Feast or Famine

Our recession-proof primer to eating out on the Main Line.

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Budgets. Can’t live within them, can’t live without them. In these turbulent economic times, it seems we all need a bit of a lifestyle adjustment. Out with the multiplex, in with DVDs; out with catering to the kids’ every whim, in with just saying “no.”

Yet, despite our newfound fiscal restraint, we still crave dinner anywhere but at home. Whether it’s bar appetizers, a platter of sushi, a steak, or a family-style meal, value is now a top priority.

We’re with you on that one. In fact, so are Main Line restaurateurs—and we’ve scoured the area for their best deals.

Ardmore Station Café’s French toast ($5), three-egg omelet with café breakfast potatoes ($5), and fresh fruit cup ($2.50) Jumpstart Your Day (and Have Something Left for Lunch)

Ardmore Station Café  Ever since taking over this popular Ardmore haunt four years ago, owner Bob Campman has been fattening us up with his “doctored-up” buttermilk pancakes and hefty breakfast burritos. An adult can expect to get out of here for just under $10. But when you take into account that everything is made from scratch with premium ingredients—and that the kitchen doesn’t skimp on portions—the prices seem like a bargain. (6 Station Road, Ardmore, 610-642-3889)

Joe’s Place  We’d be remiss if we left out this low-key Wayne staple. For a good old-fashioned short-order breakfast with all the calories and fat intact, this is your best bet. Expect to pay about $3 for a bacon, egg and provolone sandwich on rye. (236 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-964-9164)

MilkBoy Acoustic Café  Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., savvy Main Liners know this is one of the best places to go for a hearty, healthy start to the day. Eggs from free-range hens and organic meats and cheeses from Lancaster County await, along with inspiring tunes and a cup of Joe or herbal tea. Breakfast sandwiches run $3.50-$5, depending on fillings, and vegetarians will appreciate the tofu and tempeh options. Or try the tortilla Española, with slow-baked eggs prepared in classic Spanish style, for $5.25. (824 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; MilkBoy Main Stage, 2 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore; 610-645-5269, milkboycoffee.com)

Neopolitan Deli  The place to go for a great breakfast sandwich on toast, an English muffin, a Kaiser or a hoagie roll, priced from $3.50 to $6.50 (for a large cheese steak and egg hoagie). A “you name it, we’ll make it” omelet, with home fries and toast, runs $5.95. (1022 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, 610-647-2050)

Our Deli & Meats  Eggs Benedict for a little more than $7.50, a hearty plate of blueberry, banana or chocolate chip pancakes for $5.50, and coffee for less than $1.50. And you don’t even have to do the dishes. (39 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli, 610-296-3350)

Riverstone Café  Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Riverstone’s brunch is one of the best values out there for families. For $16.95 ($6.95 for kids), add to your waistline in grand fashion with omelets, pasta, carved meats, eggs Benedict (made to order) and all the usual brunch suspects, along with seafood, poultry and beef entrées, house-smoked salmon, raw oysters, and more. (Routes 30 and 100, Exton; 610-594-2233, riverstonecafe.com)

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