The sacrilegious premise (baked, not fried) lets these smooth, grease-free orbs showcase the natural nuttiness of the star legume ($5.95). Various locations throughout the city; visit getchickpea.com.
No fancy toppings here: Moist, perfectly seasoned fritters don't need more than cool tomato, lettuce and onion, milky tahini and a squirt of hot sauce. Best part? It's $2.50. 119 MacDougal St between Bleecker and W 3rd Sts (212-674-8685, mamounsfalafel.com) * 22 St. Marks Pl between Second and Third Aves (212-387-7747)
An all-you-can-stuff-in-your-pita fixings bar offering roasted cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes, pickled baby eggplant and more (plus tahini, garlic or yogurt sauces) makes this chain about more than just its powerfully spiced spheres ($5.39). Various locations throughout the city; visit maozusa.com.
After hitting Williamsburg's concert and bar scene, ravenous hipsters wash up here to dig into fluffy, made-to-order overstuffed pitas for just $3 a pop. Open until 4am on weekends (and 3am during the week), Oasis is the antidote to late-night munchies, not that we've ever had those. 161 North 7th St at Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-7606)
Formerly Baraca, Olympic Pita slings the same tasty falafel wrapped in thick, fresh-baked laffa bread. The price ($7.57) is justified by a free salad (to dress your sandwich with or to eat on the side), plus gratis fries on top. 58 W 38th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-869-7482)
Topped with brightly flavored extras like white cabbage in vinaigrette and Moroccan beet salad, these mild, crisp chickpea patties are easy on the palate—and don't feel like a rock in your stomach later ($3.95). 2 W 14th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-627-7877, pitajoe.com)
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Cheap eats 2010
Start with marked-down dinners that pack full-price flavor. But save room for fried chicken, burgers, eco-friendly snacks and more.