Best Cheap Eats in Milwaukee | 2022 | Your Locally Curated Guide

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Are you looking for some of the best cheap restaurants in Milwaukee? Then this list is for you.

Finding affordable eats is a fun adventure that both tourists and residents can enjoy. That’s because these inexpensive restaurants tell you a lot about the people and the community they are a part of. 

Finding delicious food in Milwaukee is one of our favorite things to do in Milwaukee. And over the years, we have discovered many delicious gems that offer outstanding food for prices that won’t break the bank. 

Let’s dive into the list of our favorite cheap restaurants in Milwaukee

Best Cheap Restaurants in Milwaukee

Oscar’s Pub and Grill on Pierce Street

Oscar’s Pub and Grill has been one of the best deals since 2011.  

Oscar’s serves fantastic hamburgers (try the Big “O”). And they aren’t just tiny burgers with a few toppings. These suckers are loaded up and served on a delicious bun and side of fries. It’s genuinely one of the best values in Milwaukee. 

In addition to great burgers, the wings are done to perfection, and they have a sizable and cheap rotating beer tap list. It’s also one of the most welcoming places in Milwaukee. The staff is efficient and friendly. And you feel like you’re part of the family as soon as you walk in. 

Conejitos Place

Are you looking for simple, delicious, and affordable Mexican food? Then Conejitos is your place.

Conejitos serves traditional Mexican fare in an unassuming and quaint location. It’s known for serving food on paper plates which is part of its charm. The moles are tremendous, and they have some of the best tacos in town. 

It’s perfect for filling your belly before or after a brewery or distillery tour.

Don Lucho’s

There’s no better carnitas in the city than Don Lucho’s. So if you are in Milwaukee searching for cheap eats on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (the only days they are open), don’t miss out on checking out this place.

It’s an excellent place for dine-in, or you can take home a few pounds of carnitas, some salsa, and tortillas for dinner later. There will often be a line of people waiting to order carnitas from the deli. 

According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinal article, Don Lucho’s sells about 1500lbs of carnitas and 700 tortillas each weekend! They open early (4 or 5 am) and are often sold out of some of their specialty items by 11 am. 

Get there by early afternoon at the latest for your best chance at trying the best carnitas in the city. Tacos are much bigger than you are likely used to, so two tacos with chips and salsa could be enough for a cheap and delicious lunch. 

Anytime Arepa

Image of arepa with cheese, pork, beans, and garlic salsa from Anytime Arepa in Milwaukee,  WI
Image of a black food truck with red writing on menus for Anytime Arepa in Milwaukee WI

For less than $12, you can indulge in the deliciously meaty (or beanie) Venezuelan sandwich at Anytime Arepa. Add beans, plantains, cheese, and garlic salsa to load it up, and we promise you will not leave hungry. 

Located in the fun Zocalo Food Truck Park, Anytime Arepa is one of the best sandwiches you may have in the city. It’s our go-to cheap meal. And with the central bar in the food truck park, it’s a great place to eat al fresco.

We can honestly say we’ve eaten a lot of arepas from Anytime Arepa. They are mouth-watering and so delicious. They will not disappoint. 

Nessun Dorma

When traveling through the eclectic Riverwest neighborhood, a little unassuming corner restaurant called Nessun Dorma should not be overlooked. This Italian-inspired restaurant specializes in serving amazing paninis for affordable prices.

You’ll feel right at home in their intimate, dark-wood-lined dining and bar areas. Their extensive lists of craft cocktails, local and international beers, whiskeys, and wines are reason alone to stop in.

 If you happen to stop by during happy hour, the beer, cocktail, and wine prices make this an unbelievable bargain. During happy hour, a glass of Lakefront Riverwest Stein and a panini will set you back about $15.

While the substantial melty and flavorful paninis are the menu’s stars, the house-made soup-du-jour should also be in your dining plans.

Martinos

What started as a small hot dog stand, Martino’s eventually grew into an essential Milwaukee establishment. Every single style of dog, ranging from Chicago style to the Reuben Dog, is served wrapped up with a side of freshly made fries.

By 1985, Martino’s had become so popular that they were approached by the world’s largest music festival, Summerfest, to open up a food stand. And they have been there every year since.

While mainly focusing on serving the best traditional dogs in the city, Martino’s also has a wide variety of Italian sandwiches, including beef, sausages, and meatballs. And their sandwich menu includes both hot and cold, like chicken parmesan or egg salad. 

Even though the miniature golf course no longer exists, it’s worth going out of your way to experience the history of this place. And while you’re there, treat yourself to a dog and fries for a couple of bucks.

Nite Owl Drive-In

While it no longer functions as a drive-in with carhops and roller skates, Nite Owl Drive-In has been serving up classic Milwaukee drive-in fare since 1948. From the moment you glimpse the retro sign, you’ll know you’re in for a treat.

Your window is sometimes pretty narrow to get a chance to taste these iconic burgers. Nite Owl is only open seasonally from March to October and is cash only. And when they sell out of burgers for the day, they close. 

And while folks generally come in for the rich, buttery burgers, the extensive ice cream menu also deserves special attention. Shakes, malts cones, and specialty sundaes are perfect for a hot summer day. Share the massive four scoop “Me & My Gal” sundae with at least one other person, or treat the kids to an adorable clown sundae.

Nite Owl is right next to General Mitchell International Airport. Take your food to-go, then park in the observation area across the street to watch the planes come and go. 

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Gold Rush Chicken

When you’ve got the craving for fried chicken, sometimes the colonel just isn’t going to cut it. For a truly Milwaukee rendition of this Southern classic pick up some carry-out from Gold Rush Chicken.

This family-owned restaurant, established in 1957, is the original home-delivered chicken in Milwaukee. Today, it still has a huge following, even offering limited edition winter hats that almost immediately sold out and became collectibles.

Since conquering the Milwaukee fried chicken market, Gold Rush has expanded its menu to offer pizzas, seafood, burgers, and desserts. The family chicken dinners are still the reason to order and include french fries, coleslaw, and dinner rolls, all for a great price.

Every piece of chicken is hand-breaded and fried to perfection. The result is crispy chicken on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.

While they no longer have delivery services, it’s worth the drive to order carry-out. 

Milwaukee Public Market

The Milwaukee Public Market is full of affordable food options as you explore the city.

And what makes finding cheap food at the public market the best is that there are so many options that everyone in your group will be able to find something to satisfy their hunger.

You’ll have choices between Mexican food, sandwiches, sushi, Middle Eastern, vegan options, and gorgeous salads. There are even plenty of vendors to satisfy your after-meal sweet tooth.

Mazos Hamburgers

Established in 1934, Mazos Hamburgers still grills up some of the best burgers in town for an unbeatable price. 

The beef is ground daily, and the burgers are served with limited toppings to let the quality shine through in every bite.

A typical burger with varying toppings will cost you less than $9. But you better come hungry because every burger combo includes two house-made sides. Options include traditional french fries or coleslaw, as well as house-made soups and baked beans.

For the true old-school diner experience, order a shake or malt made the old-fashioned way. It’s just ice cream and the best ingredients blended together in a frosted malt can. 

The place is tiny but worth the dine-in experience. Follow the diner’s history from its inception with the framed prints scattered throughout the establishment.

Thai Barbq

Getting good Thai food at a reasonable price is often difficult in larger cities. But Thai Barbq has a variety of freshly made noodles, rice, and curry dishes at excellent prices. Located near American Family Field and the Mitchell Park Domes, it’s a nice spot to grab a bite en route to some local attractions. 

While perusing the vast menu, you’ll find Thai favorites served in huge portions, such as Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles, for about $13. If you’re going on a date, share a seafood hot pot and some pineapple fried rice, and get it all for under $40.

The appetizer menu includes many traditional street food items like chicken satay and Issan sausage. And, of course, you’ll find the usual fare like fresh hand-wrapped spring rolls. 

Xankia

It doesn’t get much better than sitting down to a hot steaming bowl of Pho Noodle Soup in the cold Milwaukee winters. At Xankia, you’ll find some of the best in town, but the real prizes here are the loaded Bahn Mi sandwiches for around $8 each.

Xankia began with just a toaster oven and a cooler full of ingredients in the Pacific Produce Market. Their popularity outgrew the small space, and they moved to a prime location near Milwaukee City Hall. 

After being in business for over 10 years, their menu has expanded to include pho and grilled entrees. Their boba tea (smoothies with tapioca balls) remains a staple with 14 flavor options ranging from watermelon to taro.

Bombay Sweets 

Bombay Sweets, an unassuming, completely vegetarian Indian restaurant, has some of the best curries. And upon entering, you’ll also be wowed by window cases filled with gobs of freshly made snacks and desserts. 

Our favorite dishes include samosas, vegetable korma, and saag paneer. The portions are plentiful, and you’ll either leave stuffed or have leftovers. Dine-in or call for take-out. 

Al Yousef Supermarket and Restuarant

Al Yousef is a Middle Eastern Supermarket with a deli full of delicious items available for take-out. 

Located just outside of Milwaukee in Oak Creek, this place serves some of the best Middle Eastern food in the city and for a great price. The plates are large and served with rice, salad, and hummus. 

Or, if you are looking for a deal, try a few dozen falafels with sides of hummus and baba ghanoush. This will be enough for a few meals, costing you less than $30. 

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We are Melody and Craig: Wisconsinites that love weekend adventures from Milwaukee and long-distance road trips in our campervan, Albie. 

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