Dropping a couple of Benjamins on dinner for two in New York City is easy to do—sometimes without even realizing. But some of the best food in the city, like paper-thin soup dumplings, hearty bowls of beet and cabbage borscht, fiery Northern Thai fare and pizzas that garner national attention can be had without emptying your wallet. Here are 12 places where—if you order wisely—dinner for two will clock in at $50 or less.
While the cone-shaped classic dosas made from lentil flour are impressive at this longtime Flatiron restaurant, make sure at least one person at the table tries the rava masala dosa, made with rice flour and stuffed with potatoes and onions. If spice is intimidating, order an extra side of the excellent and cooling raita, made with yogurt and vegetables.
Californians are in the habit of telling New Yorkers that there’s no good Mexican food in Gotham. This Brooklyn counter tucked behind a bodega challenges that assertion with excellent tacos and tortas (we recommend the lengua), which can be enhanced with salsas and guacamole from the condiments cart.
Though it’s pretty easy to rack up a cocktail tab from the tiki lounge at this legendary Bushwick pizzeria, the pies start at just $9. Make sure to round out a meal with one of the house’s refreshing salads.
This Flushing favorite is nestled upstairs in a mall, but don’t let the low-key location dissuade you. There are nearly 100 varieties of dumplings on the menu, including the standout pork with pickled vegetables whose brine helps cut through the rich meat.
The original Caracas closed after a fire, but this outpost is still serving excellent arepas, like the De Pabellón, which is filled with shredded beef, black beans, soft white cheese and fried plantains.
This classic New York lunch counter stays open late to serve challah French toast and bowls of borscht that will fortify a night out in the East Village.
Pastas are kept simple at this neighborhood favorite on Downtown Manhattan’s far west side. Prepare to wait a bit for a table and then settle in for a plate of filling gnocchi.
The soup dumplings at this Mott Street spot arrive to the table piping hot, so be careful when you dive in. We recommend you down some peanut noodles while you wait.
This Elmhurst restaurant turns out excellent and rather spicy Thai dishes including guay jub, or noodle soup with crispy pork and offal, and Pla Chilli Sauce, or deep-fried fish with chile sauce.
Hummus is the star of any meal at this Ditmas Park location. Dive into a bowl with fresh, fluffy pita and balance the meal with a chopped salad.
This small Thai spot in Soho is casual and cheerful, serving plates of spicy larb moo, made with ground pork, shallots, fresh mint, scallions, cilantro and roasted ground rice that adds a nice crunch.
The Spicy Big Tray Chicken lives up to its name, both in size and heat, so make sure to order rice—and take some beer. This Chinatown favorite is BYOB.
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