Helvetia Tavern Hillsboro, Oregon
Recommended by: Jenn Louis Lincoln, Portland, Oregon
Just off of Highway 26, this old-school tavern is popular with bike riders, motorcyclists and other beach-bound Portlanders in need of a beer-and-burger pit stop. At Helvetia the patties are cooked on a griddle (“The meat takes on the flavor of the griddle, in a good way,” says Louis’s husband, David Welch). Louis and Welch get their burgers topped with yellow American cheese, then eat them on the fabulous patio overlooking rolling hills. The tab: $4.50 per person. Though Helvetia has a good list of local microbrews, the couple usually orders Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Kasa Indian Restaurant San Francisco
Recommended by: Jamie Lauren Absinthe, San Francisco
Lauren, a contestant on Season 5 of Bravo’s Top Chef, lives just around the corner from her favorite cheap restaurant, Kasa. She loves the homestyle Indian food, including a handful of curries and especially the kathi rolls—she calls them India’s version of burritos. Lauren’s favorite roll has a turkey-kebab filling made with ground free-range turkey flavored with garlic, then grilled, smashed and wrapped in buttery roti (pita-like bread). Even with raita and lemony salad on the side, it still costs less than $5.