For nights when being surrounded by four walls don't quite cut it, this 15,000-square-foot urban playground of food trucks, flatbeds and mismatched lawn furniture might be exactly what's on order. The place is so popular that it even landed a spot on the Travel Channel's "101 More Amazing Places to Chowdown." And chow-down you can: In addition to a variety of food trucks dishing out everything from Korean BBQ tacos to sliders, pasta and pizza, there's also a permanent eatery slinging out cheesesteaks made every which way. Better still, most everything (including alcoholic beverages) is priced under $12. Speaking of booze, the Yard boasts several bars, including one perched up in a tree and another inside of an old Airstream trailer. Oh yeah, they also host weekly concert performances on a stage made from a flatbed truck.
Recommended for Best Value because: Truck Yard is where you can eat, drink and be merry on a shoestring budget.
Ilene's expert tip: Check the website for events and parking information. There is also complimentary valet parking available.
When chef-restaurateur Nick Badovinus opened his pocket-sized burger joint in the Design District back in 2012, it became such a hit with locals that it was almost impossible to get in during the short hours it was open. Now in its new Trinity Groves location, Off-Site Kitchen not only keeps later hours, it's also sporting grander digs, complete with communal tables, patio dining-- and games--like shuffleboard, ping-pong and bumper-pool. Most importantly, the quality remains high while the prices remain low. We're talking a freshly ground, quarter-pounder Angus chuck patty with onions, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo on a bakery fresh roll for $4.65. And that's only the start, for a few dollars more, you can order 'em up with everything from roasted jalapenos and smoked bacon relish to caramelized onions and muenster cheese. Burgers aren't the only draw, there's tacos, fried chicken, sloppy cheese fries and sandwiches too. And what's better than a craft beer to wash down your burger? A frozen bourbon cherry cola, that's what.
Recommended for Best Value because: When you're on a budget burger bandwagon and only the best will do, OSK is the place to go.
Ilene's expert tip: Best seats in the house are out on the patio. Don't miss the mini pies for dessert. Ditto for the frozen cocktails.
Craving Chinese barbecue? Got a penchant for Peking duck? Then this no-frills Richardson stalwart will be your new happy place. In fact, First Chinese is so renowned for its roast meats – which can be seen hanging by the front window – that it's a go-to spot for some of the city's high-profile chefs on their nights off. Along with roast duck, pork and chicken, diners will find a huge menu crammed with everything from rice and noodle dishes to seafood, hot pots, Szechuan specialties and more. Don't ignore the more adventurous options: think duck feet in black bean sauce and combo plates filled with marinated pig intestines, ears and tongues. The best part is that most meals are priced under $10, plus it's BYOB.
Recommended for Best Value because: First Chinese BBQ offers phenomenal Cantonese-style barbecue and regional Chinese fare at rock bottom prices.
Ilene's expert tip: Take note: First Chinese BBQ is BYOB and cash only.
Three words: Chicken tikka tacos. That's just one of the flavor mash-ups worth seeking out at Velvet Taco, a buzzy, late-night taco joint perched on the corner of Henderson Avenue and Central Expressway. Other killer taco twists run the gamut from shrimp and grits to falafel with tahini crema, Cuban pig, Akaushi bacon burger and even ahi poke. Everything is made from-scratch and tacos are priced from $3.75 to $6.75 each. You'll probably want some elote corn or red curry coconut queso with that too. Don't overlook the red velvet cake either. Keep an eye out for weekly taco specials, like karaage chicken or lobster avocado. Speaking of specials: on Mondays they offer a backdoor takeaway rotisserie dinner (easily enough to feed 3-4) for only $10.
Recommended for Best Value because: Velvet Taco churns out insanely delicious taco creations at wallet-friendly prices.
Ilene's expert tip: On Mondays, from 10 a.m.-- Velvet Taco runs a 1/2 price deal on its backdoor chicken dinners. For $10 cash you get a whole roasted chicken, 2 sides of corn elotes, 6 corn tortillas, pico de gallo and hot sauce.
This fast-casual eatery has such a cult following that the owners opened up several more locations around town. The attraction? One word: Bibimbap. Really good bibimbap. Here, diners can tuck into eight different set-ups of the Korean staple, ranging from the traditional version with short ribs– to spicy chicken & dumplings and coconut curry with tofu. And if you don't like the configured choices, there's plenty of ways for you to create your own. And if you don't want your dinner in a bowl, they've also got everything from loaded kimchi fries and samosa egg rolls to Korean fried chicken, kalbi and glazed pork belly, most of which can be had for $15 or less.
Recommended for Best Value because: Bbbop Seoul Kitchen ranks among the best Korean food restaurants in Dallas, plus almost the entire menu is priced under $15.
Ilene's expert tip: Follow bbbop Seoul@bbbopseoul on Twitter to score freebies and discounts of food and drinks. Note that there are three area Bbbop locations.
Miniscule in size, massive in quality, this Tokyo-inspired ramen shack has taken Dallas by storm with its stellar bowls of silky smooth, slurp-able soup noodles. Located in the Sylvan Thirty complex, Ten Ramen (Ten, meaning heaven in Japanese) is the brainchild of James Beard nominated chef Teiichi Sakurai, who also owns the popular Tei-An restaurant in the Dallas Arts District. The menu, which is displayed on a large blackboard, offers three ramen choices, plus weekly specials, soups and a few rice bowls thrown into the mix. Expect to find shoyu, tonkotsu and mazemen (dry ramen with pork jowl) as well as innovative options such as venison chili ramen and even gumbo ramen. Speaking of Ten, you can easily be well nourished for around $10, that is if you don't get carried away with the add-ons. Either way, it's a terrific option for a cheap, yet quality meal. The only downside is that the Oak Cliff location is standing room only. For more space to spread out, your best bet is to head to the new locale in The Colony.
Recommended for Best Value because: Ten Ramen is where to go when you want to leave with a full stomach and a not so empty wallet.
Ilene's expert tip: Check Ten's Facebook for weekly specials. Note that Ten Ramen is now open at the Shacks Dining and Dog Park; 5800 Windhaven Pkwy, The Colony, TX 75056.
This family-owned German market and restaurant has been anchoring the corner spot in Snider Plaza since 1961. And, not only does the place boast one of the best selections of meats, cold cuts and European food imports in town, it's also the best place to find authentic Teutonic specialties like brats, wursts and schnitzels. Kuby's house-made sausages even impressed Travel Channel star Adam Richman enough to feature the restaurant's wurst teller platter (sausages, sauerkraut, red cabbage and hot potato salad) on the show Man V. Food Nation. Kuby's serves up plenty of other Bavarian goodies as well, including potato pancakes (with applesauce and sour cream), rouladen (thin beef rolled with bacon, onions and pickles) and frikadellens (a German-style hamburger). While breakfasts and lunches are a big draw, the place really pulls out the stops at dinnertime (weekends only) by dimming the lights and bringing on beer and live traditional music. Oh, and did we mention that everything on the menu is priced under $10?
Recommended for Best Value because: Kuby's is a local favorite for terrific Bavarian fare on a budget.
Ilene's expert tip: Order a soft drink so that you can get a souvenir plastic cup with Kuby's logo on it.
The best sushi in Dallas? Perhaps not. But if you're looking no-frill hand rolls and nigiri that won't bust your budget, then Kula is the spot. Hailing from Japan, this buzzy kaiten joint (aka conveyor belt sushi) churns out all manner of sushi (think: albacore, sea urchin, lobster rolls and spider rolls) for a flat price of $2.25 a plate. Not a sushi fan? No problem, you can also order up everything from soft-shell crab tempura to miso cod, dumplings and ramen, all of which still comes in under $8 a dish. To drink, the restaurant serves sake, Japanese beer, green tea, and sodas. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure not to let the Japanese-style soy milk donuts pass you by.
Recommended for Best Value because: Kula is the best place to pig out on sushi for under $15.
Ilene's expert tip: Expect a wait, especially on weekends. Put your name on the waiting list and receive texts for updates on your place in line. Also, not that there is a Kula Sushi in both Plano and Carrollton.
Talk about getting a bang-for-your-buck. You'll be hard pressed to score a better meal deal than the one on offer at Gen Korean BBQ, a cavernous, neon-lit AYCE (all-you-can-eat) yakiniku chain restaurant based out of California. But don't be surprised if you find a long wait for a table, the place is always jam-packed – and for good reason. For one set price (lunch $15.99 / dinner $20.99), diners can plow through a lavish menu that includes everything from seven kinds of banchan (side dishes) to a variety of meats, seafood and vegetables–all of which are to be cooked over table-top grills. It's all top-notch, so your best bet is to try a little of everything. The only drawback is that you have a two-hour time limit to scarf it down.
Recommended for Best Value because: Can't beat this deal: All you can eat prime meat for one wallet-friendly price.
Ilene's expert tip: Go for lunch during the week when it's less crowded and less expensive. Parties of two are the minimum.
You normally wouldn't think of French food when it comes to cheap eats, but that's exactly what you'll find at this cozy bakery and bistro tucked away in Mockingbird Station. Practically everything on the menu here is priced under $15, with the exception of prime rib, which you can score with roasted veggies and potatoes for a mere few dollars more. Speaking of prime rib, they also serve it in a crepe with caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms and raclette cheese. Other menu must-haves include the likes of short rib poutine, duck confit tartine, pan seared salmon and signature sandwiches served on house-baked bread. And that doesn't even cover the breakfast items on offer all day (think ricotta pancakes with blueberry sausage and berry compote, short ribs hash, omelets, crepes). And, don't forget the excellent desserts, coffees, $3 mimosas and reasonably priced wine.
Recommended for Best Value because: When you're in the mood for elevated bistro classics that won't break your budget, Edith's is where to go.
Ilene's expert tip: Edith's has a terrific kids' menu for $5.