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21 Brilliant Birmingham Dishes Under A Tenner

Frugal dining, bab.

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1. Bacon cheeseburger at Original Patty Men (£7)

Jack Spicer Adams / Via jackspiceradams.com

There are few bites more magnificent than that first taste of O.P.M.'s bacon cheeseburger. Juice-jacked, the boys' most perfect of patties is draped in a loving layer of maple coated bacon, American cheese and pickle I really, really dig. Like, I'd let it crash on my sofa for as long as it needed. No questions asked.

2. Singapore Carrot Cake at The Blue Piano (£5.25)

Blue Piano / Via thebluepiano.co.uk

Based on a family recipe perfected among the hawker stalls of Singapore, the "carrot cake" is in fact a homemade savoury rice cake (taken as a starter) which adeptly and surprisingly combines carrot, mooli, chilli and a mixture of spices. Topped off with a bit more chilli, spring onion, egg and Asian radish, this dish is street food at its absolute best.

3. Mr Hot Korean fried chicken at Modu (£7.90)

Modu / Via Facebook: MODU.Restaurant

Word of Modu's opening spread like wildfire in the foodie circles of Brum. There are three choices on the almost compulsory fried chicken front: Mr Jjang

(with soy sauce), Mr Honey (with honey mustard sauce) and Mr Hot

(with Modu sweet and chilli sauce). Though you'd be a fool to not order all three, it's the latter that wins out by a whisker.

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4. Arancini Balls at Gas Street Social (£5.95)

Jack Spicer Adams / Via jackspiceradams.com

These wild mushroom and truffle-infused rice balls pack easily enough delicate flavour for you to flat ignore the garlicky mayo accompaniment. In fact, replace that with a Socialite cocktail, one of the city’s most quaffable mixes.

5. Pork mince, rice, egg and vegetables at 筷乐 (£6.50)

筷乐

Join Brum's Chinese Student contingent at 筷乐 (584 Bristol Road, Selly Oak) for proper good home-style cooking. Based on a family recipe, the team's addictive pork mince is stewed freshly each day for at least four hours, with a combination of vegetables and herbs being added at strategic moments. Served with rice, egg and flavour-filled green veggies, you'll leave feeling the right amount full. Find Happiness (the broad Chinese translation) on Chinese app, WeChat (kuailebirmingham), but Facebook or Twitter, not so much.

6. Salumi e formaggi at Bottega Prosecco Bar (£10)

Bottega / Via Facebook: BottegaRWB

Okay, okay, at £10 on the nose it's not technically under £10, but this assortment of cold cuts and cheeses is astonishing. King of the cured meats is San Daniele prosciutto which is almost universally considered to be a step up from prosciutto di Parma on the ham-o-meter. Some choice cheese is accompanied by a jar of chutney made from maple syrup, honey and pecans nuts. You'll love that chutney. You'll love it deep down in your shoes.

7. Pulled pork burrito at Bodega (£6.75)

Bodega / Via bodegacantina.co.uk

You can justifiably nap if you get through this little rocket of a dish. A flour tortilla filled with pulled pork carnitas, rice, black beans, two types of cheese and guac, get it hot and lather your winnings in the house salsa, which is served on the side. Worth booking at all times and whatever day you find yourself with a craving of the South American kind.

8. Scallops at Rico Libre (£7.50)

Instagram: @littleredruth

Weak-at-the-knees tender and steeped in chef’s fiery mango salsa, I’ve been lyrically waxing about this dish for precisely three years. Quite apart from the price, it's the most glorious union of fish, fruit and spice that's had me chatting at any fool who'll listen. Added bonus: Rico Libre is BYO, and contains boxes of CDs the team let's you choose from for your evening's soundtrack.

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9. Uramaki dragon roll at Otoro Sushi (£7.50)

Tom Bird Photography / Via bytombird.com

Technically not a restaurant, but in a city scandalously short on decent sushi, this gloriously cosy market stall is the brightest of beacons. With only six seats it's best to book ahead and if you're wanting Otoro (top grade belly tuna) you'll also need to let Maciek, the stall owner, know in advance. If getting contact details proves tricky, just go and see him. He really is lovely.

10. Langostinos Flambeados al Cognac at Byzantium (£6.95)

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A seriously affordable meal in south Brum involves marching into Mediterranean tapas joint Byzantium and ordering just two dishes: The above prawns and their homemade, charred flatbread (£2.95). Sink bread into the jus in which these aliens of the ocean recline, lie the flavoursome feed across your tongue and plunge into garlicky oblivion. Maybe even fall asleep.

11. Buttermilk chicken burger at Buffalo & Rye (£8.25)

Jack Spicer Adams / Via jackspiceradams.com

Free-range butterflied chicken breast in a seasoned buttermilk coating, double American cheese, lemon and garlic mayo, lettuce and tomato. These are the important things to remember when going to Buffalo & Rye. Oh, and the mac'n'cheese. Oh and the cocktails. And the bourbon. Oh you'll need to go a few times.

12. Balti Meat at Al Frash (£7.20)

Instagram: @oliverenstevenson / Via Instagram

Probably false fact: If you visit Birmingham and don't go to the Balti Triangle you are not actually allowed back in the city. Ever. It's hard to go wrong, such is the standard of the food in the should-be-world-famous-but-weirdly-isn't area of Brum, but if you need a pointer, Al Frash prepare and serve their baltis the traditional way. And they are an absolute knockout.

13. Tom Yam Goong at Sabai Sabai (£9.95)

Sabai Sabai

It's probably not the done thing to actually take a full-on bath in Thai soup, but one slurp from this bowl of brilliance and you'll want to do just that. Alas, Sabai Sabai, Brum's best Thai restaurant by a country mile, don't have baths, so you'll just have to dip your head in it. Or eat it, like normal people.

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14. Roasted octopus leg at El Borracho de Oro (£9.50)

Facebook / Via Facebook: elborrachoedgbaston

Assuming you've worked your way through the classic patatas bravas, meatballs and croquettes kind of a deal, it's time to take the El Borracho experience next level. Pulpo Asado is a mighty meaty king of the sea that makes for a super centre piece to your Spanish feasting.

15. 'Nduja, mozzarella and tomato pizza at Otto (£8.50)

Otto / Via ottowoodfired.com

The never-ending influx of Pizza Expresses and Prezzos seems to have hit Brum hard, but indy excellence can be found, praise be, in the Jewellery Quarter's charming Otto. Perfect pizza bases, with a slightly crisp exterior and doughy interior have been mastered, while the tomato sauce is so intense it'll make your back teeth vibrate.

16. Hush puppies at The Church Inn (£5)

Jack Spicer Adams / Via jackspiceradams.com

Back in the day (it was a very good day), The Church consisted of one room that seated no more than twelve. To drink, whatsoever your heart desired — and to eat — savoury bites of corn and cheese, all deep fried and served up in giving little baskets. The Church has got immensely bigger, for which I salute it. And it still serves those happy making portions of dough, for which I triple salute it.

17. Three roast rice at Peach Garden (£7.20)

Instagram: @zmmmmm_m

Hard scientific fact: Nobody has ever left Peach Garden hungry. Take a minute or two to just look at the crispy fat above. Don't rush it. Savour the moment. The three roast rice includes mountains of Cantonese roast duck, belly pork and char siu pork. It will demolish any and all hungers. Worth hunting for this little place that's just off the main China Town drag.

18. Roast squash and feta salad at The British Oak (£9)

The British Oak

You'll be unsurprised to hear that you can get doorstop sandwiches, beer battered fish and mean roasts at this big old Victorian boozer. What might take a bit more of a leap are the bright, seasonal, oh so fresh dishes the kitchen is trading in. The roast squash, feta, rocket and golden beetroot salad typifies this trend towards food you can come and eat every day, utilising local produce, prepared with minimum fuss.

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19. Vegetarian breakfast at Leverton & Halls (£6.95)

Instagram: @peachbruise / Via Instagram

All breakfasts were not created equal. Leverton and Halls' all-dayer comes with spicy channa daal (which you can buy as an organic freezer meal in its own right), roasted red peppers and spinach cooked with garlic and onions. I've almost come to blows with loved ones over the small team's fried potatoes.

20. Mascarpone and walnut tortelloni at Caffè Gustami (£5.90)

tripadvisor.co.uk

Cliches are cliches for a good reason and the one about the hallmark of a good Spanish/Chinese/Indian restaurant being whether Spanish/Chinese/Indian people actually eat there rang true at Gustami where, on my visit, the room was filled with people speaking Italian. The pasta is some of the best in the city and it's wallet-friendly. Worth mentioning - and I rarely say this being a savoury-head - but be sure to leave room for dessert.

Important aside: It's tricky to find so do your homework before you Uber it.

21. Masala Aloo Dosa at Raja Monkey (£6.49)

Raja Monkey

In recent weeks there's been a volley of new Indian street food restaurants opening in Brum (Indico, Mughli, Indian Brewery), but The Daddy - Raja Monkey - has been open for years. Expect thali, tiffins, a bhel puri that will knock your socks of and the best darn dosa this side of Delhi.

Tom Cullen is the founder of “I Choose Birmingham”, a free weekly email about the best things to do in Brum. Subscribe here.

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