One of the most enticing aspects of travel is the chance to dine on some of the finest dishes in town. But a rich dining experience doesn't mean you have to be rich. While the cost of travel is up four percent this Labor Day, and the cost of food is also on the rise, there's one thing that hasn't increased -- the amount of money the average laborer makes. That figure has held strong at $7.25 per hour since 2009.
But whether it's refined flavors or down-home fill you're after, these top 10 eateries are working overtime to satisfy your appetite on a budget.
1. Shake Shack -- Miami After a see-and-be-seen stroll down Miami's chic Lincoln Road, South Beachers flock to Danny Meyer's Shake Shack for 100% natural, hormone-free Angus beef burgers. Reaching cult-like status at locations up and down the East coast, Shake Shack is the go-to burger joint for consistently quality burgers, '50s-style custard shakes and golden Yukon fries at amazing prices. What to Eat: A signature ShackBurger ($4.55 for a single) topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and secret ShackSauce; side of fries ($2.65) with 25% less fat than the other guys'.
2. Brooklyn Taco -- New York, NY Jesse Kramer and Erica Molina of Brooklyn Taco make a mean taco that's friendly on the wallet. Their taco dens in New York City's Essex Street Market and Hester Street Fair serve no-frills tacos and occasional tamales with a rotating menu of ingredients ranging from guac to goat. What to Eat: Two of Brooklyn Taco's most popular: The Chilorito Brisket Taco ($4) and the Chipotle'd Chicken Taco ($3.25).
3. Protein Bar -- Chicago, IL A lunch break for many health-conscious Chicagoans means just one thing: a visit to Protein Bar. The long line out the door doesn't deter these power lunchers from getting their high-protein fix with a menu comprised exclusively of nutritious dishes and endless gluten-free and vegan options. What to Eat: Protein Bar's signature Quinoa Bowls are a big hit. Try the Healthy Parm Quinoa Bowl ($6.49) with organic quinoa, all-natural chicken, house-made marinara and Parmesan cheese, all for 341 calories.
4. Paseo -- Seattle, WA Enjoy a Caribbean escape right in Seattle by stopping into one of Paseo's two city locations in Freemont and Ballard. Paseo lovers keep coming back for their well-seasoned sandwiches and fresh fish dishes with sauces that range from spicy to off the charts. What to Eat: A local favorite is fish in red sauce served over rice ($6.25).
5. Local 215 -- Philadelphia, PA One of the newest street trucks hitting the streets of Philly, Local 215 takes pigging out seriously. The truck's twitter feed is full of pork pics -- each more succulent than the next -- ranging from pork belly to pork fritters to pork sausages. Seasonal veggies complement the dishes and, as the truck's name suggests, all of their ingredients are sourced from local urban farms in the Philly area. What to Eat: Feast your eyes on their crispy polenta triangles topped with pork belly ($7).
6. Secret Pizzeria at the Cosmopolitan -- Las Vegas, NV Cheap eats are hard to come by on the Las Vegas strip. But at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, amidst the glitz of celebrity chefs and five-star restaurants, lies a secret pizzeria that has quickly become a favorite for late-night revelers. Follow the smell of garlic and oregano down a long corridor on the hotel's third floor and you'll soon arrive at the best pizza counter in town. What to Eat: Two regular cheese slices ($7).
7. King of Thai Noodle -- San Francisco, CA Widely known in San Francisco for being the king of good prices, King of Thai Noodle has an entire menu with items at $8 or less. It's cash only but worth every penny for the stir fries, Thai curries and fried rices. Two-dollar beers are also rumored to be served! What to Eat: Pad see ew with chicken, pork or steak: ($6)
8. Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs -- Denver, CO Repo-man turned hot-dog-stand-man, Jim Pittenger, has made quite a name for himself and his gourmet dogs in the city of Denver. Jim's quest for hot dog domination started with a street cart and now Jim has a food truck, and a new restaurant to accommodate his ever-expanding devotees. Jim's dogs are anything but average, ranging from a duck dog with cilantro to a smoky reindeer dog. What to Eat: Go bold with the rattle snake and pheasant hot dog topped with the Biker Jim's Classic topping: cream cheese and caramelized onions ($7).
9. Bombay Café -- Orlando, FL Dosas are one of the most delicate and delicious parts of Indian cuisine, and in Orlando, Bombay Café serves some of the best. A dosa is made up of a fermented rice pancake, similar to a crepe, typically stuffed with vegetables. Don't let the light texture fool you; dosas are extremely filling and full of flavor! What to Eat: paper masala dosa filled with potatoes and seasoning and served with sambhar and chutney ($6.45)
10. Yola -- Washington, D.C. Greek yogurt has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame over the past few years thanks to its creamy texture, high protein content and probiotic power. Yogurt's gotten so popular that one father-daughter team decided to dedicate an entire restaurant to it. Yola, in D.C.'s Dupont Circle, offers some of the healthiest parfaits in town. Yogurt lovers can pile on unlimited toppings that run the gamut from sweet to savory. What to Eat: Yola's build-your-own parfait with Greek-style yogurt and unlimited toppings! A large will only set you back $6.69.
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