Dining out in the world’s top cities can leave your belly full …and your wallet empty. Not so at these tasty places across the Americas, from Canada to Argentina, all fully vetted by in-the-know foodies.


BOGOTÁ – Misia
“Misia, from Colombia’s top chef Leonor Espinosa, takes the low but tasty road of traditional Colombian food. It’s about what’s relaxed and popular, what people in Colombia grew up with. The chicharrones (fried pork rinds) are a good introduction to the deliriously delicious ways that Colombians prepare pork. The arepa de huevo (deep-fried corn-flower patty filled with egg and topped with local sauces) is a culinary delight. Don’t overlook the fresh juice on the menu: they’re made from exotic fruits you probably can’t get back home.”
– Karen Attman of Flavors of Bogota

[Photo: Misia, courtesy Karen Attman]

BOGOTÁ – Prudencia
“In the heart of Bogotá’s historical La Candelaria neighbourhood lies this fabulous restaurant, which offers what I believe to be the best deal in the city. For a nip under $20, you’ll be able to enjoy a 3-course meal made with fresh local ingredients in a classical farm-to-table setting.”
– Loon Lio of bogotafoodie.com

BOGOTÁ – El Envigadeño
“Named after the neighbourhood where the dish originated, this little restaurant is known for serving one of Colombia’s most famous dishes: bandeja paisa. This caloric monster is served on a medieval-style platter and includes hearty delights such as ground beef, deep-fried pork belly, blood sausage, rice, beans, avocado, plantain and fried eggs. A monster serving for a baby price of $10.”
– Loon Lio of bogotafoodie.com

“Empanadas are important to most Argentines. They come in all shapes and sizes, fried and baked, with dozens of filling flavours. In fact, every region of the country boasts their own variation of empanadas. La Cocina’s baked empanadas come from the Catamarca province and contain a sweeter pie-crust-like dough. The flavour to order is the Pikachu, a spicy cheese and onion empanada. General rule: two empanadas are a snack, three are a meal.”
– Allie Lazar of pickupthefork.com

BUENOS AIRES – Lo de Freddy/Nuestra Parrilla
“No trip to the San Telmo market is complete without visiting Freddy’s tiny hole-in-the-wall grill. He makes the best choripán in the city, a beloved sandwich that’s Argentina’s answer to street food. It consists of two simple ingredients: chorizo sausage (chori) on bread (pan). Don’t forget to smother it in some chimichurri sauce!”
– Allie Lazar of pickupthefork.com

BUENOS AIRES – La Mezzetta
“Over half of the Argentine population comes from Italian descendants, so it makes sense that pizza is such a big deal. Argentine-style pizza is unlike any you have ever seen: thick crust, tons of cheese and very little sauce. La Mezzetta, a popular pizza mecca outside the tourist track, makes some of the city’s best fugazzeta. The thick-crusted pizza is stuffed with cheese and ham, and smothered in more cheese and caramelised onions on top. It’s for lactose lovers only!”
– Allie Lazar of pickupthefork.com

[Photo: La Picantería, courtesy Mayssam Samaha]

LIMA – La Picantería
“Picanterías are casual taverns popular in Arequipa in southern Peru that are open for lunch only and serve regional, family-style specialties. At this picantería, the day’s catch are listed on a black board and crossed off as they are ordered. Come late and you might miss out. You pick your fish and the preparation method you prefer, and the friendly staff will bring you your catch. The ceviche is hands down one of the best in Lima, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t order the absolutely luscious rocoto relleno chupe (stuffed red pepper soup).”
– Mayssam Samaha of Will Travel for Food


MONTREAL – Schwartz’s
“An iconic restaurant in Montreal, you can easily spot Schwartz’s a block away by the constant line out the door. This deli has been serving its smoked meat using the same original recipe since 1928. Stand in line for a table, or order yours to go and head to nearby Mount Royal Park for an impromptu picnic. Tip from a local: Always order your meat ‘half fat’, and always get a side of pickle. If you’re taking it to go, order extra bread because you’re going to need it.”
– Mayssam Samaha of Will Travel for Food

VANCOUVER – The Shameful Tiki Room
“Step through the curtains and be teleported into Hawaii. All your senses will light up – and hopefully not get too lit up by the amazing drinks. Tiki culture is apparent throughout the lounge, and the servers are fantastic. Order the Mystery Bowl with a friend and see what happens! Also ask about their daily specials.”
– Billy Lam of birryram.com

VANCOUVER – Banh Mi Saigon
“Vietnamese subs are plentiful in East Vancouver, but Banh Mi Saigon stands out for their bread and toppings. A family run business, they put Subways to shame with their freshness and quality. $5 gets you a sandwich; $10 total will get you a dessert and drink with your meal. Try their #1 special or lemongrass pork.”
– Billy Lam of birryram.com

“Close to the waters of West Vancouver, Feast provides an excellent dining experience. Their brunch and lunch features are spectacular; if you love chicken and waffles, this place is a must try. Also try their Feast Burger, of which a portion of the proceeds go to help local at-risk youths.”
– Billy Lam of birryram.com


MIAMI – The Seven Dials 
“At this homey British gastropub, most items on the menu come in at under $20. Locals, however, know to check out the blackboard specials like cottage pie that change daily. If you do opt for the regular offerings, make sure to get the fish and chips – they’re the best on this side of the pond.”
– Geoffrey Anderson and Dianne Rubin of miamifoodpug.com

MIAMI – Proof
“You’d think one of the most popular dishes at an Italian restaurant would be pasta or pizza. Indeed, this Midtown Miami eatery has its fair share of stellar noodles and pies, but it’s the $14 grass-fed burger on a homemade potato bun that’s the talk of the town; its white cheddar aioli and caramelised onions seal the deal.”
– Geoffrey Anderson and Dianne Rubin of miamifoodpug.com

Grassfed cheeseburger ? @dmo305 @proofmiami

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MIAMI – El Grito   
“South Beach mezcaleria El Grito serves up reasonably priced Mexican bites that are just as compelling as its mezcal cocktails. Start with the costra de queso (a crispy cheese tortilla) and then order a signature quesadilla with your choice of filling; tasty tacos and burritos are also available. Regardless of your order, you’ll leave full – and so will your wallet.”
– Geoffrey Anderson and Dianne Rubin of miamifoodpug.com

“This tiny family-run Mexican takeout spot on the east side of Indianapolis is truly one-of-a-kind. Offering authentic, fresh and healthier takes on classic Mexican specialities such as carnitas and tamales, Tlaolli (which is a Mexican word for “corn”) is a hidden gem in the Circle City. Their small dining room is decorated with hand-drawn chalk art and is usually watched over by at least one of the members of the friendly Hutchinson family that originally hails from Monterrey. This place is a fantastic choice for catering as well, as they offer many diet-friendly and vegetarian options.”
– Lauren McDuffie of harvestandhoney.com

“New York has no shortage of excellent Chinese restaurants, but there is nothing quite like the rice noodles at Yuan. The signature 15-spice mei fun is based on a 2,200-year-old recipe from owner Jacob Ding’s hometown of Guilin, and is served with beef shank, Chinese bacon and a smattering of herbs. Whatever you do, make sure to order your own bowl.”
– Jay Zygmunt of dishelinguide.com

NEW YORK – Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos 
“The secret to great tacos is fresh tortillas. And there are none fresher than those at Los Hermanos, which is actually located inside a Bushwick tortilla factory. Add their homemade salsas and toppings (the chorizo is a must!), and enjoy a little taste of Mexico in Brooklyn.”
– Jay Zygmunt of dishelinguide.com

NEW YORK – House of Small Wonder
“House of Small Wonder is located in the heart of trendy Williamsburg, but the cosy east-meets-west café is a welcome respite from the buzzing streets surrounding it. I enjoy it equally as a place to catch up with a friend over a croissant or to post up for a few hours with only a good book and bowl of sashimi as company.”
– Jay Zygmunt of dishelinguide.com

NEW YORK – Prince Street Pizza
“While the best NYC Pizza debate can go on for decades, a place that is always in the mix of the discussion – as well as my personal favourite – is Prince Street Pizza. They do make a variety of slices, however their spicy square pepperoni slice is exactly what you should be ordering. Trust me, you won’t regret it!”
– Brian Lindo of Brian Can’t Stop Eating

NEW YORK – Nom Wah Tea Parlor
“Tucked away in the heart of Chinatown since the 1920s, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is a staple Chinese Dim Sum restaurant where you can enjoy delicious food while having an amazing time embracing Chinese culture. Mix and match the many dim sum dishes on the menu for a perfect meal. House special roast pork buns and Shanghainese soup dumplings are musts!”
– Brian Lindo of Brian Can’t Stop Eating

“After spending some time in Japan studying the culture and their culinary world, I am so appreciative of the depth and thought that goes into each bowl of ramen. I recently discovered Japan all over again, but in a New Orleans-based ramen shop that sits in an eclectic area called Magazine St., home to several nationally awarded restaurants. Nomiya may not be fine dining, but it most certainly warms your soul – from the cool, Japanese jazz playing in the background, down to the hot bowl of noodles. Even a hot New Orleanian can appreciate it!”
– Leslie Lee of chefsgirl.com 

NEW ORLEANS – Samuel’s Blind Pelican
“Looking for a refreshing plate of Gulf oysters? Samuel’s Blind Pelican welcomes many locals and travellers with a plate of a dozen oysters for the jaw-dropping price of $3. The catch? You have to purchase an alcoholic beverage for every dozen oysters that you order. Raw oysters aren’t your thing? They offer charbroiled oysters as well. Enjoy the streetcar passing by while enjoying some New Orleans sun in the patio area!”
– Leslie Lee of chefsgirl.com 

NEW ORLEANS – Bayou Hot Wings
“Bayou Hot Wings might be next to one of the most expensive universities in the country (Tulane), but it offers a variety of affordable gourmet-quality local favourites. Their speciality is wings, but they’re known for so much more. My favourite things to order are the Gator Bites with Remoulade Sauce and Jambalaya.”
– Leslie Lee of chefsgirl.com 

OAKLAND – Juhu Beach Club 
“An Oakland, California treasure that features an eclectic and unique menu inspired by Indian street food with a tasteful and fun décor that reminds you of the golden years of Bollywood. The flavours are bold and complex, and there are several options for both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. One of my particular favourites is the crispy, sweet and tangy Manchurian cauliflower or the Indian-style sloppy joes which pack a fiery punch.”
– Nik Sharma of abrowntable.com

Looking for more affordable eats around the world? Check out our tips for Asia and Australia, as well as Europe and the Middle East.

What is your experience of local restaurants where you live? Do you find exciting meals for less than $20?

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