Make us your home page
Instagram

From the food editor: Three local meals for less than $10

Marinated Corn, Tomato and Halloumi Salad

Washington Post

Marinated Corn, Tomato and Halloumi Salad

I've had it up to here with the $12 cocktail.

As someone who appreciates food, and a local restaurant scene that seems to get bigger and better every year, I have been known to fork over good money for a good meal. I prioritize eating out. It's one of my hobbies.

But enough is enough.

In a casual survey of popular restaurants within walking distance from my office, five had cocktail lists without a single-digit price on them. Even if the cost of these drinks is justified — most of the time, they do claim to rely on fresh ingredients or house-made liquors or juices — I would like another option every so often.

It's the same with food. When did sandwiches begin to cost $14? How small can a small plate be when it's more than ten bucks? If you want to have an interesting, quality meal at a local restaurant, do you have to spend $30?

Not quite. You have to get creative, but there are meals to be had for less. Specifically, $10 or less. Here are some of my favorite deals. If you have any gems to share, send them my way, for the sake of all our wallets.

Central Melt: This new hole-in-the-wall (685 Central Ave., St. Petersburg) specializing in grilled cheeses is serving up crispy, gooey sandwiches with a perfect cheese-to-bread-to-other-ingredients ratio. All of them are less than $10 (the most expensive is the very good Roast Beef on Fleek, $7.95), which means you can add on a house-made tomato soup dipper for 95 cents and not feel bad about it.

On Swann: This one may come as a surprise, but don't ever let a restaurant's most expensive item stop you from eating there. Yes, On Swann (1501 W Swann Ave., Tampa) has entrees into the $30 range, but they also have multiple small plates for less than $10. Go with a friend, order the Kale Salad (a huge mound of kale and other goodies on a normal-sized plate) and the Hot Chicken (you get at least four tenders), and split it: $8 each, before tip. If you are willing to increase your budget to $15, stop at Bar Taco right across the street before dinner, and get one of their happy hour cocktails (weekdays 5 to 6:30 p.m.) for $5 and $6.

Il Ritorno: The modern Italian restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg (449 Central Ave., No. 101) is currently offering half-price pastas on Thursdays, which means you can order their signature Short Rib Mezzaluna, the Mushroom Buccatini or the Seasonal Vegetable Campanelle (all made in-house) for a crisp Alexander Hamilton.

Contact Michelle Stark at mstark@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

From the food editor: Three local meals for less than $10 09/06/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2016 11:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Dan Auerbach, Benjamin Booker plumb the past for inspiration on new albums

    Music & Concerts

    It didn't take Benjamin Booker long to get lumped in with the greats. The Tampa-raised singer-songwriter's 2014 self-titled blues-punk debut brought widespread acclaim, not to mention an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, a tour with Jack White and sessions with Mavis Staples.

    The cover of Benjamin Booker's new album "Witness." Credit: ATO Records
  2. Fourth of July in Tampa Bay: parades, hot dog parties, concerts and more things to do

    Events

    Looking for things to do on the Fourth of July in Tampa Bay? There is no shortage of patriotic events, from the Hot Dog Party concerts and eating contest in Tampa, to the parades in Land O' Lakes and Safety Harbor, to the swinging dance party at St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine arts, there's an abundance of things to do …

    The annual Independence Day parade in Brandon kicks off at 10 a.m. on July 4 at 101 E Lumsden Road. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times (2015)]
  3. Too hot to bake? Grill your desserts this summer

    Cooking

    It's dinnertime in the heat of the summer. The last thing you want to do is turn on the oven.

    With a good grill, you can get a nice brown top on peach cobbler biscuits.
  4. Where to see Fourth of July fireworks across Tampa Bay

    Events

    Looking for Independence Day fireworks shows in the Tampa Bay area? There are plenty of options, including the massive shows in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey, as well as smaller shows across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Sarasota counties.

    Fireworks explode with color over the Nature Coast Freedom Festival in Hernando County. There will be a variety of fireworks displays across the Tampa Bay area for the Fourth of July in 2017. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2009)]
  5. Broaden your world, and think like a travel writer

    Life Times

    With summer travel options on the horizon, seniors are looking to expand their travel experiences, often on an inflexible budget. One way to do that is to travel like a travel writer, experiencing wherever and however you travel with fresh eyes and fresh insight.

    Nancy Mueller is a Seattle-based travel writer.