The principal lure of the cheap eat is, of course, its cheapness. But ultra-affordable food often has more going for it than thriftiness. The best are found in interesting digs–a nighttime food truck; a taqueria hidden in the back of a bodega; a noodle joint where you can watch the cook stretch the noodles by hand; a bustling Bronx Puerto Rican place staffed by ladies in hairnets, patronized by Yankees fans. They’re the restaurants where most of the city actually eats, alive and vital in ways that most fine dining establishments can only dream of.
There are far more than 10 great cheap meals in New York, but we’ve put together a list of our current favorites. We’ve only included those foods that can be considered filling meals, which is why you won’t find a Papaya dog on the list. Extra credit was given for extreme value. Read on to see our list of runners up.
Presenting the runners up, in no particular order.
Deli and Grocery: Three tacos (total: $4.50). 780 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn
Saigon Banh Mi Bakery: Banh Mi #1 (total: $3.50). 138 Mott Street, 212-941-1541
Yafa Deli: Two pieces of fried chicken (total: $2.50). 907 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718- 789-8630
Ba Xuyen: Roast pork banh mi (total: $3.50). 4222 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-633-6601
Q Mart Asian Gourmet: Five massive (really massive) mandoo dumplings (total: $5.99). 22112 Horace Harding Expressway, Queens, 718-428-4748
Guerrero Food Center: Huarache with the marinated, spicy pork called enchilada (total: $3.50). 722 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-499-8653
East Corner Wonton: Duck and red-glazed pork ribs over rice, a poached egg, tea, and scallion-ginger relish (total: $5.25). 70 East Broadway, 212-343-9896
Madina Restaurant: Chapli kabob with salad (total: $4). 563 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-469-3535
Pho Grand: Xe Lua–large bowl of combination pho (total: $5.95). 277 Grand Street, 212-965-5366
Dai Wah Yummy City: Cantonese roast pork and duck combo (total: $4.50). 7218 Eighteenth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-837-8818
Read on to see the winners in the 10th-sixth places.
10. El Molino Rojo II: Mofongo with pork ribs and gravy (total: $4). 101 East 161st Street, Bronx, 718-538-9642
9. Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodle Inc.: Hand-pulled noodle soup with pickled mutton, mustard greens, baby bok choy, baby spinach, and a fried egg (total: $5). 1 Doyers Street, 212-791-1817
8. Yissel’s 71 Chimichurri Truck: Chimichurri Dominican hamburger (total: $3.50). Corner of Fourth Avenue and 36th Street, Brooklyn, evenings-nights only
7. Russ and Daughters: A half-pound of chopped herring salad on a bialy (total: $5.79). 179 East Houston Street, 212-475-4880
6. Prosperity Dumpling: Five pan-fried pork and chive dumplings and a sesame pancake with beef (total: $2.75). 46 Eldridge Street, 212-343-0683; 4317 Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn 718-436-2516
And finally, the top five meals under $6…
5. Ikea: Swedish meatball platter (total: $5.49). 1 Beard Street, Brooklyn, 718-246-4532
4. El Dugout Patacon Pisao: Full patacon with chicken, beef, and pork (total: $5.50). 431 West 202nd Street, at Tenth Avenue, 917-379-5288, evenings-nights only
3.Mumbai Xpress: Two vada pao sandwiches (total: $4). 25605 Hillside Avenue, Floral Park, Queens, 718-470-0059
2. Golden Shopping Mall: Chinese burger (total: $2.50). 41-28 Main Street, Flushing, Queens
1. Hua Ji Pork Chop Fast Food: Taiwanese pork chop over rice with pickled vegetables in pork sauce (total: $4.50). 7 Allen Street, 212-219-9876
Did we miss your favorite? Do tell.