New York is home to some of the world's most expensive restaurants, but for every wallet-busting blowout, there are three times as many amazing cheap eats. The trick simply is knowing where to look. In no particular order, here are ten of our favorite bargains.
① Cocoron in Nolita and Lower East Side
Impeccably fresh, deeply nutty soba is the name of the game at these diminutive Japanese noodle shops. The stamina soba ($10) is true to its name—a sustaining warm bonito-based broth rich with sliced pork and chicken meatballs. Don't sleep on the silky tofu, either ($5); it's made in-house daily.
② Huertas in the East Village
In a neighborhood packed with cheap eats, this lively Basque-style pintxos joint stands out with an ever-rotating cast of tiny passed plates, which could include anything from boquerones (anchovies) to smoked mussels to creamy Spanish cheese. Pintxos range from $2 to $4, and it takes several to make a meal, but on Tuesdays, all of them go for just $1.
③ Saravana Bhavan in Kips Bay
This Curry Hill standby serves enormous, gloriously crisp dosas (Southern Indian crepes) with a classic, spicy mashed potato filling ($9.99). On the side, refreshing cilantro-chile chutney, coconut chutney and a petite bowl of sambar (lentil soup).
④ Pio Pio Riko in Sunnyside
This Peruvian rotisserie chicken spot is known for luxuriously tender birds at bargain basement prices ($8.50 for a whole chicken, $5 for half). We dare you not to slurp every last drop of the side of tangy green sauce shot through with aji Amarillo chili, garlic and vinegar.
⑤ Num Pang, various locations
The eponymous offerings at this Cambodian-style sandwich shop resemble Vietnamese banh mi, with fillings gone wild. We love the hearty roasted cauliflower version ($7.75), laced with Chinese and Thai eggplant spread on warm baguette-style bread.
⑥ Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter in the East Village
The fried chicken at this petite Alphabet City café is brined in Southern-style sweet tea, dredged in flour and secret spices, then pressure fried to crisp, golden glory. The chicken supper platter is for sharing, but the more manageable fried chicken sandwich, served on an airy brioche-like bun, is just $8.50.
⑦ Carnitas el Atoradero in Mott Haven
The namesake carnitas at this unassuming Bronx storefront are worth the trip alone, but venture out on a Sunday to try the lovingly made home-style Mexican specials, $9 each with rice and beans. Keep an eye out for tender pork albondingas (meatballs), stuffed with a quail egg and served in a tangy chipotle sauce.
⑧ Spicy Village in Chinatown
The "big tray chicken" at this Henanese hole-in-the wall is justifiably famous, but for a smaller meal, direct your attention to the wide, hand-pulled huimei noodles. Huimei with fluffy scrambled egg and tomato, topped with crisp bok choy and slivered cucumbers ($5), is at once light and totally satisfying.
⑨ Bed-Stuy Fish Fry in Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill and Downtown Brooklyn
Classic soul food is the name of the game at this locally owned mini chain. The whiting fish dinner ($10) is big enough for two, piled high with tender, flaky fish with a well-seasoned crust. Choose two sides from a list that includes collard greens with shredded ham hocks, candied yams and black-eyed peas, among others.
⑩ B&H Dairy in the East Village
This '40s-era greasy spoon has counter seating and a huge menu of both diner classics and old-school Eastern European favorites, like pierogi and stuffed cabbage. But it's tough to beat their oversized B&H Special omelet ($8), stuffed with onions, peppers, tomatos and mushrooms and served with hash-like home fries and two thick slices of buttered house-made challah.
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