If you're looking to save a buck (and who isn't), opting for a light lunch or dinner with soup as the main course is the way to go. Instead of busting out those cups of noodles, you can shell out a couple more dollars and still get to eat out with all your friends without completely breaking the bank. Win-win, right?
Starting off with some classic spots, two longstanding Fourth Avenue institutions, La Indita and Caruso's, both have a cheap lunch option for soup lovers. La Indita's soup offering changes daily with a bowl running at $7.25 and a cup up to $4.50. Offerings like a cheesy caldo de queso, served with lime wedges and a complimentary side of chips and salsa, are flavorful and unique. If you get the cheese soup, though, just be warned it's not really date night material, as the rich, buttery broth is full of stringy melted cheese, potatoes and chiles.
Caruso's goes the traditional Italian route with their pasta fagioli and minestrone. While their soups also change daily, you can usually get one of the two classics on any given day with $3.95 for a cup and $6.50 for a bowl. The rustic minestone comes with large stewed veggies, beans, and barley in a bright tomato broth. It also comes with garlic bread to fill up, though the freebie is sometimes a bit colder than we typically like our garlic bread. Free is free, though, and it's hard not to be a little enamored with Caruso's kitschy Italian-American décor, complete with those iconic red and white checkered tablecloths.
For a more modern take, head across the street to the B Line, where tortilla soup and a soup du jour are always on the menu. The casual diner and café serves up cups at $4.50 and bowls at $6.95. You can also opt for a cup of soup and half of a tuna sandwich, made with horseradish, raisins, almonds and celery, for $7.95. The smooth and comforting potato leek soup is one daily option at B Line, topped with scallions and diced bell pepper to cut some of the richness.
Even vegan, non-GMO locavores have somewhere to go on Fourth Avenue. Food for Ascension, which is admittedly technically off Seventh Street, offers two soups daily for the meat and dairy-free crowd. $5.50 for a cup and $11 for a full bowl might seem a little rich for your blood, but the expertly crafted handmade soups, paired with your choice of wheat toast or a house seed cracker, are worth the little extra. Intense and complex, the soups, such as Southwestern black bean or spicy pumpkin, get a flavorful kick from a range of spices and herbs.
Finally, Delectables Restaurant and Catering might be your usual spot to stop for dessert after dinner, but, looking past the pastries, you can grab a cup ($4) or bowl ($7) of hot soup or cold gazpacho, too. The ever-changing offerings include past options like creamy chicken and green chile chowder, rich mushroom port, classic chicken noodle, and more, all served with two slices of bread to help you fill up. But, hey, since you're saving a buck on the main dish, you might as well splurge on a pint of local beer or a slice of cake while you're there.
However, your soup excursion on Fourth Avenue need not stop at those five places. Café Passé has been known to sling bowls of soup on occasion, as well as Maya Quetzal, Athens Restaurant, and Epic Café. No matter where you opt to go, grabbing a cup of soup means you'll get a quick, light, and inexpensive taste of local spots, even if your cash flow doesn't allow for you to go full entrée every time you dine out.