A good meal doesn’t always = an expensive meal. Check out these local eateries serving up gems without the luxury prices.

1. JW Chens

Eating at JW Chens is like eating in your mother’s kitchen, if your mother were a warm Cantonese woman with a passion for food- which, of course, for some of you is the truth. For the rest of us there’s Jean, who will come sit down at your table before you order and talk you through the menu, just to be positive you’re getting what you want. Don’t see an item you like? She’ll create something for you.

Order the Governors Chicken ($8.95) or stick with Jeans favorite, the Beef Brisket Noodle Soup ($8.95) – no matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong. Check out their full menu here.

2. Mango Cafe

south bend

Photo by Channing Foster

Newcomer on the block, this Venezuelan eatery is the place to get those arepas that have been missing from your life. Fresh, flavorful, and smothered in avocado sauce (because avocados = love, obviously) their dishes will send your taste buds straight to South America.

Try the Carne Mechada ($.500) or the Venezuelan National Dish- Pabellon: Shredded Beef, White Rice, Egg, Plantain, and Black Beans ($9.50) And be sure not miss their fresh squeezed juices like Mango or Guanabana ($3.50). Check the full menu.

3. Flamingos Restaurant/ Grocery (Tacos El Pariso)

south bend

Photo courtesy of Flamingos Restaurant

Spring Break in Cancun may be over, but fear not! A trip back to Mehico is just down the road with this quaint and colorful eatery. Located inside the authentic Flamingos Mexican Grocery, the tacos are straight from (south of) the border.

Creamy queso fresco, home made tostadas, slow roasted barbacoa, quesadillas, and tacos for days. When you are finished eating, be sure to pick up some sweet yucca candy and guava juice from the market.

BONUS: Be sure to hit up the $1 Tacos on Sundays and Wednesdays.

4. Rein Juice

south bend

Photo by Rein Juice

This family owned business is the epitome of fresh- fresh juice, fresh feel, fresh attitude. Everything is USDA Certified Organic, cold pressed juices, fresh made guacamole (seasonal), pro-health smoothies. Want an extra pinch of cayenne or some fresh ginger? These guys are knowledgeable and more than willing to create your perfect sip.

All juices are $9.50, smoothies are $6 or $7.  Some good choices: Ninja Verde Juice (apple, spinach, romaine, lemon) or the Berry Smojito Smoothie (raspberry, mint, pineapple, blackberry, milk, maple syrup) Or, pick your own favorites from their full menu. New addition to the roster: Bulletproof Coffee. Don’t know about the Bulletproof diet? Read up.

5. Elias

south bend

Photo courtesy of Elias

From The Mediterranean with Love. Not the name of the movie? Oh well. It could be the name of this restaurant, because thats exactly what goes on. Mrs. Elia puts her passion for food into every fresh, light, Mediterranean classic she whips up- like her baba gannouge (pureed eggplant and garlic spread), kabobs, or beef shawarma (beef marinated in red wine, vinegar and spices).

View the full menu here, then head over and start your (food) immersion program. Not to be missed: Kibbeh Balls- cracked wheat dough filled with ground beef, onions and spices, then deep fried ($8.95)

6. Girasol Pupusaria

south bend

Photo by Channing Foster

8 years ago, Luz (pronounced Lucy) moved to South Bend and opened this Salvadorian food dream, Girasol. Every pupusa is hand made to order by Luz herself- kneaded, filled, fried, and wrapped in a fresh banana leaf. Choose from her three options: cheese, pulled pork, or bean and cheese. Then slather it in her sweet tomato salsa and crudito (cabbage slaw.) A comer!

Hit up the student special: 3 Papusas and Horchata ($6.50, cash only)

7. Cambodian Thai

south bend

Photo by Channing Foster

Guys, I promise, your tongue is going to thank you for this one. Every bite at Cambodian Thai is an education in savory, spicy, unexpected flavor. Homemade noodles, slow roasted meats and perfectly blended spices– you can ask for anything from mild to burn-your-buds off hot. Try one of their curry noodle broths in the (many) colder months, then switch to the classic pad thai when the sun comes out- because you will def be coming here year round.

Highlights: Drunken Noodles ($7.95) or for heat lovers, the Red Curry ($7.95) Full menu here.

8. Farmers Market Restaurant

south bend

Photo by Channing Foster

There are few things better than down home cooking and fresh from the earth food. This cafe located in the heart of the Farmer’s Market has been combining the two for a farm(stand)-to-table experience since long before it was a fancy trend- since 1924 to be exact.  Let the ladies of this old school diner take care of you, whether you are hungover or just hankering for fresh fresh fresh.

All the food served is sourced from the local farmers themselves; so eat up, then spend the afternoon wandering the stands that supply this gem. Some favorites: Market Feature Omelette  ($8.75) or the Smoked Pork Chop ($5.00), and don’t miss their Farm Fresh Eggs cooked your way and served with toast ($2.25) Specials change daily: check ’em out.

9. Jeannie’s House Diner

south bend

Photo courtesy of Jeannie’s House Diner

Three words: Corned Beef Hash. If you’ve had it, you get it; if you haven’t, get on it. Sit at the counter and watch Jeanie fry up egg skillet breakfasts (Trucker’s Special, anyone?), potato hash, chicken fried steak, or her homemade jalapeno sausage. This is your classic, greasy spoon, down home diner; and it should be your new fill ‘er up go-to. Take a look.

Must eat: Corned Beef Hash ($7.95), served with warm Breadsmith sourdough toast.

10. Barbici

south bend

Photo by Marie- Anne Roche

This Chipotle style make your own restaurant is serving up Italian Street Food in an authentic, delicious way. The menu is accessible in all seasons, hearty pasta to light summery salads.Choose from the Chef’s Creations like this Honey Balsamic Salad ($7.95), or make your own with the My Way Pastas/ Salads ($5.95- $9.95), Sandwiches ($6.45- $8.45)

Don’t have time to stand in line? Order on the Go

Looking to make something cheap at home? Check out these ideas: