6 Budget-Friendly, Foreign Restaurants Better Than Takeout

By Alexis Frankel on October 5, 2016

College students’ salaries dictate where they eat, unfortunately. Most of the time I either eat in or at Checkers, but sometimes I feel fancy/saved 10 whole dollars and eat at a restaurant. When that happens, I decide to take my mouth on a vacation to somewhere beyond Tallahassee and its Southern dishes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fried green tomatoes’ number one fan, but only one part of my body can afford a vacation. Thanks minimum wage jobs and unpaid internships! Take your taste buds to Latin America and Asia with the following budget-friendly restaurants. The only map you will need is Google maps to get away from the 850.


Latin American


I was initially overwhelmed with sadness when I moved to Tallahassee because of the lack of Cuban food in comparison to my hometown, Miami. I often joked to foreigners that Miami seemed to me like an extension of Havana at times (especially with Little Havana right down the road from where my father works).

You can imagine how delighted I was to find out that I could channel memories of my hometown through Kubano. Located on Gaines, this food truck will blow your mouth into smithereens. Timeless Cuban recipes are combined with a modern twist to create budget bites unique to Kubano. Sink your teeth into a pressed pork loin and smoked ham sandwich (the Kubano) or some fried plantains, close your eyes, and hear Havana’s beach in the background.

Taco Libre

Taco Libre might just be my favorite restaurant of all time and it will be yours too if you choose to liberate your taste buds. The restaurant’s name roughly translates into ‘free taco’ most likely because it sets taco limitations free. Seriously, listen to this description of my personal favorite, the Carolinas tacos, off of their website: “Carolina style pulled pork, topped with mac & cheese, and mango coleslaw.”

Now, wipe that drool off your face. Taco Libre intermittently hosts events that pairs beer and wine (separately) with their tacos, for those of you who want to refine your palette.



Bahn Thai

This award-winning restaurant is by far one of the best, budget Asian restaurants in Tallahassee. My major problem with food in Tallahassee is that it is simply not spicy enough. At Bahn Thai, when you say you want something really spicy, oh boy will it be seriously spicy. I ordered chicken pad thai the first time I went and could not use the Sriracha they put on the side (and I love Sriracha).

New management has placed this restaurant in the hands of restauranteurs with over thirty years of hospitality experience. Come during lunchtime (before three) to get a house salad and entree for $7.95.


Every time my sister comes to visit me we make a point of eating somewhere very tasty. Nagoya was no exception. Many hibachi places in Tallahassee are nowhere near a college kid’s budget. You do not necessarily have to go with the hibachi option, which is food cooked live for you on a Teppanyaki grill, but you will probably be really jealous and regret it a lot. Completely up to you!

Go to this restaurant during lunch to have this option for as low as $10. The lunch special is served with soup, a salad, rice, dumplings and a California roll. Hibachi options range from vegetarian to filet mignon if you want to treat yo self (go ahead, you deserve it).

Siam Sushi

Located off of North Monroe, Siam Sushi offers both traditional Japanese and Thai food. This restaurant has classic cuisines, but also offers a special twist on some well-known drinks and dishes.

“I tried a unique drink: a Watermelon Martini. It had a fat piece of watermelon on it and was only $5 since it was happy hour,” says University Center Club server, Oscar Mazariegos. “For my appetizer, I had calamari. It was particularly fire because of the sweet Thai chili sauce.”

Come to Siam Sushi if you are feeling fancy, but your wallet is not.

Essence of India

If you are a vegetarian, Essence of India should be on your Tallahassee bucket list. There are over 20 vegetarian dishes that even meat lovers will enjoy. I would personally recommend the homemade cheese cooked in a creamy, spiced sauce (paneer methi malai). If you must have meat (I’m looking at you guys that don’t understand the concept of salads) you can go with a classic curry. Options include lamb, beef, chicken, seafood and goat.

“Butter chicken, garlic naan, and mango lassi [a homemade, more yogurt-like smoothie] are my favorites! It is the best Indian restaurant I ever tasted being an Indian in Tallahassee,” Destiny Singh said. “I love their food which is very good quality! It’s a must-try restaurant!”

This place is budget-friendly with its $10 lunch specials where you can get an entree with soup, a salad and rice.

Alexis Frankel is completing her last semester at Florida State University and has wanted to be a journalist since she was in sixth grade. She particularly loves writing about food, photographing food, and eating food in general. If she could have one superpower it would be to not cry while chopping onions.

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