Best of Denver

Denver's five best lunches under $5

The stock market's fluctuating wildly, economists are giving glum prognostications that run the gamut from double-dip recession to depression and, best of all, the politicians we put in charge of taking care of the greater good are just making things worse.

So no time like the present for a cheap lunch, right? If you can scrounge up an Abraham Lincoln, you can afford to eat at these five restaurants, all of which serve lunch for less than $5:

5. Hops & Pie A slice of pizza is always a winning proposition when you're trying to eat cheap, but Hops & Pie makes the idea particularly enticing. Sure, you could just order a slice of cheese for $2.50 and add a topping or two at fifty cents a pop, but you could also go for the $3 slice of the day, which have recently included combinations like chicken apple sausage with caramelized onions, or the BBQ pulled pork pie with jalapeños and red onions. 4. Westerkamps Steakhouse and Meat Market There are several options on the menu at Westerkamps, which I review this week, that would keep you under your limit, but we're partial to the notion of having breakfast for lunch. That's because the meat market and steakhouse features and all-day special on pork chop and eggs that, when doused with the restaurant's excellent green chile, is hearty, satisfying and plenty cheap. 3. Tacos Acapulco Budget or no, Tacos Acapulco makes some of our very favorite pupusas in town. The griddled corn rounds, fat with juicy pork, cheese, beans or herbaceous liroco, come with a little slaw and salsa. Two's enough to make a meal, and it'll only cost you a total of $4. Plus, if you aren't feeling those, this tiny spot has a raft of options -- including some awesome tacos al pastor -- that won't break the bank. 2. Ba Le Sandwich It's actually a mystery to us that Ba Le actually turns a profit off its awesome banh mi sandwiches, since the combination of meat, pate, pickled daikon radishes and carrots, jalapeños and fresh cilantro costs you just a couple of bucks. But we're not complaining -- with your change, you might even be able to pick up a little self-serve frozen yogurt for the road. But be careful: That Ba Le-offered dessert usually costs us more than our lunches. Which, come to think of it, is probably where the place is making up its margin. 1. La Villa Real There may be no more iconic cheap eat than the taco truck, and it's one of the first things we think of when we're trying to pinch pennies. We frequently head to one of our favorites trucks in town, La Villa Real, which commands a pair of corners at Fourth and Federal and Alameda and Raritan. Choosing from burritos, tacos and gorditas, there are many ways to build a topnotch cheap lunch at this spot. That's probably why several customers return twice a day -- and it's definitely why La Villa Real landed our Best Lunch Under $5 in Best of Denver 2011.

An honorable mention goes to HBurger, where every Tuesday, you can get a quarter pound burger and fries for a five spot. With tax and tip, that puts you just over the limit, but it's still pretty damn cheap.

Know of another cheap option? Let us know below.

More Best of Denver Lists: - Denver's five best restaurants for blind dates

- Top five martinis in Denver -- good, better, Best!

- Denver's five best burgers

- Denver's six best pizzas

- Denver's five best dive bars

- Denver's five best dinners under $10

- Denver's five best first-date restaurants

- Denver's five best nachos

- Denver's ten best french fries

- Denver's five best green chile fixes

- Denver's five best dishes of mac & cheese

- Denver's five best breakfast sandwiches

- Denver's five best wings

- Denver's five best happy hours

- Denver's ten best draft beer lists

- Denver's five best spots for ice cream

- Denver's five best BBQ joints

- Denver's five best brunches

- Denver's five best spots for sandwiches

- Denver's five best street tacos

- Denver's five best hot dogs

- Denver's five best plates of fried chicken

- Denver's five best French restaurants

- Denver's five best dessert spots

- Denver's five best Chinese restaurants

-Denver's five best chips and salsa

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk