For most of us, it started during college, scraping together the coins left over after paying for laundry and, uh, “entertainment,” for a slice of pizza that hadn’t been sitting under a cafeteria heat lamp. But as we aged and gained financial independence, that practice of scavenging for sustenance gave way to the culinary exploration that’s made us Gastronauts.

Yes, we also love dining at Houston’s finest restaurants—who doesn’t? But so often, the biggest flavors and most memorable experiences don’t come with an outrageous price tag. In America’s most diverse city, $10 is nearly guaranteed to buy diners well-prepared eats from around the world, whether it’s fried chicken from Palestine or a Parisian breakfast avec café.

That’s why there’s no excuse to cut corners when going cheap—and why we decided, when curating our guide to the city’s best dining deals for under $10, not to include any fast food spots or big chains from outside the city. Instead, everything in this package is made from scratch (or close to it), with the same kind of care and consideration you’d expect from a much pricier plate.

So here’s to striking out on a few new food adventures in Houston—and to doing it without breaking the bank. Just remember to leave a tip.

In This Feature:

Five Fabulous Ways to Start the Day for $5

From soulful spice to old-fashioned Southern breakfasts, these spots got you covered.

05/31/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt and Alice Levitt

Lunch Break: Sandwiches for a Song

Look beyond the banh mi (but also, don’t forget the banh mi).

05/31/2016 By Alice Levitt and Katharine Shilcutt

Evening Glory: Dinner for Two, For Less Than $10

Big appetite after a long day? You’ve got options.

05/31/2016 By Alice Levitt and Katharine Shilcutt

Houston’s Best Bargain Is Found Behind the Bar at Brennan’s

The tradition of lunch martinis at Brennan’s—for just 25 cents each—hasn’t changed much since 1967.

05/31/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt

Sugar Rush: Decadent Desserts Under $4

What to skip (macarons) and what to get (cake balls) at Houston’s sweetest shops

05/31/2016 By Joanna O'Leary

Hot Chaat: A Primer on Indian Snack Food

Get your fix in the Mahatma Gandhi District, which offers everything from samosa chaat to bhel puri—all in air-conditioned comfort.

05/31/2016 By Alice Levitt

Date Night for Cheap—Hear Us Out!

No one likes a cheap date, except for these—all of which promise an elegant evening of ambience and legitimately fine dining.

05/31/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt

Meal Plan: Dining on a College Kid Budget

For the students among us, the best cheap eats near St. Thomas, UH and Rice.

05/31/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt

The Affordable Riches of Chinatown

It’s easy to fill up at Dun Huang Plaza, but don’t forget the other six square miles of Bellaire Boulevard surrounding you.

05/31/2016 By Alice Levitt

Wheel Genius: Four Favorite Food Trucks for Cheap Chow

In pursuit of unique eats, sometimes you’ve got to hit the road.

05/31/2016 By Ellie Sharp

Low-Cost Takes on High-End Houston Favorites

Inexpensive caviar? Yes, and more.

05/31/2016 By Alice Levitt

Dollar Deals: Houston's Best Extra-Cheap Eats

Feed your face for around a buck and change.

06/01/2016 By Katharine Shilcutt and Alice Levitt