Real Cheap Eats Directory (use at your own risk - last updated in 2014)
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Massaman CurrySripraphaiPerhaps the most un-Thai of all Thai curries, massaman doesn't burn with the heat of chilies, go wild with fresh herbs or rely on aromatic citrus for flavor infusions. Instead, the dish warms and comforts like a beef stew, while throwing off any Yankee pot roast associations with its use of Indian spices like cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. At Sripraphai this curry is pleasantly minimal, with only falling-apart chunks of beef (or chicken), potato and onion wedges submerged in the peanut-topped sauce.
Queens64-13 39th AveKrista Garcia
Pepper Chic Savory CrepeFresca la CrepeChef Patricia Chu's not-so-secret spin on savory crepes is the inclusion of exposed cheese on the griddle. This twist changes the state of the Swiss cheese, topping chunks of chicken and green peppers in her "Pepper Chic" crepe, from a gooey blanket to a crisped hash. Woodsiders can't help but respect Chu's talents with a crepe, not to mention her ability to run this cozy and efficient shop entirely on her own.
Queens39-82 61st StJeff Orlick
Arepa de ChocloAreperia Arepa LadyFor nearly 30 years, Maria Piedad Cano (more commonly referred to as "Arepa Lady") sold this simple Colombian snack from an unassuming cart on the streets of Jackson Heights. As her skills with the arepa approached mastery, and the difficulties of running a street cart made her appearances on Roosevelt Ave. less and less frequent, the Arepa Lady became a near-mythic figure in the food world. Now, thanks to the opening of her brick-and-mortar restaurant, this filling corn pancake—made from a blend of sweet and white corn, stuffed with savory white cheese, and grilled until the edges have caramelized—is available seven days a week. Consider it a taste of the American dream.
Queens77-02a Roosevelt AveJames Boo
House Special SaladChengdu HeavenFlimsy styrofoam plates come overflowing with chili oil, and the old man behind the counter has a heavy hand with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. His "House Special Salad" is stunningly perfect: Glass noodles, carrots, seaweed and chopped scallions accompany a hot and numbing dressing with a vinegary zip. The natural sweetness of the carrots mellows the whole dish out, but your mouth will be buzzing for hours. A convincing case for (occasionally) eating vegetarian.
Queens41-28 Main StNoah Arenstein
Chimi MundoChimi MundoAt this bumping food truck, which can be found blaring Socca tunes down Myrtle and Gates, the eponymous "Chimi Mundo" is essentially a Dominican Big Mac. The thin beef patty (you can get a second for a dollar more) is topped with the regular fixings of tomato, mayo, ketchup, lettuce and American cheese—plus bacon and hot sauce—all layered between two halves of a griddled roll. It's a late-night meal satisfying enough to make you swear off the White Castle just down the street.
BrooklynMrytle AvenueNoah Arenstein
Peppermill Grilled Chicken Focaccia SandwichThe GrottoA sandwich the size of the paper plate it sits on doesn't come along every day, and when its bread resembles a mini-pizza, you won't be hungry for long. The Grotto runs oil-infused bread—topped with tomato, herbs and bit of grated cheese—through the pizza oven; then fills the sandwich with grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella and prosciutto. If you're in need of extra padding to weather the cold, this is a tasty way to bulk up.
Manhattan69 New StAndrea Heisinger
Tom Yum BolarnPye Boat Noodle & Thai Hawker FoodThis newcomer is the first real deal Thai spot to open in Astoria in ages. The signature boat noodles, swimming in a dark, fragrant broth, are great, but the tom yum bolarn—a bowl of chicken broth brimming with fish cake, fish balls, and shrimp balls—is even better. Doctor up the broth with a bit of prik-nam som sai choo (long hot chilies in vinegar) from the condiment caddy that graces every table. In case you were wondering, bolarn means "old school"—just like the joint's old-school décor, replete with Thai patent medicines and movie posters.
Queens35-13 BroadwayJoe DiStefano
Keripik Kentang Kacang ManisJava VillageKering kentang, or Javanese potato chips, are the stuff of a snack lover's dream. The crunchy spuds are tossed with chili peppers, sugar, peanuts and fried shallots. There's also a goodly amount of salt and a touch of sweet Indonesian soy sauce, kecap manis. Each bite is simultaneously crunchy, sweet, salty, nutty and fiery. Find them at Java Village, a superb Indonesian steam table joint by Grand Ave. station in Elmhurst.
Queens86-10 Justice AveJoe DiStefano
Lechón Asado DinnerLa Taza De OroLechón, a roast pork dish, seems to be the specialty of multiple Spanish-speaking nations, taking a slightly different form in each one. When passed across the bare-bones dining counter of this buzzing Puerto Rican diner, this lechón "asado" brings to mind a deep braise more than a pit-skewered roast. The meat is tender, unapologetically tasting of pork and served in a bowl of juices that's salty and savory enough to season the mountain of rice and beans set alongside it. La Taza De Oro offers a rotating cast of daily specials, but in the spirit of the diner, this one's a regular.
Manhattan96 8th AveJames Boo
Sauteed Sour String Beans With TaroHunan HouseYou're more likely to find the "Hunan" name haphazardly slapped on an Americanized Chinese takeout awning then on a legitimate source of China's fieriest food. But at Hunan House, sweet, salt-pickled chilies and smoky pork are found in abundance. For those seeking vegetarian fare, there are plenty of opportunities to sweat. These sautéed taro cakes, which don't add much flavor, are present more for their textural contrast and bland relief from the plentiful, spunky-sour green beans and chilies. A scattering of roasted bell pepper, which perfumes the dish with smoke, seals the deal.
Queens137-40 Northern BlvdChris Crowley
Lengua CemitaEl Tenampa Deli GroceryMeltingly tender chunks of lengua (tongue) layered with ripe avocado slices, crema, crisp red onions, chopped iceberg lettuce, mashed black beans and white cheese in a toasted, sesame seed-topped roll make for a hefty sandwich that could last for two meals—but probably won't, because you'll want to eat it all in one sitting. If you're averse to feeling like your mouth is burning, make sure to ask for it without the default spicy sauce.
Brooklyn706 4th AveRobyn Lee
Jaffna DosaN.Y. DosasFor 10 years, Vendy Award-winning dosa cook Thiru Kumar has been serving up fantastic vegan fare in Washington Square Park. His Jaffna Dosa special is a perennial favorite. This hefty platter consists of four soft and spongy South Indian pancakes, covered in a spicy dried coconut chutney. The dosas are served with a cup of sambar and your choice of appetizer, including samosas or veggie rolls. Show up early, or risk losing missing out on lunch—Thiru always sells out.
Manhattan50 Washington Sq SAlexandra Penfold
Quarter Slab Pork Spare RibsJohn Brown SmokehouseBurnt Ends get most of the acclaim at John Brown Smokehouse, but the Pork Spare Ribs deserve a pedestal of their own. Made using a dry rub, these ribs are not messy or reliant on sauce; the flavor and smoky aroma stand on their own bones.
Queens10-43 44th DrJessica Lee Binder
Lamb & Chicken GyroSammy’s HalalDuring the very first "Vendy Awards" in 2005, Sammy's Halal took home the grand prize, and for good reason. Even after six years, they've not lost a beat, as they still serve one of the best plates of "street meat" in NYC with swagger. The lamb and chicken gyro, rife with large chunks of juicy meat, lovingly drizzled with a fiery red hot sauce and a creamy white sauce, and wrapped in a fluffy pita, is an absolute steal.
Queens73rd StreetChris Hansen
Curry Lamb BurekIf you're looking for something quick and easy to eat while trying to catch the bus, try the meat burek (a.k.a. "meat cone") at Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop in Cobble Hill. Curry-flavored ground lamb is wrapped in phyllo dough then deep-fried until golden. Most of the flavor comes from the ground lamb and spices. For $1, these make great snacks. Don't worry, vegetarians – there are also cheese bureks.
Brooklyn56 Gold StDonny Tsang
TamalesLa Casa Del IdoloThe tamales at Taqueria La Casa Del Idolo are generously stuffed with chicken and a spoonful of spicy salsa, either red or green. The masa, or corn dough, is perfectly cooked—not too dry or too wet—and wrapped up tightly in a corn husk. These are close to tamale perfection, and only cost a dollar each. What's not to love?
Queens91-07 Corona AveSara Markel-Gonzalez
AnticuchosMorocho Peruvian FusionNew York City's only Peruvian street cart is Morocho Peruvian Fusion, run by chef Miguel Samanaz. The anticuchos (skewered and grilled meat) are a delight for adventurous carnivores. Tender veal hearts, rather than standard beef hearts, are made even more tender and flavorful by a long marination in Peruvian aji panca peppers, soy sauce and oregano. Served with purple potatoes, the steroidal hominy known as choclo and a huacatay sauce made from Peruvian black mint, it's a fine street-side meal.
ManhattanWest 52nd St.Joe DiStefano
Curry SetUdon WestSeat yourself on a bar stool and order the curry set. You'll receive two bowls: one with Japanese curry and the other with piping hot udon (thick wheat noodles). The curry, sprinkled with bits of beef, is subtly spicy and sweet with a touch of bright acidity from the slivers of beni shoga (red pickled ginger). In contrast, the udon is bathed in a light, clean broth with few add-ons—other than two slices of kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) and chopped green onion.
Manhattan150 E 46th StWendy Wong
Fried LagmanCafe KashkarThe lagman at Cafe Kashkar, one of the city's few Uyghur restaurants, is a great introduction to the cuisine of this Muslim community from the Northwest Chinese province of Xinjiang. Thick, chewy noodles doused in cumin and chile are stir-fried with bits of onion, bell pepper, long beans, cilantro and tender lamb, then topped with a fluffy scrambled egg. Mix it all together with chopsticks and dig into this spicy, complex comfort food.
Brooklyn1141 Brighton Beach AveJamie Feldmar
Samay BajiWoodside CafeThis substantial "snack" combines house-roasted and flattened rice flakes (chiura) with a spread of spicy, savory dishes, including (among others) black-eyed peas cooked in North Indian spices, sauteed mustard greens, spicy daikon pickled in vinegar and sesame oil, soy beans tossed with mustard oil and slivers of fresh ginger, and a deep-fried patty (woh) made from flavorful mashed lentils. Take a bit of the crunchy chiura, mash in a dab of one or another dish, and enjoy the contrasting flavors and textures. It's all delicious and, in true Kathmandu style, aggressively spicy.
Queens64-23 BroadwayAnne Noyes Saini
Chicken Kar-JaebiArirang

In Korean eating culture, weather often dictates what's for supper. Kar-jaebi, a hearty soup made with sujebi (hand-torn flakes of dough) is appropriate for rainy days. However, the chicken kar-jaebi at Arirang is craveable on all days. This jumbo bowl of chicken noodle soup teases an unbelievable amount of flavor from the humble fowl. In fact, it's so chicken-y, it serves as a reliable reminder of what the bird can and should taste like. Arirang is located on a non-descript, slightly divey feeling third floor space in Koreatown, but don't you dare chicken out—the kar-jaebi here is the best in New York.
Manhattan32 W 32nd St Fl 3Chris Hansen
Black Sesame MilkshakeJoJuWhen New York becomes unbearably hot, cool off with Joju's black sesame milk shake. The taste of black sesame, simple but strong, is neither overwhelming nor disappearing under the creaminess of the ice cream. Delicious and refreshing, this is a worthy warm weather treat.
Queens83-25 BroadwayYvo Sin
Pho RealSunny & Annie'sDeep in the East Village, there's an unassuming bodega called Sunny and Annie's with an ambitious sandwich program. Alongside turkey clubs and chicken parms, they dabble in combinations appealing to a variety of customers—the adventurous, the gourmet, or the stoner. Perhaps the most innovative (and tastiest), is the PHO Real. This sandwich uses fresh sliced Boar's Head roast beef, basil, cilantro, sprouts, tomato, avocado, and a squirt of spicy sriracha and sweet hoisin to capture the essence of the Vietnamese noodle soup in sandwich form.
Manhattan94 Avenue BChris Hansen
Cookies and Cream SundaeDessert Club ChikaliciousTo make its Cookies and Cream Sundae, Dessert Club Chikalicious cuts up three of its cookies—The Situation (chocolate chips, corn chips, peanut butter chips, marshmallow and pretzel), Situation Dark (chocolate cookie with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, toffee popcorn and pretzel) and Chocolate Chip—then mixes the crisp chunks with super creamy vanilla bean soft serve. Each dessert is great on its own, but together they form the best combination of cookies and ice cream you may ever eat. Just make sure to share with one or two people; the portion is huge.
Manhattan203 E 10th StRobyn Lee
Test Dish for RedirectNonetest
NoneNoneJames Boo
Pork Floss BunApollo BakeryFlushing is dotted with tiny Chinese bakeries, and Apollo Bakery is one of the smallest; yet, its square-shaped pork floss bun is one of the biggest. A cross between bread and pastry, the top of the bun is flaky and layered, while the bottom is dense and chewy. Inside, Taiwanese dried pork shavings puff up the bread like a decorative couch pillow.
Queens13536 39th AveJessica Lee Binder
Spicy Sour PicklesClinton Hill PicklesAs you approach this narrow Clinton Hill storefront, lined with red plastic barrels holding pickles in various stages of fermentation, you may experience a sense of déjà vu. It's no coincidence; there's a very similar sight on the Lower East Side. Formerly the owners of Guss' Pickles, the mother-and-son team behind this shop lost their legendary moniker when they relocated to Brooklyn in 2011. They still serve some of the best pickles in town: no fancy labels—just simple, honest pickles. The spicy sour pickles are especially extraordinary, with a clean crunch and a singeing heat that lasts.
Brooklyn431 Dekalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205Noah Arenstein
Pan Con LechonCoppeliaYou could have breakfast all day at this modern 24-hour Latin diner, but that means you'd miss out on the Pan con Lechon, a toasted and pressed sandwich to rival the more famous Cubano. The roast pork and garlicky mojo would be enough on their own, but the addition of crackly chicharrones pushes the porcine quotient over the top, while pickled red onions cut all that richness. If you like additional heat, be sure to ask for the house hot sauce, made powerfully spicy by habanero peppers.
Manhattan207 W 14th StKrista Garcia
Fish TacosSea Witch TavernAttempting to beat back the gloom of winter with a taste of summer can be a risky move—a wan fruit salad or or a paper umbrella-ed cocktail can, well, leave one cold. A pair of fish tacos (and a $4 Narragansett) at Sea Witch Tavern, a nautically themed bar on 5th Avenue in Greenwood, manages to evoke salt air and sunburn, even if you're watching snow fall on the bar's back garden. The roughly chopped cabbage, scallion and cilantro piled on the generous chunks of fried cod may lack finesse, but the tart, lime-splashed crema and gentle heat of chipotle salsa make beachy days feel just a little bit closer.
Brooklyn703 5th AveMatt Kronsberg
Carnitas TacoDos Toros TaqueriaOffering tasty, fresh tacos for under $4, Dos Toros brought a little slice of Bay Area Mexican food to Union Square. The carnitas (pork) are seared and slow cooked, leaving them juicy and flavorful, with the right amount of salty kick before being wrapped in corn tortilla along with toppings of your choice. The meat is purposefully left mild, so feel free to be adventurous with Dos Toros' tangy homemade sauces.
Manhattan137 4th AveSiobhan Wallace
Famous Cheese Baygull #2The Bay Gull StoreThis Broad Channel institution justifies a stop on the way to the Rockaways. Try the legendary cheese bagels, especially as part of a big, messy sandwich like this monstrosity, stuffed with grilled ham, Swiss cheese and a fried chicken cutlet. You can find cheese-covered bagels elsewhere, but the Bay-Gull's thick, molar-hugging version is peerless.
Queens1632 Cross Bay BlvdJeff Orlick
Goat Pepper SoupFestac GrillFestac Grill's goat pepper soup is some serious stuff, almost as if a goat was hacked up and thrown in a pot. Unlike its more accessible counterparts in Clinton Hill, which are made almost exclusively with more familiar meats, it is heavy on the offal—as Nigerian foods tend to be. Dive right in!
Brooklyn263 Hendrix StJared Cohee
Macaroni and Cheese EmpanadaMama's Empanada'sMama's Empanadas has taken a classic childhood comfort food and given it a Latin twist. At first glance it looks like any other empanada—crescent shaped with a bubbly golden brown crust. Bite into it and find an unexpected filling: macaroni and cheese. Elbow pasta is mixed with a cheesy sauce that, depending on who you are, will channel either your inner child or inner stoner. But do be careful on that first bite, as the filling is quite hot.
Queens3241 Steinway StJoe DiStefano
The Lin Sanity Bánh MìJoJuSuperstar point guard Jeremy Lin has left New York behind, but at JoJu the Lin-Sanity bánh mì lives on. San bei ji (Taiwanese "three cup chicken") is the star of this thoroughly modern Vietnamese sandwich. The chicken is cooked in soy sauce and wine that's shot through with Thai basil. The sandwich also features plenty of house-made aji verde, a verdant, aioli-like hot sauce usually found in Peruvian chicken joints. Combine all that with the standard bánh mì fixings—pickled carrot, pickled daikon, cucumbers and cilantro—and you have a full-court press of Queens flavor.
Queens83-25 BroadwayJoe DiStefano
Chairman BaoBaoHausAfter a long Friday night of drinking in the East Village, it's still hard to top a hangover-preventing spot like BaoHaus, where Chairman Bao is the cure of choice. The hearty steamed bao (bun) envelops a melt-in-your-mouth slab of Berkshire pork belly, topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts, while the Huang brothers' favorite Taiwanese red sugar gives the classic sandwich a pinch of sweetness. Add a second bao and a side of taro fries while you're there, and you're sure to feel better in the morning.
Manhattan238 E 14th StSuzanne Yacka
Chao Nian GaoWei Mei XianThis "Chinese New Year rice cake" rings in the fried-noodle section of the menu at Wei Mei Xian. Their basic chao nian gao is simply stir-fried with strips of pork and a handful of greens. It's a dish that easily can be made more protein-heavy, or fancied up—at this Fujianese restaurant, options include crab and squid—but the rice cakes are key. Some folks like them noodle-soft (but never mushy), while others prefer the firmer, chewier texture evident here.
Brooklyn705 60th StDave Cook
Milanesa CemitaTaqueria CoatzingoAnyone who maligns Mexican food in New York has yet to try a cemita poblana. Taqueria Coatzingo, a local go-to in Jackson Heights, serves an excellent rendition of this Pueblan specialty, a sandwich that packs refried beans, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, chipotles, meats and a pile of fresh Mexican cheese into a sesame-seeded bun. Try Coatzingo's cemita with milanesa (chicken or beef cutlet). And make sure to request yours with papalo, an herb whose pungent, citrus-tinted mint offsets the roasted heat of the peppers and lightens the load of meat and cheese.
Queens7605 Roosevelt AveJames Boo
Sheftalia Pita SandwichZenon TavernaGrilled meats are a popular summer meal in Cyprus, but they're on the menu year-round at Zenon Taverna. The sheftalia, made in-house, are elongated pork meatballs loosely wrapped with caul fat and grilled over charcoal. Then they're loaded into a pita with parsley, tomato, cucumber, onion and dabs of tangy, mustardy piccalilli (a vegetable "relish" with roots in British India). Add a spritz of lemon and dig in. Additional reporting by Mark Rinaldi.
Queens3410 31st AveAnne Noyes Saini
Cambodian NoodlesBo KyDon't be fooled by the geography in this dish's name; Cambodia has nothing to do with the noodles at this chiu chow (also called chaozhou and teochew) restaurant serving a Chinese cuisine not common in Manhattan. Available in rice or egg form, the chewy noodles lay a foundation for fish balls, shrimp and sliced and ground pork garnished with chopped scallions and cilantro. Ask for broth on the side—the traditional way of eating it—and dole out the soup as you like, or simply slurp as you go. Don't forget to add chile-infused vinegar and the robust, house-made chile oil with dried shrimp and peanuts for the full effect.
Manhattan216 Grand StKrista Garcia
Sliders With CheeseMarkMark serves a perfect rendition of a classic slider. A proprietary beef blend is chopped right on the premises. The patties are pressed into a cast iron griddle with onions, flipped, and topped with cheese, which is then left to steam underneath the bun until gooey and soft. The result is the perfect hamburger experience in a bite-sized package.
Manhattan33 Saint Marks PlNick Solares
Honey Dip DonutDonut PubRemember the days before New York was overrun by cupcake shops, artisan pies and exotic doughnuts? I actually don't, but the Donut Pub embodies everything good about classic American desserts. If you're looking for a Valrhona triple-chocolate doughnut or exotic ingredients like matcha, you won't find them here. What you will find is the epitome of a glazed doughnut (they call it a Honey Dip). The dough melts in your mouth, yet has a certain resilience upon biting. With an oh-so-thin layer of honey-based syrup drizzled over this magical bread, you have an intoxicating blend of sugar, carb, and pure sensual feelings—quite possibly a benchmark for any doughnut in the city.
Manhattan203 W 14th StNicholas Chen
Grilled Chicken Noodle SoupMekong Thai & VietnameseTrue chicken pho—with broth made from chicken bones, instead of beef bones—is hard to find in New York City. Instead, many places slap "chicken pho" on the menu and then simply add shredded chicken to beef broth. Not so at Mekong Thai & Vietnamese, where the incredibly clear broth has the mildly sweet essence of chicken. The noodle soup is adorned with a few onion slices and a smattering of fried shallots, allowing you to add cilantro, bean sprouts, fresh jalapeños and lime juice as you please. Tender, juicy pieces of grilled dark meat are served on the side, as to not hinder your slurping.
Queens15632 Northern BlvdYvo Sin
Top Taste RestaurantTop Taste RestaurantGuilin is an tourist-friendly city near the Vietnam border in southern China, and the spirit of Vietnamese cuisine pervades its food. The signature dish here, Guilin-Style Rice Noodle Soup, combines round rice noodles with crispy pork skin, braised beef tongue, toasted soy beans, Chinese parsley and minced pickled long beans. The noodles are served with a small cup of chicken broth on the side, so you can soak them to taste.
Brooklyn6307 8th AvenueEric Malson
KutabsCaucasus GardenCaucasus Garden takes you to Azerbaijan with its amazing kutabs, flour pancakes stuffed with lamb or greens, pan fried in butter and topped with sumac. Filled with tender and mild lamb or a blend of spinach, parsley, dill and green onion, this dish is the perfect introduction to Azerbaijani cuisine. Top each kutab with some yogurt sauce, roll it into a wrap and enjoy.
Brooklyn2715 Avenue URobert Fernandez
Hu La Tang With Shui Jian BaoZhengzhou Nourishing Noodles - New World Mall Food Court, Stall #28In Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, the flour-thickened, spicy soup called hu la tang is a working man's meal. Poke around with spoon or chopsticks and you may dredge up a few peanuts, some kelp, mung bean threads and the like. To really fill your belly, pair the soup with shui jian bao, loosely translated on the menu board as "lightly fried Chinese bread." Nip them in two, as shown, and scoop them through the soup. If any of their ground-meat filling tumbles out, so much the better. It'll be waiting for you at the bottom of the bowl.
NoneNoneDave Cook
ThukpaLhasa Fast FoodIn the back of Tibetan Mobile, a trinket shop in Jackson Heights, you'll find Lhasa Fast Food. Try the thukpa. Always made fresh, when ordered in multiples, it can overload the woman running the shop. The noodles are obviously pre-packaged, but the pile of greens and crumbled beef on top of this bone-broth soup make it nearly impossible to find something to complain about.
Queens37-50 74th StJeff Orlick
Baked Salmon DinnerNordic DelicaciesThe creamy red pepper sauce that tops this lightly cooked fish combines with the other tastes on the plate very nicely. Nordic Delicacies' homemade mashed potatoes are a good touch for all of its meals. It is unclear, after spending time in here, whether you are in Brooklyn or in a gift shop in the Oslo airport.
Brooklyn6909 3rd AveJared Cohee
Roast Pork BunMei Li WahIf you're craving a quick, savory snack in Chinatown and you're a fan of fatty pork, head to Mei Li Wah for their famous baked, roast pork buns. These soft, lightly glazed buns don't skimp on the saucy, sweet and savory roast pork filling. Mei Li Wah also makes a steamed version, but it has a higher bread-to-filling ratio. Stick with the baked buns.
Manhattan62-64 Bayard StRobyn Lee
Welsh Rarebit With BaconLongbow Pub & Pantry"Welsh rarebit" may conjure thoughts of bland cheese melted on white bread, but Long Bow's rendition has a spicy kick with Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, pepper, aged cheddar, and beer combining for a forthright flavor. Stout slices of toasted country bread are extra, extra-absorbent, whatever your poison (coffee by morning, a pint by night). And supplementing your order with crumbled bacon ($2) adds an essential and restorative dose of fat.
Brooklyn7316 3rd AveDave Cook
Pisang MolenKopi KopiThis flaky pastry, a specialty of Bandung (where Indonesia's Dutch colonists once flocked to avoid the summer heat), combines European chocolate and cheese with Indonesia's native banana (pisang in Indonesian) in a pastry shell that gets its name from the Dutch word for windmill (molen). Kopi Kopi's version is sweet and buttery, with creamy undertones from the mild, orange-hued American cheese within. It's an All-American twist on a snack born of colonial culture crossing. (additional reporting by Mel Harjono)
Manhattan68 W 3rd StAnne Noyes Saini
Fried Pork & Chive DumplingLam Zhou Handmade NoodlesThough Lam Zhou's marquee dish is its hand pulled noodles, the fried dumplings are no slouch either. Thin skins, fried perfectly crisp, yield to your bite to reveal juicy nuggets of pork and chives so flavorful that no sauce is necessary. A single order of twelve fried dumplings costs $3, making this meal hard to beat.
Manhattan144 E BroadwayYvo Sin
Pljeskavica (Bosnian Burger)Bosna ExpressAt this compact Bosnian spot in Ridgewood, the cooks flip pljeskavica, a so-called "Bosnian burger," in the shadow of the M train overhead. The "burger" itself is a thin, grilled lamb-and-beef patty and topped with lettuce, tomato, chopped onions, thick sour cream and ajvar (a mildly spicy spread made with roasted red pepper and eggplant). Packed within somun bread (an especially fluffy kind of Bosnian pita), this enormous sandwich requires both hands.
Queens791 Fairview AveNoah Arenstein
Good Morning DogCrif DogAt this tiny East Village (and Williamsburg) spot, your favorite meat product in tube form gets a nice upgrade. The Good Morning Dog, also pretty tasty as a late night snack, is a hot dog wrapped in bacon and padded with melted cheese and a fried egg. The bacon is fried up nicely for that perfect, salty-crunchy bite that all bacon lovers crave. Cheese fries sold separately.
Manhattan120 Macdougal StDonny Tsang
Pork TortaTortas a la Plancha Don PepeThe word torta means many things. In Mexico it's a sandwich, and a good torta is the stuff of dreams. Don Pepe's in Sunset Park makes a torta with layers and layers of pork, avocado, jalapenos and oaxacan cheese. The bread is slightly toasted and has a nice outside crunchy texture. It gets a little messy toward the end, but with food this good, it doesn't really matter.
Brooklyn3908 5th AveDonny Tsang
ĆevapiĆevabdžinica Sarajevo IIEven in a neighborhood overflowing with kebab houses, the Bosnian foods of Ćevabdžinica Sarajevo II stand out. The chefs work hard to bring the experience of a homemade dinner in Sarajevo to the streets of Brooklyn. Ćevapi, a lamb and beef sausage, is said to be the national dish of Bosnia. Judging from the flavorful and tender version sold here, that claim is certainly believable.
Brooklyn2556 Coney Island AveRobert Fernandez
Maduro y Mozzarella EmpanadaEmpanada Del ParqueEmpanada Cafe is a short distance off the Long Island Expressway, but people travel from all over to partake in the delicious empanadas. The maduro y mozzarella white flour empanada might sound a bit odd, but somehow, the sweet plantains and mozzarella work wonderfully well together, creating a sweet, creamy, cheesy center surrounded by a crisp, crunchy shell.
Queens5627 Van Doren StYvo Sin
Imeruli KhachapuriBrick Oven BreadKhachapuri, the cheese-filled bread that is Georgia's calling card, comes in many forms—and most are available at this Georgian bakery, hidden on a quiet, residential street in Brighton Beach. Tender but not quite fluffy, each discus of hand-made bread contains a thin, but potent, layer of soft cheese. Brick Oven's mixture of mozarella and feta (a stand-in for Georgia's native sulguni) has a sharp, salty edge that makes for an especially flavorful introduction to this dish.
Brooklyn109 Brighton 11th StJames Boo
Fried Cabbage VarenikiVarenichnayaA dumpling with the best of both worlds, these vareniki feature the traditional, tender-yet-chewy skins of Ukrainian boiled dumplings, but their filling is full of the rich flavor of cabbage, cooked down to a thoroughly caramelized jam. The only adornments you need are a topping of fried onions--including the sweet, onion-y oil that clings to them--and a hefty spoonful of sour cream.
Brooklyn3086 Brighton 2nd StMax Falkowitz
Beef LampraisLakruwana

The beef lamprais at Lakruwana, a Sri Lankan eatery in Stapleton, combines small mounds of fragrant basmati rice and cashews, onion sambol (a tangy-sweet condiment), eggplant, deep-fried tuna fish-and-potato cutlets and seasoned beef all steamed together in a banana leaf. The dish, invented by Dutch colonists of the island, has evolved over several centuries. It arrives at the table in a neatly folded packet, with the ingredients grouped side-by-side. Mix everything together, and the result is a surprisingly mild dish that effortlessly balances its spicy and savory flavors. (additional reporting by Jen Milne)
Staten Island668 Bay StAnne Noyes Saini
Jugo de MarañónSeis VecinosMarañón—the accessory fruit of the cashew nut—is popularly consumed in Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador and parts of the West Indies, but it's difficult to export because of its highly perishable nature. At relative newcomer Seis Vecinos, Honduran at heart but pan-Central American in the kitchen, you can find marañón alongside more standard juice options like pineapple and passion fruit. The initial nuttiness, slightly musky in the vein of mangos, gives way to a deep, smooth sweetness—a perfect chiller.
Bronx812 E 149th StChris Crowley
Yum Hnam SodArunee Thai CuisineIt is perfectly acceptable to eat yun hnam sod (a spicy pork salad) as an entree, even though it masquerades as an appetizer. Either way, the complex dish is a Thai favorite, full of onions, lime, ginger, cilantro, peppers and peanuts. More than a dozen ingredients go into the dish—all of which have a special effect on your taste buds.
Queens78-23 37th AveJared Cohee
Homestyle Sauteed Scallion PancakesLao Bei Fang Dumpling HouseEveryone loves scallion pancakes. But how about scallion pancakes sliced into thick, noodle-like ribbons, then stir-fried with beef, ham, egg, and cabbage? The chewy pancakes soak up the flavor of the meat and the cabbage adds a healthy crunch. Squirt some hot sauce on the dish, and you're good to go.
Queens83-05 BroadwaySara Markel-Gonzalez
Cheung FunSun Light BakeryAt Sun Light Bakery in Manhattan Chinatown, you can get baked goods and your regular ham-and-egg sandwiches, but what you really want is the cheung fun (rice roll). A popular dim sum dish, cheung fun is a thin piece of rice noodle that has been steamed, rolled up and then usually stuffed with beef or shrimp. Sunkist Bakery's are smooth, silky and made to order. Be sure to add a squirt of soy and hot sauce.
Manhattan160 E BroadwayDonny Tsang
Pork GyroBZ GrillAstoria is home to plenty of good Greek food, in general, and a wonderful gyro sandwich, in particular. That sandwich—BZ Grill's pork gyro—is worth a significant detour to experience. Thin slices of moist, perfectly seasoned pork are carved from the rotating spit, along with just enough crunchy bits to liven up the texture. The meat is wrapped in a grilled pita with lettuce, tomato, onion and a bright tzatziki sauce.
Queens27-02 Astoria BlvdEric Malson
BourekaCarmel GroceryIf you find that you're hungry while shopping for Middle Eastern and kosher ingredients at this Rego Park grocer, grab a boureka or two (or three) from the display case. Whether it's the classic cheese-filled version, the peppery mushroom, the spinach with cheese or the simple potato-stuffed triangle, these flaky pastries hit the spot anytime. If you can wait, a few moments in the toaster makes them even better.
Queens6427 108th StSara Markel-Gonzalez
Spicy Hot Oil Seared Hand-Ripped NoodlesXi'an Famous FoodsYou might be familiar with fiery dishes from Sichuan Province or the noodles of Northern China, but how often do you hear about the delicacies of Shaanxi? With temperatures steadily dropping, is there anything better than indulging in a meal so spicy you'll be dripping sweat, with complete loss of feeling in your face? The only answer is: nothing. Xi'an Famous Food's "Spicy Hot Oil Seared Hand-Ripped Noodles" do just that. A hefty plate of—you guessed it—hand-torn carbs is stir-fried in red-hot chili oil, scallions, cumin and other spices until every square inch of noodle is coated in a thin film of liquid heat.
Manhattan2675 BroadwayNicholas Chen
Octopus and Shrimp CoctelLa Esquina del Camarón MexicanoMexican seafood cocktails, or cocteles, as they're known in this chef's hometown, are the house specialty at this humble establishment, run out of the back of an otherwise unremarkable bodega. Order the octopus and shrimp, then watch the seafood mixologist at work. First, some plump pink shrimp go into your cup, then tender bits of octopus, salt, olive oil and a goodly pour of Don Pedro's secret cocktail sauce. Like all good cocktails, it comes with an edible garnish: cilantro, onion, cilantro and avocado. Be sure to ask for a splash of Valentina hot sauce. As for the accompanying Saltines, it's up to you; either crumble them on top or eat them on the side.
Queens80-02 Roosevelt AveJoe DiStefano
BLTAThe Treats Truck StopKim Ima of The Treats Truck may be famous for her baked goods, but at her newly opened shop in Carroll Gardens she is expanding her menu to include savory items. The one to try is the BLTA (Bacon+Lettuce+Tomato with slices of Avocado) with an egg added (for $1 more). What really makes this sandwich stand out is the optional side of house-made kimchi. That's right, Kim Ima makes her own kimchi, and it is delicious. Put it into this sandwich and enjoy a BLTA with a spicy, tangy kick.
Brooklyn521 Court StDonny Tsang
Mixed CemitaTulcingo Resaurant & PanaderiaThe front of Tulcingo looks like a Mexican grocery. The middle section looks like a Mexican bakery. Head all the way to the back for a full restaurant menu and order the cemita, a fresh, sesame bun slathered with a smoky chipotle sauce, bound with lightly melted white cheese and layered with your choice of 14 meats. Go for pierna (pork leg), chorizo (sausage) and lengua (tongue).Queens4011 82nd StJessica Lee Binder
Stew Chicken RotiTrinidad & Tobago CartThe chicken in this roti, coupled with a delicious chickpea curry, has been stewed so long it's falling off the bone. But that bright yellow curry steals the show, and the homemade roti wrapper cannot contain it all. Ask for Trinidad & Tobago's pepper sauce, flavored with scotch bonnet peppers and tropical fruit, to take this meal up a notch.
ManhattanWhitehall St.Andrea Heisinger
Baked Chicken Portuguese StyleM Star CafeDon't let the name deceive you; this "baked chicken" is actually a casserole of rice, chicken, potatoes and egg. The creamy yellow sauce that brings everything together is difficult to describe—and nothing like the cooking actually found in Portugal. Regardless of its true culinary origins, this is deeply satisfying comfort food.
Manhattan19 Division StJared Cohee
Tuna MeltEisenberg's Sandwich ShopIf you're looking for a tuna melt, Eisenberg's has one of New York's best. Creamy, no-frills tuna salad and a layer of gooey cheese are laid between two thin slices of crisp, toasted rye to form a well balanced, reasonably sized sandwich. An open-faced version is also available.
Manhattan174 5th AveRobyn Lee
Double CheeseburgerBlue Collar Good JobIf you're looking for a Shake Shack-like burger in Williamsburg, Blue Collar is your best bet. It's no compromise—their cheeseburgers are great, featuring thin, well seared and juicy patties topped with fresh lettuce, a few slices of tomato and raw onion, pickles, American cheese and secret sauce on toasted potato rolls. Throw in an order of their crisp, skinny fries while you're at it.
Brooklyn160 Havemeyer StRobyn Lee
Natto SobaCocoronNatto is a fermented soybean with a strong taste, but is ultimately not something most people would object to. On cold soba mixed with egg, soy, onions and crushed sesame seeds, this dish is an amazing taste experience, sour and sweet and salty at the same time.
Manhattan37 Kenmare StJared Cohee
Steamed Rice Noodles with Fried Fish BallsMai CartA couple of lunchtime carts can be found near the J/M/Z subway exit on Centre Street, just south of Canal Street. For budget-minded lunchers, "Mai Cart" (closer to Canal) is definitely worth a second look. Mai, the cart's genial owner, has been serving up congee (traditional Chinese rice porridge), tea eggs and tripe for more than fifteen years. Don't miss her steamed rice noodles with spicy curried fish balls, topped with a sweet and salty mix of peanut sauce, hoisin, soy sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
ManhattanCentre St.Alexandra Penfold
Hot Roumanian PastramiCafe EdisonA good homemade pastrami sandwich for under $10 is harder and harder to find in New York City. But Cafe Edison, a Jewish diner/deli housed in the extravagant former ballroom of the Edison Hotel, delivers. Heavy with peppery bark but light on smoke, the thick-sliced meat is incredibly tender, with a fall-apart, buttery quality. Its beefiness comes through loud and clear, wanting for nothing more than a touch of mustard.
Manhattan228 W 47th StMax Falkowitz
White BorschtLomzyniankaThe home-style white borscht (zurek) at this modest Polish standby in Greenpoint exemplifies comfort food. Chunks of garlicky kielbasa and hard-boiled egg dot a rich, tangy, broth—made from fermented rye in the traditional way. Plus, at this price tag, you'll have plenty of cash left for as many blintzes and pierogi as you can stomach.
Brooklyn646 Manhattan AveNoah Arenstein
Chicken Sheek KebabCurry & Tandoor CornerThis Indian hole in the wall on the edge of Chinatown has a lot of cheap eats competition from Asian eateries nearby, but it's worth a diversion. The namesake chicken kebabs are juicy and flavorful on their own, but they're best when wrapped in made-to-order naan, creating a kind of Indian burrito.
Manhattan369 Broome StAndrea Heisinger
LambajinBedouin TentA highlight of Bedouin Tent's "pitza" menu, this hefty rendition of mid-eastern lahmacun tops a large disc of just-baked pita with a spread of minced lamb, onion, tomato and herbs. The lambajin's browned topping crumbles into juicy, meaty morsels with each bite, its sweet-and-savory flavor dominated by well done lamb and tomato. It's an expressive slice of immigrant cuisine, Brooklyn-style.
Brooklyn405 Atlantic AveJames Boo
Seven Fishes CevicheBobby Fish, Rey Del CevicheAnyone who tells you not to buy raw fish from a van on the side of the road doesn't know Bobby Fish. For the past 40 years, Bobby has been the uptown "king of ceviche." Lobster, shrimp and even the full "Seven Fishes" all come neatly chopped with tomatoes, onions and lime juice in ready-to-go plastic containers. Bobby stands equipped with a lime juicer in his right hand and a hot sauce bottle in his left, prepared to tailor each platter to your liking. Available after 1pm during summer months, though hours may vary (3pm-6pm seems like the best window to stop by).
Manhattan401 W 207th StBaron Ambrosia
Sukhothai Pork Noodle SoupPure Thai CookhouseWhen it comes to Thai, diners on Ninth Avenue are faced with a lot of choices. Pure Thai Cookhouse (formerly Pure Thai Shophouse), however, may be the only place worth visiting. Try the assertively flavored pork broth in a bowl of Sukhothai pork noodle soup. Sweet slices of roasted pork are nestled amongst crunchy long beans and crumbles of ground pork, and as if it couldn't get any better (or porkier), the dish is lavishly topped with crisp pork cracklings. Despite the dizzying amount of flavors and texture, the dish is remarkably clean on the palate. It's a nearly flawless noodle soup.

Editor's Note: Since this dish was added to Real Cheap Eats, its price has risen past $10.00. It's still a part of the guide as a part of our "grandfather" policy.
Manhattan766 9th AveChris Hansen
Souper SoupSarge's DelicatessenSarge's Delicatessen in Murray Hill may serve the most nourishing soup in New York City, curing everything from the common cold to cancer (this statement has not been officially verified by the FDA). Sitting in the heady chicken broth, which demands no salt (but maybe a little pepper) are a hearty beef kreplach, noodles and a gigantic matzoh ball that straddles the delicate balance between floater and sinker. It's the soup you wish a Jewish grandmother could make for you on a cold winter day.
Manhattan548 3rd AveNoah Arenstein
Two Samosas & Chickpeas ChaatPunjabi Grocery & DeliHipsters rub shoulders with gray-bearded cabbies at Punjabi Grocery & Deli in the East Village. The chaats here—Indian fried snacks tossed with an addictive combination of sauces—are the real deal. My favorite is the hearty two samosas and chickpeas chaat. More a meal than a snack, it tops crisp, potato-stuffed samosas, split open and doused in spicy stewed chickpeas, with zesty extras such as tangy yogurt, sweet tamarind-date chutney, spicy cilantro chutney, and chopped raw onion. Wash it all down with a cup of doodh patti (a richer version of masala chai, brewed in milk). (additional reporting by Delia Pless)
Manhattan114 E 1st StAnne Noyes Saini
Bing Bika AmbonJava VillageBing bika ambon at Java Village, an Indonesian spot in Elmhurst, Queens, is as fun to say as it is to eat. Resembling a corn muffin in size and color, it has a spongy texture and pronounced, yeasty flavor, enriched by plenty of coconut milk. They come three to an order, a perfect serving size if you've put too much of this shop's blazingly hot sambal on your noodles.
Queens86-10 Justice AveJoe DiStefano
Pork/Shrimp/Chive DumplingsTianjin Dumpling House (Golden Mall Basement)Parked at the intersection of hot pot and noodle in Flushing's Golden Mall, Tianjin Dumpling House puts tray after tray of handmade dumplings on display for prospective customers. Those trays never sit still for long, since the dumplings are tasty enough to order by the dozen. Tianjin's selection of fillings is inventive, and the preparation is impeccable—especially in the case of the Pork/Shrimp/Chive Dumpling. The punch of fresh garlic chives, the sweet-savory combo of the meats and a delicate wrapper all come together for a bite that demands your full attention.4
Queens41-28 Main StJames Boo
Spare Rib Noodle SoupGourmet Noodles & DelicaciesAn alum of the Golden Shopping Mall, Gourmet Noodles and Delicacies is best known for spare rib noodle soup, and rightfully so. While a juicy slab of pork that practically falls off the bone is the star of the show, the topping of minced, salted vegetable is a strong supporting actor, serving as a tangy counterpart to the meat, noodles and broth.
Queens42-15 College Point BlvdVeronica Chan
Hungarian PieLomzyniankaAlmost everything on the menu at this Polish restaurant screams comfort food, but if you're looking to settle in for a long night of cozy inactivity, order the Hungarian Pie. The cooks at Lomzynianka fold a foot-long, crisp-edged potato pancake around a heap of beef goulash and crown it with a dollop of sour cream—proof that the sum of three parts can make a diner forget how to add. For best results, bring a bottle of red wine and a trusted friend.
Brooklyn646 Manhattan AveJames Boo
Meat BurekDukagjini BurekI'm convinced that burek is like sex and pizza: Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. But when burek is really good, it's soft and gooey and awesome. The bureks at Dukagjini Burek, a four-table operation in Bronxdale, are even better than "really good." Pulled straight from the oven, the meat burek is crisp on the outside, blissfully doughy on the inside and stuffed with wonderfully spiced ground beef.
Bronx758 Lydig AveCharles Bibilos
Fresh Tofu with Sweet SyrupSoy Bean Chen Flower ShopNothing's quite as comforting on a bitter winter day as a bowl of dou fu fa—fresh tofu curds served creamy, nutty and lashed with sweet syrup. And there's no place like quite like Soybean Chen Flower Shop to get it. Add a you tiao—the crunchy cruller that's a staple of Chinese breakfast—for a mere $2.50. Don't forget to grab some flowers for your sweetie on the way out.
Queens135-26 Roosevelt AveJoe DiStefano
Chorizo con Huevo TacoSt. James DeliSt. James Deli's breakfast tacos are great for any meal of the day. The chorizo con huevo taco, topped with red and green salsas, is nearly half a pound of food. Before you can even fit this hefty taco into your mouth, you'll need to eat through a layer of chorizo and scrambled eggs. The eggs, soft and speckled with chunks of chorizo, are moist, fluffy and flavorful. The salsas may seem mild at first taste, but give your mouth a few moments to catch up and then enjoy their slow afterburn.
Queens34-02 34th AveTina Corrado
AlbondigasCarnitas El AtoraderoIt's difficult to go wrong at Carnitas El Atoradero, where owner Denise Lina Navarro serves home-style Pueblan cooking that goes way beyond tacos. Should you find yourself in this cozy, 10-seat cafe on a weekend, zero in on the albondigas, pork meatballs stuffed with tender quail egg. Beautifully browned and dripping with the smoky, soupy chipotle sauce they're served in, they are meatballs of the porkiest order. Available only on weekends.
Bronx800 E 149th StChris Crowley
Plain SlicePolito’s PizzaOne of Astoria's finest, this quick shop is the epitome of a New York slice: casual, quick, greasy, cheesy and best tasted while folded in your hand. They will be busy when you step up and order. Take it as a reassuring sign.
Queens3812 BroadwayJeff Orlick
Porchetta SandwichDi Palo’s Fine FoodsThere is a well-known shop in the city with expensive porchetta sandwiches, and then there is Di Palo's. If you ever walk in and see this roll of pork cooling on the counter, do yourself a favor and ask the staff to make you a sandwich with it. You'll get a generous portion of crisp, fatty, salty pork strewn with herbs and celery. To avoid disappointment, call ahead to make sure they have the porchetta before paying a visit.
Manhattan200 Grand StAndrea Heisinger
Guo TieSliced NoodleThe name of this outfit is Sliced Noodle, but the guo tie, or potstickers, here are outstanding. The Henanese folks who run this stall cook their potstickers in a radial pattern resembling an asterisk—spokes on a wheel of deliciousness, if you will. Each is filled with an incredibly tasty mixture of loosely ground pork and chives. They're juicy as all get-out, and the thin, crisp sheet of dough between each dumpling makes for fun eating.
Queens136-20 Roosevelt AveJoe DiStefano
Alcapuria con CarneLechonera La PirañaThis festive Puerto Rican snack truck's eponymous lechón (here, heavily salted and roasted pork belly and rib meat) is one of New York's best. Just below the rack of pork, though, is a tray of alcapurria, a fritter typically made from mashed yuca and filled with spiced meat. If you get the chance to step into the truck, try La Piraña's banana alcapuria. The edges are deep fried to a crisp brown, the mashed banana is mildly sweet, and the ground beef inside is well spiced. Weekends only; Closed During Winter.
BronxE. 152nd St.James Boo
Hot Dog With Wangding ToppingAsiadogTopping a hot dog with more meat may sound like overkill, but opting for the BBQ pork belly, cucumber and scallion topping called "wangding" at Asiadog only makes the frank better. The sweet-sauced pork belly is applied sparingly, and cool cucumber slices help balance what could otherwise be fat overload.
Manhattan66 Kenmare StAndrea Heisinger
ChampurradoEstrellita PoblanaThe tacos and cemitas at this Michelin Guide-recommended joint are some of the best in the Bronx. In winter weather, though, you may want something more than mole to keep you warm. Estrellita's champurrado, a rich, hominy flour and chocolate-based beverage, is thick as pudding. If you're looking for a jolt, try the soothing café de olla. Flavored with cinnamon and panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), it's devoid of bitterness and uncharacteristically sweet. Take it black.
Bronx2328 Arthur AveChris Crowley
Plain SliceSacco PizzaThis is a real New York slice, what every slice in the city should be. It's thin, greasy and a bit burnt—all great qualities. The dusty lip has swipes of char, and the smooth, slightly fruity sauce stands out under a blanket of gooey cheese. Plus, the cheese tastes like actual cheese—imagine that. Seating is scarce, so don't bring your family reunion.
Manhattan819 9th AveJeff Orlick
Xiao Long BaoDiverse Dim SumThere are as many opinions about where to find the best xiao long bao in New York City as there are places to find the puckered, broth-filled dumplings. One of the best in Flushing's Chinatown is a relative newcomer called Diverse Dim Sum in the Flushing Mall food court. There are no dim sum carts here, but you can order a sextet of the thin-skinned, broth-filled crab soup dumpings from the shop's bingo-style menu card.
Queens133-31 39th AveJoe DiStefano
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