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Good grub for $10 or less 

Looking for some wallet relief? Here are a few places around town that won't melt your plastic and still taste good.

• At Pão Brazil Bakery you can fill up a bag of baked goods for $10. The oval-shaped pão francês, a bread similar to a Mexican bolillo, about six-inches long with an ultra-crunchy crust comes three in a bag for $1. Hot savory items are also deals: cheese buns ($1); chicken coquettes ($1.95); and empadinho, a classic meat pie with a flour-butter dough filled with chicken and olives ($1.95). All are delicious and cheap.

Pão Brazil Bakery & Café 11100 Monroe Road, Matthews, 704-846-7654. Read more about Pão Brazil Bakery & Café.

• Although Ben Thành is not a glam canteen, the food is exceptionally flavorful and inexpensive. Most entrée prices are under $10. Their menu offers the full complement of soups, Vietnamese hot pots, stir fries, noodle and rice dishes, grilled meats and many vegetarian selections.

Ben Thành Vietnamese Restaurant, 4900 Central Ave. 704-566-1088.

• The criolla spaghetti entrée is a mere $7 at Punta Cana, a Dominican Republic restaurant on South Boulevard. Other criolla specials (listed in Spanish on the menu: many items, however, are listed in English) do not shy away from flavor. These include the bacalo; stewed oxtail; and a chicken stew.

Punta Cana Caribbean Restaurant & Grill, 5230 South Blvd. 704-529-3599. See the menu.

• One of my favorite cheap-eats places, Chaat 'n' Chai, is temporarily closed, but is still doing catering.

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