1. The Muffaletta Cheese Bread at Mellow Mushroom.
This starter is plenty filling for a meal for one person, and it is crusty french bread loaded with an olive/roasted pepper spread and topped with cheese, served with a fantastic marinara. The really great thing? You can put Daiya vegan cheese on ANYTHING at Mellow Mushroom instead of dairy cheese. I crave this almost constantly.
2. Veggie Tacos at Mex-to-Go
These tacos are off the hook. They have black beans, lettuce, tomato, and cheese on them. When I'm fighting the vegan battle, I order it with guacamole instead of cheese. Or sometimes both. With a side of their delicious salsa, these are pretty much the cheapest option in town that still tastes fresh. One taco is $1.19, and the guacamole only adds a little bit to the price. I eat two and am satisfied; my husband eats three; my teenager eats four.
3. Spring Rolls/Edamame at Pei Wei
You can get two of these crunchy spring rolls filled with cabbage, carrots, celery, black mushrooms, and glass noodles, along with a side of edamame, for $6. Yum. What's that you say? You're two dollars short? No prob--just order the kid's meal to go--I get the Kid's Teriyaki with Tofu and veggies and brown rice. Plenty of food, for just four bucks!
4. Split a Pizza at Za-Za's
(picture courtesy of their website)
They have one pizza--the "Marinara"--that is already vegan. I like to add capers and arugula to it. It is cheese-less, but you won't miss it. They also have a pizza called "Green-and-White," which is perhaps my favorite, and one called the "Forager," which is packed with fresh and often local veggies. They both have cheese, but the Forager is great without it. Ask for a side of pizza sauce with their pizza--they don't usually charge for it, and it is fantastic, made with San Marzano tomatoes. Splitting a pizza will cost each person about six bucks.
5. Hummus or Baba Ghanoush at Layla's with Mediterranean Salad
Or the tabbouleh. Or the lentil soup. Or a couple of dolmas. Or the falafel sandwich. This place wins at the tastiest, cheapest local veg-friendly Mediterranean food. Five or six bucks can get you an amazing meal here. If you have someone to share with, you can get hummus AND tabbouleh, salad AND lentil soup and still barely spend $12! As the Target lady says, SCORE!
6. Veggie Burger at Purple Cow
Lots of veggie burgers are super-yummy in this town--I'm sure I'll do a comparison post in the future--but this one is the best deal for the price. For under six bucks, you can even have it with sauteed mushrooms on it. If you have a friend with you, they make milkshakes with soy ice cream and milk. You can get a huge portion--plenty for two people--for five bucks. Split a burger, split a shake, and congratulate yourselves on just how utterly American you are.
7. "Chicken" Pesto Flatbread Sandwich at Tropical Smoothie
You can get this sandwich made with vegan "Beyond Meat" chicken. It's under $5, and is super yummy. No, it's not local, and it's kinda fast food, but you do your best 90% of the time. I won't blame you. Oh--and you can also get the Thai "chicken" wrap for the same price, and it's vegan!
8. Taco Bell
Don't hate. You have three dollars in your pocket. You have to eat. You have 10 minutes. You forgot to bring your healthy lunch from home. Don't worry--Taco Bell has got your back. Get a black bean burrito. Get a seven-layer burrito, minus a few layers. Get tacos with beans instead of meat. It will fill you up and you can eat a kale smoothie made from your own garden when you get home.
I wanted to include more local places, but honestly, most of them can't quite compete on price with the chains. $6--before tax--was my limit for this particular list. If you must be local, you can get the sweet potato fries from The Root Cafe, but you'll be hungry a couple hours later. They were a little too pricey for sandwiches and salads. I love their food, and recommend it on any day you have 8 or more dollars. The Veg, LLC in the River Market is the same way, as is Star of India. All great local places, but not right for this cheapskate list. OK! That's my list! What did I miss??