If you want an inexpensive lunch or dinner, you don’t have to stop into McDonald’s or a chain restaurant – let’s have an experience with our lunch or dinner while keeping some dollars in our pockets. Here’s how in metro Detroit – Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties are represented.

A friend is from England and uses the term, “Cheap and Cheerful,” and that’s just what these eleven things are. Sure, they’re not quail eggs on a gold plate, but they’re tasty, they don’t cost a ton, and they’re nearby.

As with all of our lists, someone from our team has checked out each and every spot. No Googling Yelp to give you recommendations here – we always try the thing, based on recommendations from friends, our members, and our readers. We miss something? Shout it out in the comments. Let’s get started.

Mr. Kabob. Photo: Shianne Nocerini
Mr. Kabob. Photo: Shianne Nocerini

1. Mr. Kabob

Look, all the wraps are less than $7. Shawarma. Kafta. Fattoush. The sides are awesome, and don’t let the fact this place is in a gas station fool you. It’s worth it. There is also a location in Troy and an express version in Greektown. Facebook – 3372 Coolidge Hwy, Berkley

2. Bob E’s Super Chief

Foot long coney hot dog on a buttered something like a toasted lobster roll. For Under $4. ‘Nuff ced. Also try the homemade cookies. Facebook – 340 W. Walton Blvd., Pontiac

3. Sgt. Pepperoni’s

This place is a staple in midtown. Get yourself a couple slices, a can of pop, sit on the patio and enjoy Woodward for about $6. Or the construction, for now. A great local go-to. Website – 4120 Woodward, Detroit

Ernie's sandwich in suburbs

4. Ernie’s Market

Yeah, Baby! One of the best sandwiches you’re going to have and ranked in our 5 most mouthwatering sandwiches in Detroit. Here’s the great thing – all that goodness is gonna run between $5-$7. Pair it up with some Better Mades and enjoy. Facebook – 8500 Capitol Street, Oak Park

5. Slices

If you’re a downtown Detroit worker and don’t know Slices, learn Slices. Two NY style slices that you fold to eat (any kind available – vegetarian option too) and a pop combo, $6.35. Definition of cheap and cheerful. Open late, a rarity among affordable places downtown. Website – 1043 Woodward, Detroit


6. Bucharest Grill

Multiple locations in the city. It’s a legend in its own right. The signature Bucharest Shawarma is less than $6 and they have a variety of special hot dogs. Website – Riverfront, Milwaukee Junction/New Center and Corktown neighborhoods

7. Joe’s Hamburgers

From the comic book cover bar top to the tasty food, this place is a winner and won’t hurt your pocketbook. You’ve got sliders with cheese for $1.59 – or you could spring a little more and get this – a Nutella slider. They’re insane. The Rocket Dog? A dog wrapped with onion rings and barbecue sauce for $3.99? They serve Faygo and $3 Craft Beer, too. Can we get a George Takei “Ohhhh myyyyyy?” Website – 3041 Biddle, Wyandotte

Photo: Sven Gustafson
Photo: Sven Gustafson

8. Loncheria El Parian

Totally brutal location: The parking lot of a car wash surrounded by a massive truck-rail container loading yard, with diesel exhaust frequently wafting over the breeze and the sound of engines idling. But the Tacos are transcendent, full of amazingly tender, well seasoned meat. Even the corn tortillas are full of flavor. Six bucks gets you four Tacos, a drink (like homemade horchata, yum), salsa Rojo or Verde and pickled veg. Website? Nah. – Dix just west of Livernois in Detroit.

9. Karas Brothers Family Restaurant

We’ll let you be the judge, but the gyros here are great, the prices are reasonable, and it’s the quintessential little diner where we’ve found east side Tigers fans on weekends like to congregate before heading down to the game. It also has more than three decades of history behind it. Facebook – 27414 Harper, St. Clair Shores

10. Peter B’s Coney Island

I’m one of those people who could eat breakfast whenever. Crispy hash browns make me happy. This place, Peter B’s, is a new entrant to the breakfast/lunch coney world and was added after this list was first published. It’s a solid choice for a quick, inexpensive bite if you’re on that side of town and want a coney lunch. I only found it driving on errands. It’s apparently also living up to the old-school tradition of diners without working websites or Facebook pages. Yelp – 1175 East 14 Mile Road, Troy.

10. Lile’s Sandwich Shop

This long-time Dearborn establishment has won over the hearts and stomachs of many. But, don’t come here for choices. Come here for a killer ham or corned beef sandwich and split pea soup. That’s what they do. No Website – 13800 Michigan, Dearborn


11. Telway Hamburgers

If you’re looking for a step into history and a delicious slider of a hamburger in Oakland County, go to the intersection of 11 Mile and John R. in Madison Heights. It’s open 24/7 (except Christmas) and you can often get a slice of pie with your meal. If you spend a lot of money here, either you’re giving it away to strangers or we all envy the amount of food you can eat and you should go on one of those Food Network TV shows. So good it doesn’t need a website – 27000 John R. Road, Madison Heights

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