Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Midtown (Think Duck Soup and Pho)

Cali Sandwich 003.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
This super-cheap pork banh mi is from one of our favorite midtown spots in the old Little Saigon, Cali Sandwich.
Last week, we rounded up the Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Montrose and River Oaks. Today it's all about Midtown. With some remnants of the old Little Saigon and plenty of bars and restaurants, this area has no shortage of great food.

Here's our list of the best cheap (under $10) lunch spots that Midtown has to offer:

Note: For the purposes of this post, Midtown is defined as south of I-45 (the Pierce Elevated), west of Highway 288, north of Highway 59 and east of Bagby. See a map here.

Honorable Mentions: Harry's Restaurant & Café, which falls just outside the border but has massive breakfast plates and Greek and American cafeteria-style lunch specials, mostly all of which are under $10; and hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese joint Kim Tai, famous for its duck soup and popular comfort food, banh bot chien.

5. Cali Sandwich & Les Givral's

Both Les Givral's and Cali Sandwich (pictured above) are mostly famous for one thing: their cheap and delicious banh mi ($3 to $4). You can't go wrong with either spot, so we'd go with whichever has the shorter line during their booming lunch hours. Expect no frills but extremely quick (albeit a bit curt) service and tasty sandwiches with authentic Vietnamese flavors. We like the Xiu Mai, a classic sandwich with tender and plump pork meatballs and all the usual fixin's -- carrots, cucumber, cilantro and more.

Photo by Troy Fields
Half a flatbread and a Caesar salad combine for the perfect lunch at Blackfinne..
4. Blackfinn American Grille

On Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Blackfinne offers $7.99 to $9.99 lunch specials in addition to its regular menu. We like the crab cake sliders, topped with apple slaw and served with fries; or the Pick 2 special -- with choices of soup, appetizer salads and half-portioned flatbread pizzas. Service is fast, making it a perfect workday pick-me-up.

Location Info

Harry's Restaurant & Cafe

318 Tuam, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kim Tai

2602 Fannin St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

BlackFinn American Grille

1910 Bagby St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Les Givral's Sandwich & Cafe

2704 Milam St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cali Sandwich

3030 Travis, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pho Saigon Noodle House

2808 Milam St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Spec's Deli

2410 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Luigi's Pizzeria

3700 Almeda, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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gossamersixteen topcommenter

The guys at Givral's are ace gents and not at all curt -- just working their tails off. It's people's special orders and ignorance that likely causes that, like standing behind the ditz who called pate'  "patty" on her "ban-me".. Rolls eyes..


Van Loc is also very solid and budget friendly


Lamented loss in Mid-Town is Thien An...they had the best Pho and Vietnamese Crepe in town...I am hoping for their return after losing their lease.


I was prepared to destroy you if Specs wasn't on there.  I work in walking distance of all of the above.  This list is correct.


These new Viet places are so much better and cheaper than Mai's, which completely misread the dining  market by going upscale after the fire. I feel sadness for them.


@brookeviggiano I'm glad you took my comment in the vein it was intended.  The other thing about Specs Deli is that the ladies that run it give the best customer service experience.  They remember you if you go back, they learn your name, what you like to order and I've even had them catch my eye when I walked in and there was a long line and had them say "chuck, usual?"  and I smile and nod and my order goes right in.  Love love love that place.

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