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Ask SideDish: Where to Dine and Drink in Dallas on a Budget?

Cash-strapped 20-somethings just want to have fu-un.
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Bret Redman

Q. Hi Rosin,

My friend is coming over to Dallas this weekend and any great food suggestions would be very much appreciated. Keep in mind, we’re early 20-somethings on a budget. 

Balling on a Budget

A. Dear BOAB,

It is getting tougher and tougher to ball out on a dime. Restaurants are raising prices as operational costs (ingredients, for example) are going up, up, up. Recently, Reyna Duong of Sandwich Hag explained why she has to raise prices. She may run a small but mighty banh mi shop in the Cedars, but Duong still has to face the reality that “[c]oconut milk increased 100 percent. Fresh garlic increased 300 percent. Fish sauce increased 50 percent. Condensed milk increased 33 percent…the list goes on,” she says. “Every single ingredient and supply has increased exponentially and we can’t hold off any longer.” That said, Sandwich Hag is always a recommended go-to, especially if an out-of-town friend wants to grab some spring rolls or banh mis and picnic at a park (Lake Cliff Park isn’t too far by car).

Another place I’d send you is Loro, the Austin-born Asian smokehouse has a Dallas outpost on Haskell Avenue and a weekday happy hour from 2 to 6 p.m. Hearty sandwiches, like the pork katsu sandwich, is just eight bucks. The cheeseburger with signature red onion-brisket jam, which is normally $12, goes for $8.75. House draft cocktails and boozy slushees go for $5 each, meanwhile wine and sake on tap are four dollars. Not bad for the buzzy Austin import.

Taco y Vino is another favorite. The Bishop Arts taco-shop-slash-wine-bar has an incredible ongoing deal: six tacos and a bottle wine for $35. That’s a sweet combo for anyone, 20-somethings and non alike. Weather permitting, it’s a great, shareable meal on Taco y Vino’s spacious back patio.

If you’re looking for a great brunch, well, right this way to our latest Dallas brunch guide. Of brunches that are also easy on the wallet, The Rustic has a quaint, family-style brunch where a mimosa carafe is $10 and a full spread—doughnuts, cheddar grits, baked eggs, toasts, and more—is just less than $17 per person. At Truck Yard, you can get a Bucket-O-Mosas: a bottle of bubbly and two juices (grapefruit, blood orange, pineapple) for $30. Sit back, sip, and enjoy the live tunes which usually gets going around 1 p.m.

For a chill Deep Ellum hangout, head to Shoals Sound & Service where vinyl is often the musical medium of choice and the drinks hit the spot. All day Monday and from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, happy hour means discounted appetizers (Latin fried potatoes, shiitake mushroom ceviche, sweet plantains) and classic cocktails like Old Fashioneds, palomas, daiquiris, and gimlets for $7.

Lastly, if your out-of-town friend wants to see some of downtown, head to the AT&T Discovery District. It’s a bustling place with plenty of people watching and lots of food and drink options. Head into The Exchange Food Hall for some Revolver Taco Lounge, or chill on the Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden patio with a watermelon margarita. It’s not the least expensive place mentioned in this article, but at Jaxon, happy hour (Monday through Friday, 4–6 p.m.) consists of $4 drafts, $6 frozen drinks, $6 draft cocktails, and $5 glasses of wine. If you’re there on a rainy day, the weather is working in your favor: get happy hour prices through 11 p.m. (In Uptown, the terrific cocktail lounge Parliament offers happy hour all day Monday and any time it rains—plus, Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. House spirits are just $5.)

Godspeed. May your stomachs be as full as your bank account after a weekend of Dallas dining.

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