Consider the taco. Is there a more perfect food? A proper taco is like a squished food pyramid, with protein, fiber and hopefully plenty of fat and salt piled atop a base of starch. Tacos require no utensils. Tacos are filling, and a meal of tacos may be easily scaled to match your appetite. Tacos are delicious. While mediocre tacos abound, the only really bad taco I can recall eating was a hard-shelled monstrosity doused in ketchup at a cactus- and sombrero-themed cantina in northern Spain. Most important, tacos are cheap. A good $2 taco is the apogee of human culinary achievement.
We consumed a lot of tacos while researching this 2012 edition of Cheap Eats, including old favorites (La Jarochita, Taqueria Lindo Michoacan) and new arrivals (Robo Taco, Mi Mero Mole). We also ate inordinate helpings of pizza, burgers and pho. All told, we found 148 restaurants and food carts that merited inclusion in the guide—29 of them brand new. The only requirement, besides deliciousness, is that they serve lunch for less than $10 and dinner for less than $15. If that’s not cheap enough for you, check out "Cheaper Eats," where Jonathan Frochtzwajg manages to eat six meals for under $9.
Don’t see your favorite cheap eats in our listings? Send me an email at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll check it out for next year’s guide. That’s it—get eating!
— Ben Waterhouse
Craig Beebe, Ruth Brown, Denise
Castañon, Martin Cizmar, Kelly Clarke, Liz Crain, Hannah Feldman, Rob Fernas,
Jonathan Frochtzwajg, Robert Ham,
Marianna Hane Wiles, Rebecca Jacobson, Casey Jarman, Matthew Korfhage, AP Kryza, Kat Merck, Aaron Mesh, Becky Ohlsen, Corey Pein, Brian Panganiban, Matthew Singer, Ethan Smith, Ben Waterhouse.