Ten Best Dinners Under $15 in Miami

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Photo by billwisserphoto.com
Don't fear the dinner bill at OTC.
The economy is improving, but let's face it -- the recovery has yet to hit the young, urban demographic. It's a constant struggle out there, made no easier by the desire to treat your date to the standard weekend dinner out on the town. Between valet, drinks, appetizers, mains, dessert, and tip, the whole affair can work quite a number on your already-tight wallet. Never fear, for Short Order is here to give you the rundown of the best places to dine out on a budget without sacrificing ambiance.

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Pepito's Plaza: Venezuelan Guilty Pleasures Await in a Doral Gas Station

Categories: Cheap Eats

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Photo by Zachary Fagenson
Parrillada mixta ($9) with steak and chicken at Pepito's Plaza.
Next to a cooler filled with Monster Energy and Red Bull, a group of police officers wolfs down burgers stacked with several meats covered with a dribble of egg yolk. Only a stack of Bud Light cases separates them from the cash register of this Doral Exxon, where people file in and out to buy gas and cigarettes.

See also: Honduran Baleadas: Three Great Places to Get Them

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Palmas Cafe in Brickell: Lunch for Under $10

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Photo by Giovanny Gutierrez
Hello, lover...
If you think there isn't a decent spot where you can get lunch for under $10 in Brickell, you'd probably be right. Up until a couple of weeks ago, anyway. That's when Palmas Café quietly opened in the gorgeous courtyard shared with Deli Lane and a few other places.

Palmas Café comes to Brickell from the owners of Oasis Café in Key Biscayne (which has been supplying all Key Rats with their coffee fix for decades) and Las Olas Café over in South Beach (providing a similar service to beach-goers).

See also: Ten Best $5 Lunches in Miami

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Ten Best Falafel Places in Miami

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Photo by Carina Ost
Green balls > blue balls.
Falafel is at its best when it has the yin and the yang -- crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

These meatless wonders show the depth of rich flavors that are possible in snackable form. You can dip them in a tahini or tzatziki bath, stuff them into a pita, or display them on a platter with hummus and tabbouleh. Regardless, they are the stars of the show.

From kosher and traditional to wacky and green with peas and fava beans, what follows are the top falafel balls in Miami.

See also: Ten Best Meatballs in Miami

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Ocean Deli Market in South Beach: Try the $5 Lunch Box

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Photos by Carina Ost
This box is $5.
South Beach may have copious amounts of overpriced restaurants, but if you want the best deal in town: follow the construction workers.

Ocean Deli is a neighborhood bodega with liquor, snacks and substantial subs made with Boar's Head meat. But something funny happens during the lunch hours. Hoards of workers head to the glass case and point to things to fit in a white box. They then ignore the main line and head to the door, giving a guy who is like a bouncer a five-dollar bill and exiting with their box in a plastic bag. It is a secret society of inexpensive made-to-order lunch boxes.

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Miami Mediterranean Cuisine Is the Best Place for a Gyro in SoBe

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Photos by Carina Ost
Fresh off the spit.
If you're going to Sultan Mediterranean Cuisine in SoBe for your gyro, kebab, and falafel fix, you're doing it wrong. The far lesser-known place Miami Mediterranean Cuisine has tastier food, is open late (2 a.m.), offers free delivery (if the order is over $15), and costs about half the price.

It may have an unoriginal and forgettable restaurant name, but its food is memorable because it's packed with fresh flavors.

See also: Jerusalem Deli & Cafe in North Miami: Try the Hummus and Baklava

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One Empanada to Rule Them All: Where to Find Empanadas de Pabellon

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Courtesy of La Latina
The empanada de pabellon from La Latina in midtown.
Argentines, Cubans, and Colombians, please accept my apologies. Your empanadas pale in comparison to Venezuela's beef-, bean-, and sweet-plantain-filled empanadas de pabellón.

Yes, your empanadas are delicious. Their flaky crusts, either baked or fried, are tantalizing. The savory fillings -- from Cuban picadillo to the cream, chicken, and walnuts in Argentine chicken potpies -- just don't match the addictive, perfect interplay of ingredients inside the pabellón.

See also: National Ice Cream Month: Mantecado, Mamey, and Azucar's Miami Flavors

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Bastille Day: Five French Eateries in Miami for the Non-Elite

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Larry Hoffman | Flickr cc
Célébrons!
"Let them eat cake."

These immortal words supposedly spoken by Marie Antoinette still live on today, but now we can take them literally. On July 14, 1789, inspired by the American revolution, the French people finally rose up against King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, stormed the Bastille, and kicked the aristocracy out on their rich asses. Celebrate this victoire du peuple by eating an inexpensive, delicious French meal at one of these Miami locales on Monday.

See also: Eden in Eden French Cafe: Try the Vegan Croque-Monsieur

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T&W Barbecue: Award-Winning Ribs and Barbecue in Cutler Bay

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All photos by Zachary Fagenson
Tom Wills at the barbecue helm.
After a few years of owning a small chain of local sandwich shops, Tom Wills decided he needed more. So the longtime Redlands man started traveling to Georgia and South Carolina to learn barbecue. He bought a trailer, started smoking baby back ribs, briskets and chicken wings, and winning competitions.

Those awards, mostly for their sweet-smoky ribs, hang on the walls of T&W Barbecue on South Dixie Highway in Cutler Bay. A line stretches from the service counter, where orders are placed and ribs and corn bread are dished, out into the dim, wood-covered dining room. Wills hobnobs with customers, plying construction workers to sit for a tall Styrofoam cup of sweet tea rather than return to the work site. Later, he spends a few minutes talking a family friend, coordinating carpool for the kids later that week.

See also: Renovated Uncle Tom's BBQ in Coral Gables Keeps Original Flavor (Photos)

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Burgers and Shakes: Try the Veggie Burger and Sweet Potato Fries

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All photos by Carina Ost
Goodbye, sad, meatless patty. Hello, portobello!
In honor of Meatless Monday, the ultimate in veggie junk food comes from Burgers and Shakes in North Beach.

If you want a meat-free transition from your grilled burgers over the holiday weekend, go for the veggie alternative. If you're thinking a veggie burger has to be a dry, cardboard-like puck, think again.

See also: Ten Best Restaurants in North Miami

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