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We all have our favorite lunch joints. A place we frequent to grab a quick bite or score a weekday bargain. Springfield has a range of restaurants to satisfy you, but here are five spots with great lunch specials — affordable and delicious. All these deals are less than $12 and several are less than $10.
Know of a better deal? Email Managing Editor Brittany Meiling with your favorite locally owned lunch spots — firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bambinos is a casual Italian restaurant (with two locations) owned by the Faucett family: mom Mary, and her sons Andy and Chuck. Andy opened a Bambino’s in Columbia, Missouri, in the ’90s and then brought it to Springfield in the 2000s. When he moved back to the Queen City, it became a family business.
And their lunch specials are fantastic, which is one reason this place is usually hopping around noon.
The chicken pesto panini ($8.49) is a delicious option and features fluffy focaccia, gooey melted mozzarella cheese, sliced chicken, tomato, lettuce, mayo and a slathering of pesto sauce. This warm sandwich comes with your choice of chips, pasta salad or fresh fruit. For $8.99, you can get the panini with soup or salad instead. The soups are made fresh daily and change by the day of the week. The curried squash on Monday, the mushroom bisque on Tuesday and clam chowder on Friday are delicious (you can see the rotating soup menu on their website).
The daily pasta special is $9.99 and includes a smaller portion of pasta with either soup or salad. You will either leave stuffed or have leftovers if you order this.
The baked ziti is one of the best-selling lunch pastas. The pasta has tender chunks of roast beef braised in red wine, tossed in tomato sauce, kissed with a little cream, smothered in mozzarella cheese and baked. Every table gets an order of free bread to enjoy.
Find them: 1141 East Delmar St. (417) 862-9999; 2810 East Battlefield Rd. (417) 881-4442; or visit their website.
In terms of Mexican restaurants in town, Cielito Lindo is a Springfield institution. It was started by Alberto Ortiz in the early ’90s and is still family-owned. Ortiz was raised in Guadalajara and was one of nine children. As he built the business, siblings came from Mexico to work for him at his eateries. Some branched out and opened their own venues.
Over the years, different locations have opened and closed, including the original. But the southside location in Kickapoo Corners has been going strong for more than two decades.
The lunch specials are available from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday. There is a plethora of delicious dishes to pick from, but you can’t go wrong with the chimichanga for $9.29.
A flour tortilla is stuffed with your choice of shredded chicken or beef tips, fried, then smothered in white cheese sauce, served with pico de gallo, guacamole, fresh lettuce, creamy sour cream and rice and beans.
All of that food will keep you full through the afternoon for less than 10 bucks.
Another great thing about Cielito Lindo is service is typically fast, which is what you want in a lunch spot.
Find them: 3530 South Campbell Ave., (417) 886-7676, or Cielito Lindo’s Facebook page.
Nearly Famous Deli and Pasta House
Perhaps one of the longest-running lunch specials is the egg salad sandwich at Nearly Famous Deli and Pasta House, which has been in business since 1976.
Nancy Miller has owned the nostalgic restaurant for the last 17 years.
The egg salad sandwich is the most popular lunch special of the week, and it’s available on Friday and Saturday. It’s a soup and sandwich deal and comes with a cup of the deli tomato soup for $10.99. You can upgrade to chili or a dinner salad.
The sandwich is served on grilled whole wheat bread and the egg salad is perfectly sauced, so it’s not too soggy and not dry either.
Quality and consistency have made this sandwich stand out, Miller says.
“People expect and receive the same quality food they have come to know for 47 years. It’s a tradition that they share with family and friends,” she said.
Find them: 2708 South Glenstone Ave., (417) 883-3404, or visit Nearly Famous Deli and Pasta House’s Facebook page.
If you love pizza or calzones, then Pappo’s Pizzeria is the spot for you. From 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, you can order any 8-inch specialty pizza, calzone or sandwich with a lunch-size salad for $11.99.
As for the pizza, there are so many to choose from — about 30 specialty pies.
A classic is the deluxe, topped with red sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, sausage, red onions, fresh mushrooms and green peppers.
The kitchen sink pizza has a ton of luscious toppings. From blue cheese to pesto, eggplant parmesan or barbecue options, you’ll find a pizza to satisfy you.
Many of the ingredients are made on the premises, from the chewy dough to the sauce, sandwich bread and even sausage and meatballs.
If you prefer, a sandwich or calzone are an option instead of pizza with this lunch deal.
As for that side salad, if you like goat cheese you must try the goat cheese, cranberry and walnut salad. It starts with fresh harvest blend lettuce, topped with tangy goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and homemade lemon maple vinaigrette dressing. The salad is so light and refreshing. The earthy goat cheese is creamy and a perfect contrast to the sweet walnuts and cranberries, and the slightly tart salad dressing.
All the salad dressings are made in-house, too. There are other salad options like Caesar, spinach or Italian.
The pizzeria was founded and is owned by Chris Galloway, who has two locations in Springfield that boast the same menu. There are more locations around the state, in Illinois and one in Alabama. Just think, if this cozy pizza place mushrooms into a national chain, we can say we remember when it opened in Springfield.
Just FYI, if you visit at night, there’s a good beer selection. And their brown butter chocolate chip cookies with Ghirardelli chocolate are a chocolate chip cookie lover’s dream. These sweet morsels are sprinkled with sea salt when they come out of the oven. They are sold as half a dozen or a dozen, so if you’re with a work group, these are a good way to end the meal.
Find them: 900 East Battlefield Rd. Suite 176, (417) 306-9091; 221 East Walnut St., 417-866-1111; or visit Pappo’s Pizzeria’s website.
If you are comfortable going off the beaten path and want an inexpensive lunch to take back to the office, head to Chihuahua Bakery and food truck.
Owner Luis Cazares says the Tuesday and Thursday lunch deals are the best sellers and it’s easy to see why.
On Tuesday, the meal includes four tacos, rice, beans and a can of soda for $7.49. For the tacos, you have the option of chicken (delicious!), carnitas and pastor, a sweeter marinated pork (also delicious). The small tacos are each wrapped in two, warm corn tortillas and topped with cilantro and diced white onion.
You can upgrade to steak, tripe or barbacoa, a type of slow-cooked shredded beef, for $8.99.
Thursday showcases the quesadilla with rice, beans and a can of soda for $9.99. You choose any meat option for the quesadilla, from steak to chicken, etc.
Here’s what you need to know: the truck is located in a parking lot and has plywood covering the front of the truck to provide shelter from the weather. There are benches inside the plywood, so head to that spot to order at the window (the bakery is nearby). This is a grab-and-go kind of place.
Cazares says he wanted to share authentic Mexican food with Springfield and hopes to grow the family-owned business little by little.
Just FYI, if you like tamales, you can score some on Fridays for $1.61 each, and the gorditas are a good light lunch at $3.23 daily.
Find them: 3747 West Chestnut Expwy., (417) 773-3628, or visit Chihuahua Bakery’s Facebook page.