Special Sections » College Guide

The 5 Best Cleveland Restaurants for the College Budget



Dining out on a college budget sounds like an oxymoron. After room, board, books and beer, what's left? Fear not, co-eds, for the Land of the Cleve is flush with economical dining options. When it's our (admittedly limited) money on the line, we always go with ethnic food.

Pupuseria La Bendicion

3685 West 105th St., 216-688-0338

Pupusas, Salvadoran street food consisting of thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and other ingredients, are delicious, filling and cheap. For just $4, you can dig into a pair of hot, cheesy and aromatic pupusas, which are fried to order on a slick griddle. They're paired with curtido, a cabbage and carrot slaw, and salsa roja, a mild tomato sauce.

Wonton Gourmet

3211 Payne Ave., 216-875-7000

Noodle soups like ramen, pho and Taiwanese beef noodle soup are meals in a bowl, but they also often exceed $10. Penny pinchers would do well to order the shrimp dumpling soup at Wonton. Priced around $7, this big bowl is brimming with shrimp-stuffed wontons, tender egg noodles, bright greens and comforting broth.

Zaytoon Lebanese Kitchen

1150 Huron Rd., 216-795-5000, zaytoonlebanesekitchen.com

Zaytoon is a fast-casual version of a Middle Eastern restaurant, meaning that for the price of an appetizer at a sit-down spot, you can savor an entire meal. Consider the falafel plate, a wholesome platter flush with fried chickpea patties, brown rice, hummus, salad, pickled turnips, sauce and fresh-baked pita, all for less than a Hamilton.

La Plaza Taqueria

13609 Lakewood Heights Blvd., 216-476-8000

We could easily blow the entire nest egg on tacos from La Plaza, but we don't know when to quit. Normal folks enjoy three pitch-perfect tacos (we recommend the chorizo, barbacoa and lengua) and a trip to the salsa bar for less than 10 bucks — or roughly 195 pesos.

Las Villas Deli and Pastries

3216 West 41st St., 216-651-9610

Few sandwiches satisfy as thoroughly as the Cubano, a hot, pressed, multilayer affair that packs more punch than a prizefighter. The version served at this smart new Puerto Rican bakery is exemplary, a crispy Cuban roll filled with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. The price? Six bucks.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.