Dining out on a college budget sounds like an oxymoron. After room, board, books and beer, what's left? Fear not, co-eds, for the Land of the Cleve is flush with economical dining options. When it's our (admittedly limited) money on the line, we always go with ethnic food.
Pupuseria La Bendicion
3685 West 105th St., 216-688-0338
Pupusas, Salvadoran street food consisting of thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and other ingredients, are delicious, filling and cheap. For just $4, you can dig into a pair of hot, cheesy and aromatic pupusas, which are fried to order on a slick griddle. They're paired with curtido, a cabbage and carrot slaw, and salsa roja, a mild tomato sauce.
3211 Payne Ave., 216-875-7000
Noodle soups like ramen, pho and Taiwanese beef noodle soup are meals in a bowl, but they also often exceed $10. Penny pinchers would do well to order the shrimp dumpling soup at Wonton. Priced around $7, this big bowl is brimming with shrimp-stuffed wontons, tender egg noodles, bright greens and comforting broth.
Zaytoon Lebanese Kitchen
1150 Huron Rd., 216-795-5000, zaytoonlebanesekitchen.com
Zaytoon is a fast-casual version of a Middle Eastern restaurant, meaning that for the price of an appetizer at a sit-down spot, you can savor an entire meal. Consider the falafel plate, a wholesome platter flush with fried chickpea patties, brown rice, hummus, salad, pickled turnips, sauce and fresh-baked pita, all for less than a Hamilton.
La Plaza Taqueria
13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., 216-476-8000
We could easily blow the entire nest egg on tacos from La Plaza, but we don't know when to quit. Normal folks enjoy three pitch-perfect tacos (we recommend the chorizo, barbacoa and lengua) and a trip to the salsa bar for less than 10 bucks — or roughly 195 pesos.
Las Villas Deli and Pastries
3216 West 41st St., 216-651-9610
Few sandwiches satisfy as thoroughly as the Cubano, a hot, pressed, multilayer affair that packs more punch than a prizefighter. The version served at this smart new Puerto Rican bakery is exemplary, a crispy Cuban roll filled with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. The price? Six bucks.