Rolling Wok Cafe, 1534 E. Grand Ave
Eighteen of the lunch specials at Rolling Wok Cafe will set you back less than $6. They include eight spicy dishes, but I always go for the Mongolian Beef — some of the best in town. Artfully served on white rice, all lunch specials include a crab Rangoon and soup of the day with your dish. Rolling Wok serves Chinese, Thai and Pho-Lao cuisine and is a quick trip from downtown, right across from the Capitol Complex. The service, food, atmosphere and pricing make this the perfect stop for an inexpensive lunch. Pricing valid 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays.
B&B Grocery Meat and Deli, 2001 S.E. Sixth St.
When the work week starts getting to you, a sandwich from B&B Deli is an instant pick-me-up. The family business opened in 1922 as a meat counter and grocery store, and in the early 80s began making and selling signature deli sandwiches. Today, people flock to the southside staple to get their lunch fix, creating a line of regulars beyond the length of the meat counter. Possibly the only thing better than their sandwich menu is the prices. Try the “Dad’s Killer,” a mammoth treat with roast beef, turkey, ham, corned beef, pepper, Swiss and American cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mustard, Miracle Whip and Italian dressing on a hoagie for $5.39. If that’s too much of a splurge, most of their other sandwiches are just $4.39. Couple that with an upbeat staff and a chat with the locals, and you’ve got the perfect cheap meal. Open 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Yankee Clipper, 312 S.W. Maple St., Ankeny
On Tuesdays, you could probably scrounge up enough quarters from your car’s ashtray to eat like a king at Yankee Clipper, cuz their huge flour tacos are just $4.50. That’s a whole lotta taco meat covered in cheese that’s covered in lettuce that’s covered in tomatoes. If you’ve got two extra quarters, get yourself a side of sour cream. Tacos are served every Tuesday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Kelly’s Little Nipper, 1701 E. Grand Ave.
Locals rave about the breaded tenderloin at Kelly’s Little Nipper. Pay a visit to the tiny dive on East Grand Avenue and ask any regular what they’d suggest off the menu, and they’re going to tell you the pork tenderloin. The little bun it’s served between is no match for the massive disc that’s carefully seasoned and breaded, waiting to be devoured. Located close to the Capitol and priced at just $5.25, it’s a quick stop for downtown workers, or worth a short drive on the weekends. Open 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday.