cost you $5.50. Try the Kung Pao chicken served with white or fried rice, soda or an egg roll, crab Rangoon or soup. The menu is broad and offers something to satisfy every appetite — from chicken, beef, pork and seafood to vegetarian and tofu dishes, rice, noodles, and even kid-friendly meals. The large portions and fast service make Chen’s Kitchen perfect for take-out, too.
7166 Renner Rd.
Upscale on the Cheap
Osteria Il Centro
One of the most popular dishes at the award-winning Osteria Il Centro is the chicken Masala, a seasoned chicken breast sautéed in wine, topped with garlic and mushrooms and served with rosemary-garlic mashed potatoes and a side of sautéed spinach, a bargain at $20. Call ahead for seating as this place packs them in nightly.
5101 Main St.
One of the highest-rated restaurants in town, 801 Chophouse offers $33 prix-fixe menus every Sunday. Savvy diners can choose from several options that include full-size starter, entrée and dessert. Available at Leawood and downtown locations.
11616 Ash St
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71 E. 14th St.
Sullivan’s Steakhouse recently rolled out an affordable dining option titled “The Sure Thing.” The $39 prix-fixe menu offers a choice of starter, entrée with two sides and choice of dessert. Available every day of the week through the summer months.
4501 W. 119th St.
Owned by Lidia Bastianich, a best-selling cookbook author and star of the Emmy-nominated television series “Lidia’s Italy,” the storied Kansas City arts district restaurant offers the best of Italian-American fine dining. For a delicious, traditional Sicilian lunch, you can’t go wrong with the Spaghetti a la Trapanese, a pasta dish with fried shrimp and calamari served with Lidia’s original almond pesto. A steal at $18.50.
101 W. 22nd St.
The four-course prix-fixe dinner for two is $65 at the Hereford House. The price may seem low, but rest assured, the culinary quality is high. You and your dinner guest will be wowed by a tasty selection of appetizers, entrées and a shared dessert item, big enough for four.
5001 Town Center Dr.
Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge
Power & Light District’s upscale Maker’s Mark, owned by the Kentucky-based distiller, offers half-price steak night every Tuesday. The restaurant has somehow found a way to embody the trademark bourbon it’s named for by providing charming southern hospitality in a setting that reflects the rich and smooth taste of the liquor itself. Half-price steak options include certified Angus beef in a variety of cuts such as the 14-ounce Kansas City strip, 6-ounce filet or 10-ounce prime rib, served with the chef’s select vegetable of the day and potato of the day.
1333 Walnut St.
Do you love the stately feel and opulent atmosphere of Kansas City’s most beloved steak house? Are you skittish about ponying up hundreds for a night out? You, too, can enjoy many of the same menu options once reserved for Kansas City’s wealthiest. The select lunch menu includes your choice of a cup of soup or salad, choice of entrée and a side item — served in that impeccable Capital Grille style, all for just $18.
4740 Jefferson St.
Fred P. Ott’s
Fred P. Ott’s makes Monday a little more tolerable with a salute to our neighbor south of the border. Order a basket of full-size dollar tacos and complement them with a jumbo margarita and you’re on your way to putting a fine spin on the end of the roughest day of the week.
3 locations: Plaza, Olathe and Overland Park
Happy Hour at La Bodega runs from 2 to 6 p.m. every day of the week and features a signature tapas menu, Sangria, a good variety of wines by the glass and domestic beers at a hard-to-beat half price. This is a brilliant way to sample the distinctive flavors of Spain affordably. What’s not to love about a place that starts happy hour on the heels of lunch?
4311 West 119th St.
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703 Southwest Blvd.
As usual, the popular “Swingin’ at Sully’s” Thursday and now Sunday night happy hour deals bring in a regular crowd. In-the-know guests enjoy select bar food, specialty cocktails, martinis, and a variety of wines by the glass, all just $6 apiece — and the happy hour is more like a happy day with the deals running from open to close.
4501 W. 119th St.
Murray’s Tables & Tap
Murray’s is a neighborhood eatery that wants to ensure you get a good bang for your hard-earned buck. Choose from a wide-variety menu filled with items all priced under $7. Try the savory steak tacos for $3.99 or the melt-in-your-mouth bacon-wrapped scallops for $6.99. Domestic bottles are also on special during happy hour at $2.50 a pop from 3 to 6 p.m.
12921 State Line Rd.
Red Door Grill
James Beard Award-winning chef Debbie Gold has a new venue: Leawood’s the Red Door Grill. Not only is it oozing with the culinary artfulness you’d expect from Kansas City’s queen of the restaurant scene, but it can be a pleasantly affordable place, too — especially during happy hour when you can consume one of a handful of gourmet menu items priced $5 or less. Check out the $4.25 Caesar salad or the sinfully delicious red cake with chocolate chip streusel for $4.75.
11851 Roe Ave.
The American Restaurant
Kansas City’s most celebrated restaurant, the American, hosts a popular happy hour Monday through Saturday, 4 to 6:30 p.m. With $3 valet parking, guests enjoy a stunning view of downtown Kansas City at dusk while savoring exquisite small plates, cocktails, wine by the glass and beer, all at half-price. That means $3 Boulevard Wheat, $5 glasses of wine and apps starting at $5.
200 East 25th
Providence New American Kitchen
Happy hour doesn’t get much better than the one at darling downtown newcomer Providence. Just $4 gets you any number of inventive appetizers like BBQ-glazed pork belly, Ahi tuna tacos, meat loaf sliders, salt and vinegar fries, Providence hush puppies, crispy potato pierogi or the drum room burger.
Between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m., and again from 8:30 until closing, guests can enjoy happy hour treats at one of Kelly Manning’s upscale casual Tavern hot spots. Get $5 appetizers, including BBQ chicken or pork sliders, calamari, fajita steak sliders, classic hummus with warm pita or Italian meatball sliders. Be warned: once you’ve had a taste of the Tavern, you’ve likely found a new neighborhood favorite.
3901 Prairie Lane
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10681 Mission Rd.
The Basha Cuisine
This new, trendy establishment serves up an irresistible lunch deal with your choice of chicken or beef shawarma, kabob, gyro, shish tawouk (chicken skewers) or basha plate with rice, hummus and pita bread, and a side salad. A true taste of all the favorite Middle Eastern fare for only $7.99.
7016 West 105th St.
Located in the heart of Westport, the Jerusalem Cafe is the oldest, most beloved Mediterranean restaurant in Kansas City. At lunchtime, enjoy your choice of meat sandwich, salad and rice for just $7.95. You’ll also find many vegetarian options at reasonable prices.
431 Westport Rd.
KC Grill ‘N Kabob
At this hidden Lenexa gem, you’ll find Persian cuisine at its finest, with an overwhelming array of options at the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for just $8.99. Dine on all types of savory dishes until 2:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and all day Friday and Saturday.
8611 Hauser St.
photos: Kyndall Durkee, Mackenzie Eveland, Steve Puppe, Paul Versluis & Jenny Wheat