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Great lunch places to refuel that won't break the bank in Ann Arbor

Credit | Pxhere

ANN ARBOR, Mich – Whether you’re a student, professional, or just like to eat out regularly, Ann Arbor offers great lunchtime options that won’t empty your wallet. Delicious dishes can be found downtown, near North Campus, and around the town.

Now that move-in day has come and gone, and students have explored all the food options on campus, we’ve made a list of places that fit a tight student budget.

Meal prepping and packing a lunch every day can be hard and time-consuming but eating at a restaurant destroys your bank account.

Here are our picks for cheap lunches around Ann Arbor to help you get away from the monotony of packed lunches.


Chela’s has a regular lunch special that we can definitely get behind. Choose two tacos or tamales from a lengthy list, get rice, beans and a drink (pop, tea or Jarritos) for under $8. Burritos, tortas and quesadillas are all priced for around $7 with desserts (because you’ve got to have dessert) for around $3.

Ginger Deli
Like sandwiches but want to try something new? Ginger Deli has you covered. With Banh mi sandwiches starting at $7, you can fill up for cheap. Looking for something lighter? Try the rolls for $5, or different types of pho for $9. Occasional Ginger Deli also offers giant macaron ice cream sandwiches (it’s technically a sandwich so it counts as lunch, right?)

Madras Masala
Right across from Nickels Arcade, Madras Masala offers a lunch buffet for $10 cash. The buffet itself is fairly small but has a good selection of Southern Indian dishes to choose from. Service is fast and friendly and is a great spot to go with some friends.

Pita Kabob Grill
Across State Street from the Diag, Pita Kabob offers a massive variety of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods. For lunch, try one of the over 10 types of pitas for less than $8. Regular sized salads are $7 and the restaurant has numerous options for vegetarians and vegans alike.

With rotating daily specials ranging from $11 to $15, the lunch menu at Totoro will take care of your sushi needs. Eat like everyone’s favorite Studio Ghibli character and munch on a Bento ($11 to $13) or Don Buri ($11 to $12).

South University

The South University area has a ton of pizza places. Try South U Pizza for pizza by the slice, Pizza House for splitting a pie, Cottage Inn for your greasy pizza nights.

The Brown Jug
If pizza isn’t your thing, that’s OK. Brown Jug offers up a menu of lunch specials from $7 burgers to $8 lasagna and $6 sandwiches while you look at UM memorabilia and hang out with friends.  

If you want something a bit more spicy, across from Park Plaza and up the street from Mighty Good is Kang’s. Serving Korean favorites like Bibimbap and Kimchi Jiggae for over 35 years, most dishes at Kang's run between $10 and $12.

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Ray’s Red Hot’s
So maybe pizza and burgers for lunch aren’t really your thing. Don’t worry, Ray’s Red Hots has hot dogs galore! Are hot dogs healthy? Not really, but every dog is less than $4 and bratwurst or sausages are only $6. It’s a good, cheap eat that fits a tight budget - if you buy two, most dogs have a slight discount that can save you a buck or two.

North Campus

Even though North Campus is far from downtown and the South U areas, it still offers some good eats.

Seoul Street
Hands down, Seoul Street has the best Korean fried chicken in Southeast Michigan. Try the Personal Combo ( two drumsticks/thighs plus two boneless wings) for $8.50 or a Doshirak box for around $10. If you want more veggies, Bibimbap is always on the menu for less than $8. You should order ahead, though, as food can sometimes take 20 minutes or more to be ready -- but it’s totally worth the wait!

MD Bagel Fragel
Good for a quick bite or on-the-go, the bagels here come in all flavors and varieties. Pick a bagel with cream cheese or butter for less than $3 or a bagel sandwich ($3 to $8).

Known as one of Ann Arbor’s favorite Indian restaurants, Cardamom has great lunch specials like $9 Tandori chicken or Thalis for $10 or $11. Try Aloo Gobi for $8 or one of the other numerous curries ranging from $8 to $12, which come with rice, naan, and a soup or salad.

Still not sure where to eat? Check out our brunch suggestions in Ann Arbor or cheap eats for under $10.

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