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Photograph: Gabi Porter

The 25 best cheap eats in NYC

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

Written by
Bao Ong
&
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

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  • Restaurants
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • price 1 of 4

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. 

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  • 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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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Williamsburg
  • price 1 of 4

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. 

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Lower East Side
  • price 2 of 4

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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  • 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Sheepshead Bay
  • price 1 of 4

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. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Greenpoint
  • price 1 of 4

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).

The $9.75 roast pork mofongo at El Castillo de Jagua
  • Restaurants
  • Dominican
  • Lower East Side
  • price 1 of 4

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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Paid inclusions from our partners

  • 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

  • Restaurants
  • Food court
  • DUMBO
  • price 1 of 4

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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