Cheap eats in Hell's Kitchen: The best nosh on a budget

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

Whether you're looking for an inexpensive pre- or post-theater bite, or want to line your stomach before hitting the local bars (or soak up the damage afterwards), there are plenty of cheap eats in the neighborhood. Feast on everything from authentic tacos to superior ramen for less than $15.

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Amy's Bread

The hookup was bound to happen eventually: Beloved baker Amy Scherber has set up shop downtown right near Murray’s Cheese. It’s a dynamic duo if there ever was one. Scherber will offer her famous loaves—including that addictive raisin semolina—along with a full spread of breakfast pastries; grilled sandwiches, salads and soups for the lunch crowd, plus giant cookies and old-fashioned layer cakes.

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Blossom du Jour

The 12-seat location of this café proves that vegan cuisine and comfort food aren't paradoxical terms. Look into the open kitchen, where chefs cook up meatless dishes, like the Midtown Melt (Cajun-spiced seitan, agave guacamole, vegan cheddar and chipotle aioli on rosemary focaccia) and a vegan burger with soy bacon and onion rings. Healthy organic fruit and vegetable juices are blended on site, including the Field of Green, which combines spinach, kale, ginger, lemon, apple, cucumber and parsley.

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City Sandwich

Portuguese sandwiches are the specialty of this casual Hell's Kitchen restaurant.

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Donna Bell's Bake Shop

Actor Pauley Perrette, best known as Abigail Sciuto on TV's NCIS, opened this Southern-style bakery as an homage to her late mother, Donna Bell. The Alabama housewife's visage is found in old framed photos hung throughout the quaint café, also outfitted with vintage wallpaper, gaslight lanterns and a wrought-iron chandelier. Sweet tooths can dig into homespun goodies, including red velvet cake and Mississippi mud pudding, while those craving a savory snack can opt for deviled-egg sandwiches, mac and cheese, and pimento-cheddar-chive biscuits.

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Gazala Place

Israeli chef-owner Gazala Halabi brings a novelty to midtown: Druze cuisine.

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Midtown West

Peter's Since 1969

The Williamsburg rotisserie chicken specialist brings its basted birds to a new outpost in Hell's Kitchen. Comfort foods round out the simple menu: house-made Polish sausage, along with desserts, including apple, cherry and chocolate-pecan pies.

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Sergimmo Salumeria

Imported and house-made salumi, including sopressata and cacciatore, are the specialties of this Italian deli and café. Mozzarella, ricotta and the dried mozzarella scamorza are also made fresh daily, and the spot stocks pedigreed provisions, like Delverde pasta and San Marzano tomatoes. Hell's Kitchen lunchers can snag one of the Carrera-marble tables for a quick salad, pasta or panino on Pain d'Avignon bread. Look for the VIP (Very Italian Panini), which layers prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, fig spread and arugula on ciabatta.

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Tehuitzingo Deli and Grocery

Critics' pick

You won't need Spanish skills to gobble down $2.50 carnitas (pork seasoned with garlic, thyme and oregano) and garlicky, lime-marinated beef tacos at this tiny, fast-paced Mexican bodega. The two-layer tacos are easy for little ones to handle, as are the sopes (thick cornmeal tortillas) topped with cheese, beans and whatever meat you fancy. Work your way to the back of the store to find a handful of stools to eat at or, if weather permits, enjoy your feast at the Hell's Kitchen Playground right across the street.

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Totto Ramen

Critics' pick

Like a traditional Japanese ramen-ya, this narrow, below-street-level noodle joint is designed for quick meals. Most seats are along a counter, behind which the chefs crisp pork slices with a propane torch and tend to bubbling stockpots. The specialty here is paitan ramen, a creamy soup that’s a chicken-based variation on Hakata, Japan’s famous tonkotsu (pork) broth. The most basic version, the Totto chicken, is a flavorful, opaque soup bobbing with thin, straight noodles and slow-cooked pork ridged with satiny fat. The real winner, however, is the miso ramen, enriched with a scoop of nutty fermented soybean paste and wavy egg noodles. Ramen is generally a feast unto itself, but you can bulk up a meal with sides like char siu mayo don—a mound of rice heaped with more unctuous pork, yuzu-accented mayonnaise and raw sliced scallions.

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Comments

2 comments
CaffeineAbuse
CaffeineAbuse

Peter's since 1969 was great -- too bad the HK location has been closed for more than a year.

Rebecca
Rebecca

Awesome list, can't wait to try most. Just a note though, the "Pio Pio" listed up there is actually the address and photo of Pio Pio 8 which is the higher end sister of the Pio Pio family. Certainly not a cheap eat (but still great).