NYC’s Top 10 Cheap Eats

New York, USA

Cheap Eats in New York

Thinking about where to  chow down on cheap eats in New York is always a difficult question. There are tons of places to eat and not enough time! As a Brooklynite, I tend to spend the majority of my time in downtown Manhattan so this is by no means an exhaustive list- it’s a list of places, that despite the endless possibilities of cheap eats in NY- I find myself returning to again and again…

1. Supper (and it’s sister restaurants Lil’ Frankie’s and Frank)

156 East 2nd Street, nr Avenue A, 212-477-7600

There is no doubt that the secret is out on this place. There is usually a wait to get a table here but its well worth it. This tiny Italian place makes consistently delicious food. They have a wide array of salads and apps (the Popeltini are a personal favorite) and many different entrees. I’m a personal fan of their pastas (in particular the Spaghetti al Limone) but they also offer a variety of meats, fishes and daily risottos. Be warned if you go for one of their specials however- they don’t always have a list price and tend to be more expensive.
Lil' Frankie's

2. Otto (yes another Italian place!)

1 Fifth Avenue at 8th Street, 212-995-9559

I always like to recommend this Mario Batali restaurant for people who want to feel like they are in a real New York restaurant without feeling like they are paying for it. This restaurant has a very fun menu with tons of different options. As a cheese lover, I never pass their 5 for $15 or 7 for $19 cheese plate. There is little on the menu that will run you more than 15 bucks and with an extensive wine list (over 500 bottles) you are sure to find a bottle that meets your price range. Reservations go quickly and can be done by phone or online.
Pasta at Otto

3.  Vanessa’s Dumpling House

118 Eldridge Street between Grand and Broome Street, 212-625-8008

There is a reason that this place is always packed- you can get 4 pork and chive dumplings (steamed or fried) for 1 buck! There are veggie dumplings too and 8 will run you about $2. Don’t let the name steer you as their sesame pancakes are fantastic and won’t run you more than $2. Ordering here can be a bit chaotic, menus are sometimes scarce and the place gets packed but for the price and the overall experience – it can’t be beat.
Vanessa's Dumpling House

4. El Cocotero

228 W. 18th St., New York, N nr 7th Avenue, 212-206-8930

This fun Venezuelan restaurant boasts inventive drinks and affordable small plates. They have a huge variety of Areaps but also offer lots of other Venezuelan inspired main dishes like shrimp served with tostones and roasted pork served with rice, beans and  sweets plantains. The last time I was there, we ordered appetizers and areaps for the table and we were stuffed!
Arepa Con Pernil

5. Congee Village (and Congee Bowery)

100 Allen Street, nr Delancey Street, 212-941-1818

This Chinese restaurant has an extensive menu with tons of seafood options (but also has pages of poultry, pork, beef and noodle options) and some exotic food that I leave to my friends to experiment with (see: Duck Blood and Baked Fish Intenstines). It’s a great place to do family style dining and some heavy drinking as they have a full, affordable bar. 
Congee Village Restaurant

6.  Nana Sushi

511 3rd Aveune between 34th and 35th street, 212-683-1066

Ok so this place isn’t the most inventive sushi spot in town, but it is one of the very few BYOB sushi places that I know of. They have the standard rolls and kitchen entrees you would expect at any sushi place but also have some special rolls with hilarious names like the Sex in the Lobby Roll (Shrimp tempura, spicy tuna inside, white tuna, avocado, black caviar outside for $13).  It’s a great place to grab a bite with a friend, pre-game before a night out or go with a big group as they take reservations.
Nana Sushi Murray Hill

7. Republic

37 Union Square West, nr. 16th Street, 212-627-7172

This Asian restaurant is located right in the heart of Union Square and typically serves as a great spot to take a break after a busy day. Republic has long shared tables and outside seating if you are there in the summer. The noodles are want keep New Yorkers coming back from more; served as individual dishes or in broth – they can’t be beat. Nothing on the menu will run you more than $13.  Bottled beers will set you back $5 a pop.

Spicy Duck Broth Noodles @ Republic

8. The Meatball Shop

84 Stanton Street (between Allen & Orchard, 212-982-8895

This place is a relatively new on spot on the NYC resto scene and as a result its almost always packed. The menu is a lot of fun with many different options that of course, highlight meatballs. The menu is a mix and match sort of deal that allows you to either get meatball sliders, hero sandwhiches, or create your own dish by picking the type of meatball, sauce and any additional sides you want ($4 per side). Despite being a busy, crowded, lower east side restaurant, the staff are friendly and helpful.  You must save room for desert because their ice cream sandwiches are out of this world!
Maple Walnut Ice Cream & Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich @ The Meatball Shop

9. Shake Shack

Madison Ave. at 23rd St, 212-889-6600
154 E. 86th Street, nr Lexington Avenue
300 W. 44th Street, nr 8th Avenue
366 Columbus Avenue, nr 77th Street

This place is definitely not a secret but the burgers are too good to not mention. The original shake shack is a burger stand in the middle of Madison Square park that on a nice day, can have a line up over an hour long. The park is a great place to sit and snack in the summer months but winter makes it a bit more difficult to find a warm place to eat your burger, fries and milkshake. To avoid a long line up at this popular burger outpost, you can check the live shack cam on their website, which displays the current line up.  There are now several other locations of this popular burger shop including one on the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, The Theatre District and Shea Stadium (where the Mets play!). The other locations offer indoor seating, if you can snag a seat.
shake shack

10. Tacos Metamoros

4508 5th Avenue between 45th and 46th Street, Brooklyn, 718-871-7627

I would be remiss to not include this amazing, affordable and authentic Mexican restaurant on my list. For some, especially those visiting, it’s a bit of trip into Brooklyn on the R line, but it is definitely worth the adventure. This Mexican joint has some of the best tacos I have ever eaten (each about $1.25 or so). They also have other traditional Mexican dishes including Burritos, Quesadillas, ceviches and large plates. A dinner there can easily cost you under $10. As if this place didn’t have enough cheap options, they also allow you to bring in your own beer, although they do serve maragraitas and alchol as well. You will probably see some other gringos in here due to some very positive reviews from the New York Times and other food blogs but it will still feel like the best kept secret.
Discovering cheap eats in NewYork is always an exciting adventure – what are your favourite cheap eats in New York?

Backpacking Bex