As Plano has grown, so has the food scene. Between downtown and Legacy West, the streets are full of gyros and burgers, affordable sushi, waffles, and hand pulled noodles straight from the Manhattan playbook. We’re declaring 2021 the year of the great meal at a steal. These are our favorite 20 Plano restaurants for cheap eats: an unforgettable meal under $20.

Uncle Zhou

Uncle Zhou started as a New York City restaurant where the chef’s hand-pulled noodles earned it a place in Michelin’s Bib Gourmand guide. Although it opened over a year ago, it was overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it feels like a preciously guarded secret: Plano’s hidden Michelin. 

Uncle Zhou specializes in food from the central Chinese province of Henan. Henan, which translates to “south of the river,” is often known as the heart of the Chinese civilization, where more than 20 dynasties established their capitals. 

Go for fried dumplings with crisp edges and juicy insides, and tender beef floating in hot pepper broth, chili oil pooling on top. Stay, and linger on thick, silky hand-pulled noodles tossed in dial oil, and whole fried fish glistening in a pool of rich mushroom and pepper sauce. Henan food is variable and thrilling, known for utilizing all five flavors in harmony. It’s all available in spades at Uncle Zhou. 

8200 Preston Rd., Plano | unclezhou.com

Sky Rocket Burger

Put simply, Sky Rocket Burger does everything right, from quarter-pound patties flipped on a flat top grill, to meticulous toppings, and squashy sesame buns that soak up the flavors of secret sauce and pickles. Their fries are always hot and crisp, fool’s gold, gritty with grains of salt. 

It’s not the kind of place that upcharges either; while other burger joints hike up prices for truffle oil and champagne cheddar, Sky Rocket Burger won’t do your wallet harm; it’ll cost around $7 for a meal that’ll still beat out a $15 competitor.

It’s so easy to become a regular at Sky Rocket Burger. If you request mustard, they’ll ask you if you want heavy, medium, or light. Order fries, and they’ll leave the bag open, explaining to you that it helps keep them from turning soggy in their own steam. When you come back, they’ll remember your face.

7877 Frankford Rd. #101B, Dallas | skyrocketburger.com

Ebesu’s sashimi bento box

Ebesu

Though the name Ebesu is derived from Ebisu, the Japanese god of good fortune and fishing, this downtown Plano restaurant has had some rough luck. It’s one of many restaurants that opened right before the pandemic. 

Pre-COVID-19, they’d forged a name for themselves with seared scallops topped with tomato basil sauce, cold soba noodles with yuzu froth and wasabi, and Japanese snapper sashimi topped with the barest touch of serrano pepper. Post-COVID-19, they’ve adapted with one of the best carryout deals in the metroplex, their custom bento boxes. 

A box comes with miso soup, rice, daikon, Japanese pan-fried dumplings, seaweed salad, and house salad. All bento boxes have these accompaniments; the only change is the entree—choose robata like teriyaki salmon or sakura pork, or sashimi, ready to be spritzed with lemon and dipped in soy sauce. A bento box is under $20 even before the call-in discount. (Enjoy 20 percent off if you order by phone.)

1007 E. 15th St., Plano | ebesu-usa.com

The Biscuit Bar

The Biscuit Bar motto is “everything is better on a biscuit.” The first location opened in 2016, and now Biscuit Bars are scattered across the metroplex, so the creed must hold true. The husband-and-wife founders created The Biscuit Bar out of love for family, Southern comfort, and most importantly, biscuits made from scratch. Every sandwich comes on a flaky, yet substantial square biscuit, baked golden-brown, substantial enough to feed an army.

The Biscuit Bar is famous for charmers like the Fancy Chicken, fried chicken and dill pickles, and the F.A.B.B, featuring sweet fig preserves, arugula, crispy bacon, and brie. They defy you to finish the Rough Night, a biscuit topped with everything but the kitchen sink, including fried chicken, a burger patty, ham, turkey, pulled park, bacon, tater tots, and cheese. Oh, and also sausage gravy. If you can dream it, they can slap it on a biscuit.

5880 TX-121 Ste. 102B, Plano | thebiscuit.bar

Pita Town

Of all the cheap eats in the area, Pita Town is not only one of the most affordable, it’s also one of the newest. Opened bravely during the pandemic by a family of brothers, Pita Town is dedicated to the classic glory of shawarma.

The sandwich features slices of marinated meat, sliced thin and tender, with chopped tomatoes, onions, pickles, and a healthy dollop of tahini sauce. A Pita Town sandwich zings with melodic flavors: lemon and garlic, creamy tahini and dill, bold onion, all folded together inside a warm, slightly floury pita. 

The owners of Pita Town also make their own baba ganoush drizzled in olive oil, tzatziki infused with mint; these and other sides shouldn’t be overlooked.

700 W. Spring Creek Pkwy. #106, Plano | pitatown.net

Maple Bacon’s Texas Chicken and Bacon Waffle

Maple Bacon

The owner of this small, family-run Canadian restaurant describes her food as “delicious, unique, and over-the-top.” When you walk in, you’ll feel welcome in the colorful interior and a deli counter full of pies. Maple Bacon reimagines diner food with extra helpings of ambition and verve. While they’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, breakfast seems to be where Maple Bacon’s spirit truly shines. It’s certainly where the kitchen team seems to have the most fun.

Just look at the Texas Chicken and Bacon Waffle. Waffles provide a sturdy base for a tower of fried chicken, and bacon. Gravy and maple syrup come on the side. Most of their dishes are crowned with some kind of decadent extra, like a French pastry wheel with delicate, icing-dipped twists, or an apple dumpling.

6009 W. Parker Rd., Plano | maplebaconrestaurant.com

Sushi Town

 You can look high and low, and when it comes to sushi, you probably won’t find a better deal than Sushi Town. A half pint family-owned sushi joint, it’s casual, and bare bones—with a basic menu perfect for beginners. Sushi Town operates largely on takeout, because there are only about five tables inside anyway. 

At Sushi Town, you get what you pay for: simple sushi prepared fresh to order. And maybe a bowl of miso soup for $1.99. Can it compete with more polished, chef-driven sushi places that sport Japanese snapper, and premium sake? Probably not, because that isn’t the heart and soul of Sushi Town. And yet, the reviews speak for themselves; the restaurant has a loyal following because it gives you what it promises.

Sushi Town is no more, no less than a small town place with small town prices.

2201 W. 15th St., Plano | sushitownplano.com

Originally published as part of Local Profile’s March April 2021 Cheap Eats Guide.

Alexandra Cronin

Alexandra Cronin is Local Profile's senior editor. She has been with the company since 2016. She loves great coffee, good food, and average wine.