Edited to add: Unfortunately, Bumpas closed a few months after posting this.
I am the queen of the cheap lunch. With the existence of the dollar menu at McDonald's, Burger King & Wendy's, I pride myself on being able to fashion a $2 lunch (sandwich & fries) almost anywhere. $3 if I decide to include a drink. Other places might be more challenging. The Korean grocery stores usually sell Kim Bop (think Korean Sushi rolls) for only $2, sometimes $3 or $3.50. 11 pieces of sushi roll for two bucks can't be beat. Chopsticks & soy sauce included. The school cafeteria was out - the burger alone was over three dollars and was usually pretty inedible anyway.
I am willing to spend a little more for dinner - say $3 to $3.50 for two hot dogs, fries and a drink or $3.50 to $4 for a cheeseburger, fries and drink at our local pizza/Italian Beef/Chicken & Ribs take out. If Bill & I are not too hungry we can get by on a dog and half an order of fries apiece. If we're extra hungry we get both, cut the burger in half and each have our own dog & fries. The only drawback is our local place has crummy soda - RC Cola, Sprite and bad lemonade.
Now I think I have found nirvana. I have outdone even myself for the cheap lunch. Last week Bill stopped at Bumpas Beef. This place opened near us a year or so ago. I tried their BBQ Pork sandwich. Bleech. A few shreds of stewed pork on a bland bun and only a trickle of tasteless BBQ sauce. Friends defended the place saying their burgers were "not bad". That's like saying Jack the Ripper was "an okay guy". Did I mention the prices were nowhere near the bargain levels I demanded?
But things change. Lately, there have been signs at Bumpas advertising a Hot Dogs & Fries for $1.99. Sounds like my two dollar lunch is back! No drink but if you have coke or squirt in the fridge, which you bought for about 50 cents a can at the grocery store, you're still on budget.
Last week Bill brought home a dog & fries for me. $1.99 bought a real Chicago hot dog with a snappy bite, in a soft steamed roll, and the requisite neon green relish. I also prefer onion and mustard. The french fries were hand cut and nicely cooked. A gourmet delight for two bucks and a trip around the corner.
Bill got himself the Foot Long. Anyone from Detroit is familiar with the foot long hot dog. Here they called it a "1 Foot" but lets not quibble about terms. Bill's dog was as good as mine, snappy casing, soft bun and all (Bill only likes mustard on his dog and neither of us are into the Chicago style dog which is usually dressed with tomato, pickle wedges, peppers, mustard, relish, onion and the ubiquitous celery salt). He pronounced it a quality dog and the fries a success (woe the place that sells Bill an undercooked french fry).
A week later we were out on a shopping spree at the Dollar store (can't figure out why they have things priced at $2.75 or $3.99 but whatever). On the way home Bill suggested stopping for a dog at Bumpas since we were both hungry and neither felt like cooking. I agreed.
$3.00 plus Chicago sales tax bought us a 1 Foot (Foot Long) hot dog and a big mess of fries (seems we got more fries by eating there than with our take-out). I finished about half the dog then Bill scraped off the offending relish and onion and ate the rest. We split the fries. Bill likes to dowse the whole pile with ketchup while I like to dip but we have learned to share. I asked the counter guy who told me the dogs weighed in at about 5.3 oz. each. Trivia buffs may be interested to know there is (or was) a cut-rate casino in Vegas that sold a 1 pound Foot Long. We saw it on Public TV. Not an attractive sight. 'Nuff said.
This was the best $3.00 dinner I ever ate. $1.50 each if you want to know the truth. And the cans of soda in the fridge at home promised a 50 cent "dessert" that could not be beat. If you are not a hot dog snob (Hot Doug's serves gourmet dogs made of goose, elk and other glamour meats and cooks their hand cut fries in duck fat) stop in at Bumpas for a dog & fries. Combo's are a little more expensive but come with a 20 oz. bottle of soda.
The place is decorated in standard Chicago Hot Dog Stand red & yellow and has been designed to look like a Taylor Street transplant. Black and white photos of Brando, Marilyn & Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) are adorned with clever quips. A walk up window and outdoor seating are available in good weather, not that Chicago ever has any.
Quotable Quotes; in the category I've Never Been To The Ball Park But Bogey Wouldn't Lie!
"A hot dog at the ball park is better than a steak at the Ritz."