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Top Dallas Chefs Dish on Their Favorite Cheap Eats

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John Tesar, Graham Dodds, Oliver Sitrin, and more weigh in.

John Tesar's favorite spot for pizza.
John Tesar's favorite spot for pizza.

Athough they spend their time whipping up complex culinary creations (or perhaps for precisely that reason), chefs of all kinds appreciate the joys of cheap eats. Whether it's tacos purchased from a dingy hole-in-the-wall or something a little more exotic, everyone likes a tasty meal that costs ten bucks or less — it's just simple economics.

We pretty much already trust the kitchen masterminds that run this city's best restaurants to provide the best restaurant recommendations, so why should cheap eats be excluded? (Aftera ll, many of the top chefs today spent plenty of years as broke, overworked sous chefs and cooks.) We asked some of Dallas' best chefs where they like to eat when they've only got a few bucks in their wallets.

Oliver Sitrin, Blind Butcher

When he's starving for something that costs less than $5, the Blind Butcher's Oliver Sitrin heads to El Atoron in East Dallas. There, he devours a torta, but he's torn on whether or not the taqueria's Cubana or Milanesa torta is his favorite.

Stephen Rogers, Gemma

"My favorite under the radar hole-in-the- wall restaurant for Thai food in Dallas is Sakhuu Thai Cuisine. The food is awesome. If you go, ask the chef to make you an off-the-menu item called 'white' pad thai. Another bonus is that Sakhuu is BYOB!"

Anastacia Quinones, Kitchen LTO

Even though she's busy running her pop-up restaurant, Anastacia Quinones can't resist the occasional comfort food. She heads to Chamoy #5, located at the corner of Westmoreland and Falls in South Dallas, for a dish that she says that is "almost gross even to describe, but so delicious." The cochinada involves fresh corn masa chips, topped with elote, cheese, crema, lime juice, and hot sauce. It's sort of a take on a Mexican Fritos pie, and according to Quinones, totally addictive.

Danyele McPherson, Remedy

When she's not whipping up fancified comfort food at Remedy, Chef Danyele McPherson craves regular old comfort food. Namely, the Broughham at Off-Site Kitchen. Made with smoked brisket and sliced ham, this sandwich is the kind of delicious gut-bomb you'll consume without regret.

John Tesar, Knife

Never afraid to toot his own horn (or affiliated horns, as it were), John Tesar is a big fan of the under-$10 taco plate at El Bolero. When he isn't eating in his own restaurants, Tesar heads to ZaLat for the cheap-ass-but-delicious pizza that he once proclaimed the best New York-style pizza in Dallas. Considering that Tesar is a through-and-through New Yorker, you'd best believe him.

Chad Houser, Cafe Momentum

Chad Houser likes a little sensory experience with his cheap eats. Houser, who spends his time working with at-risk youth in the kitchen at Cafe Momentum, had a little trouble narrowing down his favorite taqueria, but ultimately landed on Taqueria Cristina. "It's in my hood, so it's convenient and part of the community," says houser. "Add the late hours, people-watching in a taqueria at 2:30 in the morning, and it's magical sensory overload." Then, of course, you have drag karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights.

Matt Tobin, Goodfriend/Blind Butcher

Matt Tobin, not one for mincing words, has an unequivocal clear winner in the world of cheap eats, and it's from Luscher's. "The Eye-talian Beef Sandwich with potato salad and beans," says Tobin. "Why? If you have to ask, you obviously haven't had it. I have dreams about it."

Graham Dodds, Hibiscus

Ever since the Ali Baba Mediterranean buffet closed in Lakewood, Dodds makes the trek all the way to Richardson for the lunch buffet. At a more off-the-beaten-path spot, Somphou Market in Oak Cliff, Dodds praises the sole chef for "doing amazing fresh Thai food for really cheap." According to Dodds, you can grab lunch for around $7, and if you're really brave, ask for your lunch to be prepared "extra spicy."

Sandy Bussey, BBBop Seoul Kitchen

At her own fast-casual joints in Dallas, Sandy Bussey's cuisine fuses a variety of influences. But when she's looking for something a little more authentic, she heads to King's Noodle in Richardson. "You can't go wrong with the beef noodle soup or the za jiang mein (fried, saucy noodles), and you can get out of there without spending more than 8 bucks, she says. Be warned — King's Noodle is a cash-only spot, so be sure to hit an ATM beforehand.

Brian Zenner, On Premise/The Mitchell

Considering his appreciation for bars — he left fine dining to work on high-end bar cuisine — it's no surprise that Brian Zenner heads to Adair's for his cheap eats fix. There, Zenner orders a grilled cheese with pickles and an order of those weird flat-top cooked fries. (No word on whether or not he supplements that lunch with a few beers.)

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