The best cheap eats in NYC

Fill up your belly without emptying your wallet with this guide to the best cheap eats NYC has to offer

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

With first-rate chefs turning out lip-smacking BBQ, slurpworthy noodles and chest-thumpingly good bar grub (we've even scoured the city for free food deals at NYC bars), it's never been a better time for budget dining. Whether you’re a New York pizza fanatic, fried-chicken aficionado or just craving a cheap burger at one of the best diners and luncheonettes in the city, we’ve found the perfect wallet-friendly bites. Here are the year's best cheap eats NYC has to offer.

RECOMMENDED: 100 best New York restaurants

The 50 best cheap eats in NYC

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Map view of the best cheap eats

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Cheap eats by category

Restaurants

Best cheap pizza

Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you should put up with a greasy slice. Try one of these affordable pizzerias. RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in NYC Best Pizza If you’re going to pay for artisanal pizza, it’s best served fresh: Here, slices of piping hot cheese ‘za will set you back $3.25, a whole dollar cheaper than Artichoke. Drop down another $3.75 to try a leopard-spotted white slice jazzed up with caramelized onions and sesame seeds, and wash it down with a Mexican Coke ($2.75). Di Fara Pizza For more than 40 years, Italian-born Domenico DeMarco has eaten a slice of his own pizza every day—a one-man quality-control outfit. You know he's doing something right. His painstakingly crafted regular pies ($28)—cracker-thin crust with a pleasing char and a subtle Parmesan zing—are widely considered to be among the city's best. Herbs grown in the window boxes flavor the sauce, and the dough is made fresh several times a day. Giuseppina In March of this year,the cultish joint Lucali opened a spin-off in Sunset Park, helmed by Chris Iacono. The 40-seat eatery offers an identical menu of classic calzones (small $10, large $20) and thin-crust pizzas ($20, each topping $3--$6). As at the original, guests can watch flour-dusted chefs punch and pull mounds of dough in front of a wood-fired oven. But drinkers, take heart: Unlike BYOB Lucali, Giuseppina's serves beer and wine. Joe’s Pizza Dough technician Joe Pozzuoli has perfected the thin-crust slice ($2.75). It's w

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Restaurants

Best cheap burgers

Sink your teeth into our top five underrated patties.

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Restaurants

Best cheap fried chicken

Proof that the golden-crusted classic doesn't have to break the bank.

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Restaurants

Best cheap hot dogs

Skip the dollar hot-dog carts and sample our picks for the best cheap hot dogs in NYC.

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Cheap eats by New York neighborhood

Restaurants

East Village

Cheap eats abound in East Village, but which stand out from the rest? Fuel up at our critic-approved budget food spots. 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: Full guide to East Village Artichoke Basille's Pizza & Brewery 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. Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter 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. Caracas Arepa Bar 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 snac

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Restaurants

Williamsburg

Cheap eats abound in Williamsburg, but which stand out from the rest? Fuel up at our critic-approved budget food spots. Whether you want to line your stomach before hitting the bars (or soak up the damage afterwards) or grab an inexpensive lunch or pre-gig meal, there are plenty of cheap eats in the neighborhood. You'll find gastropub fare at The Commodore, greaseless fried chicken at Pies and Thighs and superior sandwiches at Saltie.RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Williamsburg, Brooklyn Nhà Tôi This shop, the name of which means “my house,” brings traditional and innovative banh mi and Vietnamese summer rolls to Williamsburg. Creative twists on the popular sandwich include versions such as the “Pho Bahn Mi,” which stuffs a baguette with pho ingredients (Thai basil, cilantro, cucumber, bean sprouts and beef short rib). During the week, customers can also partake in the “family meal,” a rotating daily special prepared for the staff but available to all, and on weekends dim sum is served. Pies ’n’ Thighs Deprivation is the mother of New York restaurant hype. Pies ’n’ Thighs, the city’s most eagerly awaited Southern-fried grease trap, has kept Williamsburg in Pavlovian limbo since the start of 2008, when its first incarnation—a drunk-food closet at the back of a bar—was shut down to prep for a more spacious and permanent home. Last month, after endless delays, it finally debuted in a former bodega near the Williamsburg Bridge.The new version, run by the three chefs behind the

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Restaurants

Chelsea

Cheap eats abound in Chelsea, but which stand out from the rest? Fuel up at our critic-approved budget food spots. Whether you want to line your stomach before hitting the bars (or soak up the damage afterwards) or grab an inexpensive bite while shopping, there are plenty of cheap eats in the neighborhood. Among our favorite cheap eats are the cult slice at Artichoke Basille’s Pizzeria and the eponymous Asian snacks at Rickshaw Dumpling Bar.RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chelsea, New York Artichoke Basille's Pizza and Bar The owners of the perpetually packed East Village slice shop have expanded to Chelsea. City Bakery Pastry genius Maury Rubin’s loft-size City Bakery is jammed with Chelsea shoppers loading up on unusual salad-bar choices (grilled pineapple with ancho chili, bean sprouts with smoked tofu, excellent salmon salad). There’s also a small selection of soups, pizzas and hot dishes. But to heck with all that: The thick, incredibly rich hot chocolate with fat house-made marshmallows is heaven in a cup (replaced by fruit-infused lemonade in the summer), and the moist “melted” chocolate-chip cookies are better than a marked-down pair of Prada pumps. Joe the Art of Coffee West Siders have experienced a restaurant revolution, and now they can boast grade-A espresso too, thanks to the most recent location of the boutique-coffee chain. In addition to espresso-based drinks, a single-cup, drip-coffee bar dispenses a rotating selection of brews, while baked goods from companies l

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Restaurants

Chinatown

Cheap eats abound in Chinatown, but which stand out from the rest? Fuel up at our critic-approved budget food spots. Chinatown excels at cheap eats. Whether you want to line your stomach before hitting the Lower East Side bars or grab an inexpensive bite while perusing local shops or nearby galleries, you can fill up on dumplings, noodles or more exotic fare for just a few bucks.RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Chinatown, New York Mei Li Wah Bakery This tried-and-true mainstay continues to offer some of the freshest steamed buns in the city, each less than $1.64. If you only have a buck to your name, you can’t do much better than the classic pork bun (80¢), still one of the best deals in town. New Green Bo Since the windows to this tiny, cramped dining room have been plastered over with accolades from English-language press, it’s impossible to gauge the wait-time for this popular Shanghai restaurant unless the line snakes onto the sidewalk. Once inside, beware: the clunky oversized soup dumplings are strictly overrated, as are regional specialties such as suspiciously meatless “lion’s head” pork meatballs and greasy stir-fried rice cakes. Go esoteric instead with lip-smacking bamboo shoots, chunks of meat-like vegetarian kao fu and the juicy ginger crab. New Malaysia Restaurant The menu at New Malaysia Restaurant resembles those found in many Indian, Thai, Chinese and other Asian eateries—and with good reason: Malaysian cuisine comes from an amalgam of those cultures. So you’ll hav

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Restaurants

Astoria

Cheap eats abound in Astoria, but which stand out from the rest? Fuel up at our critic-approved budget food spots. Whether you want to take a break from shopping to refuel with an inexpensive bite, or line your stomach before hitting the local bars (or soak up the damage afterwards), there are plenty of superior cheap eats in the neighborhood. Nosh on everything from addictive SoCal-style burgers to bratwurst for less than $15.RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Astoria, Queens Astor Bake Shop Pastry chef George McKirdy (Tribeca Grill) is serving breakfast pastries and sweets such as eclairs and carrot cakes, along with a Pat LaFrieda burger, at this Astoria café and bakery. Fatty’s Café Fernando Peña knows the way to a woman’s heart; his family’s Dominican cuisine won over girlfriend Suzanne Furboter, who then persuaded him to start a Latin-inspired restaurant with her. The result is hip Fatty’s Café, serving jalapeño turkey burgers, grilled cheese, creative takes on pressed Cuban sandwiches and one of the best mojitos around. Furboter and Peña serve as waitress and bartender, respectively, and treat each customer like family. On weekends, they offer a stellar brunch. Stick around after the kitchen closes; Fatty’s becomes a relaxed neighborhood bar. Hinomaru Ramen Slurp noodles at this Astoria ramen house, from the Chace Restaurant Group (Ember Room, Spot Dessert Bar). Japanese native Koji Miyamoto dishes out steaming bowls from an open kitchen. The 60-seat space also features high c

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Restaurants

Soho

Cheap eats abound in Soho, but which stand out from the rest? Fill up at our critic-approved budget food spots. Whether you want to take a break from shopping to refuel with an inexpensive bite, or 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 tasty tacos to nicely priced Asian fusion fare.RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Soho, New York Caffe Falai Iacopo Falai’s third downtown outpost melds the former pastry chef’s diverse skills: The place is at once a restaurant, a bakery and a café. Daytime diners linger over cappuccinos and crusty panini oozing with fillings like fontina and speck; at night, heartier offerings include charred baby octopus tossed onto slices of roasted potato. Rounding out the Renaissance man’s oeuvre are the artful desserts, including a citrus-and-strawberry bombe,plucked from the display case up front. The Ear Inn When it opened in 1830, the historic Ear Inn was popular with colorful characters ambling in from the docks of the Hudson. The basic decor (dark-wood bar, wobbly tables and chairs, lots of retro ephemera) hasn’t changed much since, but locals continue to pack the place thanks to its relaxed vibe and historical charm. Free snacks such as fried chicken and sausages can be had weeknights from 4 to 7pm, mitigating any wallet damage wreaked by a few $6 pints of Guinness. Fanelli’s Cafe Fanelli’s has stood at this cobblestoned Soho intersecti

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Restaurants

Harlem

Cheap eats abound in Harlem, but which stand out from the rest? Fuel up at our critic-approved budget food spots. Whether you want to line your stomach before hitting the bars (or soak up the damage afterwards) or grab an inexpensive bite while shopping, you don’t have to resort to fast food. Cheap eats in Harlem include one of the city’s best fried chicken joints.RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Harlem, New York Country Panfried Chicken Fried chicken has made quite the comeback, and now the guru of moist flesh and crackly skin, Charles Gabriel, is making his triumphant return to Harlem with this all-you-can-eat restaurant. In addition to the poultry, there will be barbecued ribs, mac and cheese, yams and other Southern favorites. Beurre & Sel Beloved cookbook author, blogger and baking maven Dorie Greenspan and son Josh are behind a pair of cookiecentric bakeshops. Snag Greenspan’s elegant treats: classic French vanilla sablés (shortbread), blueberry jammers topped with streusel, and her signature World Peace Cookies (Valrhona cocoa and extra-bitter chocolate with Guérande fleur de sel). East Dumpling House Columbia students can sate their dumpling cravings at this tiny eatery, whose cherrywood floors and brick walls dress up its cheap-eats mission. The purses come with mostly classic fillings like pork-and-chive, though a few original versions—such as “ugly” dumplings, buns stuffed with veggies and vermicelli—are also available. El Aguila This 22-seat outpost of a New Jersey tor

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Restaurants

Hell's Kitchen

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.RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Hell's Kitchen 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. 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. City Sandwich Portuguese sandwiches are the specialty of this casual Hell's Kitchen restaurant. Donna Bell's Bak

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Related cheap eats features

Restaurants

10 restaurants to eat on a budget in NYC (2013)

These cheap-eats restaurants are doling out the best new bargain bites in NYC. Fill up for $15 or less on burgers, wings and Southern comfort food. More cheap eats in NYC 2013 Best new cheap-eats restaurants Ramen styles International handheld snacks Five best new tacos Cheap-eats continuum Best-in-class BBQ 53 cheap-eats food photos Trending: Vietnamese fare Get top-notch fare for less than a twenty at these new cheap-eats restaurants, including white-hot bargain dens like Hugh Mangum’s Mighty Quinn’s and Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Phat Thai. Burgers to barbecue, pizza to pad Thai, here are the ten best new NYC spots to feast on a budget.RECOMMENDED: Best cheap eats in NYC 2013 Most popular in Food & Drink The populist patty joint: Blue Collar From the Miller’s Tavern team, this cheery hole-in-the-wall is the Bruce Springsteen of burger stops—a no-fuss nod to the greasy-spoon glory days of roadside diners. The Flat Top burger—griddle-pressed à la In-N-Out—is swaddled in a squishy Martin’s potato roll with gooey American cheese, lettuce, tomato, chopped onion, pickles and mayo-based special sauce ($4.75). Split-and-seared beef franks get a zippy lift from tangy kraut ($2.75); shoestring fries ($2.25) are salty and crisp; and thick milk shakes (in vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, or cookies and cream; $4.75–$5.50) are hand-spun. The new-school slice slinger: Williamsburg Pizza On a dim corner of South Williamsburg, pizza nut Nino Coniglio twirls blistered pies that

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Restaurants

Ramen noodles: Get to know eight traditional and new styles (2013)

Brush up on your Japanese-noodle knowledge with our explainer on ramen styles. More cheap eats in NYC 2013 Best new cheap-eats restaurants Ramen styles International handheld snacks Five best new tacos Cheap-eats continuum Best-in-class BBQ 53 cheap-eats food photos Trending: Vietnamese fare It's been another tonkotsu-crazed year, with a fresh burst of ramen joint debuts all over town—Hinomaru in Astoria, Ganso in Downtown Brooklyn and Jin in Harlem. But how familiar are you with this Japanese noodle soup? Bone up on the four main styles (tonkotsu, miso, shio, shoyu), plus lesser-known varieties (mazemen, abura soba, tantan-men, tsukemen).RECOMMENDED: Best cheap eats in NYC 2013 Most popular in Food & Drink THE BIG FOUR Shio style: The lightest of the traditional broth styles, “salt” ramen, along with its soy-based sibling shoyu, can trace its history back to ramen’s origins: the late 1800s food stalls of Chinese immigrants in Japan (the dish was known as shina soba, or “Chinese soba,” until the ’50s). Now a specialty of the northern port city Hakodate, shio features a stock of chicken and vegetables, plus pork bone for additional depth—think of it as soul-warming Asian chicken noodle soup. Where to find it: Harlem ramen-ya Jin’s rendition gets an unexpected, brightening boost from yuzu rind and pepper, paired with thin, straight noodles and topped with chashu (braised pork belly), nitamago (soft-boiled egg), nori and scallions. $11. Shoyu style: Characterized

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Restaurants

New York City’s best handheld snacks: Arepas, beef patties and more (2013)

From the Caribbean’s aloo pie to Mexico’s tamale, New York City is chock full of delicious and cheap handheld snacks. More cheap eats in NYC 2013 Best new cheap-eats restaurants Ramen styles International handheld snacks Five best new tacos Cheap-eats continuum Best-in-class BBQ 53 cheap-eats food photos Trending: Vietnamese fare Around the world, handheld snacks offer satisfying, portable meals. Eat your way through our city’s best versions in this borough-hopping tour. From a Queens masa factory slinging top-notch Mexican tamales to a Soho bakery turning out ham-and-cheese croissants, you’ll find delicious, cheap snacks in every corner of Gotham.RECOMMENDED: Best cheap eats in NYC 2013 Most popular in Food & Drink Time Out videos You might also like The best new cheap snacks in New York If you’re looking for a quick bite, sample one of our picks for the city’s best new, fun snacks. The best cheap eats in NYC aren't limited to bigger plates: Small, affordable bites can be found at venues throughout the city, from artisanal snacks at flea markets and food fairs to elevated bar grub at nightlife spots. Check out our picks for the best cheap snacks in the city, including both sweet and savory noshes. The Finger at Sticky’s Finger Joint This month-old takeout shop serves an elevated version of the humble chicken finger, using sustainably sourced fowl and offering toppings such as candied citrus zest, and crushed pretzel and caramel sauce. But a strips emporium mus

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Restaurants

Five best new tacos: Mexican food in New York (2013)

The iconic Mexican street food has long been a solid option for budget-minded diners. Here are our favorites of the city’s best new tacos. More cheap eats in NYC 2013 Best new cheap-eats restaurants Ramen styles International handheld snacks Five best new tacos Cheap-eats continuum Best-in-class BBQ 53 cheap-eats food photos Trending: Vietnamese fare It’s been a banner year for Mexican food in NYC, with hot spots like Salvation Taco and El Toro Blanco rolling out. But affordable South of the Border eats are still easy to find. Whether you’re looking for tortillas packed with grilled tilapia or spicy al pastor, here are New York’s best new tacos. RECOMMENDED: Best cheap eats in NYC 2013 Most popular in Food & Drink You might also like Best Mexican food in New York From tacos to Tex-Mex, we've got your South of the Border cravings covered. Prevailing wisdom says that New York Mexican food can’t compare to the stuff they’re slinging out West. Consider this list of NYC’s top tacos, burritos, tamales, guacamole and more to be our convincing retort. We’ve braved the spiciest salsas (and plenty of trips to the outer boroughs) to compile this roundup of the best Mexican grub in New York. Did we miss your favorite Mexcian restaurant in NYC? Join the conversation in the comments. Tortilleria Nixtamal Mexican eateries are ubiquitous in Corona, but unlike most, this sunny, family-run tortilleria painstakingly grinds corn into fresh masa for many of its dishes. This mea

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Comments

9 comments
Alireza M
Alireza M

There is a new app called "Tilofy". You just need to select "Food" and "New York" from the page! I highly recommend the app if you want to find hot and secret spots for food. http:www.tilofy.com.

Famous A
Famous A

New York City is my dream city in the world. It is famous due to its natural history and attractive attractions. These foods are really cheap eaten in NYC. I really like your blog discussions. I check your shared link. It is full of information. After seeing your blog I will go there after my http://www.getbustours.com/washington-dc-departures/ tour. It looks so delicious. I will go there as soon as possible.

Ryan M
Ryan M

Can't beat 100 Montaditos in the West Village.  Belly busting tapas-style sandwiches for under $15.  Just opened up a new shop on the east side too I believe.

http://100montaditosny.com

Sandra
Sandra

Visiting New York for 4 days in sept on 16th. Could you please advisement asto which of your books I should purchase in relation to sightseeing eating and shopping. Thank you

Brian Harley
Brian Harley

I wanted to add that there is also a pizza place called pizza king that Cheap Eats should review. This place has brought the families of the $1 slice with the gourmet slice under one roof.