Best Lunch Under $5
429 N. Fourth Ave.
A bazillion locations
READERS' PICK: Well, you readers have spoken, even if you seem a little schizophrenic. On one end of the spectrum, you have the wonderful Maya Quetzal, which features delicately crafted Guatemalan delights. In the middle is Baggin's, a small local chain serving a fine array of specialty sandwiches and providing a chocolate-chip cookie with every order. And then there's Taco Bell--well, sure, it's cheap, but you should be ashamed of yourselves for wallowing at the trough of corporate America when there are so many fine mom-and-pop Mexican joints in this town. Okay, a meal's always under $5. But let's show a little imagination out there.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Fine dining it isn't, but the Great Impasta serves up inexpensive pasta dishes, salads and sandwiches, dished out in sufficient quantity to stave off hunger through the middle of the day. With the proper combination of coupons, a careful diner can get away with a hearty lunch for three dollars and change, ranking the Great Impasta among the best deals in town. Food critics hate places like this, which is one more reason to go. Nosh on industrial-strength spaghetti and thumb your nose at refined taste.
STAFF PICK: Sanchez Burrito Company has four different locations for the "Home Of The Famous Giant Burrito," but we've chosen the original restaurant at 2530 N. First Ave. for special praise. One former University of Arizona athlete, back from a season in the NFL, was asked recently what he missed most about Tucson. "Sanchez burritos" were the first words out of his mouth, and one of their formidable burritos was the first food into it. Enormous flour tortillas are folded with copious amounts of meats, beans, cheeses and sauces, in just about any combination imaginable. Their house salsas are among the best in town too, and the combination dinners and side dishes shouldn't be ignored. But the trusty burrito is the foundation of the Sanchez legend, to be talked about in distant years in hushed, reverent tones. And rightfully so.
CAT'S MEOW: Remember the Martin Scorsese movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More, filmed right here in the Old Pueblo? The original downtown diner at which much of the movie was filmed is long gone, but its spirit has migrated eastward to the fine eatery, Bread and Butter Café, 4209 E. 22nd St. Five bucks will buy you a ham steak, pork chops or a hot turkey sandwich with all the trimmings, and the place offers what certain Southern transplants on our staff consider to be the best fried chicken west of Texarkana.