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Pata Paplean
Photograph: Gabi Porter

The 25 best cheap eats in NYC

Eat for $10 or less at the best restaurants with cheap eats in NYC

By Bao Ong and Time Out contributors
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UPDATE, March 17, 2021: Dining out in New York City has never been so different than this year and it's not only because restaurants are still operating at limited indoor capacities. The current crisis has put a renewed focus on more affordable food options, whether you're scarfing down tacos from a food truck or ordering dumplings from a mom-and-pop business in Chinatown. At Time Out New York, we've done the homework for you in discovering dishes, old and new, that are all $10 or under. 

The hefty prices at many New York restaurants can at times make the dining scene feel like it's only for the elite. But some of the best restaurants in NYC still serve affordable bites for $10 or less. Dining on a budget in New York doesn’t have to feel like a constraint with our picks for jerk chicken, Sicilian-style pizza, creative veggie burgers, underground buffets, Cuban bakeries and more.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best cheap eats in NYC

FieldTrip crab pockets
FieldTrip crab pockets
Photograph: Courtesy of FieldTrip

2. The $9.50 large crab pockets at FieldTrip

Restaurants Harlem

Everyone loves the Chinese takeout versions of these deep-fried appetizers, but chef JJ Johnson’s recipe is better, packing a generous helping of crab with garlic-herb cream cheese inside a perfectly crispy wonton skin. (Pro tip: Share this starter to save room for the filling rice bowls.)

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A&A Bake & Doubles
A&A Bake & Doubles
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

3. The $3 doubles at A&A Bake and Doubles

Restaurants Bedford-Stuyvesant

This Bed-Stuy stalwart specializes in two things: bake and (you guessed it) doubles. The former is a handheld fried dough bun stuffed with salt fish or fried sand shark and topped with a tangy-sweet tamarind sauce. And the latter? These Trinidadian snacks are built on a base of deep fried dough, or bara, wrapped around a savory potato-channa curry. Don’t forget a side of extra napkins. 

Tuna melt at B&H Dairy
Tuna melt at B&H Dairy
Photograph: Courtesy B&H Dairy/Andy Reynolds

4. The $8 tuna melt at B&H Dairy

Restaurants Diners East Village

Since 1938, this venerable 400-square-feet lunch counter has been slinging kosher faves and other classics, like this midday mainstay with toasted challah, whitefish and melted cheddar.

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White Bear
White Bear
Photograph: Time Out/ Ali Garber

5. The $8.50 pork dumplings (aka, Number 6) at White Bear

Restaurants Flushing

Dumpling aficionados trek to this closet-size eatery to order the No. 6: A dozen pork wontons, doused in roasted chili oil and topped with a smattering of diced pickled vegetables, arrives on a Styrofoam plate. Despite more than 30 items on the menu, it’s the only dish everyone seems to order—and for good reason.

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Photograph: Gabi Porter

7. The $5 noodle soups at Pata Paplean

Restaurants Thai Elmhurst

The only thing we wished would change about Pata Paplean is that its noodle soups would be served in bigger bowls because we always another bite. Whether it’s the steaming bowls of boat noodles or sweet-and-sour tom yum, you can’t go wrong at this bar serving food you’d find in Bangkok.

Arepa Lady
Arepa Lady
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

8. The $6 arepa de queso at Arepa Lady

Restaurants Street food Jackson Heights

What began as a modest cart is now upgraded to a sit-down restaurant specializing in arepas and other Colombian bites in Jackson Heights. The kitchen is run by Maria Piedad Cano and her family. It's no doubt some of the best South American corn cakes to be found in New York.

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Zooba
Zooba
Photograph: Courtesy of Zooba

9. The $7.75 pickled lemon ta'ameya at Zooba

Restaurants Egyptian Nolita

A new fast-casual chain hailing from Cairo opened in Nolita, bringing a menu of Egyptian street food like we haven't seen before in New York. ​​We loved the pickled lemon ta'ameya. The Egyptian cousin to falafel has a strong fermented flavor that’s everything. Pro-tip: Grab napkins because as you furiously nosh, the tangy beet dip will drip.

Fong On
Fong On
Photograph: Time Out New York/ Ali Garber

10. The $4.50 savory tofu pudding at Fong On

Restaurants Chinese Chinatown

Paul Eng’s family has been serving New Yorkers tofu for generations with little fanfare. Since reopening his family’s business, Eng has been serving a savory tofu pudding that’s as silky as any other version available in the city. The addition of pickled radishes, fried shallots, sesame oil and dried shrimp makes his order as satisfying as any red meat-packed meal. Small $5.50, large  $6.50.

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Banh Mi Saigon
Banh Mi Saigon
Photograph: Time Out/ Ali Garber

12. The $6.25 BBQ pork bánh mì at Bánh Mì Saigon

Restaurants Vietnamese Little Italy

Known to its fans as “the jewelry-store one,” the tiny Chinatown takeout operation does indeed share space with an accessories counter. Regardless, the cheap prices, succulent pork preparations and crispy-chewy bread that’s baked in-house make it easy to overlook the odd location.

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Oasis
Oasis
Photograph: Time Out / Ali Garber

13. The $4.50 falafel at Oasis

Restaurants Mediterranean Williamsburg

Consider this OG Williamsburg staple your no-frills, no-fail best friend for a damn good, toasty falafel sammy, stuffed with a bounty of pickled veggies that doesn’t feel like an afterthought. Plus, it’s equally filling and delicious at noon or midnight. 

Cheeky Sandwiches
Cheeky Sandwiches
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

14. The $6.50 fried chicken sandwich at Cheeky Sandwiches

Restaurants Sandwich shops Lower East Side

This popular, Big Easy–inspired sandwich shop offers a taste of New Orleans on the outskirts of Chinatown. The shrimp and oyster po'boys are the signature offerings, but fried chicken with gravy is where we put our money. Homey, down-South touches abound, from the Big Shot soda to the charming, no frills digs: Whitewashed brick walls scrawled with handwritten notes buttress a corrugated-tin ceiling.

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Photograph: Lily Brown

15. The $4.50 empanadas at Pilar Cuban Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Bedford-Stuyvesant

At the decade-old Pilar Cuban Eatery’s Bed-Stuy sister spot, owner-chef Ricardo Barreras rethinks breakfast with underused-in-NYC Cuban ingredients. The pastelitos, such as the ground-beef Spanish empanada, could supplant a New Yorker’s go-to morning bagel: But while this pastry exhibits the same buttery, savory warmth, it’s dipped in house-made cilantro or hot sauce.

188 Cuchifritos
188 Cuchifritos
Photograph: Time Out / Ali Garber

16. The $2 morcilla at 188 Bakery Cuchifritos

Restaurants The Bronx

This casual lunch counter in the Bronx focuses on all things pork, with recipes of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent: chicarrónes, pernil and the cuchifritos (the fan-favorite). Cuchifritos are fried meats, such as the standout morcilla, aka blood sausage.

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Photograph: Courtesy of The Freakin Rican

17. The $3.75 alcapurrias at The Freakin Rican

Restaurants Puerto Rican Astoria

Green plantains with beef are worth trying at this Puerto Rican favorite. It's an exciting time for Puerto Rican food in New York (one of our favorite caterers specializing in the cuisine, Que Chevere, has its own stall at Essex Crossing). Derick López’s The Freakin Rican has gained much critical acclaim. 

Photograph: Courtesy Patacon Pisao

18. The $8.50 pulled roasted pork patacón at Patacon Pisao

Restaurants Venezuelan Lower East Side

At this takeout spot, decorated with tropical graffiti, the Washington Heights food-truckers dole out gluten-free Venezuelan dishes. Choose from a variety of ingredients to add to the patacóns (fried-plantain sandwiches). They come with queso, green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and salsa verde.

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ROLL N ROASTER assorted dishes
ROLL N ROASTER assorted dishes
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

19. The $6.45 Roll-N-Roaster Beef at Roll-N-Roaster

Restaurants Sandwich shops Sheepshead Bay

Opened in 1971, this south Brooklyn restaurant’s roast-beef sandwiches are legendary: Layers of thinly sliced meat are folded and pressed between perfectly toasted kaiser rolls. For the full experience, get the classic cooked medium, rather than well done, and top it off with the requisite “cheez” sauce. 

Smor
Smor
Courtesy Smor/Paul Quitoriano

20. The $9 curried herring at Smør

Restaurants Cafés East Village

“Smør” means “butter,” which is fitting, as smørrebrøds—open-faced toasts with buttered rye bread—are this shop’s signature. The curried herring is a canary-hued, enjoyable mess that's perfect anytime of the day.

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Paulie Gee's Slice Shop
Paulie Gee's Slice Shop
Photograph: Ali Garber

21. The $4.50 Freddy Prince at Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop

Restaurants Pizza Greenpoint

Unlike its beloved original location, which offers only table-side pies, Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop is all about, yes, the slice. Go for this “upside down” Sicilian-style square slice with a sesame-dusted bottom. Bonus: The space’s slime-green banquette stools, faux-wood Formica tables and letter-board menu gives the whole experience a cool 1970s feel (even if you're just picking up an order).

22. The $9.75 roast pork mofongo at El Castillo de Jagua

Restaurants Dominican Lower East Side

Leaving any Dominican restaurant hungry is almost impossible, as every dish seems designed to stuff you full (or maybe we just can't stop eating the food here). Mofongo, a dense mash of garlicky green plantains and fried pork (meant for dipping in tomato broth), is the champion gut-plugger, though sancocho vies for the title by welcoming potatoes. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Lekka / Heidi's Bridge

23. The $9.95 Lekka Burger at Lekka Burger

Restaurants Vegan Financial District

In the face of tech-backed meat alternatives, made-from-scratch veggie burgers are dying. But at the fast-casual eatery helmed by Amanda Cohen, the chef behind the vegan restaurant Dirt Candy, a new plant-based burger has entered the scene that we highly recommend.

Govinda's
Govinda's
Photograph: Time Out New York / Ali Garber

24. The $9 buffet at Govinda's Vegetarian Lunch

Restaurants Vegetarian Downtown Brooklyn

Hidden in a windowless basement of the Hare Krishna temple in Downtown Brooklyn, Govinda’s—a nickname for the Hindu deity Krishna—is a volunteer-run Indian vegetarian (sometimes vegan) lunch counter. Three dishes won't even host you $10.

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Paid inclusions from our partners

Taqueria Milliear
Taqueria Milliear

Taqueria Milear

Restaurants Mexican Crown Heights

Established in 2015, Taqueria Milear is a family-run restaurant that serves up authentic Mexican fare, from tacos to quesadillas and tortas to tostadas. There's a super cute backstory, too – owners Marisol and Artemio actually met at a food stand in Mexico where Marisol was making many of the wonderful dishes they now serve in-store.

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The best of the city

Jacob's Pickles at Time Out Market New York
Photograph: Courtesy Nitzan Rubin

Time Out Market New York

Restaurants Food court DUMBO

We really like eating around the city, and we're guessing you do, too. So lucky for all of us, we've packed all our favorite restaurants under one roof at the Time Out Market New York. The DUMBO location has fluffy pancakes from the venerable Clinton Street Baking Co., fried chicken from Jacob’s Pickles, Japanese comfort food from Bessou and samosas from the newly-opened Chote Miya. Chow down over two floors with views of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

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