Everyone gets hungry, and everyone eats. But some people manage to eat better and for less than many others. No, they don’t live on slices of pizza or hot dog carts or even the halal chicken carts, they don’t even live on the dollar menu at McDonald’s! They just know where to go to get the best deals. Here’s your opportunity to eat just as well, and keep your wallet happy in the process. After all, what could be better than cheap eats in a great place like NYC?
25 Saint Mark’s Place
This little spot on St. Mark’s has been a haven for NYU and Cooper Union kids for ages, and despite the location, is often overlooked. The menu ranges in price from $2.50 to $25, but most items are easily in the under $10 category. Basically considered Japanese tapas, Kenka offers a great way to taste a million different things (if you can fit that many in your stomach) and has a variety that will appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. Plates range between ramen, curries, tempura, sushi, and more exotic offerings like bull penis, which I cannot vouch for, eat at your own risk. With Kirin and Sapporo on draft for $1.50 a pint, and do it yourself cotton candy after your meal, you really can’t go wrong!
Nha Trang Center
148 Centre Street (between Walker St & White St)
Sometimes, nothing does your body good like a big steaming bowl of pho. When the mood strikes, I head down to Nha Trang and satisfy my needs for about $5. Their overall Vietnamese selection is quite great, with the usual vermicelli dishes and summer rolls, and if you’re sleepy after forcing all this yummyness down your gullet, the Vietnamese coffee will kick you right back to full gear.
295 5th Ave (corner of 1st street)
Thai food has been undergoing a serious price inflation, and Song has seen fit to cut that nonsense out! With pretty much everything ringing in at under $10, you can fill your tummy without emptying your wallet and enjoy a high quality meal in a beautiful restaurant. The portions are enormous, so be prepared for leftovers.
Al Naimat Restaurant and Sweets
3703 74th St
What appears to be a simple sweets and bakery shop hides a fantastic little buffet that many have not realized is there until recently. Avoid stuffing your face on the golub jamin and jelabi (there’s plenty of time for that later) and instead head to the back for the $7 all you can eat buffet. Chicken makhani, curries galore, they all await your consumption, and believe me, consume you will! One you can’t fit anything more in yourself, get some sweets to go, at $5 a pound you can definitely afford to try everything, just after you’ve digested your wonderful meal.
813 Avenue U
(between 8th St & 9th St)
Good and inexpensive Russian food is hard to come by, but Stolovaya does it right. They’re also more friendly to non-Russians who voyage out here than many other spots, which gets them kudos. Menus are available in English, and most waiters speak at least a smattering, which is good because when everything goes for around $6, you’ll be ordering plenty! The soups and meat dishes are great, and don’t forgot a nice cold glass of kompot (a cold fruit drink) to wash it all down with, unless you’d rather some cognac, but I leave that to your preferences.