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Top five eats for under $30

Sure your budget’s tight. But you’ve gotta eat, right? Here are five of my favorite spots where you can grab substantial nibbles (you know – a meal) for $30 per person. Some you’ll recognize as former favorites; others are new. And some are far less than $30. So grab a buddy, a date, your mom – your kids. It’s time to eat.


1093 Hemphill Ave., Atlanta, 404-724-2333

Prego! When the blogosphere (I heard it first from Blissful Glutton) lit up with news that former Fritti pizzaiolo Enrico Liberato was baking pies at this absolutely adorable spot on the Westside, the world (okay, maybe just the foodie crowd) rushed to stuff pizza fra diavolo with spicy peppers, sopressata, pepperoni and mozzarella di bufala in its face. From bianca to the house specialty of San Gennaro, with salsiccia, peppers and onions, this pizza is, once and for all, the best in Atlanta. The small shop (a former French bakery) is basically just “solo d’asporto,” or take-away only, but a big communal table makes for lots of fun. Look for a full review in November. Best bet: Share a San Gennaro for $21 with a couple of sodas and your belly and wallet will still have room for cannoli.

SOCIAL not rated

12 W. Peachtree Place, Atlanta, 404-525-2246

The owners of this sweet bistro, brothers Rheda and Jalil Chikhaoui, have the best of two worlds: born in Lyon, France, and raised by Tunisian parents. What a culinary collision. Small, with communal tables and an upstairs dining room, Social offers North African specialties such as lamb shank tajine with cous cous alongside French-inspired mussels in white wine. Best bet: Share the braised meat balls, then order grilled marquez, a spicy sausage over lentils. Add a glass of wine and share the bread pudding for dessert.


4664 Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Norcross, 770-806-0108

You wanna eat good and cheap? Inside this butcher shop and grocery store there’s a hidden jewel: Celia’s. Tacos and gorditas abound, filled with barbecued goat and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, avocados and crema Mexicana, then blanketed generously with sprinklings of queso anejo. But the real reason to venture beyond the checkout counter of this pristine market is for a sincronizada. Think quesadilla, only better – two corn tortillas are filled with the likes of carne, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado, then grilled. Best bet: You can stuff your face with a few of these, add a Jarritos soda and walk out with change for a $10.

Beautiful wraps at Chateau de Saigon/Credit: AJC

Beautiful wraps at Chateau de Saigon/Credit: AJC


4300 Buford Highway N.E., Suite 218, Atlanta, 404-929-0034

Kitschy name aside, it’s easy to get all wrapped up in what makes this restaurant stand out from any other Vietnamese spot in the area: rice paper wraps, or banh trang cuon. The grilled sampler is perfect for sharing, and fun too – rice papers, a shallow bowl of water and an assortment of grilled marinated pork, minced shrimp grilled around a baton of sugar cane (called chao tom) and la lot – minced beef flavored brightly with lemon grass then wrapped in pungent betel leaves. Add fresh lettuce leaves, green apple, slices of carambola, vermicelli noodles, long-leaved Vietnamese cilantro and mint, and it’s a food fest. Best bet: Start with a Vietnamese salad with beef jerky and papaya, then share some wraps. You’ll have enough cash left over for a movie.


475 Bill Kennedy Way, Atlanta. 404-835-4363,

Chef Lance Gummere’s menu is a farm-to-table marvel, and he and owner Cindy Shera really know how to strike a bargain, with specials almost every night of the week. Head over on Wednesdays, when sliders are $3 a piece, and you can fill up on a platter of them, from pork belly and baked beans to super hot-and-tasty fried cod and tartar sauce, all on the kind of soft white buns that stick to your teeth. Best bet: Start with a smooth torchon of foie gras smeared over toast with apple jam and an iceberg wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese, then end by sharing some sliders. Add a glass of wine and an order of the blissful profiteroles and chocolate sauce and you and your wallet will leave very happy.

24 comments Add your comment


October 29th, 2009
9:12 am

The Captain D’s in Dahlonega really rocks.


October 29th, 2009
10:37 am

Villa Vino is a great new Italian pizzeria in Buckhead (next to Genki) that has great food at reasonable prices. I eat there all the time since it opened back in June and it never disappoints!


October 29th, 2009
11:04 am

I can’t agree with your assessment of the merits of the food at Chataeu Saigon, Meredith. I went there about six months ago and they could not even get the fish sauce (nuoc mam) right. The sauce was watery and had no chili. I poured the sauce over some noodles (bun) and and grilled shrimp and was not at all inspired by what I tasted. I recommend that people go to Com on Buford Highway. They get it right there.


October 29th, 2009
11:38 am

Hey deegee – Your day will come when your holier-than-thou attitude will be about yourself. Watch and see.


October 29th, 2009
3:27 pm

deegee is a douche.


October 29th, 2009
3:48 pm

Meredith, you are dead-on about Shed at Glenwood. The sliders are terrific, and the chocolate peanut butter bar can’t be beat (unless they have the Coffee Ding Dong available).


October 29th, 2009
3:49 pm

I second Social’s inclusion – it’s such a cool place and I don’t hear too many people talking about it. Very reasonably priced for the experience and a very friendly staff. I reccommend sitting at the bar and have some appitizers and a glass or two of wine. A little hard to find, but worth it.


October 29th, 2009
4:14 pm

Antico’s pizza is phenomenal! My wife and I have gone there twice and eaten at the communal table…both times we had the traditional pizza margherita with fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella di bufala. We each had an italian soda and then shared a canoli for dessert. Yum! OK, I know what we’re doing for dinner tomorrow!!! :)


October 29th, 2009
6:05 pm

Degree, aren’t we angry today.


October 29th, 2009
10:38 pm

Here are a few intown spots that are Great and affordable.
THE LOCAL on Ponce. The BEST chicken wings ever- first they are smoked (fully cooked) and then finished in the fryer for only 1-2 min to crisp them up ( a regular wing is fried 8-10 min). Deelish!
The ribs rock too and they have great vege options.
EATS on Ponce. Jerk or Lemon Pepper Chicken Plates for $7. Also great pastas with garlic bread.
THE HIGHLANDER on Monroe. They were featured on Diners, Drive In’s and Dives 2 years ago.

Gator Actual

October 31st, 2009
7:25 pm

I’ll take Krystal over any of those choices!


October 31st, 2009
10:29 pm

Anyone writing seriously about KFC or Krystal or Golden Corral on this food blog oughta be trick or treating right now in your pimped out suburban, loading your kids up on sweet treats…or better yet, robbing their bag so you can stuff your own face.


November 1st, 2009
12:00 am

deegee, I hope you have a therapist!

Matt C.

November 1st, 2009
1:29 am

I prefer fine, sit down dining. I’m a Waffle House man.

Cheryl the Always Solvent

November 1st, 2009
2:30 am

My idea of “cheap” is much, much less than $30 per person for a meal. How much were you spending before you cut back? Taco Bell in Newnan is nice, about $5 per person. Or a $5 sandwich from the Subway in Whitesburg. I love McDonald’s too.
So, it’s not cool? I don’t care. Cooking at home with food from Food Depot is also about as inexpensive as you can get.


November 1st, 2009
8:28 am

I get the greatest fish and chips at O’Terrills plus the broccoli cauliflower salad and a couple of beers and tip for well under $30.


November 1st, 2009
9:22 am

Safe in the Suburbs you are an idiot. Learn to spell and stay away from the city, you are not welcome.


November 3rd, 2009
7:51 pm

50th birthday this month looking for a great place in the Atl area to celebrate with about 15 friends, any suggestions. under $50 per person


November 4th, 2009
9:02 pm

Anyone who eats goat is not qualified to be an American food critic! Goat is the most discutibg food I ever tasted and made 3 of us sick in 5 miniuts!


November 4th, 2009
9:03 pm

Sorry for the spelling: discutibg is DISCUSTING!

goat lover

November 5th, 2009
8:51 am

is this a joke? you still didn’t spell it right……it’s disgusting with a G, not a C.

this article isn’t about American food – please note the name of this article is top 5 eats for under thirty dollars.

Five under $30 | Heights Armour

November 10th, 2009
12:59 pm

[...] To read the list…Click here. [...]

Cracker-Jack Cubano

September 14th, 2010
10:53 am

Kafe Saigon is good but dont order the Goat Penis…my girlfriend says its very tough and “Mealy”.

Happy Kine

September 14th, 2010
10:55 am

Does Ryans still have their Mega-Bar? Now thats some tasty eating and all for a very reasonable price.