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Cheap Eats 2

If movies can have sequels, why can't newspaper articles?

A July article on where to find lunches for about $5 or less in Ashland proved popular, and enough restaurants and delis weren't mentioned the first time to warrant a second article. So, here we go with "Return of the Cheap Lunches."

In the downtown, Bento East at — Granite St. has tofu, chicken or beef bento on rice for $4.95 and Indonesian red curry on rice for $5. Lunch specials are $5.25 and

feature a meat and vegetarian option each day, such as Indonesian chicken sat&

233; with peanut sauce on rice or spicy eggplant with potatoes and tofu on rice. All meals are take-out, but there is seating available on the verandah.

Or walk across Main Street and down the stairs to tiny Bluebird Park to enjoy lunch beside Ashland Creek's rushing waters.

Next to those waters, Jefferson State Pub has $5 lunch specials each day with items such as barbecue sandwiches and burgers.

Zoey's Cafe All Natural Ice Cream, 199 E. Main St., has a turkey swiss calzone with roma tomatoes and pesto for $4.95, or a cup of soup for $3.95. Be aware that with flavors like lemon chiffon, Kahlua crunch and Cascade Mountain blackberry, the urge to splurge on the cafe's all-natural ice cream for dessert may prove overwhelming.

At Geppetto's, 345 E. Main St., grilled cheese on wheat bread is $3. A different twice-baked potato is on the Lunch Specials menu each day for $5.50. One recent offering was a potato with chipotle, sweet corn, green onions and peppers, Mexican seasoning and cheddar cheese.

Some might not consider the Ashland Food Coop to be in the downtown, but with its location at the intersection of A and First Streets, it's really just a few blocks away. The short walk will yield numerous deli items for under $5. A simple brown rice and beans dish is $1.99. Pre-made sandwiches and different-sized chili burritos range from $3.95 to $4.95, and the chicken quesadilla is $3.95. Made-to-order vegetarian half-wraps cost $4.95, vegetarian half sandwiches range from $2.45 to $3.95 and half meat sandwiches are $4.45 to $4.95. Some food coop fans get a buffalo hot dog and then pile it high with sauerkraut, onions, relish and other toppings to create a filling lunch for $3.95.

On the north side of town, Big Al's Drive-In, 474 N. Main St., has a full range of American classics, including a corn dog for $1.95, a fishwich for $3.50, a regular cheeseburger for $3.75 or a big half-pound burger for $4.50. For a little spice, try a Mexican-style burger with grilled Ortega chilies and Swiss cheese for $4.75. Regular Mexican dishes also are available.

From the Southern Oregon University area to the south, a number of restaurants have low-cost lunches. La Casa del Pueblo, 1209 Siskiyou Blvd., has a different lunch special each day for $5.25. Entrees like enchilada, burrito or two tacos come with Spanish rice and refried beans. The regular menu has deals like bean enchilada for $3.75, taco salad for $4.75, chicken enchilada for $5 or the veggie enchilada with carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini and Monterey Jack cheese for $5.25.

Panda Garden, 1757 Hwy. 66, has an extensive lunch specials menu with combos like pork chow mein and pork egg foo young for $3.95, bok choy with beef or barbecue pork on rice for $5.15 or vegetable fried rice with a vegetable egg roll for $4.50.

The American-style lunch specials menu is fit for a lumberjack, with items like pork steak with apple sauce for $4.30, chicken fried steak with gravy for $4.60 and grilled fillet of cod for $4.45 &

all served with mashed potatoes, vegetables, a hot roll, hot tea and a fortune cookie. Plan on investing some time in lunch to finish off such a meal.

For a quick stop, select a pork and rice burrito or tofu burrito for $3.95, tomato basil quiche for $4.50 or a bowl of fruit salad for $3.50 from the deli case at The Beanery, 1602 Ashland St. Get a custom-made half sandwich for $3.25 and choose from a variety of breads, cheeses, toppings and meat, hummus or baked tofu at Apple Cellar, 2255 Hwy. 66.

The Apple Cellar also has a wide variety of pasta, bean, potato or fruit salads served with fresh-baked bread for $3.50 for a cup. Depending on the season, the fruit salad can feature pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, grapes, oranges and berries. Vegans can try items such as the artichoke heart, sun-dried tomato, olive, red pepper and thyme salad, or the green bean salad with toasted almonds and red onions. Vegetarians might like the Greek-style pasta salad with Kalamata olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, while omnivores can choose from dishes like chicken with cheese tortellini, toasted pine nuts and pesto vinaigrette.

Gourmet Lunchbox, open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with counter service, take-out or delivery, operates from inside the Oregon National Guard Armory on East Main St. The bread is baked fresh daily, and all sandwiches are $4.95 or less.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.