I appreciate a good bargain, especially when it’s food, but I’m not interested in sacrificing my waistline by diving into a dollar menu or a 2-for-1 special to save a few bucks. Instead, I went in search of McAllen’s best sandwiches less than seven dollars. Why seven dollars? Because seven dollars is at the crossroad where profit and loss intersects on the sandwich map. It’s more challenging than you think to find a high quality sammy under seven, so I put in the legwork to keep your wallet and your stomach happy with these budget-friendly bites.
ARTISAN TURKEY & SPINACH PANINI
Sprouts Market Corner Deli – 5800 N. 10th Street
In my experience, any time there’s a restaurant or deli in a specialty food store, you will find gourmet eats at great prices, and Sprouts Farmers Market is no exception. Health conscious eaters flock to Sprouts for its natural and organic grocery items, but it’s the Market Corner Deli that has my attention. I opted for its most popular pick, the Artisan Turkey & Spinach Panini. It has turkey, Muenster cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomato pesto in a fresh baked Ciabatta roll, and I challenge anyone to find a better sandwich less than $5.
Pro Tip: Plan the perfect picnic at Sprouts. Start with the signature sandwiches and head for a fresh-squeezed juice or bottle of wine to round out your outdoor meal.
Gumbo’s Deli – 815 W. Nolana Ave (2 locations)
Any restaurant with this many sandwiches under $7 deserves your attention, and your business. The locally owned fresh food eatery recently opened a new location in North McAllen where you will find 10 sandwiches under seven dollars. If it’s your first time at Gumbo’s Deli, start with the Creole. It has grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, turkey bacon, tomatoes, onions & ranch dressing on multigrain Ciabatta bread. The move here is to pay an extra $2.99 and make it a combo with a half salad and a drink. There’s nothing half about its salads, and the limonada de pepino alone is worth the trip.
Pro Tip: Always use the creamy chipotle dip.
THE OLD MAIN
Black Iron Café – 4001 N. 23rd St
Long hours of studying and people watching at the library can make you hungry, and Black Iron Café makes it easy to satisfy your sandwich craving without making a dent in your wallet. Conveniently located in McAllen’s award-winning public library, Black Iron Café serves fresh deli sandwiches to library goers, and its most popular is the Old Main, which gets its name from the former location of the public library on Main Street. You can get it in salad, wrap or Panini form, and it’s stuffed with generous layers of ham, turkey, bacon and provolone cheese with a slather of jalapeno garlic aioli. For an extra dollar you can make it a combo with chips and a drink.
CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH
Fresh & Tasty – 123 Nolana Ave
The chicken salad sandwich at Fresh & Tasty is what sandwich dreams are made of. This health-conscious eatery has been creating prepared salad flavor combinations for just over a year, and its sandwiches pack a ton of flavor. Choose between mini baguette, wheat or Ciabatta bread and a heaping scoop of your favorite prepared salad and you’ll be in sandwich heaven. I go for the chipotle chicken salad every time, and it hasn’t let me down once.
Lone Star BBQ – 3619 N. 10th St
Lone Star BBQ has been serving up some of the best low and slow cooked meat-centric meals in South Texas since 1988, and while brisket may be the protein of choice at this McAllen mainstay, it’s the smoked turkey sandwich that makes my mouth water. The sandwich has thick slices of moist, slow-smoked turkey breast served on a buttery, house baked sourdough bun. Top it off with the usual accouterments of pickles, onions and homemade tangy BBQ sauce, and you’re not only eating the healthiest item on the menu, but you’re paying less than $7 for it.
The sandwich is one of man’s greatest inventions, so you shouldn’t have to pay gourmet prices for high-quality sandwiches. Avoid instant-wallet regret and try one of these insanely good budget-friendly bites.