There’s no shortage of delicious cuisine in New York City, and while you’ll find plenty of high-end restaurants, it is possible to eat well in NYC without breaking the bank. Here are our tops picks for great cheap eats in the city that never sleeps.
1. Bagels at Best Bagels and Coffee
You can’t leave NYC without trying the bagels, the seminal New York breakfast (or anytime snack really). While there are hundreds of bagel places in New York, most of which won’t disappoint, Best Bagels and Coffee on 35th and 7th is a classic, simple NYC deli whose name says all you need to know. And you can get one of these seriously good bagels and schmear for just $3.50. You might have to wait in a queue outside, but fear not, the speedy service will have you in and out in a jiffy. Hot tip: have your order ready, you may get passed over if you’re not quick on the jump. Best Bagels and Coffee recently expanded into the store next door so you might just be able to grab a seat if your don’t fancy eating your bagel while you walk.
2. Dumplings From Tasty Dumpling
is a literal haven for delicious cheap eats. If you need a ton of food on a dime, there’s no better place to wander around and eat to your heart’s content. Tasty Dumpling, tucked away on Mulberry Street, offers up five large dumplings for just $1.25. At that price, you can feel free to grab quite a few orders! The restaurant also serves scallion pancakes, noodle soup and many other choices to fill you up. The decor and ambiance are nothing to write home about, and don’t be surprised as slightly brusque service, but it’s a great on-the-go meal that will leave you full and happy.
3. Pizza From Joe’s Pizza
Pizza is another must-try New York delight, and Joe’s Pizza in the West Village serves up the quintessential New York slice. At $2.75 a pop, this fresh, steamy pizza doesn’t disappoint. While you can certainly find more upscale pizza for a higher price (such as Grimaldi’s) and cheaper pizza (such as 2 Bros. Pizza, which offers two slices and a can of soda for $2.50), Joe’s strikes the perfect balance between quality and price. Don’t expect to find any comfortable seating here, the place is pretty bare bones, but proper New York pizza is meant to be eaten standing up at a counter, and don’t forget to douse it all the available toppings: red pepper chili flakes, parmesan cheese, oregano, pepper, and garlic salt.
4. Souvlaki From Souvlaki GR
This delicious Greek restaurant, which resides on a quiet street on the Lower East Side, started out as a food truck but didn’t lose its cheap prices in the transition to brick-and-mortar restaurant. Upon entering, you feel like you’ve stepped right onto the island of Mykonos, with beautiful white and blue decorations that emulate the popular architecture of the island. With skewers starting at just $4.25 (this includes tzatziki and pita bread), it’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure dining experience. While there are certainly pricier things on the menu, it’s definitely possible to fill up on some incredible Greek food here for a fraction of the price at other sit-down restaurants. Don’t miss out on the feta covered fries either.
5. Falafel From Mamoun’s
If you’re looking for some seriously killer falafel (that doesn’t come from a street cart), you have to check out Mamoun’s on St. Marks. For $4, you get a massive pita stuffed chock-full of incredible Middle Eastern noms that are the perfect start to a night out on the town. If falafel isn’t your jam, the restaurant also serves shawarma and other tasty treats. Mamoun’s is another bare bones establishment, with very little seating, but there are plenty of places to camp out and chow down on your falafel.
6. Sushi From Zest
Sushi isn’t the food you typically think of for cheap eats, but with Zest’s happy hour sushi deal (everything’s $3), you can get a seriously good deal here — without sacrificing quality. While definitely a little pricier than the other places on the list, you won’t believe how much sushi you can get for such a low price. Zest is a nice compact New York restaurant, with a pleasant ambiance, you’ll definitely want to get there early though to ensure you can snag a table and take full advantage of their happy hour.
7. Tacos From Any Taco Truck
It’s too hard to choose just one taco truck in NYC — there are a ton, and they all serve up some incredibly cheap, delicious tacos. Tacos make a great late-night food post bar, but don’t shy away from making this your dinner either. You’ll find these delightful trucks throughout the city. Look for Tacos el Rancho in Sunset Park, El Ray del Taco in Astoria, or Sidewalk Tacos, which travels around.
8. Hot Dogs From Papaya King
We can’t have a complete NY cheap eats guide without talking about hot dogs. While you’ll see dirt cheap hot dog carts all over the city, for the real NY hot dog experience, you have to check out Papaya King. Here you can get two dogs with all the fixins and a drink for $5.50. You can also tack on a papaya smoothie if you want to understand why this hot dog place is named after a tropical fruit. Papaya King might not look like much on the inside, but you can usually find a few places to sit and the hot dogs are worth it we swear.
9. Pierogies From Karczma
Greenpoint, Brooklyn is a veritable Polish food haven, and you won’t believe the amount of food you get for these prices. When you step into Karczma, you feel like you’ve traveled all the way to Poland. While Karczma serves all kinds of delectable Polish dishes, for just $8.50 you can get a pile of some of the best pierogies you’ll find outside of Poland. Veselka is also a popular stop for pierogies and other Eastern European delights, but as it’s in the heart of the East Village, it’s gonna be slightly more pricey than the Brooklyn counterpart.
10. Oysters From The Mermaid Inn
If you want some luxury on a dime, The Mermaid Inn (which has three locations) offers up an incredible happy hour deal, with oysters for $1.25, $5 beers, $7 wines and a host of other food happy hour specials that allow for a classy night out without breaking the bank. The Mermaid Inn is definitely the classiest establishment on this list, and we recommend making a reservation as their happy hour deal is very popular. There are three locations: West Village, East Village
, and Upper East Side. None of them are very large, but they manage to pack quite a few tables in there.