Hum bow from Mee Sum Pastry. Courtesy of Mee Sum Pastry

Dining out in Seattle can be spendy, but we all have our favorite work-arounds—restaurants that we patronize to feel both full and thrifty. So eat up.

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Mee Sum Pastry
Pike Place Market is a jewel box, and Mee Sum Pastry is my favorite gem. The small take-out-only shop sells cheap Chinese eats: barbecue pork sticks, crab rangoon, wife cakes. The crab rangoon is heavy on the crab and light on the rangoon, which I think is ideal, but the real reason I go is for the cheap hum bow. For $2.50 each, the meat-filled buns come either baked or steamed and stuffed with chicken, barbecue pork, or curry beef. Find one of Pike Place Market's lookouts—now viaduct-free!—and watch the ships come in as you stuff your face. You can also find Mee Sum Pastry in the U-District. CHASE BURNS

Falafel King
Sometimes the best, quickest, and cheapest bites are hidden in plain sight. One Friday evening, I had 45 minutes before I needed to be present and fed at Benaroya Hall. I was starving, and the shops in Pike Place Market had already closed down for the day. Enter: the $5 falafel sandwich at Falafel King, a walk-up restaurant just north of Pike Place Market. Incredible falafel—light and crunchy with a meaningful kick of heat and herbs. A micro-patio outside challenges you to eat the somewhat messy sandwich in full view of passersby, but so long as you take small bites you should be okay—and even relaxed—as you watch tourists and commuters walk by in their funny little hurries. RICH SMITH 

Korean Tofu House
The University District is packed with cheap Korean jjigae restaurants, but the best is this generic-sounding basement restaurant a few steps off the Ave. Though it has some of the worst service in town, any lingering anger from being disrespected by your server will dissolve in the steam emanating from Korean Tofu House's incredibly cheap and delicious earthenware bowls of bulgogi ($9.99), broiled squid ($9.99), pork tofu soup ($8.99), and spicy barbecue pork ($12.99). True to Korean tradition of banchan, each entrée includes unlimited amounts of five side dishes: kimchi, cold potato with soy (gamjajorim), seasoned soybean sprouts (kongnamul), scallion pancake (pajeon), and fish cake (odeng). LESTER BLACK

Harbor City
If the line is too long at Jade Garden, mosey over to Harbor City, where the dim sum staples are more or less exactly the same. When the servers roll those steaming carts my way, I order a feast of steamed hum bow (pork bun), shumai (pork dumpling), lo mai gai (sticky rice and chicken wrapped in lotus leaf), har gow (shrimp dumpling), and gai lan (Chinese broccoli, for roughage). No matter how many people come along with me, somehow I always eat until I hit a wall for $10. These days, the line at Harbor City is often just as long as the one at Jade Garden, but send a scout 15 to 20 minutes ahead of the group and you should be fine, or put in your name and snag a boba tea from a nearby spot while you wait. RICH SMITH

Feed Co. Burgers
Outside of Dick's Drive-In and other fast-food joints, it is pretty hard to find a burger in Seattle that's less than $10. But this Central District counter-style restaurant offers plenty of substance and flavor, and a Build Your Own Burger that starts at $5. Even with add-ons—say, cheese ($1) and a gluten free bun ($2)—you're still sitting at $8 before taxes. Of course, you'll want an order of hand-cut fries ($2.75) or sweet potato fries ($3.25) or maybe some veggie tempura ($4), but the grand out-of-pocket total still lands well under your standard "casual" local eatery. LEILANI POLK

Pho Bac
There's a lot of pho in Seattle—some good, some bad, some in the middle—but Pho Bac in Rainier Valley is one of the best. With a stripped-down aesthetic, inexplicable murals, and water damage dotting the ceiling, this is not the place for a fancy date night, but it is the place to go if you want excellent pho for just around $10. The vegetarian pho really is vegan, but if you do eat flesh, try the short rib or oxtail pho, which is rich in flavor (and bones) but won't break your budget. KATIE HERZOG

Gorditos
If volume is your dining priority, you can hardly do better than this cheap and cheerful Mexican joint's famous $10.85 "grande burrito," more commonly known as the "baby burrito"—so named because it is the size of an actual infant. (To really drive this fact home, the restaurant has plastered a wall with photos featuring customers' newborns posed beside their foil-wrapped counterparts for scale, like some wacky alternative-universe Anne Geddes gallery.) Order it "wet" for a couple more bucks if you're feeling flush, or simply zhuzh it up with the assortment of fresh salsas from the salsa bar. JULIANNE BELL

Chef King
Greenwood has been hurting for a Szechuan joint ever since Seven Stars Pepper moved to the International District, and it's hit the jackpot with Chef King (only 16 years later). The lighthearted menu is priced reasonably throughout, but the economical standouts are the noodle dishes, which are served in a big noodle mountain that's more than enough to feed a single person. Take your pick from the classic but complex dan dan noodles, the nutty yi bin noodles, or, if you're feeling spicy, the cold Szechuan noodles, all $7.95 each. Tread carefully with that last dish, though—it may look sparsely dressed, but that Szechuan peppercorn will kick you in the face and leave your lips (pleasantly) numb for hours. MEG VAN HUYGEN

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Bánh mì from Saigon Deli. Elizabeth Crook

Saigon Deli
Broke, flush, carnivorous, vegetarian—for every type of eater in Seattle there is Saigon Deli, home to the most perfect $5 bánh mì. The sandwich comes stuffed with anything your heart desires, from tofu to grilled chicken to perfect bun cha meatballs. I always get the fresh spring rolls ($3), packed with tofu or shrimp and pork with a delightful herbal kick, and a little cup of peanut sauce with chili paste for dipping. The sesame balls ($1) are similarly wonderful: chewy and sweet and satisfying, as are the hum bow ($4), a huge, glutenous, fluffy version of a sweet stuffed bun with fragrant chicken and egg. All the desserts here rule, as does much of the hot scoop counter (spare ribs, eggplant tofu, caramelized shrimp). There is no seating. You order to go and eat in your car, or on the sidewalk overlooking Saigon Deli's broken jigsaw of a parking lot. The neighborhood flows in and out, a window into the International District as global community, everyone ordering hot, sweet Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk ($2) or packs of smokes from behind the deli counter. I keep coming back. JORDAN MICHELMAN

Koa
The University District is packed with cheap eats for cash-strapped students, but one of the most underrated and soul-soothing options might lie within Koa, a homey hidden gem where Morsel owner Kekoa Chin-Hidano serves hot coffee and his favorite Hawaiian comfort breakfasts. A measly five bucks affords you a heartily portioned Japanese beef or vegetable curry, with rice and tender chunks of carrots and potatoes smothered in savory brown sauce—and that's just the small size. If you're dealing with a particularly monstrous appetite, you can add an egg or upgrade to the medium or large, and still remain under $10. JULIANNE BELL