The pandemic has caused restaurants to adapt to new technology, devote themselves to delivery, and find savings wherever they can. The result: $4 sandwiches, rice boxes, and local sourcing at affordable prices. We’re declaring 2021 the year of the great meal at a steal. These are five great cheat eats in Frisco.

Saigon Box

A mother-daughter team owns and operates Saigon Box, and their concept is simple: fresh homemade Vietnamese food, packaged in boxes for quick-service lunches. Though they have egg rolls, bahn mi, fried chicken wings, and Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk, for the most part it’s about rice boxes, noodle boxes, and salad boxes. It’s that easy. 

The rice box special, for example, features broken white rice, egg, and your choice of two proteins (like lemongrass pork, five spices chicken, and caramelized shrimp). It also comes with a vegetarian eggroll, pickled veggies, fresh cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, and finally, onion crisps and a side of fish sauce. It’s a little bit of everything.

However, if a bowl holds more appeal than a box, then there’s always Mama Tha’s Pho, built on the bedrock of slow-cooked broth that simmers for 48 hours.

6363 Dallas Pkwy. Ste. 106, Frisco | saigon-box.com

Hibachi Master

We know hibachi by its frills: the show, the onion volcanoes, the elegant lobbies where hypnotic koi fish swim in shallow pools. 

But Hibachi Master is different. There are no koi fish; there isn’t even a lobby. It’s a blue trailer parked just off of Preston Road, with the warning “dangerously delicious” emblazoned over the window. 

Here, it’s not about the show; it’s all about the food, which comes in generous portions. Beyond teriyaki chicken and steak, they’ve got scallops, ribeye, a special 10-ounce cut of filet mignon, even twin lobsters with shooters of melted butter on the side. They sell until 7 p.m., or as long as supplies last.

No one ever guesses that some of the best hibachi north of Highway 121 comes out of a trailer, served in styrofoam takeout containers.

640 N. Preston Rd., Prosper | facebook.com/HibachiMasterTexas

Daily Grinds’ BLTE Sando | Courtesy of Daily Grinds

Daily Grinds

Though many mistake Daily Grinds for a simple coffee shop, it’s anything but simple. Alongside craft espresso from Eiland Roasters, Daily Grinds has a fresh and flavorful slate for brunch, stretching from bahn mi, to fried chicken breakfast sandwiches, and a small pastry menu that is Chef and Owner John Tran’s pride and joy. 

Each of the Daily Grinds’ croissants has exactly 36 layers and takes three days. They provide the base for most of the breakfast and lunch sandwiches. For a quick, simple breakfast loaded with flavor, it’s hard to beat the Egg Saint, a croissant stuffed with soft scrambled eggs with spicy aioli, or the Avocado tartine, sourdough toast with avocado, citrus, parmesan, and microgreens.

6750 Gaylord Pkwy. Ste. 130, Frisco | dailygrindscoffee.com

Mr. Banh Mi

Banh mi represents culinary fusion of two cultures born out of colonialism: Vietnamese flavors, fresh chilis, cilantro, and pate, delivered on a French baguette. Today, it’s a staple lunch, popular because of its blend of flavors and seemingly endless versatility. While there are many ways to get a banh mi wrong, there are just as many ways to nail it. 

Mr. Banh Mi keeps it simple: they offer nothing but banh mi sandwiches and smoothies. Every banh mi starts with toasted French bread, crispy on the crust, and soft inside. It’ll come with butter and pate spread liberally inside the roll, and piles of sliced, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and the meat of your choice. Their pork belly banh mi rarely fails, and neither does their combination sandwich, which comes with sliced pork or pork belly, pork sausage, and head cheese. 

9370 Warren Pkwy. #130, Frisco | mrbanhmi.shop

Marina’s Taco Shop Al Pastor | By Cori Baker

Marianas Taco Shop 

Marianas Taco Shop, a red-trimmed house with patio seating, is steamy and small on the inside, but has a big, welcoming patio, perfect for enjoying a Mexican Coca Cola when the weather warms up. The Marianas menu also casts a wider net than a typical gas station taqueria, and trades more typical Texan hints for Californian influences. 

For example, take a classic, simple carnitas taco features shredded and slow-roasted pork, tender with snappy, salted edges, steeped in layers of garlic and peppers. Salsa verde sets it off at its best. To make choosing your lunch easier, everything from chicken enchiladas verde to tostadas can be ordered as a plate, with pico de gallo, rice and beans. But if that isn’t your style, you can always order almost anything ala carte as a single or double. 

8981 5th St. Frisco | marianastacoshoptx.com

Originally published in Local Profile March/April 2021 issue.