Being a foodie and a college student is the true struggle — but your struggle is about to be over (at least for now). Spoon is here to save you from bankruptcy while satisfying your quality hipster Portland food addiction. Prepare to indulge while still being able to pay your tuition with these 25 places to eat in Portland when you're broke as sh*t.
If you love food and you love your dog, this is the place to be. Treat yourself to eggs, bacon, avocado, burgers and so much more (all while drinking a ton of coffee), while your pup selects from the doggie menu of chicken and sweet potatoes or banana ice cream. Not sure about the quality, but I could even be down for the dog menu.
You don't have to sacrifice unique flavor or hipster foods while eating cheaply in Portland. Found in Portland's massive food cart block on Washington Street, Bing Mi! serves large Chinese-inspired crepes filled with eggs, pickled veggies and a wonton cracker for only $6 (and make sure to get the plum sauce for no extra cost!).
Avoid both the risk of E. coli and going broke from the excessive amount you have to pay for guacamole at Chipotle by taking a trip to Mi Mero Mole. One taco is just $3-4 dollars, but the real beauty of the restaurant is the all-you-can-eat taco option on Tuesdays for only $14.75. Not sure if this is a shared sentiment, but I think my dreams are made of unlimited tacos.
Your school weekend brunch is nothing compared to the eggs Benedict, fried egg sandwiches or French toast you can indulge in at The Egg Carton. Honestly, it also probably costs less than the ridiculous amount you pay for that dining hall meal plan anyways.
You can't talk about cheap food in Portland without bringing up VooDoo Doughnuts. Even though locals argue VooDoo doesn't serve the best donuts in the area, you can't beat the price of an entire bucket of day-old doughnuts for only $5. While you might be sad the doughnuts are a day old, the fact that you can eat 20+ doughnuts is sure to cure your woes.
Vegans may have a hard time here, but your wallet will not. Stuffed breakfast burritos are only $7 and huge, meat-filled warm sandwiches are under $10.
To get the most food for your money, stick to the appetizers. An entire large burrito is considered a starter and will turn you back only $6. If a burrito isn't your thing, you can also get a quesadilla, two empanadas or four tacos, all for only $6 each.
Think of all the things that aren't good for your arteries, squish them between some biscuits buns and enjoy — all for only $9 (or less). The Reggie Deluxe is a local favorite with a fresh biscuit, fried chicken, bacon, cheese, gravy and a fried egg.
Treat yourself to the traditional Venezuelan arepa without going broke. Arepas are corn cakes stuffed with different types of meat (or black beans for the vegetarians) and are always served fresh, warm and delicious at Teote's.
Luc Lac could easily fit into any college town with its cheap, but satisfying Vietnamese meals. While the Banh Mi and Vermicelli Noodle Bowls are a hit at any time of the day, happy hour is the best time to chow at Luc Lac. You have to buy a beverage to get the happy hour deals (like you would't order one anyways), but it's well worth the $2 small plates you get as a result.
These are not your traditional waffles with maple syrup, but don't worry, you'll get over your need for the classic breakfast very quickly. The seasonal specials always impress, but the Tomato B's (brie, basil and tomato) and Rise and Shine Waffle (sausage, fried egg, cheddar and syrup/gravy) are always around and always recommended.
PDX Empanadas serves up hot empanadas right in the Portland Saturday Market. For a rewarding "broke student" day, walk along the waterfront, peruse the Saturday Market and stop for an empanada on your way out (or on your way to VooDoo). The pork empanada with dried plums and cranberries never disappoints.
Also coming to you from the Portland Saturday Market (or their restaurant on MLK), Horn of Africa serves traditional Ethiopian, Somalian, Djiboutian and Middle Eastern dishes. At the market, they have combo plates served with Bideena bread (don't even think about choosing the rice option), a variety of meats, sambusas, veggies and more.
For a day when you need to consume an excess of cheap food, hit up the lunch buffet Tuesday-Friday.
You don't need to sacrifice flavor for a cheap burger at Little Big Burger (which is not always the case with burgers... McDonald's we're looking at you). Little Big Burger custom cooks every burger with natural beef, and you get to choose your own (of course locally-made) cheese. I would recommend a blue cheese burger with truffle fries. Seriously, do not skip the fries.
If you want to consume a whole pizza without excessive amounts of regret (and without going broke), this is the place for you. Pyro Pizza is a food cart that cooks individual (but still large enough) pizzas from a wood-fired oven. They're open until 1 am most days as well, so you can satisfy your cravings without braking the bank (but also without loosing your foodie status) at less popular hours.
You know you will not leave a restaurant hungry when their slogan is "Built for the American Workforce." TILT offers burgers piled high with fillings, salads served on platters and massive slices of pie. The real deal you cannot miss out on though is the beer-battered house fries. For only $6, you can buy an entire platter of these fried beauties.
This may not be the best place to start your clean eating diet, but it is the best place in Portland for a good pork sandwich. Lardo started as a food cart, but now serves their pork-centric menu on Hawthrone street. The porchetta sandwich with gremolatta, caper mayo, arugula and parmesan is a must.
If large balls of meat, cheese and bread make you happy, this is the place for you. From sliders to pasta & balls or polenta & balls, the meatball options are endless. If you're feeling the need for a lot of balls, or you have a lot of friends, you can order 50 meatballs for only $30.
When you walk into Pollo Norte, you'll be greeted by rotisserie chicken, slowing spinning and waiting to be consumed. Want the entire chicken (with tortillas and salsa)? You can get it for just $20. If you have leftover chicken (which you probably will because a whole chicken is a lot of chicken), try these easy rotisserie chicken recipes.
Don't worry if you're 100% not into the "kale everything" trend, this restaurant is not named after kale. In fact, it's pretty much the exact opposite of kale. It's Japanese comfort food. For the classic dish, go for the chicken cutlet with Kalé rice. Don't be turned off by the appearance. It's delicious, large, saucy and fitting for a broke student budget.Portland food carts rarely disappoint (except for this Indian food I had one time, but we can disregard that). The Hawaiian food at 808 Grinds is no exception. For only $8, go for either the Loco Moco (beef patty with fried egg and gravy — not sure how traditional that is but definitely delicious), the Kalua pig (definitely more traditional) or fried chicken, all served with rice and mac salad.
You will get the best deal at the Bollywood Theater with their street foods. Lamb samosas or gobi manchurian are both comforting and not hard on the wallet. If you can manage three extra dollars, the mango lassi is well worth it.
This is the place if you're hungry, broke and in a rush but still want homemade food. The Roman Russian Market serves freshly baked Georgian cheese bread for only $3 (you'll probably just end up eating the whole loaf on the way home), grilled kebabs, and homemade lamb dumplings. If you can remember to order an hour ahead, the real star of the show is Adjarian Khachapuri, a bread cheese pie with a egg cooked inside.
If you're trying to appear classy, but are also broke, this is the place for you. Fancy AF "Cheese & Crack" plates are served with butter crackers, oatmeal cookies, baguette, olives, dijon, chocolate, cheese and jam/fruit, all for only $9.
These are the sandwiches of your childhood, but about four times the size, ten times more creative, and exponentially more delicious. Instead of jelly squished in between some white bread (sorry, Uncrustables), think challah bread, seared duck, hazelnut butter, blue cheese and marionberry jam.