Food & Drink

All the Types of Foods You Can Eat in the Detroit Area for $1 or Less

Published On 02/16/2016 Published On 02/16/2016

We’ve all been there: tearing through the couch cushions in search of any spare cash. Turning pockets of dirty jeans inside out but coming up with nothing but lint. Times are tough, and even if they weren’t, we’d still want to eat as cheaply as possible. And we know you guys, our loyal readers: you’d rather spend $50 on lukewarm lager this weekend than on groceries. We’re not judging; in fact, we’re here to help. We realize for some of you, even the options for cheap eats in Detroit are just too expensive. Here are things you can eat for $1 or less!

Coney dogs!

JJ’s Bar & Grill

Address and Info

Madison Heights

Price: $0.99 Coneys
Detroit’s contribution to the food pyramid is a questionable cylinder of meat covered in chili sauce and slopped in a bun for just less than a buck.  

Garlic sauce!

Every restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine
Varying locations in Metropolitan Detroit
Price: $0.50-$0.99
Simultaneously the most delicious and offensive food you’ve ever eaten, we are not entirely sure what the ingredients are other than enough garlic to effectively fumigate Transylvania and something that makes it all meld together into a viscous paste. Comes with pita bread.

Flickr/Liza Lagman Sperl


Various (trucks, baby)
Southwest Detroit
Price: $1
There are more taco trucks in Southwest Detroit than there are cops. At press time, we couldn’t confirm any tacos for less than $1, but rest assured the taco truth is out there!

Fried chicken!

Bishr Poultry & Food Center 

Address and Info


Price: Two chicken wings for $1
Fried chicken with freakishly delicious and mysterious seasonings! Two wings for a dollar! What more could you possibly want? 

Polish food by the pound!


Address and Info


Price: $1, but maybe (probably) slightly more!
This Hamtown staple has been serving up quality Polish specialties since before listicles began! Hit the mini-buffet and fill yourself up to the point of whatever quantity substitutes a dollar! We recommend the gravy. 

Lydia Johnson/South U Pizza

Pizza slices!

Brown Jug/Backroom Pizza

Address and Info

Ann Arbor

Price: $1 slice 


3 Nick’s Bar

Address and Info


Price: $0.99 spaghetti on Tuesdays!
There's a rumor that a girl in a bikini will serve you a plate of spaghetti for less than a dollar. What are you waiting for? It’s what Downriver dreams are made of. 

Flickr/kris krüg


Aladdin Sweets & Cafe

Address and Info


Price: $1/samosa
Nothing costs more than $3.50 at this curry-scented Hamtramck hole-in-the-wall, with the excellent samosas winning the race for the cheapest available this side of Bangalore. 


Multiple locations
Price: $1, possibly less
Detroiters know how to make a dollar last. If you time it right -- and that's "switchover time" -- you might just be the lucky one who gets an old Taquito for a discounted price when they set the freshies out to roast on the rolling confines of the glass case.  



Tamalería Nuevo Leon

Address and Info


Price: $.50 per tamale ($5.50-$6 per dozen)
Real-deal Mexican tamales; sweet, spicy and filling, coming out to about $0.50 a tamale! 


Ye Olde Saloon

Address and Info

Royal Oak

Price: $1 burgers on Sundays
Sundays are generally a good day to visit Royal Oak, as it is the day when the town is wearing off the effects of the Axe body spray infestation from the Friday and Saturday clientele.

Tony V's Tavern



Address and Info





Address and Info



Southwest and Madison Heights
Price: $3 for a slider four-pack (each one is $.75)
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Megan Frye is a Detroit-based writer who has never met a tamale she didn’t like, even one that gave her food poisoning and left her praying to a porcelain god for 12 hours in an unnamed foreign country -- she ain’t mad at it. Tweet her at @fryechild with all your favorite cheap eats and tales of gastronomic distress!

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1. JJ's Bar & Grill 26085 John R Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071

With a kitchen open all day and an extensive menu, this full bar/restaurant has something for everyone. But if you don't want to be overwhelmed with options, order one of their dangerously cheap pitchers of beer and a Coney. Or a simple -- but nonetheless impressive -- breakfast item.

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2. Bishr Poultry & Food Center 12300 Conant St, Hamtramck, MI 48212 (Hamtramck)

Fresh, high quality poultry is transformed into golden brown fried chicken at this unassuming food center. That, combined with cheap prices, makes this a Dearborn staple. Other fantastic offerings include meat samosas, a variety of market selections, and, oddly, great spaghetti.

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3. Bozeks Market 3317 Caniff St, Hamtramck, MI 48212 (Hamtramck)

Quality meats, breads, produce, and -- most important -- imported delicacies are supplied at this neighborhood market, know for its Central/Easter European goods. In addition to offering various chocolates, cosmetics, and food items, Bozek's has an incredibly cheap mini buffet.

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4. The Brown Jug/Backroom Pizza 1204 S University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (Ann Arbor)

Named after the Michigan v. Minnesota trophy (the oldest in college football), this Ann Arbor staple/campus pub is a favorite of locals and UM students alike. Since 1938, The Brown Jug has been offering great, cheap Greek food. In conjunction with it is Backroom Pizza, a small eatery toting cheap slices.

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5. South U Pizza 425 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (Ann Arbor)

This pizza joint is a favorite among University of Michigan students for its reasonably-priced slices. Feeling a bit wild? Try the Buffalo or BBQ slice. Or better yet, dozens of cheese sticks.

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6. 3 Nick's 16807 W Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48228

Nick, Nick, and -- and, correct me if I'm wrong, -- Nick are serving up casual plates of cheap spaghetti in this Downriver dive. Rumor has it that a girl in a bikini will serve. Buon appetite!

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7. Aladdin Sweets & Cafe 11945 Conant St, Hamtramck, MI 48212 (Hamtramck)

This spot in Hamtramck specializes in Bangladeshi cuisine and is one of the most affordable meals you will ever have. Nothing on the appetizer menu is even above $3.50, and that includes a kabob, tandoori chicken wings,and 4-piece braised shrimp in coconut cream.

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8. Tamaleria Nuevo Leon 2669 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48216 (Mexicantown)

With over half a century of service under its belt, Tamalería Nuevo Leon has, arguably, some of the best (and cheapest) tamales in Detroit. If half a dozen isn't enough for one sitting, this Mexican eatery also sells their tamales frozen, for safe travel, storage, and resurrection.

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9. Evie's Tamales 3454 Bagley St, Detroit, MI 48216 (Mexicantown)

Although you can find really good chilaquiles and huevos rancheros at this unassuming Mexican eatery, their claim to fame are the 99 cent breakfast burritos. Load one or 15 up with chorizo, ham, potatoes, and anything else you like. Other cheap eats include half a dozen tamales -- for under $5!

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10. Ye Olde Saloon 1023 S Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067 (Royal Oak)

Although this bar is packed on Friday and Saturday night -- check out the shuffleboard, darts, pool, and pinball machines -- it's no stranger to the Sunday morning rush, thanks to its weekly dollar burger special.

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11. Tony V's Tavern 5756 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48202

Tony V's Tavern, located in the old Alvin's space, is a college-bar-meets-grown-up-bar -- an attractive space with contemporary appeal that serves high-quality food, including thin-crust brick-oven pizzas, giant salads, burgers, and panini. There's also live music, DJs, karaoke, and trivia to keep the college bar crowd strong late into the night.

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12. Telway Hamburger System 6820 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48210

The Telway Hamburger System is open 24 hours, serving you sliders, fries, and coneys for ridiculously cheap prices. This counter serve takeout joint is the type of place that sells burgers by the bag from it's unapologetic, squat home in the middle of a parking lot. Nothing about Telway is about fine presentation, especially its uniquely thin patties that pack a fat flavor wallop, but they still make one hell of an impression. While you're there, keep your motor running with some of their famously delicious and equally cheap coffee.



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