This first appeared on MUNCHIES in July 2016.
New York can be fucking expensive. You're probably paying twice as much as you should to live in a closet in Bushwick, the standard price for a mediocre Dark and Stormy has somehow become $12, and sometimes taking a cab feels like a self-indulgent luxury. One thing we can't complain about, though, is a lack of affordable nosh.
We've got scary-cheap, bare-bones noodle spots in Chinatown where you can BYOB and get lit with your leftover change from laundry day. Grab a fistful of ones, and you can have a vegan burger made by a chef whose restaurants have won James Beard awards. And forget about eating sad leftovers when you come home drunk at 5 AM—you can binge-eat pierogi for little more than the cost of a subway swipe.
So before you drive yourself crazy pinching pennies to hit the trendiest new seasonal pop-up tasting menu, click through our MUNCHIES Guide to New York and see what our "On A Budget" filter has for you.
The Best Cheap Eats in New York City
- Spicy Village, 68B Forsyth Street, New York, NY 10002
This bare-bones Chinatown Henanese joint is a chef favorite for its Spicy Big Tray Chicken and hand-pulled noodles in lamb broth. It's BYOB, so bring your own wine opener.
- Superiority Burger, 430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009Del Posto alum Brooks Headley's unexpected left turn from fine dining to veggie burgers represented a sea change in New York dining. Though ridiculously cheap, and pleasantly casual, Superiority Burger pulled down a two-star review in The New York Times for its chef-pleasing, always delicious veggie fare.
- Bagelsmith, two Williamsburg locations: 566 Lorimer Street and 89 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211Known for fast and cheap bagels, sandwiches, and pastries, Bagelsmith's best draw is egg sandwiches that are the secret antidote to Brooklyn's worst hangovers. It's open 24 hours, so for a fun social experiment, go stand in here for an entire day and watch what happens.
- Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355Eating mall food will typically land you in some sort of Hepatitis A scare, but that is not the case at this legendary Flushing food court. Golden Mall is a rite of passage for New Yorkers, and it offers a very cramped, delicious experience that requires shuffling from stall to stall when it's crazy busy. Whether it's the lamb with squash and pork, shrimp, and chive dumplings at Tianjin Dumpling House or the freshly hand-pulled noodles from Xi'an Famous Foods, anticipate carving out a few hours to experience this place to the fullest.
- Fancy Nancy, 1038 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205This casual Bed-Stuy neighborhood favorite has a special place in our hearts thanks to their dedication to tater tots and an unbeatable happy hour: $5 beers, a $6 daily cocktail, and fried chicken sandwiches for $5 (!!). The Mission Chinese Food alumni create food that we all want to eat, from twice-cooked ducks wings that will make you ululate to caesar salad with marinated anchovies and garlic breadcrumbs. The best thing on the menu: brick chicken with ginger, scallions, and jasmine rice that tastes like a dead ringer for Hainese chicken.
- Hot Kitchen, 104 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003Expect big portions of mouth-numbing spicy Szechuan fare so cheap, you’ll think your waiter made a mistake with the bill. Don't go without ordering some of the best ma po tofu in Manhattan.
- Hide-Chan Ramen, two Manhattan locations: 248 E 52nd Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10022 and 314 W 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019There is no shortage of good ramen in New York City, and Hide-Chan is at the top of the list for its tonkotsu ramen, which is served whichever way you want it: spicy, plain, with extra pork, or miso, but you’d be bummed to miss out on the Hakata kuro ramen, which is served with burned garlic in oil—you’ve got to try it to believe it—that clears your throat and makes you hungrier.
- Corner Bistro, 331 W 4th Street, New York, NY 10014Corner Bistro is the West Village’s worst kept secret, so prepare to stand in line for the biggest, best bacon cheeseburgers in the neighborhood, and don’t forget to order the onion rings unless you want to piss yourself off.
- Veselka, 144 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003Yes, the legendary 24-hour diner turns out hearty, delicious Ukrainian delicacies—5 AM pierogis anyone?—but they’ve got everything you could ever want: exceptional homemade chicken soup, meatball heroes, daily specials, and even pancakes, all served with strong coffee.
- Suzume, 545 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211Chef/owner Mikey Briones describes his cuisine as Hawaiian strip mall food, and the relaxed environment echoes just that: order from a variety of island-worthy menu items, from the perfect SPAM musubi to the fresh sushi, homemade ramen, and the dankest chicken wings. Close your eyes and pretend you’re in Oahu.
- Mister Hotpot, 5306 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220Go wild on a bubbling pot of fiery Sichuan broth, drink too much cold beer, and proudly smell of sheep for the next four days. If you’re with a weaker-tongued date, you could always get a half and half pot with something milder for them.
- Samurai Mama, 205 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211
This self-described Japanese tavern in Williamsburg specializes in sushi, warming udon, and rustic small plates made from the finest Japanese ingredients.
Check out the MUNCHIES Guide to New York for more ways to eat like a king on a starving artist's budget.