Best cheap eats in the Penn Station area

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Mooncake Foods

Mooncake Foods Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Burgers and Cupcakes
This TONY-staffer birthday favorite serves an oft-overlooked, messy-in-a-good-way burger ($6.50). If you’re low on blood sugar, chomp on a fudgy red velvet that’s more brownie than cupcake ($2.50), or take advantage of a stellar lunch deal: a burger and a Hagen-Dazs milk shake for $9. 458 Ninth Ave between 35th and 36th Sts (212-643-1200, burgersandcupcakes.us)

Djerdan Burek
These oversize, hand-stretched burekas ($4.95)—flaky pies filled with meat, cheese or spinach—are exemplary, with crispy exteriors giving way to sumptuous, spiced fillings. PATH takers: The chain has just opened up shop in Jersey City. 221 W 38th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-921-1183, djerdan.com)

Fay Da Bakery
The heavyweight contender in the “little Chinatown” that’s popped up in the west 30s, Fay Da earns our love for its super cheap and satisfying roast pork buns (95 each) and sugary bubble tea ($3.50). 257 W 34th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-868-8881, fayda.com)

Gray’s Papaya
Though the price has risen, the recession special (two dogs and a beverage, $4.45) at these perennial wiener hangouts is a Cheap Eats classic; the combination of a crisp-skinned salty dog and a sweet, frothy papaya drink is almost as New York as getting bilked by Bernie Madoff. 539 Eighth Ave at 37th St (212-904-1588); additional locations throughout the city.

Go Go Curry
Bronx Bomber Hideki Matsui is the inspiration for this quirky eatery specializing in plates of meats topped with gravylike Japanese curry. Try the supremely crisp Chicken Katsu ($7--$9.50) served over rice; each plate size is named for a baseball hit (walk, single, double, triple). 273 W 38th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-730-5555, gogocurryusa.com)

Mandoo Bar
The eponymous Korean dumplings are an excellent postshopping snack, and their creation is on display for passersby via the storefront window, where diligent dumpling matrons form them by hand. Don’t miss the ones filled with tart, spicy kimchi ($10 for ten). 2 W 32nd St between Broadway and Fifth Ave (212-279-3075)

Manganaro’s HeroBoy
Killer (in both size and taste) versions of staples, like a snappy sausage and peppers and tender chicken parmigiana (both $8), are hearty and delicious. 494 Ninth Ave between 37th and 38th Sts (212-947-7325, heroboy.com)

Minar
This Indian eatery has 6th Street prices, with an aptly spiced Friday special of shrimp curry ($7.95), whose heat pairs perfectly with a mango lassi. At $2.50 per glass, the drink is at least a buck cheaper than other places in the area. 5 W 31st St between Broadway and Fifth Ave (212-684-2199, minarny.com)

Mooncake Foods
After an appetizer of chicken wings marinated in honey and soy ($5.95), you’ll be ready for sliced hanger steak with cilantro and ginger ($8.80), served with mixed greens and an addictive orange-inflected dressing. 263 W 30th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-268-2888, mooncakefoods.com)

Pick a Pita
By far the best falafel sandwich ($5.50) in the area, the pitas here are warm, pillowy and stuffed to the brim with the usual suspects (lettuce, tomato, cucumber). What makes these particularly good, and worth a lengthy lunchtime wait, is the garlicky tahini within. 601 Eighth Ave between 39th and 40th Sts (212-730-7482)


Astoria, Queens

Park Slope/Prospect Heights

Penn Station area

East Village


Long Island City, Queens

Murray Hill

Chinatown

Williamsburg, Brooklyn


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Best cheap eats in New York City
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