These four understated spots skip the polished waitstaff and look to focus on fresh, inexpensive food.
—Image courtesy of Latke Love
This modest eatery serves Jewish comfort food with a twist. Choose from seven dishes (each of which includes four crispy potato latkes) smothered in your choice of toppings for $10 or less. Try the hearty Cornwall with corned beef hash and a fried egg or the Rabbi, I’m Confused with slow-smoked pulled pork, Carolina mustard barbecue sauce, and pickled red onion. Order the lemon mascarpone ricotta blintzes with strawberry sauce to go. 5151 E. 28th Ave., 303-995-9708, latkelove.com
Forget the calorie counting. This walk-up window on Colfax Avenue serves heaps of Cajun grub fit for a shoestring budget (an entrée, two sides, and a drink cost about $10). Go with the bourbon chicken combo: char-grilled chicken served over rice and doused with a ladle of sweet-and-savory bourbon glaze. When you add saucy macaroni and cheese and scalloped and sautéed Cajun potatoes as your sides, the meal is enough to feed two. 1618 E. Colfax Ave., 720-404-0587
Named after John Leguizamo’s gangster character in the 1993 film Carlito’s Way, Benny Blanco’s serves New York–style pizza slices: thin crust, sweet tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella. (Plus, they’re so big you have to fold ’em.) Every night, the tiny walk-up’s tattooed employees make perfectly greasy $2.50 slices until the wee hours. The loud music, crass stickers (“You! Get off your damn phone!”), and knickknacks like a framed photo of Will Ferrell are just a bonus. 616 E. 13th Ave., 303-831-1346
This burrito joint’s vibe is best described as eclectic, from the Pac-Man–like characters graffitied on the facade to the gallery of mosaics and pottery. But bite into the hefty breakfast burritos—soft flour tortillas stuffed with scrambled eggs and potatoes and served with shredded cheese, Spanish rice, chopped lettuce, and your choice of chile—and it’s clear why this unassuming spot is a Berkeley favorite. Tip: Opt for the spicy veggie green chile. 4501 W. 38th Ave., 303-477-0047