Cheap and Good Eats: The Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in River Oaks

Photo from Voice Places
We're not sure if it really gets better than a bacon cheeseburger from our #5 spot.
Yesterday, we brought you the Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Montrose. Today, we're moving right next-door to its upscale neighbor, River Oaks. But just because this area is a bit ritzy, don't think for a second there aren't plenty of great dining deals.

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

Note: For the purposes of this post, River Oaks is defined as south of Buffalo Bayou, west of Dunlavy, east of Suffolk and north of Westheimer.

Honorable Mention: River Oaks Shopping Center's Cafe Ginger -- where you'll find a selection of sushi rolls for between $4.50 and $9 and combination platters with chicken, beef, rice, and soup for less than $10; and Relish Fine Foods -- where you'll find hot and cold sandwiches, seasonal soups, and gourmet salads, the majority of which are $10 and less.

5. Avalon Diner

Diners should be a few things: fast, cheap, and deliciously greasy. Luckily for us, River Oaks' mom-and-pop hot spot Avalon diner is all of those things. Want breakfast for lunch? No problem -- these guys serve it all day long (another diner must to check off the list). Try a fluffy, as-big-as-your-face Philly Steak & Cheese omelette ($8.95), complete with hash browns and a biscuit, or dig in to diner classics like the Patty Melt ($7.25), Grilled Cheese ($5.25), or Frito pie ($4.75 a bowl). Don't forget to save room for a thick Blue Bell milkshake.

Photo by Troy Fields
Cheap and delectable breakfast tacos are served all day long at our #4 pick.
4. Torchy's Tacos

Austin implant Torchy's Tacos had become a cult hit among the "gourmet" taco seekers. That is, if the aptly named "Trailer Park" Taco ($3.75) -- with fried chicken, green chilies, and queso -- is considered gourmet. We like the breakfast tacos ($2.25 to $3.50), served all day long; the slow-roasted Green Chile Pork ($3.75), drenched in tomatillo sauce; or the hand-battered Baja Shrimp ($4.25), loaded with cabbage, jalapenos, and chipotle crème. Be sure not to miss out on the sides; Torchy's makes a mean Mexican Street Corn ($3.95) -- a bowl of sweet, freshly roasted corn-off-the-cob that is drizzled with a spicy ancho aioli before being topped with queso fresco, fresh cilantro, and red chili powder.

Location Info

Avalon Diner

2417 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Hot Bagel Shop

2009 S. Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Maine-ly Sandwiches

3310 S. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


1834 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Torchy's Tacos

2411 S. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Ginger

1952 W. Gray, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Relish Fine Foods

3951 San Felipe, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Camerata at Paulie's

1834 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Ian Hopman
Ian Hopman

A little disappointed not to find anything west of Kirby.

JohnG10 Paulie's not in Montrose?

Bruce_Are topcommenter

I think the best restaurant in River Oaks is Gilhooley's.  As a bonus, they allow smoking but not kids.


I declare this the most mis-labeled article of the year ever, seeing that ALL of the places on this list isn't even in River Oaks at all. (Avalon Diner comes the closet but it's on the wrong side of Westheimer.)


This list puzzles me because I just realized that I don't know what the boundaries of River Oaks are. Can anyone tell me?


By your own definition, Maine-ly isn't part of River Oaks and Avalon is south of Westheimer. I'd have put Relish in the 5, Auntie Chang's too.


@jimbo1126 meant to note that Maine-ly was just outside, thanks. Also Avalon I'd consider in the lines. Auntie Chang's is pretty good but I've had better experiences at Cafe Ginger.

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