Eat Cheap: Mac & Cheese, Middle Eastern, and Mexican


Explore the city’s Mexican options, dig into a pot of mac and cheese, or sit down to a cheap beer-and-biscuit combo. No matter what you choose, you’ll eat cheaply.

Black Swan, 1048 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-783-4744
Quell the winter blues with a gooey cast-iron crock of multi-cheese mac ($8) at this Bed-Stuy pub. Embellish with sundried tomatoes (it sounds weird but it’s wonderful), jalapeños for an extra couple bucks, or heady thick-cut bacon for $3, or go fancy with lobster for $7. Bonus: Pull up to the bar anytime before 8 p.m. and take advantage of the Swan’s two-for-one wells happy hour or $1-off draughts. –Hannah Palmer Egan

Tacos at De Mole, 4220 30th Avenue, Astoria, and 4502 48th Avenue, Woodside
De Mole serves up authentic Mexican in Astoria and Woodside, and it should have lines out the door. Tacos are just $3 to $3.50 a pop, and even merely so-so flavors would be acceptable. But these are better than so-so: De Mole’s pastor (pork with pineapple), barbacoa (goat), nopales (cactus), and carne asada fillings are fresh, tender, and piquant, and the service is warm and familial. –Alanna Schubach

Beer and a biscuit at Dear Bushwick, 41 Wilson Avenue, 929-234-2344
In a town where it’s easy to drop as much on brunch as you’d spend on dinner, it’s nice to see thrifty options like the brunch happy hour at Dear Bushwick. Among a slew of cheap drinks, you’ll find a $6 cheddar biscuit (which you should slick with the accompanying bittersweet orange marmelade) and half-pint combo. It makes solid splittable starter and a decent breakfast at the bar if you’re just looking for a quick snack. Brunch happy hour runs from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. –Laura Shunk

La Goulette, Brooklyn, 159 Grand Street, 347-689-4126
No, this is not homage to the late singer Robert, but we’re nonetheless singing its praises. Specializing in Tunisian and Middle Eastern fare, pita sandwiches ($4 to $8), stuffed to the brim with tasty toppings, can make an excellent snack or dinner. The chicken shawarma and Tunisian kefta kabab are a couple of options you can select from, and don’t forget to ask for hot sauce if you want an extra kick. –Billy Lyons

Zocalo, 295 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718-388-2161
Just over the Williamsburg Bridge, beneath the clatter of the JMZ train, lies Zocalo, an unassuming little Mexican joint where south-of-the-border prices reign. We’ll pop in for tacos ($2-$4) (beef options include steak, tongue, and “salty,” and there are several pork choices as well as chicken, chorizo, shrimp, and fish), which are best with sides of rice and beans ($3), guacamole ($2.50), and as many salsas as they’ll give you (red, green, pico, extra-hot). We also like the huevos con chorizo ($5 INCLUDES rice and beans), pork or cheese enchiladas ($8 includes rice and beans), and chilaquiles ($10, go for the beef tongue). –Hannah Palmer Egan