April 12, 2022


Let me tell you how I ate out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a Tuesday and spent just $11.50.

Let’s face it, it’s expensive to go out to eat these days. 

They say (I mean Google) the average American eats 5.9 meals per week outside of the home. In 2019 the average price of a meal in New York State was $12. With my knowledge from working closely with a variety of restaurants in New York, I can safely assume menu prices have increased by at least 10% since 2019. For the purposes of this article (and so that I can avoid doing any more Googling) we’ll say the average price of a meal in New York is $13.20. That pricing may be a little off. For example, I went to breakfast this morning and only spent $8 for a coffee and a bagel. But the other day I went to dinner and spent $29 for a beer and an entree.

Assuming you chose to eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in one single day and taking the average price of $13.20 per meal, you could spend as much as $39.60 for a days worth of eating. Now let me tell you how I ate out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a Tuesday and spent just $11.50. 

I have worked with The Market Diner for a number of years and I know they have the early bird breakfast special that is only $2.99. That’s right, a breakfast for only $2.99.
For $2.99 you get 2 eggs, home fries, AND toast. Not only is this a great deal, it’s a lot of food for just under three bucks. Two eggs, cooked how you’d like, a generous amount of home fries, and two pieces of buttered (or unbuttered) toast.
It’s available Monday – Friday before 8:00 AM at The Market Diner located at 2100 Park Street. 

Lunch can be a little more difficult. Finding a great lunch special isn’t the hard part. Finding a lunch special that is delicious, filling, and cheap is a little more challenging.
You might be surprised to know there exists an “Irish pub” that you probably wouldn’t take your grandmother to and where they serve a hamburger for just $2 on Tuesdays. Inflation strikes once again as the Tuesday hamburger special at Knoxie’s Pub once was just $1 on Tuesdays. Thanks Obama. Now before you go thinking that this $2 hamburger is a gimmick and you’ll need to eat two or three before getting full, let me assure you that you are wrong. The $2 hamburger is quite good and somewhat filling considering that it is only $2. Will you be stuffed? No. Will it hold you over until dinner? Most likely. Find Knoxie’s Pub at 7088 Route 20 in Lafayette. 

Let’s go over what I’ve had so far. My budget for the day is $11.50.
I spent $2.99 at The Market Diner for breakfast. That leaves me with $8.51.
I just spent $2 on the hamburger at Moxie’s Pub. That leaves me with $6.51.
Now it is time to find dinner. 

Dinner is where the real trick comes in. How can I find a filling meal at a local restaurant for under $7? Remember, I am only spending $11.50 and I have already spent $5 on breakfast and lunch. With my remaining $6.50 I head to the intersection of Teall Avenue and Columbus Avenue to find a white building with a sign that reads “Victoria Restaurant”.
Walk inside and you’ll find a very small restaurant with a few tables and chairs, and some stools set-up at a counter to your right. To your left, a wide variety of delicious Spanish food.
For just $6.50 I ordered the stewed chicken plate that was LOADED with yellow rice, pinto beans, and stewed chicken. There was so much food that I couldn’t finish the whole meal and brought the rest home. Find Victoria Restaurant at 129 Columbus ave.

There are plenty of locally owned restaurants offering great deals and specials in Syracuse. Charlie Miller recently wrote a great piece about some of those specials. 

Even though prices have increased on just about everything, it’s nice to know that you can find cheap eats around town that will fill you up without breaking the bank. 

Keep in mind, the $11.50 budget was not including any drinks, tax, or gratuity.
Always remember to tip your servers. After coffee, one beer, tax, and gratuity I spent a total of $22 this Tuesday.