We all know New York City is an expensive place to live. From the high cost of rent to the pressure of keeping up with the newest fashion trends, who in New York City doesn’t appreciate a good deal? There are affordable dining options that will satisfy even the biggest foodie in the East Village. Visit these restaurants for the best cheap eats below 14th street. By Sarah Shaker.
Here at CBSNewYork.com, we’ve long debated the question of NYC’s best falafel. While we’re still not sure if Mamoun’s is the ultimate pick, their $2.50 falafel satisfies both hungry New Yorkers and tourists alike. Sure, they’ve got some serious competition from street carts and many Middle Eastern restaurants, but the value and quick service make Mamoun’s a must-try.
If you happen to get lost in Chinatown, you’ll find an order of 5 dumplings for only $1 – but when you’re in the East Village looking for a variety of fresh dumpling fillings, Dumpling Man is a can’t-miss for only a few bucks more. Try an order of 6 dumplings of seared pork ($4.50) or steamed shrimp ($5.50). For dessert, Sweetie Pie ($3.75) stuffs 4 steamed dumplings with pumpkin pie filling, goji berries, honey and condensed milk for a taste of fall all year round.
Sunny and Annie's
This corner bodega offers much more than Four Loko and candy. The deli at Sunny and Annie’s has a long list of sandwiches with gourmet ingredients from kimchee to cilantro. The Pho Real (fresh sliced Boar’s Head roast beef, basil, cilantro, sprouts, tomato, avocado, spicy sriracha and sweet hoisin) captures the essence of the popular Vietnamese noodle soup in sandwich form. For a sweet, creamy and spicy kick, order the Kimchee Sandwich (roast beef, turkey, or barbecue chicken with hot Korean pickle, Napa cabbage, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing) on a hero. Both creative subs are only $6.99 each.
A burger counter inside Billy Hurricane’s feeds both the tipsy NYU students dancing by the bar and the craft beer lovers downstairs at Idle Hands. Don’t miss The Kick (sautéed onions and jalapeños cooked in Frank’s hot sauce with melted cheddar cheese) for $6 and add a side of tots for $3, as these old-school potato favorites are so good they got their own space this spring at That Tot Spot outside Artists and Fleas Brooklyn.
Who doesn’t love hot, salty fries? Whether you’re craving a late-night snack or want to cheat on your diet during the day, these Belgian steak fries fit the bill for a crispy, fried-to-order indulgence. The regular size, at $4.50, is more than enough for two. Pair them with Garlic Mayo, Curry Ketchup or any of their 27 delicious sauces.
Stray from boring American-Chinese fare, like General Tso’s Chicken, at Xi’an Famous Foods. This little joint offers specialties from Xi’an, a province in China. Enjoy Western Chinese comfort food, including the lamb burgers (praised by Anthony Bourdain) at only $3 and a variety of hand-pulled noodles from $6 to $7.
A Venezuelan corn flour round is stuffed with fillings like chicken, beef, beans and cheese, making arepas your new favorite tapas order. The wait is usually long on weekends, but thankfully they have an entrance devoted to takeout. Don’t miss Da Pabellon (shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese, and sweet plantains) for $7.50.
You may secretly love that hot dog cart by Central Park, but why not enjoy more than a basic dog? Crif Dogs get creative with specialties like the Jon-Jon Deragon (cream cheese, scallions, and everything bagel seeds) and Philly Tube Steak (melted cheese and sautéed onions) for $3.75.
Taiwanese street food is sold from a tiny shop on East 14th Street, known for their steamed buns with gourmet fillings. Last winter, they became even more popular with their Jeremy Lin-inspired sandwich). Try the Chairman Bao (Braised All Natural Berkshire Pork Belly, served with crushed peanut, cilantro, Haus Relish, and Taiwanese red sugar) for $3.50. Seafood lovers should try the Oyster Po Bao (Fresh Fried Oyster, served with lemon aioli, pate, pickled radish and carrot, cilantro and jalapeño) for $3.99. Fluffy bread with savory fillings make this cheap eat best for a snack when running errands or go ahead and order a few for a complete lunch.
Wings and beer make sports even better. Enjoy a steal at Croxley’s every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with 10-cent wings, in orders of 10 or more. These wings may be cheap, but the meat to bone ratio isn’t skimpy. These fried wings are crispy with plump chicken in each bite. Croxley’s offers the best cheap eats in the East Village when catching the big game with your crew.
This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
Pig out on a “That Way”, layered with slowly roasted beef round, sliced paper thin with a hearty gravy and fresh mozzarella. This sandwich is as delicious as it is messy for only $5.50 on a roll or $9.50 if you’re a hungry enough piggy for a hero.
More: NYC’s 5 Best Tacos
As you can tell by the name, this narrow, white-tiled joint specializes in tacos prepared with one of five fillings: chicken, pulled pork, chorizo, ground beef or veggies (ginger butternut squash and spiced red bell peppers). Each flour tortilla taco goes for $3.67 and is topped with shredded lettuce, corn, cheese, and salsa. Get creative by mix-and-matching homemade signature sauces: Tequila Chipotle Mayo, Hickory Bourbon BBQ, Spicy Coconut Masala, Hot Habenero Jerk and The Devil’s Sauce. Wash down your tacos with an affordable beer for only $3.90 a glass.
Punjabi Grocery and Deli
Cabbies and in-the-know hipsters wait in line at Punjabi Grocery and Deli for spicy vegetarian fare. Top two hearty potato-stuffed samosas with chaats (spicy stewed chickpeas) and don’t forget the tangy yogurt, sweet tamarind-date chutney or spicy cilantro chutney. Samosas with chickpeas chaats are only $2.50, so the line is worth the wait.
Sarah Shaker is the founder of the blog Bright Lights, My City.