Top Cheap Lunch Spots In Denver

February 20, 2013 6:00 AM

Blue Bonnet’s smoked tomato soup (credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

When time is short and budgets are tight, Denver’s list of inexpensive lunches is long. From daily specials to everyday wallet-friendly options, here are few to choose from for under $10 (not including tax and tip).

Blue Bonnet's smoked tomato soup (credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Blue Bonnet’s smoked tomato soup (credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Blue Bonnet
457 S. Broadway
Denver, CO 80209
(303) 778-0147

This family-owned, friendly restaurant has been a local favorite for Mexican food lovers since the 1960s. At lunch, the Blue Bonnet’s Smart Size, Right Price menu includes choices of two enchiladas, two tamales, one cheese chile relleno or housemade chicken taquitos. Each dish comes with rice and beans for $7.95. Ask for the red or green chile sauce. If you are looking for something beyond the traditional Mexican rice and beans fare, try the smoked bacon tomato soup, chicken tortilla soup and pork posole ($4.26).

Related: Top Mexican Food In Denver

Biker Jim's elk jalapeno cheddar with fried macaroni and cheese (credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Biker Jim’s elk jalapeno cheddar with fried macaroni and cheese (credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Biker Jim’s
2148 Larimer St
Denver, CO 80205
(720) 746-9355

Biker Jim’s is all about cheap eats, but not cheap quality. Yes, there are less expensive places to get a hot dog in town, but none that are made from hormone-free beef, antibiotic-free pork and poultry and far-out fillings. Choose any dog, whether German veal or Alaskan reindeer. Small sides are another $2 for goodies like fries, deep-fried mac and cheese (oh so good), baked beans or fried green tomatoes. The daily dog special is a classic dog, housemade fries and a natural (no high fructose corn-syrup) soda for $9.25.

Masterpiece Delicatessen (credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Masterpiece Delicatessen (credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Masterpiece Deli
1575 Central St.
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 561-3354

If you are the type to judge a restaurant on foot traffic, Masterpiece Deli is a revolving door of tastiness. While the sandwiches are just under our self-imposed $10 limit, every bite is a gold mine of flavor. It’s hard to decide what to try first, but here are a few tried-and-true suggestions: grilled cheese with an add-on of tomato, bacon or wild mushrooms ($5.50 plus $.75-$2.25 per add on); Cubano, slow roasted mojo pork and ham pressed between a toasted roll to melt the Swiss cheese ($9.50), and white truffle egg salad with capers and white truffle oil – good for breakfast too ($8.50). All sandwiches come with a choice of side.

Pho 95 Noodle House
6879 S. Vine St.
Centennial, CO 80122
(303) 797-9535
Check website for Federal Blvd. location

If you are looking for a filling lunch on something other than a bun, this is the place. Pho 95’s menu is full of options below $10. For instance, a medium pho bowl with brisket, flank steak, tripe, noodles and vegetables is $7.50. Kid’s pho bowls are $3.75 with meat and $2.75 plain. Two fresh spring rolls, filled with shrimp, rice noodles and lettuce, served with peanut or fish sauce is $3.95. Even a beef noodle bowl with egg rolls is $9.95.

Spinelli’s Market
4621 E. 23rd St.
Denver CO 80207
(303) 329-8143

Park Hill envy: that is what Spinelli’s means for all other neighborhoods, envy that we all don’t have a small Italian deli and grocery within walking distance of our own front door. Even if you don’t live in Park Hill, take the time to have lunch at Spinelli’s. The deli sandwiches are bountiful and exude authenticity with each bite. All of the sandwiches are less than $10. Jerry Italian sub, for $7, is a perennial favorite with Genoa salami, capicola, smoked ham, provolone, roasted red peppers, salad stuff and Italian vinaigrette stuffed in an Italian roll. Or try the piquante, Black Forest ham with hot peppers, Swiss and extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a crusty baguette.

Mikes2Kitchen Food Truck
(303) 437-0345

Mike Levine and Mike Carline, hence Mike2, are Denver’s southern food love children. Po’ boys, gumbo and andouille; it is all oh so good. For $8, the shrimp po’ boy is filled with fried shrimp and pickled cucumbers, with a thick slather of Cajun remoulade. The roasted pork is pure southern with slaw and mustard barbecue sauce ($6.50). The boys can be taken out of the south with their Asian turkey sandwich, brined in ginger rice wine and soy sauce for $6.50 or their lunch tacos for $8.

Related: Top Restaurants for Brunch In Denver

Kimberly Lord Stewart is a food author and journalist for CBS Denver local, Organic Food Reporter for, and the Food, Wine and Spirits editor for Denver Life magazine. Her book, “Eating Between the Lines” tells readers about the truth and myths of food labeling. Stewart is the recipient of two Association of Food Journalist awards for food news reporting and the Jessie Neal Business Journalism award. Her work can be found at