11 Budget-Friendly Mouth-Watering Restaurants from the Road

Let’s talk about the meals we make most often in the trailer: tacos, spaghetti, stir fry, sandwiches (peanut butter and the deli meat variety), chef salads and mac and cheese. Suffice to say, we aren’t exactly cooking gourmet meals. But our lack of ingenuity in the kitchen is often evened out by some wonderfully delicious food on the road. 

We’ve kept tabs on some of the best cuisine the U.S. has to offer a couple of cheap twenty-somethings who split meals more often than they’d like to admit. Budget friendly and mouth-watering — that’s our sweet spot. And if that tickles your taste buds, too, then we think you’ll really enjoy this list. 

Grk Yogurt, Toronto, ON

If I haven’t yet professed my love for frozen yogurt, let me be clear: I LOVE IT. It’s my only weakness when it comes to sweet treats. And I fill my cup with original tart, mochi, granola and fruit about 1x per week when we can find it. I tried this yogurt shop in Toronto’s Kensington neighborhood because it boasted the only handmade greek yogurt in the city. They only offer one flavor — original — but it managed something that most yogurt places don’t: it was tangy, smooth and creamy all at the same time. Plus the owner had dreamed up some pretty fun topping combinations. Our pick: the strawberry rhubarb jam with house-made granola. 

Beal’s Lobstor Pound, Southwest Harbor, ME

 Lobster roll game = on point. 

Lobster roll game = on point. 

By the time we landed in Maine, we had yet to try a single lobster on the trip. We’re glad that our lobster roll at Beal’s was our first. While we had lobster many more times throughout the trip, opting to cook live ones on our own at home with our hosts, Beal’s was definitely a memorable experience. We recommend the lobster roll with fries, and if bisque is your thing (it’s definitely mine), you don’t want to miss it here.

Casa De Suenos, Alamagordo, NM

 Snacking on super spicy salsa and chips as we wait for Carson's b-day meal!

Snacking on super spicy salsa and chips as we wait for Carson's b-day meal!

Carson and I both love Mexican food, and we’ve had our fair share of it, too. But we can both honestly say the food at Casa de Suenos was head and shoulders the best. I got the prickly pear cactus salad — my first “good” experience with cooked cactus and Carson had the enchiladas. They offered a really spicy salsa with complimentary chips that we devoured and ended the meal with complimentary sapodillas doused in all the honey you could want or dream of. 

Muriale’s, Fairmont, WV

 Big thumbs up to that ravioli at Muriale's. 

Big thumbs up to that ravioli at Muriale's. 

I didn’t expect to have the best Italian food of my life in West Virginia of all places. Turns out there is a large Italian population in the state, which I should have guessed given that the state’s main food claim to fame is pepperoni rolls. But I have a feeling the folks at Muriale’s would cringe at that association given that their Italian food is the authentic kind, not a knock off. I always judge the quality of Italian food by how good their minestrone is. Theirs was the best I’d ever had, and Carson’s ravioli made me actually like ravioli. 

Central BBQ, Memphis, TN

 BBQ pork nachos so think you need a fork. That's my kind of nacho. 

BBQ pork nachos so think you need a fork. That's my kind of nacho. 

They say you have to try the holy trinity in Memphis: brisket, fried chicken and ribs. I got the barbecue nachos and left the brisket business to Carson, but by the end we’d pretty much gone halfsies on everything because it was so amazingly rich and delicious and tender and all the things you want in good barbecue, plus a host of various sauces ranging from sweet to hot to douse it in.

Prince’s Hot Fried Chicken, Nashville, TN

11 Budget-Friendly Mouth-Watering Restaurants from the Road | Local Color XC
11 Budget-Friendly Mouth-Watering Restaurants from the Road | Local Color XC

This is a tried and true staple of the Nashville food scene, but we’re here to tell you it still lives up to the reputation. The “hot going in and hot going out” chicken is still Carson’s favorite meal of the trip. He loves spicy food and fried chicken, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I can also vouch for their banana pudding and potato salad, too.

Felix’s Fish Camp, Mobile, AL

 Felix's has a pretty BA road sign, too!

Felix's has a pretty BA road sign, too!

I’ll admit, I’m not usually into places like this. You know, local seafood restaurants that feel as if they were influenced a little too heavily by Red Lobster’s decor. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Regardless, the food at Felix’s is legit. I got a cub of the crab soup, which is not to be missed, and we split a Meuniere-style fresh catch dish that was flaky and flavorful. 

Zunzi’s, Savannah, GA

11 Budget-Friendly Mouth-Watering Restaurants from the Road | Local Color XC
11 Budget-Friendly Mouth-Watering Restaurants from the Road | Local Color XC
 This is Oliver's Lunch over mashed potatoes. Trust us -- you want this. 

This is Oliver's Lunch over mashed potatoes. Trust us -- you want this. 

We were not novices to the charms and flavors of Oliver’s Lunch at the infamous Zunzi’s. It’s a takeout style international-inspired eatery that’s described like this on the restaurant’s website: “A combination of Swiss, Italian, South African and Dutch, Zunzi’s brings together flavors that are unique and delicious as well as always being fresh.” Get the Oliver’s Lunch over mashed potatoes and thank us later. 

Asheville Sandwich Company, NC

11 Budget-Friendly Mouth-Watering Restaurants from the Road

We’d been to Asheville several times already by the time we landed there on this trip, but this was our first foray into ASC. We stopped in the West Asheville location for the roast prime rib. The signature of each sandwich is that most are topped with a heaping pile of thin and crispy french fries. 

Colasessano’s, Fairmont, WV

 Mel awaits the cheesy goodness of the pepperoni roll. 

Mel awaits the cheesy goodness of the pepperoni roll. 

Remember the Italian food and pepperoni rolls I just mentioned in #4? Well, turns out that while pepperoni rolls may not be the foodie’s Italian favorite, it is ours. Get the pepperoni roll sandwich with cheese at this mainstay and you won’t regret it!

Spak Brothers, Pittsburgh, PA

11 Budget-Friendly Mouth-Watering Restaurants from the Road | Local Color XC
 Boys being boys at Spak Bros. 

Boys being boys at Spak Bros. 

After a weekend bender with Carson’s best friends, I picked him up on a Monday and I think I can safely say the whole gang need some quality comfort food. We picked up sandwiches to-go at the nearby Spak Brothers and it was surprisingly delicious! For Lincolnites who read our blog, it reminded me a lot of a Doozy’s sandwich. Which is to say it was meat, cheese and condiments baked into a perfectly crusty white hoagie. My reco: the Portobello sandwich.