Food critic Gail Simmons
Photo: Kelsey McNeal
If food critic Gail Simmons, a judge on Bravo's reality competition Top Chef and special projects manager for Food & Wine magazine, only had $15 in her wallet, she says she'd head to a farmer's market for seasonal produce and whip up a meal at home.

When she's traveling, Gail stays under budget by eating at affordable gems across America. Find out where to get a meal for less than $25 in these foodie destinations.
New York City: Gail says the best thing about New York City is its diversity. "My favorite cheap meals are ethnic. Koreatown, Chinatown, out to Queens for Thai food, Astoria for Greek food, empanadas on the Lower East Side…even Japanese," she says. "One of my favorite is this little place [near] Avenue C called Kasadela . You don't need to limit yourself. … You can eat well for $25 on every block in New York City. It's part of the reason I live here."

When Gail craves a slice of classic, New York–style pizza, she says she heads to Joe's in the West Village. "If I'm going for a whole pie, I would probably say Franny's out in Brooklyn or Di Fara's ."

Las Vegas: For a taste of Thailand in Sin City, Gail suggests heading off the beaten track to Lotus of Siam . "It's a dive in a strip mall, 10 to 15 [minutes] outside the strip," Gail says. "It's a locals' hangout, and it's some of the best Thai food I've ever eaten in this country."

On The Strip, Gail says there are a lot of affordable burgers to sample, but her favorite is served at The Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay , chef Huber Keller's restaurant.

Los Angeles: With so much great food to choose from in Los Angeles, Gail suggests two lunch options. "For a great salad, go to Tender Greens or Father's Office —it's so great," she says. "The [Father's Office] in Culver City is expanded and really beautiful.

Chicago: Gail says her new favorite under $25 Chicago place has to be Urban Belly . "It's noodles, and I love the owners," she says. "They are super cool people."

Miami: For authentic Spanish tapas, Gail suggests chef Michelle Bernstein's Sra Martinez. "You can do a few small bites. She had really good croquetas and delicious grilled octopus," Gail says. "She does good potatoes, very typical Spanish-influenced stuff à la plancha (on the grill)."

San Francisco: While in San Francisco, Gail heads to The Sentinel for cheap eats and hits Tartine Bakery for breakfast. Pizzeria Delfina is also a great option if you can't afford to eat at its high-end sister restaurant, Delfina, she says.

New Orleans: Gail says you can go to almost any bar in New Orleans, order a mint julep and a plate and wood-fired oysters and be set for the night. If you're searching for a brunch spot, try Elizabeth's Restaurant .

Dallas : You don't have to look far to find great beef in Texas. Gail suggests a meal at The Love Shack , chef Tim Love's casual eatery.

Toronto: When Gail returns to her hometown, she hits up a quirky favorite, Aunties & Uncles . "It's sort of a fun breakfast, lunch, brunch spot," she says. For something a little different, she suggests small plates at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar or dim sum in Toronto's bustling Chinatown.

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