Let us help you out with that. You are holding in your hands our biggest Cheap Eats ever. Since January, we've eaten our way across the city, from St. Johns to Powellhurst-Gilbert and as far afield as Gresham and Hillsboro, in search of the best places to fill your stomach without emptying your wallet.

In these listings you'll find an all-encompassing guide to eating well on a budget—call it a gastronomic stimulus package. In addition to the usual list of restaurants (over 150 of them) where you can eat lunch for $10 or less and dinner for under $15, we've rounded up 20 of our favorite food carts, eight of the city's best coffeehouses and 25 of the best things we've eaten for $7 or less—because $7 is what's left of an hour's earnings at minimum wage in Oregon after taxes, and we don't think anyone should have to work over an hour just to pay for lunch.

The last two editions of this guide have been organized by cuisine, but I heard from many of you that the format was confusing. This year we've gone back to straight alphabetical listings. The reviews are indexed by cuisine and geographical area on page 4.

If you don't see your favorite restaurant here, chalk up the omission to ignorance, meanness or snobbery: Either we don't know about it, we don't like it, or we've kicked it up to our fine-dining guide, which comes out each October (that's where you'll find Podnah's Pit). I'm always happy to hear about restaurants we've overlooked. Send me an email (bwaterhouse@wweek.com) with your recommendations and we'll check them out for next year's guide.

We aren't yet done with cheap eating for the year. Look for our guide to specialty markets, Devour, and reviews of two dozen new carts on April 21. Until then, happy eating!

Ben Waterhouse


Ben Waterhouse

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