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Best Dinner Under $5 

Palace Express

What this place lacks in ambience and charm (it's an old Taco Bell with whitewashed walls), it more than makes up for in value. At the back, where sullen kids used to assemble tacos and gorditas, a sweaty chef now juggles the five giant steaming woks. He turns out groaning portions of traditional Chinese-restaurant dishes -- such as kung pao chicken, pepper beef, and broccoli shrimp -- and some American-style inventions (peanut butter chicken, lemon chicken). The food comes on Styrofoam plates, but there's so much piled on there, you could eat for a couple of days. Most of the restaurant's 51 entrées cost under $4, and the place is open until 10 p.m. to satisfy those late-evening cravings.

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