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Five spots for $10 lunches 

click to enlarge Me Gusta's lunch menu includes such inexpensive options as the $10 lunch platter, which includes the Famous Jerk Chicken, rice and beans, and vegetables. Add a beef empanada for $3. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Me Gusta's lunch menu includes such inexpensive options as the $10 lunch platter, which includes the Famous Jerk Chicken, rice and beans, and vegetables. Add a beef empanada for $3.
Whether you forgot to pack your lunch or just want a workday treat, shirk the cheap-o chains and try one of these inexpensive local eateries. Each spot has lunch menu items for under $10, but you might want to spend a bit more if your appetite commands it. At that price you can consider “forgetting” your lunch tomorrow, too. Just don’t forget to tip!

MONDAY:
Caribbean comfort food at Me Gusta (Mercantile on Main, 240 E. Main St., @megustarochester)

Erika Rivera-Arguinzoni opened Me Gusta in January at the Mercantile on Main, right next to Palermo’s Market, of which she is a co-owner. At Me Gusta, you can build your own bowl of hot, delicious Caribbean food for $10-$15, depending on the portion size. The bowls come with rice, beans, and rotating meat options that include jerk chicken, pepper steak, roasted pork, and more, with the option of adding stewed cabbage or other vegetables offered on a particular day.

Other menu items you can add on or order a la carte include beef, chicken, pizza, or vegetarian empanadas, and sweet or fried plantains ($3 each item). The spot also offers a variety of Jarritos flavors and other sodas, as well as house-made baked goods. The menu varies daily, so check Me Gusta’s social media accounts before heading over.

TUESDAY:
Roots and veggies at B+ Healthy Fresh Food Market (442 Genesee St. and 1508 Dewey Ave., bhealthyfreshfoods.org)

If the springtime weather has you craving fresh foods, head to one of B+ Healthy Fresh Food Market’s two locations. Open since 2018 on Genesee Street, the market specializes in simple and affordable grab-and-go items made with fresh fruits and vegetables. Owner Kaptah Amen-Ra Xi Amaru opened a second location on Dewey Avenue in 2021.

The menu is vegetarian, and all items cost under $10. You can get made-to-order juices and smoothies that range from standard fruit and greens blends to more adventurous mixes, like the Century Sea Moss smoothie. That one features apples, banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, three types of algae (Irish sea moss, chlorella, and dulse), three tree powders (moringa, burdock root, and maca), and a seaweed called bladderwrack ($6-$8).

If you’re looking for something more substantial than a smoothie, consider the salad-as-a-sandwich veggie wraps ($5-$7). There are a couple of suggested recipes, but customers are invited to build their own from a variety of veggies, beans, hummus, and sauces. Custom wraps come with spring greens and chips.

WEDNESDAY:
Perfect lunch date at Le Petit Poutinerie (44 Elton Street, @lepetitpoutine)

Since opening in February, Le Petit Poutinerie has offered an expanded menu beyond the rotating varieties of poutines hocked by the business' food truck mothership. The restaurant is dolled up with elegant lighting, fresh flowers, gorgeous wallpaper, and a complementary mural by Lea Rizzo. As for the food, you can choose between traditional or vegetarian poutines ($9), or poutine with the following toppings: bacon, pulled pork, bacon cheeseburger, breakfast (with an egg over-easy), sloppy joe, or curry lentil ($10.50-$14).

click to enlarge Le Petit Poutinerie is open for lunch and offers the same beloved poutine with an expanded variety of toppings, as well as sandwiches and snacks. - PHOTO BY QUAJAY DONNELL
  • PHOTO BY QUAJAY DONNELL
  • Le Petit Poutinerie is open for lunch and offers the same beloved poutine with an expanded variety of toppings, as well as sandwiches and snacks.
Can’t choose? A new option that’s only available at the restaurant is the poutine flight, which allows you to choose three varieties for $22. It’s a great option for sharing with an equally indecisive friend.

If you’re not in the mood for fries, try the buffalo tofu, fried bologna, chicken cutlet, or meatloaf melt sandwiches ($14). Complete the meal with a house-made soda and a dessert pastry from their expanded selection.

Bonus for parents on-the-go: the roomy, sturdy fold-down changing table in the chic restroom is the best I’ve ever seen in a restaurant, and definitely not the afterthought that it is in most eateries — if they even have one.

THURSDAY:
Press pause at Peach Blossom (9 East Main St., @peachblossom15)

The unadorned, utilitarian interior of authentic Mexican restaurant Peach Blossom gives no hints to visitors about what kind of pocket business they’ve just walked into, but it’s a calming lunchtime escape. Owners Marco Murcia and his mother Minerva Martinez run the spot, which opened in October of 2019. If you’re short on time, you’ll want to order ahead because Martinez makes each order fresh and with care.

The fanciest decoration you’ll find is the stack of peach paper menus — a pretty letterpress creation by local company Dry Ink. On those menus you’ll find many inexpensive options, including asada, al-pastor, or pollo asado tacos; shredded chicken, shredded beef, or sauteed mushroom quesadillas; and asada, pollo asado, or veggie sopes (tacos, quesadillas, and sopes are $4.50 each or 3 for $12). They come with salsa verde (mild) and salsa roja (watch out!).

click to enlarge Peach Blossom's tortas de milanesa, a sandwich that includes a chicken cutlet, cheese, greens, avocado, tomatoes, and onions, is a filling menu item for just $8. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Peach Blossom's tortas de milanesa, a sandwich that includes a chicken cutlet, cheese, greens, avocado, tomatoes, and onions, is a filling menu item for just $8.
A standout item is the tortas de milanesa, a delectable chicken cutlet with greens, avocado, tomatoes, onions, and cheese served on soft and ever-so-slightly sweet telera bread, which is large enough to have some left over ($8). The cooler is stocked with a variety of Jarritos sodas and the non-alcoholic Sangría Señorial, a sweet, sparkling, sangria-flavored drink. You can add dessert of flan or tres leches cake for $5.

Keep an eye on Peach Blossom’s social media posts for previews about specials, including the occasional availability of tamales, which sell out quickly.

FRIDAY:
Personal pies at Pizza Wizard (760 S. Clinton Ave., pizzawizard.pizza)

It’s Friday, why not treat yourself to a private pizza party? Pizza Wizard — which opened in 2020 and is part of the The Owl House restaurant group — specializes in Detroit-style pizzas, featuring a chewy, airy dough with satisfyingly crispy-cheesy edges. The menu is straightforward and simple but still yields some fun toppings combinations, such as the Brother Randy (Impossible meatball, kale, ricotta, red sauce), and Mama’s Garden (kale, mushrooms, pickled peppers, goat cheese, and roasted garlic).

Slices from square or circular pies come in pepperoni, plain cheese, or the daily special ($4-$6). You can order a whole Detroit-style pizza with a variety of topping combinations (9-inch by 6.5-inch with four slices, $12-$14), or a build-your-own nickel-thin-crust circular pie (14-inch diameter, starting at $14). Gluten-free crusts and Daiya vegan cheese are available for upcharges.

There are other menu items including wings ($11 for eight), chicken tenders, sandwiches, and salads with pizza crust croutons, for those who want a little green.


CHOW HOUND

Dead Red Pecker Pub opened on the corner of Park and Meigs (121 Park Ave., deadredpeckerpub.com) in early March. Its 14 draught lines serve a rotating selection of craft beers, and the bar also offers bottles, cans, wine, and cocktails. A full food menu is on the way.

In mid-March, Donuts Delite West opened at 647 W. Ridge Road, making it the second location of the original Donuts Delite, which is on Culver Road. The new spot offers a full Salvatore’s pizzeria menu in addition to doughnuts and other baked goods.

Rebecca Rafferty is CITY’s life editor. She can be reached at becca@rochester-citynews.com.
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