Planning a weekend trip to New York? If you’re looking to sample favorite local restaurants without draining your wallet, here’s a list of “cheap eats” around the city. Some are classic, some are quirky, and all offer something delicious. Next
West Coast natives will insist that In-N-Out is better, but that’s for you to decide. New Yorkers tout Shake Shack as their resident brag-worthy burger chain. Long lines are worth the wait for a shack burger and cheese fries. For dessert, try the daily custard flavor.
and one in Boston!
The Meatball Shop
At the recently expanding chain known simply as The Meatball Shop, options range from traditional, such as classic beef balls with spicy tomato sauce and pasta, to innovative, such as veal balls with roasted eggplant, braised chickpeas, and cotija cheese. The menu is customizable; you choose the balls, you choose the base (pasta, risotto, toasted French bread, etc.), and then you choose the sauce. Leave room for a snickerdoodle ice cream sandwhich to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Pictured: An order of “naked” beef balls with classic tomato sauce.
Peanut Butter & Co.
Revamping simple classics seems to be a New York theme; in this regard, Peanut Butter & Co. fits the trend. The restaurant builds sandwiches and other treats around its own brand of peanut butter. Options range from sweet (peanut butter, vanilla cream cheese and chocolate chips), to savory (spicy peanut butter, grilled chicken, and pineapple jam), to just plain weird (peanut butter and pickles, aptly named ‘the pregnant lady’).
Pictured: the Cookie Dough Surprise—creamy peanut butter, vanilla cream cheese, and chocolate chips.
240 Sullivan St., Manhattan
This well-known pizza spot caters to hungry locals who want a New York slice, and, for many, it’s the end location after a night out on the town. Pizza is available by the slice or pie; try the artichoke slice, with artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella and pecorino Romano cheese, for the true experience.
S’mac specializes in your favorite childhood comfort food – mac and cheese. The menu at S’mac is a list of mac-n- cheese variations, including spicy Cajun with andouille sausage or the “parisienne” – mac-n-cheese with creamy brie, roasted figs, roasted shitake mushrooms and fresh rosemary. Multi-grain or gluten free pasta is available upon request.
Pictured: The four cheese, with cheddar, muenster, gruyere and pecorino.
Cafetasia offers innovative “Asian-inspired” fare at a low cost. The restaurant categorizes food by portion size: small, medium, large, extra large, with sides categorized as “x-small.” For $7, you can try the medium-sized tempura salmon rolls (pictured). For $14, hot sauce-lovers can indulge in an extra-large bowl of sriracha seafood fried rice.
Pictured: tempura salmon rolls with salmon, avacado, seaweed, and wasabi-plum sauce.
38 east 8th St., Manhattan
Pok Pok Ny
Most of the menu items at Pok Pok hail from Thailand (specifically North and Northwest Thailand), inspired by chef Andy Ricker’s travels. The restaurant has been praised by Conde Nast Traveler, The Guardian, and Food & Wine, among others. Among the most popular dishes is Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings: natural chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar, deep fried, and tossed in caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic.
Pictured: Spicy Issan flank steak “salad” with fish sauce, lime and chili powder dressing, shallots, lemongrass, mint, cilantro and toasted rice powder
127 Columbia St., Brooklyn
This joint promises ingredients that are organic, grass-fed, free range, pesticide free and sustainable. Choose from a list of burger options including elk, bison, ostrich, lamb, or veggie quinoa, and Bareburger will provide pairing suggestions. For example, the Maui Wowie – smoked mozzarella, turkey bacon, grilled pineapple, fried onions, and fire roasted peppers and buttermilk ranch dressing – is recommended with wild boar.
Pictured: The original, with an ostrich burger
The food at this vegan sushi shop may not appeal to meat-lovers, but foodies will appreciate the colorful and visually appealing array of menu items. Each fruit-and-vegetable-filled roll is wrapped in either black rice or a customized six-grain rice blend, then topped with either jalapeño wasabi, toasted cayenne, carrot ginger, shiitake teriyaki, mango chili, or white miso sauce.
The Mile End sandwich shop is not your typial delicatessen. Despite the overabundance of sandwich and coffee vending counterparts, Mile End attracts a remarkable amount of loyal customers. The deli is “committed to breathing new life into old-world traditions,” according to its website. The menu includes a variety of sandwiches, sides, and breakfast options.
Pictured: the smoked meat sandwich
Max Trattoria Enoteca
For Italian food at a reasonable price, try Max Tratoria Enoteca, named one of New York Magazine’s “Favorite Pasta Parlors.” The menu is large, with a variety of pizza, Panini, and pasta options as well as “Antipasti” (appetizers) and “Secondi” (entrees such as grilled salmon and eggplant Parmigiano).
181 Duane St., Manhattan
Patrons of Levain Bakery know to go on an empty stomach. These monster-cookies are not wide, but thick, straight out of the oven, and warm and underdone in the middle. Flavors include chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate peanut butter cup, and oatmeal raison. Levain also makes an assortment of fresh breads and pastries. The bakery was recently listed as one of “America’s Best Bakeries“ by Travel and Leisure.
Pictured: Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie
167 West 74th St., Manhattan
Rice to Riches
This Notlita eatery specializes in rice pudding, offering 21 flavors and an assortment of toppings. The quirkily named flavors, such as “Sex, Drugs, and Rocky Road” and “The Edge of Rum Raisin” are sold by the cup or in 40-ounce “sumo size” containers.
37 Spring St., Manhattan
Momofuku Milk Bar
The New York Times calls Momofuku Milk Bar a “laboratory for desserts”. One of a series of eateries by the masterful chef David Chang, the Milk Bar produces fancy-but-cheap desserts and baked goods. Though the menu changes regularly, staple items include big, gooey cookies, strange-but-good ice cream flavors, and crack pie (similar to pecan pie, but more of a sugar rush). For something savory, try a veggie or pork bun topped with a runny egg.
Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.
Taking the shape of frozen yogurt or soft serve ice cream, Chloe’s frozen fruit tricks you into eating healthy while still feeling indulgent. Served froyo-style, there are just three ingredients in the dessert: fruit, water, and a touch of organic cane sugar. It’s gluten free, dairy free, and fat free. After choosing a flavor, (anything from mango to pumpkin) choose from a variety of toppings. One popular sundae is the ‘crunchy salty’: banana & dark chocolate soft serve fruit, banana, pretzels, warm natural peanut butter, and melted chocolate.
25 East 17th St., Manhattan
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