The best cheap eats in the East Village

Cheap eats abound in the East Village, but which stand out from the rest? Fuel up at our critic-approved budget food spots.

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Mile End

Mile End Photograph: Virginia Rollison


Whether you want to take a break from shopping to refuel with an inexpensive bite, line your stomach before hitting the local bars (or soak up the damage afterwards), or embark on a full food crawl, there are plenty of cheap eats in the neighborhood. Feast on everything from cult slices and hot dogs to superlative slow-roasted pork for less than $15.

RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in NYC

Artichoke Basille's Pizza

  • Critics choice

Early hype has led to long lines at this East Village pizzeria named after its specialty, a slice covered in a creamy artichoke-and-spinach spread.

  1. 328 E 14th St , (between First and Second Aves)
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Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter

  • Price band: 1/4

Blue Smoke alum Amanda Beame dishes out at Southern classics updated with sustainable ingredients at this homestyle eatery. On the menu: fried free-range chicken, Hudson Valley collard greens and pimento cheese sandwiches. The simple 17-seat space features an L-shaped reclaimed-wood bar and exposed brick.

  1. 94 Ave C, (between 6th and 7th Sts)
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Caracas Arepa Bar

  • Critics choice

Surely, there’s no more cultured a substitute for a grilled cheese sandwich than a piping-hot arepa filled with juayanes, a handmade cheese. This endearing spot, with flower-patterned, vinyl-covered tables, zaps you straight to Caracas. The secret is in the arepas themselves: Each patty is made from scratch daily. The pitalike pockets are stuffed
with a choice of 18 fillings, like chicken and avocado or mushrooms with tofu. Top off your snack with a cocada, a thick and

  1. 91–93½ E 7th St, (between First Ave and Ave A), 10009-57
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Crif Dogs

  • Critics choice

Relive your high-school stoner days, when you were broke and bored and nothing could satisfy those wicked 2am munchies like a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with cheese and a fried egg. Crif’s snappy deep-fried or grilled dogs have a cult following among tube-steak aficionados who swarm the joint at all hours for combos like the Spicy Redneck (bacon-wrapped and covered in chili, coleslaw and jalapeños) and the Chihuahua (bacon-wrapped with sour cream and avocado).

  1. 113 St. Marks Pl, (between First Ave and Ave A), 10009-51
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Han Dynasty

  • Price band: 2/4

You’ll get three meals out of a night at this sizzling Philadelphia import—the one you ordered and enough leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day. The only thing bigger than the portions is the sheer spice; the menu is scrupulously ranked on a heat scale, from tolerably tingly to five-alarm mouth fire. Offset fierce, springy dan dan noodles tangled around nubs of minced pork ($7.95) and batter-fried dry-pepper chicken wings ($9.95) with

  1. 90 Third Ave, (between 12th and 13th Sts), 10003
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Huertas

  • Price band: 2/4

The $55 tasting menu at this Basque-inspired restaurant is reasonable for a wild night on the AmEx, but it’s really all about the $8 tortilla española, or their $8 version of patates bravas (dubbed “bravioli” for its aioli garnish). Also, where else can you find mussels escabeche (that is, marinated in an lemon and herbs) for $10? Probably in some tiny tapacieria in the Basque country.

  1. 107 First Ave, (between 6th and 7th Sts), 10003
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Hummus Place

  • Critics choice

If you want to know how good hummus should taste, check out this slender East Village restaurant (there are two more locations, one in the West Village and one on the Upper West Side). We’re particularly fond of the supersmooth traditional hummus. It’s rich enough to be called “vegetarian chopped liver” and comes with a smart selection of condiments including pickles, olives, raw onion and chewy, bubbly pita for scooping.

  1. 109 St Marks, (between First Ave and Avenue A)
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Mile End Deli

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Critics choice

The sandwich shop has never had it quite so good in New York. The field is crowded with purists and renegades, with star chefs and career-changing amateurs, all devoting themselves to making food fast, cheap and, most importantly, portable—so many new hoagies, cheese steaks, tortas, banh mi and stuffed Chinese buns. Mile End Sandwich, which opened recently near the Bowery on Bond Street, follows the same lofty path paved by ’wichcraft, Saltie and No. 7 Sub, to name just a few

  1. 53 Bond St, (between Bowery and Lafayette St)
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Mimi Cheng's Dumplings

Dumpling houses are a typical go-to when pinching pennies, but this East Village den, run by sisters Hannah and Marian Cheng, employs a generation of recipes passed down from their mother, Mimi. The handmade ginger-and-scallion pockets (six for $8, eight for $10) are made fresh daily, filled with pork and bok choy, chicken and zucchini or kale, egg and mushroom. The little wonders are either pan-fried or steamed and then served with a side of Mimi’s secret sauce. Dessert

  1. 179 Second Ave, (between 11th and 12th Sts), 10003
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Motorino

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Mathieu Palombino’s international pizza joint is but one of many that extol the virtues of the Neapolitan pie, but it’s stellar prix fixe distinguishes it from the pizza-slinging masses. The set menu includes a mixed green salad and choice of the margherita, Brussels sprout, soppressata or marinara pie for $12 on weekdays from 11am–4pm. Non-pizza crowd pleasers include jumbo chicken wings hit with chili flakes, mint and lemon ($11) and belly-warming meatballs topped with

  1. 349 E 12th St, (between First and Second Aves)
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Otto's Tacos

  • Price band: 1/4

Dirt-cheap taco shops are nearly as ubiquitous in this city as dollar-slice dens, but California native Otto Cedeno sets his taqueria apart with supple house-made tortillas topped with shrimp and serrano crema ($3.50), beer-braised carnitas ($3) and gaarlic-compound-butter–sautéed cremini mushrooms ($3). A trio of these mighty masas is more than enough for one meal, but aggressive appetites can bolster their plate with a

  1. 141 Second Ave, (between St. Marks Pl and E 9th St), 10003
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Porchetta

  • Critics choice

While the menu at this East Village pork shop relies heavily on its namesake—central Italy’s stuffed pork roast—theporchetta does anything but fall flat. Find succulent cubed meat stuffed into a crusty loaf ($7) with sides like crispy potatoes ($6) and kale and broccoli rabe topped with roasted garlic cloves ($6). 

  1. 110 E 7th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
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Robataya NY

  • Critics choice

When we visited the latest restaurant to hit East 9th Street, a.k.a. Little Japan, we were reminded of why we dine out—for entertainment, for thoughtful service and of course, for good food. Though there were flaws in our meal, Robataya NY (from the owners of Sakagura) is an example of a rare place where atmosphere and an attentive staff can augment an imperfect dinner. We arrived on a recent Friday evening, starving and with a reservation, and were informed that there would be

  1. 231 E 9th St, (between Second and Third Aves)
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Sigmund Bar

  • Critics choice

Pretzels in sundry forms are the specialty at this East Village shop. The doughy twists come in flavors like salted, caraway, and cinnamon-raisin, while free dips include Nutella, and honey-mustard. The store also sells sandwiches with spilt pretzels acting as bread, along with coffees and teas.

  1. 29 Ave B, (between 2nd and 3rd Sts)
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Somtum Der

  • Price band: 1/4

This Bangkok transplant, a sanctuary of northern Thai cuisine, serves the papaya salads of its namesake with grilled pork neck or fermented fish sauce and miniature crabs ($10). Those in search of Isan-style deep-fried chicken will pay $8; but for lunch you can have that and a whole somtum, with rice, for $12.

  1. 85 Ave A, (between 5th and 6th Sts)
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This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef

  • Critics choice

This dingy nook from the team behind Artichoke serves a limited roster of messy sandwiches and trashy sides (mayo-sopped potato salad, fat boardwalk fries). “Yo, I’ll have a This Way” yields the best thing in the joint, a squishy sesame-seed bun soaked in meat drippings and filled with thinly-sliced roast beef slathered in Cheez Whiz. If you prefer your roast beef thick-cut and drowning in insipid brown gravy, you’ll order it That Way. And if you’re not in the mood for

  1. 149 FirstAve, (between 9th and 10th Sts )
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Veselka

  • Critics choice

When you need food to soak up the mess of drinks you’ve consumed in the East Village, Veselka is a dream come true: a relatively inexpensive Eastern European restaurant with plenty of seats and loads of options, open 24 hours a day. Hearty appetites can get a platter of classic Ukrainian grub: goulash, kielbasa, beef Stroganoff or bigos stew. If you just want a nosh, try the sweet stuff: They’ve got many pies, cakes, egg creams and milk shakes—plus Ukrainian poppy seed cake

  1. 144 Second Ave, (at 9th St), 10003
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Whitmans

  • Critics choice

This burger shop features a takeout counter upstairs and a casual dining room on the lower level. Our favorite of the speciality sandwiches is a locavore spin on the Juicy Lucy—a Minneapolis burger variant cooked with cheese inside the patty rather than on top. The handsome one-hander boasts prime ingredients, like a proprietary Pat LaFrieda rib blend, a seeded Blue Ribbon bun and crunchy McClure’s pickles, along with an added Southern twang: a gooey pocket of pimento cheese

  1. 406 E 9th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
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Zabb Elee

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Manhattan’s Thai restaurants are a pretty sad bunch, their goopy noodle dishes and wan Massaman curries mostly indistinguishable from one another. Gussied-up venues, like the clubby Spice chain—with dated, mood-lit branches all over the borough—only make matters worse, serving wontons with cream cheese and coconut shrimp, along with the usual Westernized standards. In this context, the new Zabb Elee, the latest addition to the Spice family of restaurants, might be taken as

  1. 75 Second Ave, (between 4th and 5th Sts), 10003
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