Best Cheap Eats in Town

We scoured local restaurants and put together this list of our very favorite cheap eats.

By Claire Porter & Ettie Berneking with Additional Reporting By Corin Cesaric

Dec 2019

Various tacos from restaurants around Springfield MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsWith so many taco options to choose from around town, you're set to celebrate Taco Tuesday every week. Purchase Photo

It’s no secret that Springfield and surrounding southwest Missouri towns are home to plenty of fantastic restaurants, and you wouldn’t be alone if you made it your mission to try them all. But eating out night after night gets pricey, and sometimes you want to have an unbeatable dining experience without having to break the bank. For those nights, we’ve rounded up dishes that deliver the most bang for your buck, the best cheap eats in town. Most of these plates are under $10, and we chose them because, for a very affordable price, you can get a dish that packs in a world of flavors, contains several high-dollar ingredients, consists of layers of addicting textures or is simply an unbelievable value. Some of these dishes can be found at your tried-and-true favorite restaurants, and some will have you venture to places you might not have tried before—but they’ll all give you a meal that delivers the sublime on a dime. 

This article has been updated with new information 11/25/2019.

Less Than $5

Nearly Free

House Burger at Flame Steakhouse

314 W Walnut St., Springfield, 417-862-4444
Flame is known for high-quality seafood and steaks, but you can also get $5 apps and bites like burgers, chicken sandwiches and portobello burgers plus half-price drinks during happy hour.

Sex and the City Roll at Kai

306 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-832-0077
Kai’s signature Sex and the City roll, along with other signature rolls and fried oysters, is only $5 after 9 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays through Saturdays.

Tortilleria Perches

1601 W. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-864-8195 
The Deal: Tamales for $.99 each on Tamale Thursday
The Lowdown: The kitchen at Tortilleria Perches whips up nearly 500 handmade tamales every day. Made from corn meal and a few secret ingredients, the tamales here are stuffed in a cornhusk and packed with pork or chicken, then steamed for two hours. The plump bundles of savory goodness will easily calm any grumbling stomach. The limit is six per person, and the deal is only available for dine-in customers. For more cheap eats at this hotspot, stop by for 99-cent tacos on Taco Tuesdays.

THE BITE | Seedy whole grain mustard brings a little spice and crunch.
THE HEFT | Berkshire pork beefs up each bite with a little fattiness.
THE PICKLE | Piccalilli, or pickled vegetables, brighten up the plate with turmeric and mustard.
THE CRUNCH | Crispy panko breading provides a solid initial crunch.
THE OOZE | Runny, unctuous yolk spills out of the still soft egg.

Scotch Egg at Farmers Gastropub

2620 S Glenstone Ave, Springfield, 417-864-6994
The Deal: $5.00
The Lowdown: You might be looking at this single Scotch egg and thinking, “There’s no way that’s a meal,” but with its combination of breading and pork—and its massive size—this Farmers Gastropub appetizer will fill you up quickly. 


Various Locations in 417-land
The Deal: A cappuccino caramel fudge sundae, $3.49 
The Lowdown: This sweet treat is made of two honkin’ scoops of Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate ice cream, heavy drizzles of hot caramel and hot fudge, whipped cream and a sprinkling of roasted pecans, and it’s topped off with a candied maraschino cherry. Yum! Check out the Braum’s sundae menu to drool over other delicious concoctions, such as the Black Forest Sundae or the Brownie Fudge Sundae.

Purple Burrito

Multiple locations in Springfield
The Deal: Two fish tacos $4.84
The Lowdown: Fish tacos are a delicious alternative to the usual bean burrito or crunchy beef taco. Of course, at Purple Burrito, part of the attraction is their price tag. Wrapped in a thick corn tortilla, strips of breaded and fried tilapia are mixed with homemade tartar sauce, cabbage, pico de gallo and a shredded cheese medley of Monterey Jack and cheddar. The mix of crunchy cabbage and tender flaky fish is the perfect complement to the tangy tartar sauce.

Skybox Grille & Lounge

1271 E. Montclair St., Springfield, 417-877-9595
The Deal: Specially priced wings on Mondays
The Lowdown: The hot wings at Skybox prove that some of the tastiest cheap eats come doused in sweet, spicy and tangy sauces. These jumbo wings are loaded with succulent and tender meat. If you’re in the mood for something spicy, try the burn sauce. It’s not the hottest sauce you’ll ever eat, but it’s got plenty of flavor. You can also load up with the pineapple habanero sauce, barbecue sauce or Asian sauce. But pull up a chair; these cluckers can’t be ordered to-go.

Where Kids Eat Free

It doesn't get cheaper than free. Find the places in southwest Missouri where you can get a cheap eat and your kids eat free. 

Free meals

Mini burger sliders
Photo by Kevin O'Riley

Burger Bargain: Burgers at Slider’s are $1.65 each

Purchase Photo
couple ordering at the bar
Photo by Brandon Alms

Order the Frito Pie at Casper's and take a seat to enjoy the atmosphere of this Springfield staple.

Purchase Photo


208 W. McDaniel St., Springfield, 417-864-5565
The Deal: Hamburgers, $1.65 or $1.85 if you add cheese
The Lowdown: These burgers might be small, but they pack plenty of flavor. Cooked to order, each slider comes on a warm bun, and when you toss on juicy pickles and melty cheese, it’s no wonder people line up for them.


601 W. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-866-9750
The Deal: Frito Pie, $3.99 for a small
The Lowdown: This dive has a loyal and hungry fan base. One of the favorite menu items here is the Frito Pie—a cheesy, melty, delicious masterpiece featuring a crunchy pile of Fritos corn chips topped with Casper’s homemade chili and covered with a hefty layer of real cheddar cheese. The whole mountain of yumminess is then placed under the broiler, melting the cheese until it runs. If you’re worried about not getting enough veggies, go for the Frito Pie Deluxe, which comes with lettuce, tomatoes and creamy ranch dressing for just cents more.

Nearly Famous Deli & Pasta House

2708 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-883-3403
The Deal: Pecan bars $1.15 and lemon bars $1.00
The Lowdown: These homemade desserts are as delicious as they are cheap. The oh-so-flaky crust resembles a shortbread cookie, and the lemon bar is filled with a luscious lemon curd. The pecan bars are equally scrumptious with pecan pie filling and crushed pecans. Delish!

Dublin’s Pass

2767 W. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-877-7625; 317 Park Central East, Springfield, 417-862-7625
The Deal: $2.00 burgers on Tuesday nights after 8 
The Lowdown: After 8 p.m. single patty burgers join this bar’s happy hour menu. For two bucks, you can enjoy a plain burger, or add additional toppings for a slight upcharge.


They’re handheld, salty, crunchy, spicy, saucy and savory. They’re everyone’s favorite cheap eat, and this town is full of great options (especially on Tuesdays), but here are five fantastically delicious tacos for a fantastically small price that we just couldn’t pass up. 

Tinga Tacos

308 W. McDaniel St., Springfield, 417-831-8007
The Deal: $3.50
The Lowdown: Downtown’s Tinga Tacos has a menu of insanely creative flavor combos, which are delivered in rather sizable tacos. We love the Fruity Piggles because we’re pretty sure you couldn’t even get a spoonful of fig jam on its own for $3.50. 

Team Taco 

1454 E. Cherry St., Springfield
The Deal: $3.50
The Lowdown: The very crushable tacos at Team Taco come with a very crush-worthy price tag. Every option is delicious, but we’re partial to the spice of the B.A. Baracus. (Pro Bargain-Hunter Tip: If you’re super hungry, you can get three for $9.99.)

Cesar's Old Mexico

2627 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-881-8252
The Deal: $2.75
The Lowdown: The menu at Cesar’s Old Mexico is loaded with great value dishes, but once you try the tacos with Cesar’s Pork, you won’t ever go back to regular tacos. 

Tacos El Gordo

5360 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield; 1510 N. National Ave., Springfield, 417-402-9307
The Deal: $1.95
The Lowdown: Tacos El Gordo serves street-style tacos with fillings so juicy, you’d be willing to pay triple. At this price, you’ll want to try a few, but don’t skip the tender trompo pork. (These tacos are only $1 on Mondays and Thursdays.)

Tortilleria Perches

1601 W. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-864-8195
The Deal: $1.99
The Lowdown: With a name like Tortilleria Perches, you’d expect the tortillas to be the best part of the taco. As good as the exterior is, what’s inside is even better, especially the al pastor. (Deal Alert: these tacos are only $1 on Tuesdays.)

Less Than $10 

Pretty Darn Cheap

Bacon Wrapped Peppadew Peppers at Jimm's Steakhouse

1935 S Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-886-5466
Come hungry and dig into a plate of Jimm’s most popular appetizer—or any of the steakhouse’s appetizers. Appetizers and drink specials are all $5 on Sundays and from 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

Lucy’s Chinese Food

Multiple locations in Springfield
The Deal: Half order of cashew chicken, $5.50 
The Lowdown: This half order of cashew chicken comes with a pile of fried rice and is more than enough to fill you up. The chicken is rich and salty, and unlike most places that tack on an up-charge for all white meat, the higher-quality meat is the standard here. For only a buck more, you can get the combo and add your choice of an egg roll, six wontons or three crab Rangoon.

Sam’s Cellar

101 N. Wood St., Neosho, 417-451-3330 
The Deal: Wood-fired jumbo pretzel, $5.99
The Lowdown: This soft and chewy jumbo pretzel is reminiscent of those ballpark bites that always seem to cost a fortune. But these salty puppies are far from breaking your wallet. Fresh from the bar’s wood-fired oven, this pretzel arrives piping hot and plenty soft. It comes with a scrumptious and spicy ballpark mustard, or you can splurge on cheddar fondue for $1.50 more.

Banh mi sandwich at Lucky Tiger in Springfield MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsSink your teeth into a sandwich off of the banh mi menu at Lucky Tiger. Purchase Photo

Pappy’s Place

943 N. Main St., Springfield, 417-866-8744  
The Deal: BBQ Pork sandwich, Southern style, Small $5.50 or Large for $7 
The Lowdown: When talking about cheap eats, it’s impossible to ignore the beloved sandwich. Almost a food group all on its own, you can pile almost anything between two slices of bread and still bite into a taste sensation. That’s why we have to share one of our favorite sammies with you: the barbecue pork sandwich at Pappy’s Place. Heaping spoonfuls of barbecued pork are topped with creamy southern-style coleslaw before being sandwiched between a hamburger bun. Once you become a Pappy’s fan, take home some of its legendary barbecue sauce in pint and gallon sizes.

Pappo’s Pizzeria

221 E. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-866-1111
The Deal: Monday–Friday 8-inch pizza and salad for $9.99 from 11–2 p.m.
The Lowdown: Pizzas are dripping with gooey cheese and a special homemade red sauce. These hand-tossed pies are a thicker version of droopy New York–style pizzas, and they’re plenty filling and the deal includes a salad on the side. 

Lunch special at Rama Thai Cafe in Springfield MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsOrder anything off of the lunch special menu at Rama Thai Cafe for a steal of a meal. Purchase Photo

Rama Thai Café

1129 E. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-865-3204
The Deal: Order a lunch special for $7.99
The Lowdown: In general, anything labeled a special is going to be a good deal, and at Rama Thai Café that’s no exception. The lunch special rings in just under $8 and comes with salad, soup, a full entree and either an egg roll or a crab Rangoon. We’re partial to the Basil special with tofu—so silky, so crispy!—served extra spicy, but any option here is guaranteed to leave your stomach and your wallet full.

Spring Creek Tea Room

107 S. 3rd St., Ozark, 417-582-1331
The Deal: Sandwich, soup, chips and a drink, $7.53 
The Lowdown: Delicious soup and sandwiches are never further away than the nearest tea room, and one of our favorites can be found at Spring Creek. The chicken salad croissant here is among the best we’ve ever tried. The chicken salad is filled with sweet grapes, crunchy nuts and loads of juicy and tender chicken, and it’s served on a buttery, flaky croissant. For only $7.53, you can get it with a bowl of the spot’s cold strawberry soup, chips and a drink.

5 Spice Grill

2058 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-799-0215
The Deal: Signature wok-fired noodles with shrimp, $7.95 during lunch
The Lowdown: The Signature wok-fired noodles are a crowd favorite, chock-full of crunchy carrots, celery, onion, broccoli and red and green bell peppers. The whole mess is coated in a garlic-ginger soy sauce and tossed with slippery linguine noodles. The choice of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp or a combo of all of those makes this dish especially hearty. And with mammoth-sized portions, there’s sure to be plenty of leftovers.

Philly cheesesteak sandwich on toasted bread at Chicago Cheesesteak Company in Springfield MO
Photo by Kevin O'RilleyThe signature sandwich! A Philly cheesesteak sandwich on toasted bread with your choice of Chicken or Steak. Purchase Photo

Chicago Cheesesteak Company

2301, 319 1/2 E Walnut St, Springfield, 417-865-1775
The Deal: Chicago combo $8.69 on Thursdays
The Lowdown: This hole-in-the-wall spot cooks up tasty, gooey, juicy and rich Philly Cheesesteaks that even Philadelphians would love. They offer daily specials and a favorite is the signature Chicago combo. Strips of steak or chicken are marinated in-house before being covered with fresh tomato, lettuce raw onions, oil, vinegar, seasonings and a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. The combo is served with fries and a drink.

The Roost Bar and Grill

2025 W. Sunshine St. Ste. 104, Springfield, 417-865-4000 
The Deal: Tomato Cream Pasta, $9.99; $6.99 for a half order 
The Lowdown: Even a half order of this dish is filling and it’s only $6.99. You get the best of both worlds with this pasta, AKA marinara and alfredo sauce. The cooks top the pasta with sauteed mushrooms, onions and blackened chicken. Garlic toast is served on the side.  

Nonna’s Italian Cafe

306 South Ave., Springfield, 417-831-1222; 3512 S. National Ave., Springfield, 417-890-8300
The Deal: Grilled Eggplant Sandwich, $8.99
The Lowdown: This hearty sandwich is a cornucopia of healthy goodness. It comes stocked with fresh mozzarella, roasted red bell pepper, pickled carrots, onion and arugula. It’s topped with fresh vinaigrette and is served on a perfectly-toasted baguette. 

The Burger Shack

1946 W. 76 Country Blvd., Branson, 417-544-9856
The Deal: Burger and fries, starting at $7.31
The Lowdown: These 100-percent-ground-beef, always-fresh, never-frozen patties can be stacked with up to 18 toppings that are always free and unlimited. With options such as fiery jalapeños, grilled mushrooms, juicy onions, firehouse mustard, pineapple slices and A1 Steak Sauce, it’s easy to create a flavor bomb of a burger. And the hot and salty fries that come with this tasty treat are hand-cut and made fresh.
[Editor's Note 01/2024: The Burger Shack is now closed.]


1427 E. Cherry St., Springfield
The Deal: Wok bowl for $8.65 
The Lowdown: Everything at Skully’s is a steal when you consider how meticulous owners Joe and Lora Still are about sourcing ingredients and preparing them perfectly, and the Wok Bowl is no exception. Bok choy, carrots, onions and peas are stir fried in a Szechuan-garlic sauce, served with your choice of rice or noodles and topped with even more fresh vegetables. For a few extra smackaroos you can add one of their impeccably prepared proteins.

The Eagle Drive-In

4224 S. Main St., Joplin, 417-623-2228
The Deal: Filet burger for $10 during lunch on Thursday
The Lowdown: The daily lunch specials at this burger joint change day to day and are all reasonably priced. When it comes to burgers, these aren’t your dad’s burgers. Eagle Drive-In has quite the array of burger options with items like Angus beef, lamb, bison and elk lining the menu. A favorite is the filet burger that is offered on Thursdays.
[Editor's Note 01/2024: The Eagle Drive-In is now closed.]


4121 S. Fremont Ave., Springfield, 417-882-0077
The Deal: Bibimbap, starts at $7.95
The Lowdown: For something delicious and nutritious, bibimbap is a must. Served over a mountain of hot, sticky rice are piles of assorted veggies, including mushrooms, cucumbers, green onions and carrots, plus seaweed, kobi, egg and your choice of sweet bulgogi, teriyaki chicken, tofu or spicy shrimp. Douse it with some sesame sauce and stir for what will soon become a new favorite dish. And if you haven’t tried black rice before, this is your chance.

Spicy Tuna poke bowl at Craft Sushi in Springfield MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsYou can customize your poke bowl at Craft Sushi. We really love ordering the Spicy Tuna roll as a bowl. Purchase Photo

Craft Sushi

1251 E. Sunshine St., Suite 116, Springfield; 417-319-5887
The Deal: Poke bowl for $9.50
The Lowdown: When we’re feeling like we need to reset our bodies with something filling, fresh and healthy, but we don’t want it to cost filling, fresh or healthy, we head to Craft Sushi for a poke bowl. You can fully customize your fillings, but for under $10 you can get the Spicy Tuna roll as a bowl with salad greens, and it’s loaded with fresh tuna and more veggies than one meal can handle.


2431 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-862-7777; 2110 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-883-3434
The Deal: Chipotle Chicken Nachos, $7 during happy hour.
The Lowdown: Almost everything on Houlihan’s apps menu is pretty cheap. One of our favs, the Chipotle Chicken Nachos, could easily feed three ravenous diners. For this Mexican-inspired favorite, a bed of crispy chips is smothered in loads of cheese, perfectly seasoned chicken and homemade salsa and topped with massive dollops of sour cream and guacamole. The lettuce wraps, another cheap option, come with several crisp butter lettuce boats that are ready to be filled with scrumptious sautéed chicken, julienne vegetables and crispy wonton strips. The nachos are normally $11.95, but during happy hour they are $7 and lettuce wraps are $10.50, but during happy hours they’re only $5. 


306 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-832-0077
The Deal: Maki Rolls starting at $4.50
The Lowdown: Kai is known for its scrumptious sushi. A favorite is the Sex and the City roll, a delicious cylinder of indulgence made with scallops, crab and masago and topped with tempura shavings and spicy Sex and the City sauce. This roll is regularly $9, but if you go on a Wednesday or Thursday night, you’ll catch it on special for only $4. Same goes for the Miami Vice and Yummy rolls, which are normally $7.95. Sushi for less than $5? See you there.


2710 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-889-9593
The Deal: Eye of the Tiger sushi roll for $8.25, and Spicy Salmon for $7.25
The Lowdown: When looking for an affordable sushi lunch spot, Mijrui is always a sure bet. One of the tastiest sushi rolls—Eye of the Tiger—is a five-piece roll packed with salmon and rich cream cheese. This yummy, rice-encrusted parcel is then wrapped in calamari, lightly battered and fried till just crunchy. Total price is just $8.25. The Spicy Salmon roll is another juicy morsel at $7.25. Stuffed with salmon, crunchy cucumber and creamy avocado with just enough spicy Japanese mayo, this roll will definitely jump start your taste buds.
[Editor's Note 01/2024: Mijuri is now closed.]


Broth Off! Winter calls for broth-heavy meals to warm you from the inside out, and nothing does the job better than a bowl of noodle soup. To banish a lingering head cold, dive into a bowl of pho a Vietnamese dish of rice noodles, beef broth, fresh herbs and garnishes like jalapeños and Sriracha (to clear the sinuses). In Japanese ramen, it’s all about the hand-pulled wheat noodles in a soy-meat broth with pork, scallions and nori. Soup’s on, no matter how you slurp it!

Hong Yen

2926 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-351-3915
The Deal: Pho tai bowl, $9.95
The Lowdown: Hong Yen’s pho tai is a beef broth soup with onion, cilantro and rice noodles served with sliced rare beef for extra heartiness. The soup is light enough to make downing a whole bowl feasible but nourishing enough to put you back on your feet after a rough day. If you’re a spice fiend or just craving some super-fresh flavors, at-the-table herbs and garnishes mean you can customize any bowl to your liking.

Karai Ramen + Handroll

640 W. Republic Road, Suite 100, Springfield, 417-319-5225
The Deal: Express lunch combo, $9.25
The Lowdown: We’re going to go on record saying the express lunch combo at Karai Ramen + Handroll is the best deal in town. For less than a Hamilton, you can get a massive bowl of the house pork broth tonkotsu ramen, cooked for at least 24 hours and loaded with pulled wheat noodles, a jammy boiled egg, kimchi, nori, mushrooms and spring onions. Get it with the chashu bowl for tender, flavor-packed pork that melts in your mouth.

Happy Hour on a Dime 

Sometimes the best meal isn’t really a meal at all. A strong after-work cocktail with a few snacks can stave off the dinner hunger pangs—and be surprisingly cost-effective, even at your favorite fine-dining destinations. Here are the best happy hour specials. 

Kai After Dark

306 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-832-0077
Hours: Mon.–Thurs., 4–6:30 p.m.;  Fri.–Sat. 5–6:30 p.m.
The Goods: For a light little bite that doesn’t sacrifice choice, pair your cocktail with the roll combo at Kai After Dark. Half-size rolls are available in signature combos, including the Sex and the City and the Miami Vice. 
The Deal: $6.50 

Red Room

314 W. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-862-4444 
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 4–6 p.m.
The Goods: Tucked beneath Flame Steakhouse is the Red Room, and you can get a lot of Flame’s signature prime meats and seafood downstairs as happy hour specials. We’re partial to tossing back a few oysters (at $2 apiece, how could you not?).
The Deal: $6.00 

Jimm's Steakhouse

1935 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-886-5466
Hours: Lounge only | Mon.–Fri., drinks 11 a.m.–6 p.m. & appetizers 2–6 p.m.; Sat. drinks & appetizers 11 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sun. drinks all day & appetizers 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
The Goods: If a steak dinner extravaganza isn’t in the cards at the end of the week, head to the lounge at Jimm’s Steakhouse for specials including $5 appetizers—and, before you ask, yes, the bacon-wrapped Peppadew peppers are among them.
The Deal: $5.00 

Nonna’s Italian Café

306 South Avenue, Springfield, 417-831-1222 
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 3—6 p.m.
The Goods: Nonna’s doesn’t cheat with small plates when it comes to happy hour, it offers everything on its appetizer menu at half-off. The bruschetta, crab cakes and hummus all pair nicely with a beverage of your choice.
Must-Try: Fried cheese ravioli made with ricotta, asiago, mozzarella and cheddar.

Char Steakhouse & Oyster Bar

1620 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-823-8383
Hours: Thursday, 4–6 p.m.
The Goods: Fans of Touch’s happy hour can rest easy knowing Char Steakhouse & Oyster Bar is reviving the game. Wagyu meatballs pack the juicy tenderness of a steak without the sticker shock. 
The Deal: $8.00

Ocean Zen Pacific Rim

4117 S National Ave, Springfield, 417-889-9596 
Hours: Sun.–Thurs., 3–6 p.m. and 8–10 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 3–6 p.m. and 9–11 p.m.
The Goods: Ocean Zen is running happy hour deals seven days a week. Stop in Sunday through Thursday between 3 and 6 p.m. and 8 and 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday between 3 and 6 p.m. and 9 and 11 p.m. The menu has lots of options for every taste bud.
Must-Try: Salt N Pepper Jalapeño Fried Chicken for $7

Haruno Sushi Bar and Grill

3044 South Fremont Ave., Springfield, 417-887-0077, Kai After Dark, 306 South Campbell Avenue, Springfield, 417-832-0077
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 5–6:30 p.m. & 9–11 p.m. (downstairs only)
The Goods: Haruno and Kai run an early-bird special between 5 and 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. You can choose three of some of the favorite sushi rolls like the Sex and the City and Spicy California in half sizes for only $10. 
Must-Try: Crunchy spicy tuna avocado roll for $5 during the late night specials

Houlihan’s South

2110 E. Republic Rd, Springfield, 417-883-3434; Houlihan’s North, 2431 N. Glenstone Ave, Springfield, 417-862-7777
Hours: Daily, 4–6 p.m. and 9 p.m.–close
The Goods: Houlihan’s has happy hour daily between 4 and 6 p.m. and late night from 9 p.m. to close. You can grab an item from the shareable menu for just $5, and it can easily feed two people (or one really hungry human.)
Must-Try: Char-Crusted Ahi Tuna
[Editor's Note 01/2024: Houlihan's South is now closed.]

Dublin’s Pass

2767 W. Republic Rd, Springfield, 417-877-7625; 317 Park Central East, Springfield, 417-862-7625
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 3–6 p.m.
The Goods: Dublin’s Pass has one of the earliest happy hours beginning at 3 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m, Monday through Friday. Most appetizers are half-off and fully delicious.
Must-Try: Guinness cheese dip and fries. A bucket of hand-cut fries and served with ooey-gooey Guinness cheese dip.

Big Whiskey’s

311 Park Central East, Springfield, 417-862-2449; 1440 W. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-882-2249; 1550 E. Battlefield Rd., Springfield, 417-883-5999 
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 4–6 p.m.
The Goods: Big Whiskey’s does $5 appetizers Monday through Friday between 4 and 6 p.m.
Must Try: We are partial to the Buffalo Chicken Dip. Shredded chicken, cream cheese and buffalo wing sauce all blended together and served with warm tortilla chips and celery.

Less Than $15

Bang For Your Buck

J.O.B. Public House

319 E. Walnut St., Springfield, 417-831-1158
The Deal: Two sliders and unlimited fries, $10.50 
The Lowdown: The classic slider gets a name change at this downtown eatery. Dubbed “cubicles” to stick with the J.O.B. theme, these tiny treats are served with an unlimited supply of hot and salty French fries and come in a variety of flavor combinations. The Ham & Apple, a popular cubicle, is a bite-sized sammie made with country-style Dijon ham, a heap of tart Granny Smith apple slaw and a slice of melted Swiss cheese. They might be small, but each of these sammies packs an extra-large punch of flavor and is plenty filling. Of course it might be the tasty unlimited French fries that really seal this deal and make it a total steal.
[Editor's Note 01/2024: J.O.B. Public House is now closed.]

Bair’s All-American Sports Grill

Multiple locations in 417-land
The Deal: The Bronco Buster Burger, $10.99
The Lowdown: In the world of hamburgers, this burger is an Olympian-sized creation. Slapped on a cushiony bun, the oversized burger is layered with a thick slice of grilled ham, spicy jalapeños, crispy fried onions and blackened bacon. To top it all off, the entire pile is smothered in Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese. Holy yum.

Bambu Vietnamese Cuisine

1338 E. Battlefield, Springfield, 417-881-9881
The Deal: Seven versions of the classic Pho, starting at $10.25
The Lowdown: This authentic Vietnamese favorite is delicious morning, noon and night. Essentially a Vietnamese version of the American chicken noodle soup, a rich beef broth is simmered for hours with fresh herbs such as cilantro and onions and then stocked with bean sprouts, basil, lime and jalapeños to add layers of crunchy texture, subtle heat and a fresh-from-the-garden taste. This makes any Pho noodle soup feel like a healthy and delectable experience. To “beef” up this brothy dish, Bambu offers Pho with brisket, meatballs, flank steak and the always-popular chicken.

Pad Thai at The Wheelhouse in Springfield MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsDepending on your protein choice, this dish could sneak under $10. Purchase Photo

The Wheelhouse

1845 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-430-0400
The Deal: The check varies based on the protein choice.
The Lowdown: The Wheelhouse Pad Thai at The Wheelhouse contains a mind-boggling amount of ingredients and even more flavors for the price. The final tally on this dish varies depending on the protein of your choice, but we recommend honoring the dish’s vegan friendliness and getting the tofu for $9.50.

Level 2 Steakhouse

200 E. Main St., Branson, 417-243-3433
The Deal: Whiskey Beef Saute, $14
The Lowdown: For this appetizer, a pile of tenderloin beef tips are sautéed with Jameson Irish Whiskey, butter and roasted tomatoes garlic. Chowing down on this tender treat is a great way to enjoy the tasty steakhouse steak without racking up the bill. Pair these steak tips with a bowl of the velvety smooth tomato basil bisque that comes covered with puff pastry crust, and you’ve got yourself a perfectly affordable meal.

Ocean Zen

600 E. Battlefield, Springfield, 417-889-9596 
The Deal: Lunchtime bento box, $12.95
The Lowdown: The bento box is always a sure bet when it comes to finding a filling, inexpensive lunch option. Plus, knowing that you can get the mouthwatering Teriyaki chicken for $12.95 during lunch… Well, it’s a definite go to. Also packed inside this box is miso soup, half of a California roll, a crab wonton, two pieces of pork gyoza (fried potstickers) and an Asian slaw salad.

Jimm’s Steakhouse & Pub

1935 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-886-5466 
The Deal: Hawaiian Chicken, $14.49 for a small 
The Lowdown: This joint is most known for its steaks, but even the white meat options are worth looking at. For this dish, a grilled chicken breast is marinated in a tropical blend and then topped with a freshly grilled pineapple slice. It’s served with a side of rice pilaf.

Leong’s Asian Diner

1540 W. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-887-7500 
The Deal:  Dim Sum Sampler Platter, $14.49
The Lowdown: One eggroll, two crab Rangoon, two Asian barbecue ribs, Hoisin BBQ Pork and three pot stickers make up this platter served with Thai chili sauce and Sriracha aioli. From the crab Rangoon filled with cream cheese and scallions to the eggrolls that are plump with shrimp, roast pork, peanut butter and cabbage, everything is made in-house.

Tacos de Pescado from Cantina Laredo
Photo by Kevin O'RileyCantina Laredo offers an upgrade from your standard fish tacos. Purchase Photo

Cantina Laredo

1001 Branson Landing Blvd., Branson, 417-334-6062
The Deal: Lunch Tacos de Pescado, $11
The Lowdown: These savory morsels are a delicious upgrade of the standard fish taco. Packed with sautéed mahi-mahi, marinated vegetables, queso fresco, chipotle aioli and tender red cabbage, each of these three corn tortillas is bursting with flavor. 

Primas Mexican Grill

2101 W. Chesterfield Blvd., Springfield, 417-823-7180; 1769 W. James River Rd., Ozark, 417-582-2776 
The Deal:  Bistek Norteño for $14
The Lowdown: One of the great things about Mexican restaurants, besides a never-ending supply of chips and salsa, is build-your-own tacos. And the Bistek Norteño doesn’t disappoint with its tender, 8-ounce flank steak that’s marinated in-house, grilled and served with piles of rice and black beans. Served alongside grilled jalapeños and slices of fresh avocado, you can load up tortillas till they burst.


Nothing warms the soul like a grilled cheese sandwich, but upgrade from the stovetop classic—and still get away with a steal—by adding a cup of classic tomato soup at these three sandwich-centric spots.

Neighbor's Mill

two 417-land locations
The Deal: $9.58
The Lowdown: Bringing a little heat to the table, the Cheesy Grilled Cheese at Neighbor’s Mill includes pepper jack and Swiss and pairs perfectly with a cup of the signature herbaceous tomato basil soup. The grilled sandwiches don’t qualify for the half-and-half special, but you’ll want as much dunking real estate as you can get, so it’s worth the three extra dollars.

Cherry Picker Package + Fare

601 S. Pickwick Ave., Springfield, 417-986-5800
The Deal: $10.50
The Lowdown: Leland’s Grilled Cheese at Cherry Picker Package + Fare funks up the classic GC with blue cheese, herb butter and bacon along with the traditional Havarti-provolone-sourdough pairing. For a warm yet bright bite, upgrade to a side of the orange and tomato bisque. You won’t regret it.


331 Park Central East, Springfield, 417-719-1719
The Deal: $10.00
The Lowdown: This place has an almost grilled cheese–exclusive menu, so of course it’s on the list. For classic “just like mom made it” flavor (and to save a little dough), go for the Crump Classic at Druff’s. Gouda, Colby and cheddar melt beneath crispy sourdough, just begging to be dunked in the house tomato soup. 

Less Than $20 

Fine Dining Steals

Dobyn's Dining Room at the Keeter Center

1 Opportunity Ave., Point Lookout, 417-690-2146
The Deal: Meatloaf Mignon, $18
The Lowdown: This dish is a carnivore’s dream meal. Meatloaf made from ground chuck and ground campus pork is wrapped in bacon, blended with mushrooms and topped with ketchup. Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, brown gravy and green beans come on the side of this mouthwatering meatloaf. Sometimes food just tastes better when it’s grown in the backyard.

Fire & Ice

2546 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-522-7711 
The Deal:  Gochujang Duck, $18
The Lowdown: For this entrée, duck breast is pan-seared, topped with gochujang pineapple glaze and served with fried rice and grilled baby bok choy. The duck is a on the fancier side for dinner, but you still won’t break the bank with this entree. 

Avanzare Italian Dining

1908 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-567-3463
The Deal:  Rigatoni Buttera, $17
The Lowdown: When you’re really in a mood for pasta, look no farther than the the Rigatoni Buttera at Avanzare Italian Dining. A large bowl of  rigatoni is topped with spicy tomato sauce, homemade Italian sausage, peas and a bit of cream that has us always licking our bowls cleab.

Haruno Sushi Bar & Grill

3044 S. Fremont Ave., Springfield, 417-887-0077 
The Deal:  Misoyaki Black Cod, $22
The Lowdown: It takes 24 hours for this black cod to soak up all the flavors of its saki and sugar marinade. The result is a sweet-n-salty delicate filet of fish ready to be seared and served over a bed of fluffy rice and earthy sautéed mushrooms, baby bok choy and other seasonal veggies. It's a couple bucks over our price limit, but we promise you’ll love it.

Bruno’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar

416 South Ave., Springfield, 417-866-0007
The Deal:  Salsíccía Sícílíana Con Funghí Al Vino Rosso, $17.40
The Lowdown: It takes the chefs at Bruno’s a couple of days to make the homemade Sicilian sausages in this dish. Two fat links are stuffed in-house and then pan seared with sautéed onions and mushrooms in a red wine demi-glace. The juicy links are plopped next to a pile of garlic-packed roasted Yukon gold potatoes, making an Italian creation that will leave you feeling stuffed and happy.

Metropolitan Grill

2931 E. Battlefield, Springfield, 417-889-4951 
The Deal: Jameson & Garri, $17.50 for a half order 
The Lowdown: This dish features citrus Mediterranean grilled chicken. To make this menu item even more drool-worthy, chefs add zucchini, sweet onion and red pepper skewers with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and feta tossed in Tzatziki. Tapenade made from chopped olives, capers and olive oil is served on the side.

Meal at La Galette Berrichonne in Fordland MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsLet Chef Roland Parny wow you with a seven-course lesson in French cuisine. Purchase Photo

La Galette Berrichonne

143 E. Main St., Fordland, 417-738-2112
The Deal: $79.30 for a full fine dining experience.
The Lowdown: Okay, we admit, this one is not under $20. But, considering what you'll enjoy for the price, we had to include it as an option. At La Galette Berrichonne there are bargains around every corner. Make the most of a multi-course meal without the pinch in your wallet.

The Trip
Chef Roland Parny’s dinners are reservation-only and only happen on Saturday nights through December 14 at the restaurant in Fordland, but the meal is worth the effort of getting there. It’s a quick 30-minute drive—about 25 miles each way. Most cars average 25 mpg, meaning you’re only in the hole $4.30 for two gallons of gas. Make the trip worth your time by exploring Grayson Home for home decor while you’re there. (The price of your finds is not included in our subtotal!)

The Chef
Your destination, La Galette Berrichonne, is run by chef Parny, who was born in France and has a formal culinary background that includes stints in France, South Africa, Texas, Mississippi and the Bahamas. He has since settled in Fordland to open the bakery and French restaurant, delivering seven-course meals here for the price of a single entree at some of his past restaurants.

The Experience
La Galette Berrichonne might not look like much, but the inside is warm and intimate with cozy tables to snuggle into. The dinner is a two-hour, seven-course lesson in French technique and seasonal ingredients—oh, and did we mention it’s only $50? The meal is BYOB with no corkage fee, so grab a bottle of wine (we’re estimating $25 for a decent bottle—we’re not trying to break the bank tonight), and you’re going gourmet for a steal.

[Editor's Note 01/2024: La Galette Berrichonne is now closed.]

Meals On Wheels

417-land is home to a handful of food trucks that offer some tasty treats and won't break the bank. 

FireLight Pizza Company

Springfield, 417-848-4541
Workers sling wood-fired pizzas that are made to order in less than two minutes. To find these super-speedy pizzas around town, check out the FireLight Facebook page.

Speedy’s Cowabunga

Grab a hula skirt and your appetite. Speedy’s serves tricked-out Hawaiian food including Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs, Aloha Honey Shrimp and Kalua Pulled Pork. Visit its website to find where it’s parked.

Pineapple Whip

1309 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield; 1517 W. Battlefield, Springfield; 4228 S. National Ave., Springfield 
A Springfield dessert staple, pineapple whip is a light, low-calorie, ice-cream-like treat. At press time, the S. National location was moving, so check its website to find its new spot.


Want to know more about food trucks in Southwest Missouri? We've got you covered with a guide to the local food truck dining scene.

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