Think $10 doesn't buy much anymore? You'll be counting your change and licking your lips if you clue into some of Long Island's top food steals. Like a crazy-good piadina. Or a hearty huarache. Or an utterly unbeatable uttupam.
Here are 10 terrific dishes we've savored at restaurants islandwide. Each is substantial enough to qualify as a meal but priced at $10 or less. So whip out an Alexander Hamilton and join us on our cheap-thrills crawl.--JOAN REMINICK, email@example.com
1. CHICKEN'S ROAD, Bellmore: The house specialty at this counter-service Venezuelan spot, gallo rice ($9.75), a hybrid Chinese-South American stir-fry, combines rice, chicken, pork and vegetables ingeniously spiced, Venezuelan style. It's big enough to feed two and comes with a soda.
Piadina -- aka piada -- is a grilled and filled flatbread from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. This is Franco Abballe’s San Tomasso, with Prosciutto di Parma, roasted peppers, artichokes, fresh mozzarella and arugula.
2. CINELLI'S, Oceanside: Another example is the San Marco piadina ($8) filled with Speck (smoked prosciutto), caciotta al tartufo (truffle-infused sheep- and cow's-milk cheese), roasted peppers and spring greens. A savory culinary sojourn.
3. THE FISH STORE, Bayport: Close your eyes and you'd swear you're eating lobster salad. But the crawfish salad sandwich ($7.99) on the lunch menu of this restaurant-within-a-fish market is much less pricey and comes with a choice of fries, rice or a baked potato.
4. FRESCO CREPERIE & CAFE, Williston Park and Long Beach: At these contemporary crepe cafes, the savory "complete" crepe ($9.75) lives up to its name. Enfolded within a thin pancake is a sumptuous filling of Gruyère, ham, egg and onion. Making the meal that much more complete: the well-dressed green salad alongside.
5. HOUSE OF DOSAS, Hicksville: It's a pancake. It's a frittata. It's Southern India's answer to both: the uttapam. At this mega-popular Hicksville spot, the mixed-vegetable version ($8.95) is pillowy and comforting, embedded with lots of colorful vegetables.
Island Empanada's traditional ground beef empanada with "secret" sofrito sauce and shrimp and mango salsa empanada.
6. ISLAND EMPANADA, Ronkonkoma: Empanadas here are $1.95 to $2.95 each; any three, with rice and beans and sweet plantains, plus a 16-ounce fountain soda, $9.99 dinner special ($9.99).
7. LITTLE MEXICO, Westbury: In a storefront decorated with colorful Mexican artifacts, you'll find an authentic -- and filling -- selection of Mexican specialties.
7. LITTLE MEXICO, Westbury: Huaraches ($6.25), shaped like (and named for) shoes, are made with fried masa, or corn dough; the smaller but similar sopes take a round shape. Toppings for either include cheese, tongue, chorizo and chicken.
8. ROBKE'S COUNTRY INN, Northport: Drawing crowds is the $10 lunch at this pubby and popular Italian restaurant and burger spot.
8. ROBKE'S COUNTRY INN, Northport: Choices include sole francese with spinach, farfalle rusticana with shrimp and the signature chicken and sausage scarpariello (pictured), all of which go for $19.95 at dinner.
9. TARA INN, Port Jefferson: Other bargains: a $7 fish sandwich and $9.99 1 1/4-pound lobster, both served with soup, salad and fries. There's also a 99-cent roast beef sandwich. Eating off paper plates seems a small price to pay for such deals.
10. TEN89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook: This budget-priced boon to Stony Brook's noodle-craving masses offers 15 varieties of authentic Chinese noodle soups, each a virtual meal in a bowl.
10. TEN89 NOODLE HOUSE, Stony Brook: The braised beef soup ($6.95) features a hearty broth brimming with tender meat, bright vegetables and fat noodles. It's what you want when you're feeling under the weather. And on top of it, too.