Cheap New York: The best affordable restaurants

Dine like a king or queen and on the cheap in New York (yes, it’s possible!) by following our essential guide to delicious, wallet-friendly grub.

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Black Market burger

Black Market burger Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

A truly satisfying meal here need not cost an arm at a leg—or even more than 12 bones. Really. Just head to one of these standout, cheap New York restaurants to keep your appetite (and bank account) happy.


RECOMMENDED: Full list of cheap things to do in NYC


Bark Hot Dogs

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Chefs have taken to revising America’s favorite eats with an artisan’s approach—which is one reason for today’s renaissance of foods like burgers, pizza and fried chicken. At Bark Hot Dogs, chefs Brandon Gillis (Franny’s) and Joshua Sharkey (Caf Gray) cast their gaze at the lowly wiener, more often associated with dirty water than the

  1. 474 Bergen St, at Flatbush Ave
  2. Average hot dog: $6. AmEx, MC, V
More info

The Commodore

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

First came the gastropub, an import from Britain featuring upmarket pub grub in an ale-drinking setting. Now, welcome the gastrodive, which further blurs the lines between restaurant and bar. The Commodore in Williamsburg, with its old arcade games, Schlitz in a can and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, offers the city’s best

  1. 366 Metropolitan Ave, at Havemeyer St
  2. Average main course: $9
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Gottino

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

When yet another overcrowded eatery opens in New York, a diner must ask: “Should I bother jockeying for space?” In the case of Gottino, the answer is, “Absolutely.” Though the latest from co-owners Michael Bull and chef Jody Williams (Morandi) is not a restaurant per se—with its long marble bar, piddling five tables and menu of choice

  1. 52 Greenwich Ave, between Charles and Perry Sts
  2. Average small plate: $8. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info

Mile End Deli

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

When New Yorkers hear the word deli, a few things come to mind, and most of them involve excess—like that mile-high Carnegie Deli behemoth. When I first visited Schwartz’s, Montreal’s answer to Katz’s Delicatessen, I was surprised to see a modestly portioned sandwich: a reasonable stack of meat on coaster-size rye that I could actually fit

  1. 97A Hoyt St, between Atlantic Ave and Pacific St, 11217
  2. Average main course: $16. AmEx, MC, V
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Nitecap

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Warning: You’ll be annoyed with Nitecap at first. The entrance is hard to find (hint: if you pass Schapiro’s, you’ve gone too far), the grizzly-haired doorman will likely tell you there’s a sizable wait, and you’ll have to wrestle an unwieldy velvet curtain the second you step inside. But the effort is well worth it, if only for the

  1. 120 Rivington St, between Essex and Suffolk Sts, 10002
  2. Average drink: $12. AmEx, MC, V
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Open the Sesame

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Restaurants cannot subsist on cuteness alone. They’ve got to back up the charm with substance. Open The Sesame (what a darling name!) is pushing the adorable factor, perhaps to stand out from the multitude of nearby Thai restaurants. There are a few kinks to work out, but the place need not lean too heavily on its preciousness—the kitchen is

  1. 198A Orchard St, between Houston and Stanton Sts
  2. Average main course: $10. Cash Only
More info

Parm

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone started small with their first project together, a sandwich shop that opened in 2009, serving hoagies by day and tasting menus by night. But Torrisi Italian Specialties, that low-key debut, blew up in a flash, its inventive riffs on Italian-American classics catapulting the young chefs onto the national stage. Soon

  1. 248 Mulberry St, between Prince and Spring Sts
  2. Average sandwich: $9. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
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Peacefood Cafe

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

One can’t overstate the excitement a vegetarian feels when a new meat-free option opens in this foie gras--loving city—especially when it turns out to be as good as Peacefood Cafe. Just a couple of months ago, the affable Eric Yu opened this vegan gem, with soothing sage-colored walls, soft amber lighting and a buzzing, cheerily staffed

  1. 460 Amsterdam Ave, at 82nd St
  2. Average main course: $9. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info

Porchetta

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Single-subject restaurants (S’mac, Obik) present a particular challenge to reviewers: How to weigh a place that hyperspecializes in one type of food? Such is the dilemma at Porchetta, which focuses narrowly on central Italy’s classic boneless roasted pork. Aside from limited counter seating, the bright, subway-tiled space is mostly intended

  1. 110 E 7th St, between First Ave and Ave A
  2. Average sandwich: $9. MC, V
More info

Purple Yam

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Despite the ubiquity of sushi spots and Chinese joints, some Asian cuisines are still under the radar in New York. Top chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten have long embraced Thai flavors, and Vietnamese is enjoying a citywide renaissance thanks to Michael “Bao” Huynh, but the cooking of the Philippine archipelago has never made major inroads

  1. 1314 Cortelyou Rd, between Argyle and Rugby Rds
  2. Average main course: $15. AmEx, MC, V
More info

Roberta's

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Buzzing with urban-farming fund-raisers, local brewers pouring their ales and food-world luminaries fresh off Heritage Radio interviews, this sprawling hangout has become the unofficial meeting place for Brooklyn's sustainable-food movement. Opened in 2008 by Chris Parachini, Brandon Hoy and Carlo Mirarchi, Roberta's features its own rooftop

  1. 261 Moore St, between Bogart and White Sts
  2. Average pizza: $12. Cash only
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Stand4 (CLOSED)

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Stand, from restaurateur-turned-burger-burgher Jonathan Morr (Republic, Bond St.) evokes the retro charm of a burger stand, but with grander aspirations. It’s a real restaurant, complete with 15-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, waiter service and burgers served reverentially on giant white plates. The patties are hefty, the bread delicious (poppy

  1. 24 E 12th St, between Fifth Ave and University Pl
  2. Average burger: $10. AmEx, MC, V
More info

Achilles Heel

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4

With its timeworn wood floors and fish-yard–view windows, Andrew Tarlow’s Greenpoint grogshop is loosely based on a dockhand dive. But instead of off-hours longshoremen, an art-house crowd streams in, armed with 35mm analog cameras and hand-painted skateboards. The faux-weathered joint is a cool-kid Cheers descendant, a neighborhood tavern

  1. 180 West St, at Green St, 11222
  2. Average small plate: $12. AmEx, MC, V.
More info

Alameda

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4

Greenpoint, land of rapidly rising rents and Girls sightseeing tours, is in the midst of a cool-kid renaissance. Tucked into Brooklyn’s northern tip and accessible only by the erratic G train, the once-scrappy underdog to dominating Williamsburg is now a dining destination in its own right, attracting not only Lena Dunham fan-girls but also

  1. 195 Franklin St, at Green St, 11222
  2. Average dish: $10. AmEx, MC, V
More info

Cascabel Taqueria

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4

In the eternal food-cred war waged between New York and Cali, the West Coast holds but a single trump card: ubiquitous, excellent tacos. The simple combination of tortilla, meat and fresh fixings has somehow slipped past our most industrious chefs, who’ve busied themselves with revisions of other humble foods (fried chicken, burgers, etc.). So

  1. 1542 Second Ave, between 80th and 81st Sts
  2. Two tacos: $7.50. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
More info
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