Cover Story

Eat on the Cheap

Kyle SULLIVAN & Mitchell PERRY

Everyone likes eating out, and in an area with so many amazing restaurants, who wouldn’t? But all those meals can quickly add up and spoil your monthly budget. That’s why we challenged ourselves to eat out every night for an entire week with only three rules: Spend no more than $15 per person (tax and tip included), don’t leave hungry and never eat the same thing twice. Worcester’s restaurant scene makes this task relatively easy with its abundance of nightly meal deals. Fortunately for you, we documented our week of meals so that you, too, can become frugal foodies.

MONDAY

Volturno Pizza Napoletana

72 Shrewsbury St., Worcester

Nothing helps you get a through a grueling Monday like looking forward to some after-work pizza and beer. Even better is when you can grab a friend and get that pizza buy-one-get-one-free. While you might have to sit at the bar to enjoy this deal, the pizzas at Volturno are nothing like your average bar-made pie. In the traditional Napoletana style, each pizza is made from locally and sustainably sourced ingredients, then baked to chewy, near-charred perfection in a 900-degree wood-fired oven. Buonissima.

THE DEAL

Buy-one-get-one-free pizzas at the bar with purchase of any additional menu item on Mondays and Tuesdays.

WHAT WE GOT & WHAT IT COST

$17 – Polpette pizza: beef, pork and veal meatballs, with creamy ricotta, mozzarella and San Marzano sugo.

$0 – Calabrese pizza: Berkshire pork sausage with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, scallions and crema.

$6 – Be Hoppy IPA (brewed right next door at Wormtown Brewery).

Total after Tax & Tip: $29.26

THE BOTTOM LINE

When it comes to eating cheap, Volturno’s two-for-one deal certainly saves you some dough without sacrificing fresh flavors and a full belly. Combine that with a trendy atmosphere and friendly bar staff, and you have the perfect place to grab a slice of Italy any Monday or Tuesday night.

TUESDAY

The Hangover Pub

102 Green St., Worcester

Known for its brunch, bacon and craft cocktails, The Hangover Pub has been one of Worcester’s hottest spots since the restaurant opened its doors in 2016. Crafted to offer something for everyone, the menu is every bit as hip as the decor and the staff. With daily deals including $2 tacos, $2 White Castle sliders or $5 flatbreads, you can be sure to find a great meal that won’t break the bank.

THE DEAL

Taco Tuesday – tacos ranging from $2-$5.

WHAT WE GOT & WHAT IT COST

$14 – Seven Pulled Pork Tacos ($2 each): Flour tortillas piled high with pulled pork, cabbage and jalapenos.

$5 – One Seared Scallop Taco ($5 each): Flour tortillas topped with big, juicy seared scallops.

$1.86 – Diet Coke.

$1.86 – Iced Tea.

Total after Tax & Tip: $29.06

THE BOTTOM LINE

Taco Tuesday is a classic, and The Hangover Pub does it just right. These tacos are surprisingly filling and packed with amazing flavors. The selection changes each week, but the deal doesn’t. You’ll have to visit several times to try them all and find your favorite.

WEDNESDAY

Lock 50

50 Water St., Worcester

While choosing our locations for the meal deal challenge, we took into consideration not just saving money, but also leaving each restaurant full and satiated. For this reason, we generally avoided appetizer-focused promotions. This summery Wednesday evening, however, we couldn’t help but indulge in some sweet, briny oysters on Lock 50’s breezy patio at just $1 per oyster. We ordered eight each, along with an assorted trio of warm, crusty breads accompanied by some EVOO and whipped butter.

THE DEAL

$1 oysters on Wednesdays.

WHAT WE GOT & WHAT IT COST

$16 – 16 oysters.

$6.75 Bread basket.

Total after Tax & Tip: $28.94

THE BOTTOM LINE

This might not be the deal for you if you’re looking for a full meal under $15, but if discounted decadence is your MO, look no further than Lock 50’s oyster night. We enjoyed our food and the warm summer breeze out on the bustling patio, which was filled by the sounds of live music and happy patrons.

THURSDAY

Park Grill & Spirits

257 Park Ave., Worcester

What’s better than a big, juicy burger on a warm summer evening?

One that’s half price! The menu is made up of all-American favorites, including pizza, wings, pastas and more, and the full bar is there to help you wash it all down. Its casual atmosphere, which often features live music, makes Park Grill the perfect place to wind down. You just might find yourself coming back for burgers every week.

THE DEAL

Burger Thursday. All burgers are half-price with the purchase of any additional menu item. These can range from $5-$7, depending on which one you choose.

WHAT WE GOT & WHAT IT COST

$11.90 – Two Bacon Marmalade Burgers: ½-pound Angus beef burger piled high with bacon, marmalade, onion strings, red onion, lettuce and tomato. Every burger comes served with a side of fries and a pickle.

$2.25 – Unsweetened Iced Tea.

$5 – Wormtown: Be Hoppy IPA

Total after Tax & Tip: $25.49

THE BOTTOM LINE

Coming in at well under our $30 budget, this deal is spectacular if you are looking to get full for cheap. The meal left us stuffed. We would have left a few bites on our plates if we could have pulled ourselves away from those mouthwatering burgers and fries.

FRIDAY

Quinn’s Irish Pub

715 W. Boylston St., Worcester

Nothing says Friday like a hearty plate of fish and chips, and Quinn’s Irish Pub offers its take on the classic dish for just $9.99. Despite the considerable crowd, we barely had to wait for our waitress to return with our orders, although it was clear after a single bite that the food was freshly made. A generous portion of perfectly crisp, moist fish sat next to a pile of crunchy fries on a sheet of newspaper, along with a pile of creamy coleslaw.

THE DEAL

$9.99 Fish and Chips on Fridays.

WHAT WE GOT & WHAT IT COST

$19.98 – Two Fish and Chips.

Total after Tax & Tip: $25.41

THE BOTTOM LINE

We couldn’t think of a single thing we would change about our experience at Quinn’s. The service was fast and friendly, the food was filling and well prepared, and the deal was unbeatable.

SATURDAY

Funky Murphy’s

305 Shrewsbury St., Worcester

A Shrewsbury Street staple, Funky Murphy’s is a no-frills Irish pub serving up solid food at a great value. While the sports-bar environment can be a bit overwhelming on a Saturday evening, the open-window seating and back dining room are welcoming options. With daily deals throughout the week, you can always find some quality, wallet-friendly food.

THE DEAL

Half off Queen and King Cut Prime Rib with purchase of any additional menu item on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

WHAT WE GOT & WHAT IT COST

$17 – Two King Cut Prime Ribs: 12-ounce prime rib cut served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and drippings gravy.

$3.99 – German Pretzel Appetizer: Two soft German pretzels, lightly salted and served with a melted cheese dip.

$2.50 – Diet Coke.

Total after Tax & Tip: $30.00

THE BOTTOM LINE

While many choose Funky Murphy’s solely for the drinks, the food was surprisingly delicious. The King Cut Prime Rib was lean, tender and flavorful. Despite maxing out our budget, the heavy discount on our entrees allowed us to split an appetizer while sticking to the $30 limit.

SUNDAY

George’s Coney Island 

158 Southbridge St., Worcester

We would have committed a grave error had we not ended our week of frugal binge eating at one of Worcester’s most iconic eateries: George’s Coney Island Hotdog. The nearly 100-year-old restaurant is instantly recognizable to Worcester natives and passersby alike by its giant neon sign, which is said to have been modeled after the hand of founder George Tsagarelis holding up one of his famous franks. The restaurant rightfully boasts its persistence through history, having “endured through a depression, two world wars and a dozen presidents.”

When it came down to ordering, we knew the only logical option was to go for the “Woostah Special,” which is comprised of a Polar soda, a giant local, half-sour pickle, a Table Talk pie (baked just a mile or so away) and, most importantly, two hot dogs. For toppings, we went with “The Works,” which comes with chili sauce, mustard and onions. All of these specifically local components were packaged-priced at just $6.50. While it may be more than the 5-cent dogs served up back in the day, it’s still a considerable deal by modern standards.

THE DEAL

The Woostah Special: Two hot dogs, a Polar soda, a giant half-sour pickle and a Table Talk Pie for $6.50, available any time.

WHAT WE GOT & WHAT IT COST

$13 – Two Woostah Specials.

Total after Tax & Tip: $16.78

THE BOTTOM LINE

George’s Coney Island mixes its admirable history, unique atmosphere and solid food for the ultimate spot for cheap eats any day.

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