Bargain Bites: 25+ Great Eats for $10 & Under
The All American Burger; © Style Media Group
When you’re hungry for a good plate of food that won’t cost a fortune, it can be difficult deciding where to feed the need. Luckily, we have a list of over 25 local dishes that won’t break the bank, plus a handful of the happiest hours in town. Ready, set, eat! In no particular order…
Biscuit and Gravy Bowl
$9.99 at Barn Burner
4800 Granite Drive, Rocklin, 916-259-1751
Oversize portions seem to be the norm these days, and Barn Burner’s biscuit and gravy bowl is big and brimming with a breakfast bounty—two buttermilk biscuits, a heaping helping of sausage gravy, and two eggs any way you please. The biscuits and gravy, like most everything else on the menu, is made in-house, possibly using some of the unique decorations hanging throughout the interior. Just kidding, of course, but the cheesegrater lamps and wooden ladder chandelier provide some playful repurposing ideas. The menu also includes some whimsical items (sweet potato tots instead of home fries) as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Pasta Lunch Special
$8.99 at Primo Pizza, Burgers, and Brew
2600 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 103, Rocklin, 916-259-1010, primopizzarocklin.com
I polled my friends on Facebook a couple months back for the best local burger, and to my surprise, Primo was the favorite, so it should be no surprise that they serve a “Pasta Lunch Special” that might become your favorite as well. Pick from your choice of fettucini Alfredo, spaghetti bolognese, or marinara, with garlic bread and soup or salad—all for $7.99. Primo’s has a local neighborhood vibe and friendly staff that make for an enjoyable experience, especially when you can enjoy it with a steaming hot bowl of pasta for under $9. Stop by and see why so many friends love this place.
Bánh Mì Fries
$10 at Broderick Roadhouse
1516 Eureka Road, Roseville, 916-771-2722, broderickroadhouse.com
When I was given this assignment, the instructions were “breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and no Happy Hour items.” The implication being main courses only, but what if an “appetizer” contains salad, protein, and a starch and easily feeds two people? I say it’s an entrée! Such is the dilemma with the bánh mì fries at Broderick Roadhouse. Appetizer or main course? Tantalizingly tangy, sweet and spicy, full of tender pulled pork, crunchy vegetables, and a Vietnamese citrus caramel sauce—all piled high over a stack of Broderick’s signature French fries. It’s not a combination you’ll find anywhere close to home or maybe anywhere at all, except Broderick. Bring a friend, grab a cold brew, and dig in!
$10.99 at Granite Rock Grill
5140 Pacific Street, Rocklin, 916-625-9252, graniterockgrill.net
Sometimes you just want a homemade breakfast—without making it yourself. That’s why the good folks at Granite Rock Grill (GRG) have been a staple in Rocklin for so long. What would Sunday mornings be without huevos rancheros? For me, it’d be a bad start to Monday. GRG serves their weekend saver with two eggs, homemade rancheros sauce, chili, jack cheese, avocado, and a tortilla. Each order includes your choice of home-fried potatoes, hash browns, grits, tomatoes, fruit, or cottage cheese, and either toast or a homemade biscuit. Make sure you get some of their scratch-made jam on that toast or biscuit, too. Bonus points for the Etch A Sketch to keep the kiddos (and adults) occupied!
The All-American Burger
$10.75 at Halftime Bar and Grill
5681 Lonetree Boulevard, Rocklin, 916-626-3600, strikesrocklin.com
Bowling, burgers, and beers—what could be better, you ask? How about the burger without having to break a sweat bowling (I’m a less than stellar bowler)? And how about that burger cooked fresh, with your choice of cheese (cheddar, jack, Swiss, provolone, or pepper jack), plus lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles, with a side of either beer-battered fries, sweet potato fries, garlic fries, onion rings, soup or salad? Did I mention the price for all that grub is 10 big ones? So let’s recap—you walk past the bowling lanes (because you left your custom shoes at home), saunter up to the bar (or a table) where there’s a smiling face to greet you, and order one of the best burgers. Perfect game!
Main Street BLAT
$9.95 at Bar 101 Eats and Drinks
101 Main Street, Roseville, 916-774-0505, bar101roseville.com
There must be some science behind the formula of bacon + tomato + lettuce + toasted bread + mayo=happiness2. And when you add garlic mayo + avocado to the equation, it doesn’t take a beautiful mind to calculate the resulting outcome. Bar 101 in Downtown Roseville offers its own accounting, featuring applewood smoked bacon, juicy tomatoes, lettuce, and creamy avocado with a smear of garlic aioli on white or wheat toast. Growing up at my house with five brothers, mayo, bacon, ripe garden tomatoes, and white bread were staples (it was the ’70s, OK!), so we made the best use of them. Years later the word Haas was universally accepted into the formula. The only other improvement would be to enjoy one of your favorite beers on tap!
Large Crab Salad Bowl
$9.95 at Yummy Poke
6696 Lonetree Boulevard, Suite 300 Rocklin, 916-872-1477, myyummypoke.com
I got hooked on poke in Oahu a few years ago, but when I got back, there were no poke restaurants in the area to be found. Now, places like Yummy Poke are starting to dot the local landscape. The format is very much like its Hawaiian cousins. Specify your protein like spicy tuna, spicy salmon, plain salmon, plain tuna, octopus, shrimp, albacore, or tofu; then your base—white or brown rice, mixed greens, or half and half—before traveling on to your sauces (five to pick from in total), and any combination of around 15 toppings. I typically pick the non-raw large crab salad bowl with four scoops of surimi (artificial crab) atop mixed greens, with sweet unagi sauce, and just about every topping they offer. The result is a $9.95 salad masterpiece—and a cure for my poke addiction.
Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich
$9.99 at Rosati’s Pizza
5140 Foothills Boulevard, Suite 110, Roseville, 916-797-7492, myrosatis.com
Whether Peyton Manning sings about it or Tony Soprano asks for a “sangwich” after having somebody “whacked,” the iconic chicken parm sandwich has embedded itself into American pop culture and dining rooms. And why not? The combination of gooey mozzarella, marinara, and breaded chicken breast on a soft roll is the Italian-American version of “winner winner chicken dinner,” or lunch. Rosati’s serves theirs with a house salad or crispy French fries for an unbeatable price—or as they say on the East Side, fughetaboutit. Here on the West Side (of Roseville), we don’t forget about food this tasty!
Half Monaco Sandwich and Choice of Side
$8 at La Provence Restaurant and Terrace
110 Diamond Creek Place, Roseville, 916-789-2002, laprovenceroseville.com
One of my favorite date night (or pleasant afternoon) venues, La Provence, features fine French food like côtes de boeuf, potato gnocchi with Parmesan cream and truffle essence, and wines from the most prestigious wineries in Napa, Sonoma, and France. They also serve a delicious half sandwich and a side during lunch for a whopping eight bucks. Have a seat on the terrace or inside by the fire and treat yourself and your special someone to a delicious roast turkey or roast beef sandwich with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, alfalfa sprouts, provolone cheese, aioli, and Dijon on your choice of a soft roll or brioche. Add to that the side of your choice: soup of the day, French fries, sweet potato fries, house salad, or Caesar salad, and walk away satiated and smiling.
The Hot Bar
$8.99 per pound at Whole Foods Market
1001 Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, 916-781-5300, wholefoodsmarket.com
When I can’t decide what I want for lunch or dinners, and I know I don’t want to spend a fortune, the hot bar at Whole Foods Market is a perfect option. I can browse several mouthwatering cuisines before settling on Italian meatballs, curried cauliflower, Hawaiian chicken wings, chicken fried rice, garlic green beans, cheese enchiladas, or mac and cheese. Mix and match to your palate’s content. Everything tastes fresh, is cooked in-house, and is of restaurant quality. Pay at the register then dine inside or out on the patio to enjoy your meal and engage in a little people-watching!
Pork Shu Mei
*$9.95 at Fat’s Asia Bistro
1500 Eureka Road, Roseville, 916-787-3287, fatsasiabistro.com
Looking for traditional dim sum in the Folsom area would be futile if not for the folks at Fat’s Asia Bistro. Among the available offerings is their house-made pork shu mei—five, bag-shaped wonton dumplings (representing good luck gifts, I’m told) stuffed with ground pork, ginger, garlic, and chopped scallions, then steamed and served in the customary bamboo basket. A soy-brown sugar dipping sauce complements the savory dumplings. This is an excellent starter by itself or as part of the complete “dim sum basket,” which also features crab rangoon and chicken pot stickers. (*Lunch price)
$7.45-$8.45 at Bambu Asian Cuisine
1090 Pleasant Grove Boulevard, Suite 100, Roseville, 916-772-8688, bambu-cuisine-roseville.business.site
Restaurants come and go, and if you live in the same community for long enough, you’ll lose your fair share. If your favorite Chinese food establishment closes, it’s a minor catastrophe. Once you’ve invested the time to find out what you like and start to crave that dish, no other can be an adequate substitute. So it is with Bambu Asian Cuisine in Roseville. When I want Chinese food for lunch, I go and get a lunch special. Whether it’s Kung Pao chicken, Thai spicy shrimp, orange chicken, or General Tso’s chicken, I know it’s going to be good, filling (each special includes salad, soup of the day, steamed or fried rice, and a crispy Imperial Roll), and under $9.
House Tacos Sample
$9 at Nixtaco
1805 Cirby Way, Suite 12, Roseville, 916-771-4165, nixta.co
It’s not that difficult to find three ground beef tacos for under 10 bucks, but good luck tracking down short rib barbacoa, chicken mole, pork belly, rajas con queso, ground pork, and shrimp for that price. The house-made mini corn tortillas are crafted from nixtamalized flour—a process that removes toxins and improves flavor and aroma—making them that much more extraordinary. Nixtaco is one of my “go-to” spots when friends and acquaintances ask me for restaurant recommendations, and they never leave disappointed!
$8.99 at Cool River Pizza
6200 Stanford Ranch Road, Suite 700, Rocklin, 916-772-0505, coolriverpizzarocklin.com
How can you go wrong with made-from-scratch calzones with fresh mozzarella and house-made dough (thin with the perfect bite), up to four toppings, and Cool River red sauce? You can’t. The crust is thin and has the perfect bite. It’s essentially an inside-out pizza that you can pick up or eat with a fork without offending the pizza purists. I like to order “Coolzones” as a surprise when the household asks for a pizza, and there’s never any leftovers. Dine-in or order to go—the quality never varies. Their “Party Room” and patio are a great place for a team meeting and a pizza buffet! They truly do serve the community “one slice at a time.”
Short Rib Koja
$8.75 at KOJA Kitchen
4210 Rocklin Road, Rocklin, 916-259-1513, kojakitchen.com
OK, let's get the obvious out of the way first. KOJA is a portmanteau of KOrea and JApan, and a Koja is a sweetened, fried rice cake taco or sandwich with meat and vegetables in between. These include flavors like the original short rib—“like a burger but better” says their website. Dig into fried garlic rice buns, Korean BBQ short rib (kalbi), sesame vinaigrette lettuce, katsu, aioli, and sesame seeds; you can also add things like pineapple and kimchi. The rest of the Koja lineup includes beef, braised pork, chicken, and vegetarian teriyaki zen. This is a true foodie find and will leave you wondering “How did they?” and “Why didn’t I?” KOJA also serves all of the Koja offerings as rice bowls and tacos. Also, check out their umame and kamakaze fries.
$9.99 at Zest Kitchen
2620 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1, Rocklin, 916-824-1688, zestvegankitchen.com
Zest Kitchen does as good a job as any local restaurant, vegan or not, of seasoning their food. Their offerings consistently produce mouthwatering and even tonsil-tingling results. The two chipotle tacos are a prime example of Zest’s ability to coax bushels of flavor from passive ingredients like garbanzos and cabbage. Pairing the chickpeas with chipotle as the base, then infusing lime and cilantro into a slaw to top the taco provides a punch to the palate. With a soothing finish of cashew-lime “sour cream,” these tacos not only live up to their namesake, but they also take tacos to a new destination.
$8.95 at DT Noodle
5015 Foothills Boulevard, Suite 3, Roseville, 916-797-8883, dtnoodle.com
I didn’t grow up eating pho (much to my chagrin), but I’ve made up for lost time the past few years. Since I found DT Noodle, no longer do I have to make the trek to Sacramento to get my fix of the delicious Vietnamese soup. I like to sit where I can see right into the kitchen and watch as the chef prepares the fresh meat and vegetables and delivers them into the steaming, flavorful bath of broth. Served with fragrant basil, bean sprouts, lime, and sliced jalapeño peppers on a separate plate, diners are able to add flavors to their own individual tastes. They also serve plenty of vegetarian options and a tasty bánh mì sandwich for $5.95.
Chicken Teriyaki Noodle Bowl
$7.25 at Teriyaki To Go
5098 Foothills Boulevard, Suite 1, Roseville, 916-772-2540
Teriyaki To Go is the go-to place for fast, delicious, and filling teriyaki plates, salads, and noodle and rice bowls at a fantastic price. Their chicken teriyaki noodle bowl is almost legendary in town, thanks to its generous serving of plump, pan-fried udon noodles and deliciously tender teriyaki chicken that’s stir-fried with carrots, cabbage, broccoli, and bean sprouts, then finished with a crunch of sesame seeds. With sauce that’s slightly sweet and a whole lot of savory without a touch of MSG, you’ll find yourself craving this more than your waistline will appreciate. Although to-go is in their name and it’s a favorite for takeout, there is seating available should you decide to dine in and chat with the friendly owner.
$10 at Vaiano Trattoria
7160 Douglas Boulevard, Granite Bay, 916-780-0888, vaianotrattoria.com
“Please go to this pizzeria. Order the Pizza Margherita with double mozzarella. If you do not order this pizza when you are in Naples Granite Bay, please lie to me and tell me that you did.” Author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this (minus my literary license) a few years back, and it echoes my sentiment about pizza margherita—it is the foundation by which all pizza should be judged. Mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and leavened dough—all cooked quickly in a blisteringly hot oven. In other words, technical yet straightforward, understated perfection. If you can get one that fits the description like this for 10 dollars, you should go there, often. I’m sure the author would have approved of Vaiano Trattoria’s authentic pie, double cheese or not. It’s nothing to lie about.
$6.99 at Tandoori Bite
1251 Baseline Road, Suite 150, Roseville, 916-787-0800, tandoori-bite.com
Sink your teeth into eight pieces (yep, that’s not a typo) of chicken breast meat dipped in chickpea batter and deep-fried for six dollars and 99 cents…and be prepared to have your palate blown! The chicken is moist and crispy, presented with sweet turmeric and spicy mint dipping sauces, and it’s finger-licking…you know the rest. This is a secret recipe from someone other than the Colonel. Here’s another not-so-well-kept secret—there are so many menu items under $10 here that I actually lost count. Chaats, wraps, breads, samosas—all made in-house adhering to time-tested family recipes. The service is fast and friendly, and the food is worth coming back for.
$9 at Mezcalito Oaxacan Cuisine
5065 Pacific Street, Rocklin, 916-701-4772, mezcalitocuisine.com
Something is obviously wrong on Yelp. As of this writing, 81 reviews and 74 are five stars; the remaining are all four stars without a complaint. This happens about as often as a total eclipse of the sun and moon. My guess is that Mezcalito is so that good that no one has anything to complain about. Having never been, I found this to be a compelling reason to investigate this phenomenon. What I discovered was a delicious pastor wrap for $9—and lots of smiling faces. The wrap was stuffed with pork adobo, fingerling potatoes, sautéed peppers, mushrooms, onions, guacamole, jack cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream in a large flour tortilla. Mark it five stars from me.
Mushroom Swiss Burger
$6.75 at Mooyah Burger, Shakes and Fries
5194 Commons Drive, Suite 110, Rocklin, 916-660-9591, mooyah.com
I knew there had to be some middle ground between the new price point of $14 burgers and the under $4 fast food burger (or $3 or $2 offerings…eaten at your own risk). Mooyah serves a certified Angus beef patty with Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and fried onion strings on a potato bun for the 1990s price of $6.75! Add “personal fries” for $2.89, and you’re still under $10 for a quality burger meal! Another favorite is the cheddar bacon burger with grilled onions and barbecue sauce, aka, the perfect combination.
Arroz Con Pollo
*$9.95 at La Huaca Peruvian Restaurant
9213 Sierra College Boulevard, Suite 140, Roseville, 916-771-2558, lahuacarestaurant.com
Simply translated from Spanish, arroz con pollo is chicken with rice, but that’s where the simplicity ends. Depending on the heredity of its preparer, versions of arroz con pollo may have saffron or annatto, beer, chicken or sausage, peas, corn, and always rice. The Peruvian form (at Lu Huaca), according to their menu, features “infused rice in cilantro sauce with grilled chicken breast, carrots, and peas served with salsa criolla.” The latter is a mix of onions, chilis, lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, cilantro, salt, and pepper. It’s a complex flavor profile that I wouldn’t try to replicate for a group of traditionalists; in other words, it’d be smarter to take them out to dinner at La Huaca. (*Lunch price)
Grilled Pear Salad
$8.50 at Chicago Fire
500 North Sunrise Avenue, Roseville, 916-771-2020, chicagofire.com
We’re fortunate here in Northern California to have access to quality pears, which makes us even more privileged to have those delicious, crisp slices grilled in a salad with creamy goat cheese, candied walnuts, and mixed greens. Chicago Fire’s housemade balsamic dressing is the perfect pairing and provides a tangy punch to a refreshing light meal or a satisfying starter. I’ve eaten at this location multiple times, and the grilled pear salad is always the first item to hit the table. (True story: I’ve even DoorDashed it.) It comes with their garlic foccacia bread but I recommend ordering extra ($6.95) for a complete meal.
$10.79 at Kabob and Gyro Grill
5005 Foothills Boulevard, Suite 3A, Roseville, 916-788-1888
This is a no-frills place. It’s hidden on the side of a strip mall. You don’t come here for the ambiance, the view, or pleasant interaction with your server (there is no server). You come here for one reason alone: The food is straight-up delicious and the price to value/flavor ratio as good as it gets. The combination plate contains hefty portions of exquisitely seasoned beef, lamb, and chicken, tzatziki sauce, basmati rice, Mediterranean salad, hummus, and pita bread. The kabobs, shawarma, and gyro are also favorites.
Fair Oaks Roll
$8.50 at Mikuni
1565 Eureka Road, Roseville, 916-797-2112; 1017 Galleria Boulevard, Suite 160, Roseville, 916-780-2119, mikunisushi.com
Fans of Mikuni are used to getting quality maki rolls with the freshest ingredients available, so it’s no surprise that their rolls typically run in the $11-$16 range. But if you’re diligent in perusing the menu, there are deals to be had. The Fair Oaks Roll is the Mikuni equivalent of a blue-plate special, exceptional value for a first-rate roll. It features crunchy, panko-coated shrimp with avocado, then is rolled in sushi rice and topped with their special sauce, masago, and onions. This is also a good starting point for those friends and family who are new to, or afraid of, anything sushi (we all know somebody).
By Lorn Randall
The Happiest Hours
1151 Galleria Boulevard, Suite 241, Roseville, 916-407-5640, landoceanrestaurants.com
Note: Happy Hour is Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m.
Sienna serves up a daily Happy Hour in their bar and lounge that features an extensive list of wines starting at $6 a glass. Well cocktails are also $6 and a few specialty cocktails are available for $9, including their Watermelon Basil Martini. The food menu includes ahi poke wraps, risotto fritters, wood-fired flatbreads, and more, with prices ranging from $5-$12. Sienna also has a “Luxury Happy Hour” that includes discounted premium spirits available neat, on the rocks, or added to your favorite cocktail.
1480 Eureka Road, Roseville, 916-771-4700, siennarestaurants.com
Note: Happy Hour is daily from 3-7 p.m.
The Place is an Italian food lover's dream, and fortunately they offer a Happy Hour menu (bar area only) full of meat, cheese, and specialty drinks. Included are polenta fries, garlic cheese bread, and their famous “Everybody Loves Mikey's Big Balls” ranging from $4-$5, and specialty cocktails for $8. We recommend the Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch or The Bloody Mobsta.
221 Vernon Street, Roseville,
Note: Happy Hour is Tuesday-Sunday from 3-6 p.m.
Great wine is always a staple at House of Oliver and during their Happy Hour they offer sparkling, white, and red—all starting at $6. Select beers are $3, as well as $5-$10 cocktails, $7 well drinks, and $10 Happy Plates that include a cheese board, meatballs, and stuffed mushrooms. Plus, take $3 off the entire food menu during Happy Hour and enjoy a variety of weekly specials.
3992 Douglas Boulevard, Suite 140, Roseville, 916-773-9463, houseofoliver.com
Note: Happy Hour is Monday through Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m.
Ciao has Happy Hour every day they're open and offers discounts on their rotating list of wines, $2 off beer, and bar fare (including polenta, calamari and shrimp fritto, and salumi e formaggio, ranging from $5-$9). Stop in on Thursdays for apertivo (Italian Happy Hour) from 5-7 p.m. where they serve a complimentary chef's selection of hors d'oeuvres alongside Happy Hour-priced wines.
1410 East Roseville Parkway, Roseville, 916-782-0404, ciaoroseville.com
Note: Happy Hour is Monday through Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m.
By Emily Peter