Budget Crunch: 10 delicious dishes and sweet deals to try now

It’s time for Budget Crunch, wherein intrepid reporter Holly Fann offers 10 tips on delicious menu items and sweet deals happening now. Got $10 and some change? Grab a friend and sample, split and stuff yourselves with these steals.




1. It may be getting cold outside but boozy ice cream martinis are especially called for around the holidays. The Fountain on Locust offers decadent treats like the Grand Chocolate Martini, which includes Godiva Chocolate liqueur and house-made Zanzibar chocolate ice cream for $10 or the Pomegranate Punch featuring house-made lemon and orange sherbets, pomegranate liqueur and vodka for $8.50.

2. Amighetti’s special sandwich has been the house favorite since 1979. Fresh house Italian bread is stacked high with three deli meats, cheese, a salad of fresh and pickled veggies and special house dressing. Nosh on one of the tastiest hoagies in St. Louis on The Hill or in Rock Hill with a $9 whole sandwich or a $5 half sandwich. (Just remember to remove the pepperoncini stems before devouring…)


3. It’s not a taco – it’s a puffer. Chewy, crispy, spicy and quite addictive, the these deep-fried golden shells at Fort Taco are filled with your choice of chicken or beef, lettuce, tomato and chile verde or chipotle sauce. Grab a pair of puffers and a drink at the drive-thru-only operation in Brentwood or its food court location in Chesterfield Mall for $9.

4. The Gramophone in The Grove serves up a bevy of creative, tasty sammies in half or whole orders. Dig into The Frenchy, a chicken sandwich with bacon, mushroom, onion and melty Swiss cheese topped with red wine aioli and served on French bread, naturally. A half of this hearty sandwich is $5, and a full is $10.


5. Ramen is sprouting up all over St. Louis, the latest offering being Robata in Maplewood. With all the ramen bowls priced starting at $9. While ramen can often be an omnivores-only menu item, Robata offers its vegetarian Yashi ramen, a bowl of umami-packed vegetable broth loaded with vibrant steamed vegetables, pickled ginger and wood ear mushrooms.

6. The $5 cha gio, or crispy egg rolls, at Mai Lee are one of those dishes you crave at all hours of the day. Served with assorted greens including green leaf lettuce, cucumber and cilantro, the two-person appetizer is fun to eat. Wrap bites of the egg roll in the lettuce, garnish with the greens and dip in the piquant fish sauce.




7. With dozens of options well below the $10 mark, The Vine on South Grand could very well be a Budget Crunch regular. This month, we’re opting for the falafel wrap sandwich and a side of savory seasoned fries for a mere $7.

8. Half & Half in Clayton serves up the most important meal of the day in the form of decadent brioche French toast. Buttery, downy slices of brioche are golden brown and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Drizzle with real maple syrup and satisfy any morning sweet tooth for $9.50.




9. SLU dance professor Alex Ocasio teaches Latin dancing 101 for free at Mi Caribe Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. After working up an appetite, feast on the $10 Cubano filled with pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, mustard and mayo on crunchy pressed bread.

10. Combining exceptional cold press coffee and locally brewed root beer, the Bitt’s & Fitz served at Living Room in Maplewood is a curiously refreshing tonic of Bitt’s cold press coffee, Fitz’s root beer and milk. Creamy, fizzy and not too sweet, this delightful mid-day pick-me-up runs $5.

Holly Fann is a longtime food writer who currently blogs at GastrononicSTL.

-photos by Holly Fann