If you limit your city travels to Philadelphia, George, Market and Queen streets, you miss out on a potentially richer experience. Consider expanding your horizon.
That was my idea when I visited Horizonte Restaurant (meaning "new day" restaurant).
If not for a small sign, a few sandwich boards and a slightly misleading Dominican flag, the restaurant would look like any other town house on East Prospect Street.
While the flag flies in honor of co-owner Maria Nieves' homeland, most of the food comes from the Puerto Rican roots of her husband, Luis.
Before our meals came, we received a bowl of chips and a delicious sweet salsa that, interestingly, had peas in it.
I ordered the pepper steak dinner. Nieves pounds the tough pieces of chipped beef into tender submission and then slow boils them for 20 minutes. He submerges the softened morsels of steak in a thick peppery gravy with caramelized onions.
One of my fellow cheap eaters ordered the chicken stew, with huge chunks of dark meat, including a few whole drumsticks. It was probably the heartiest stew I ever saw, but while my fellow cheaper thought the dish was OK, he had hoped for more robust seasoning.
While the main courses blew neither of us away, the yellow rice and pinto beans were the high mark of the meal. Nieves flavors the tender grains of rice with garlic and sazon, a Latin seasoning salt made with cilantro and a sweet spice made from achiote seeds. The pinto beans in a sweet brown sauce with potatoes tasted like they came from a slow-simmering pot, bringing out every subtle flavor.
Nieves touts his seafood items, particularly ensalada de marisco, a cold seafood salad. He also sells a lot of shrimp cocktails, the sauce made with jalapeño peppers and more olive oil and garlic than the American version.
The service was attentive but not very formal, which is common in small family places like this one. My third fellow cheap eater, with dietary restrictions, was disappointed Horizonte had run out of most of its chicken menu items that day. So he simply ordered a grilled-cheese sandwich.
The portions were massive, a terrific value. In fact, the leftover rice and beans held up well in reheating, and Horizonte provided me with another decent lunch the next day.
Cheap Eats is a biweekly column on local restaurants' meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Wade Malcolm at 771-2101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
LOCATION: Horizonte Restaurant, 703 E. Prospect St. in York
CUISINE: Latin and American
WADE'S PICK: Pepper steak, yellow rice and beans, $7
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday
PRICE RANGE: $4.75 to $10
ACCEPTS: Cash and major credit card
KID'S MENU: grilled cheese, french fries, hamburger, hot dog, chicken pattie.