In honor of Eater's 2015 Cheap Eats Week, various intrepid Eater reporters went out into their cities to see what $10 could buy, for a full day's worth of food. Thankfully the $10 food budget doesn't need to cover gasoline, for I ranged far and wide in the pursuit of the cheapest eats that are actually tasty. Three meals, three neighborhoods, and, with a heat index at 105 in July, blessed air conditioning in the car.
First up, Morning Call in City Park. Morning Call is the other old school New Orleans beignet stand, along with the famed Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. Happily, Morning Call is less crowded (although I did narrowly miss a tour bus arriving as I was leaving), and with a much nicer view, as it's on the banks of one of City Park's many lagoons and stands in the shadow of the neo-Greek architecture of the Popp Bandstand.
Three beignets come to an order, and they arrive naked and unsugared, so you have to top them with powdered sugar yourself. This could be a bug or a feature, depending on how you feel about powdered sugar, either as a fried dough accompaniment or a clothing accessory. With tax, breakfast cost $2.40. Cash remaining: $7.60.
I worked up my appetite for lunch driving to New Orleans East for a bahn mi at Dong Phuong Bakery. The bakery sells its bread all over town for other restaurants' po-boys, sandwiches, and bahn mi, but there's nothing like going to the source. There's a restaurant attached to the bakery, which has standard Vietnamese fare, but for cheap, fast, fresh, and awesome, the bakery's bahn mi is where it's at.
There are 17 different varieties of the sandwich. Pork, fish, chicken, beef, sausage, liver, pate, veggie, all dressed with carrot, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeno. Most are $3.25, including the one I had, the #4 the Chinese Roasted Pork. There are a couple sandwiches that are $4.25, and even two (liver or veggie) that were $2.25.
Tell the lady making them what number you want, pay your $3.54 (with tax) and take it outside, or to your car, or anywhere else and enjoy. If you travel with it, however, be warned that it smells AMAAAAZING and you won't be able to hold out very long.
With my remaining $4.06, I headed over to the trendy doughnut emporium, District Donuts Sliders Brew, which is very well known for its gorgeous donuts and mad coffee skills. Perhaps less well known are their sliders—they have several on their regular menu, including pork belly, tofu, fried chicken, and cheeseburgers, as well as daily specials. I honed in on the chicken and cheeseburger, though, since at $3.75 they were the cheapest and I didn't have much more wiggle room. (OK, technically, the tofu was the cheapest at $3.50. But I wanted fried chicken, is that so wrong?)
I ordered the fried chicken slider, which was a plump, juicy, beautifully fried chicken thigh on a slider roll topped with sweet and spicy slaw and candied jalapenos. It was delicious, but I did wish I had a little more money to order another one, or a side of waffle fries. With tax, my slider came to $4.09, leaving me over budget by 3 measly cents. Damn you, sales tax, my nemesis. But let's round down and call this a win, because it's literally three cents.
After traveling to Mid City, New Orleans East, and Uptown, I was pleased to have found three plates of food for $10. I think it would perhaps need a little more supplementation later in the evening, but otherwise, these were diverse dishes from a variety of local businesses and areas. And even though it was cheap, it was still damn good, of course.
Dollars remaining: Zero
Number of fried items consumed: 4 (three beignets plus the chicken thigh)
Vegetables consumed: Bahn mi dressing (cucumber, carrot, cilantro, jalapeno); cabbage in the slider's slaw, pickled jalapenos.