10 Best Cheap Eats in NYC on a Budget

by | Sep 19, 2019

Best Places to Eat in NYC on a Budget


You don’t need a big food budget to eat big flavors in the Big Apple. The city offers every cuisine imaginable and you can experience them all without breaking the bank. If you’ve got a couple $20 bills in your pocket, you can graze your way through the city and be 100% happy (and stuffed) by day’s end.

Here are the 10 best places to eat cheap in NYC:


Breakfast / Brunch


Best Bagel & Coffee

Address: 225 West 35th St. New York, NY 10001

Phone: (212) 564-4409

Website: http://www.bestbagelandcoffee.com/ 

If you’re a bagel fan, you simply must stop by Best Bagel & Coffee for breakfast. The restaurant bakes 15 types of bagels in house (including gluten-free options) and jam packs them with your choice of 20+ flavors of spread. You can have a hearty and delicious morning meal — including coffee — for well under $10. 


Sweet Chick

Address: 178 Ludlow St. New York, NY 10002

Phone: (646) 657-0233

Website: https://www.sweetchick.com/ 

If you’re in a brunch mood, head on over to Sweet Chick’s restaurant on the Lower East Side (there’s a location in Queens, too) for some affordable indulgence. All side dishes are under $10, and most mains are under $20. The chic eatery offers upscale comfort food like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, ricotta pancakes, and of course, their signature Sweet Chick waffle topped with fresh berries, ricotta, and spiced honey. Open until 2am, this place can also double as a late-night hangout.




Empanada Mama

Address: 95 Allen St., New York, NY 10002

Phone: (212) 673-0300

Website: https://www.empmamanyc.com/ 

A staple of the Lower East Side, Empanada Mama serves up both wheat and corn flour-based empanadas, featuring more than 30 different filling flavors. You can choose from classics like ham and cheese or house specialties like seafood stew  — and everything in between. All empanadas are between $4.00-$4.50 each. Throw in a side of homemade plantain chips for $4.25, and you’ve got an amazing lunch for under $10.


Mike’s Deli

Address: 2344 Arthur Avenue Bronx, NY 10458

Phone: (718) 295-5033

Website: https://arthuravenue.com/ 

Located in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, Mike’s Deli is not your standard sub shop. Featured on Food Network, this famous, authentic Italian restaurant offers a wide variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches — most coming in under $15. If you’d rather eat pasta for your meal, Mike’s offers large portions of favorites like spaghetti and meatballs, penne a la vodka, or ravioli bolognese for just a few dollars more. Gluten-free pasta is available.


Spumoni Gardens

Address: 2725 86th St. Brooklyn, NY

Phone: (718) 449-1230

Website: http://www.spumonigardens.com/ 

Your trip to NYC would be incomplete without eating one of these big (but cheap) slices of pizza from Spumoni Gardens. Slices are just $3 and are available from both traditional round and Sicilian-style square pies. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, grab a pint of their namesake spumoni to go for just $5.50.




Hell’s Kitchen

Address: 754 9th Ave. New York, NY 10019

Phone: (212) 977-1588

Website: https://www.hellskitchen-nyc.com/ 

Smackdab in the middle of Lower Manhattan, and open beginning at 5pm, Hell’s Kitchen serves up fresh Mexican cuisine for dinner at a great price. You can snag two tasty tacos with slaw, microgreens, and avocado salsa for as little as $9. The restaurant offers your standard fillings like pork, chicken, and beef, but also presents diners with unique alternatives like red snapper, mahi-mahi, and crispy brussel sprouts. Want to share a side with friends? Add on a trio of guacamole, served with crunchy corn tortillas for just $18.


Beyond Sushi

Address: 134 W. 37th St. New York, NY 10018

Phone: (212) 564-0869

Website: https://beyondsushi.com/ 

With 6 Manhattan locations, Beyond Sushi offers an upscale, vegan dining experience for short money. Using the highest quality fruits, vegetables, and grains, the restaurant delights guests with healthy and flavorful noodle soup bowls, dumplings, and sushi rolls. If you visit the location listed above after 5pm, you’ll order from an exclusive dinnertime menu that features many dishes under $10. 


Tokyo Ya

Address: 5603 7th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11220

Phone: (718) 288-9399 

Website: https://www.tokyoyabrooklyn.com/ 

There’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of delicious ramen noodle soup and Tokyo Ya truly delivers. The restaurant’s menu boasts 17 different ramen preparations, featuring proteins like beef, chicken, pork, and even tempura shrimp. This meal is a steal — with most dishes plus drink coming in around $10. The only drawback? They’re closed on Thursdays.


Late Night


Gray’s Papaya

Address: 2090 Broadway New York, NY 10023

Phone: (212) 799-0243

Website: https://grayspapayanyc.com/ 

Open 24/7, Gray’s Papaya serves up basic, but delicious cheap eats no matter when hunger strikes. You can enjoy one of their famous hotdogs for under $2, which includes a heaping topping of chili or cheese. If you’re not in the mood for a frankfurter, you can snag a bagel with cream cheese and a coffee for a wallet-pleasing $1.25. Want a taste of the tropics? Ask for their beloved papaya juice, sold affordably by the cup or gallon.


Ray’s Candy Store

Address: 113 Avenue A New York, New York 10009

Phone: (212) 505-7609

Website: https://www.facebook.com/RaysCandyStoreNYC 

Ray’s Candy Store is the perfect place to blow your diet without blowing your budget. Open 24/7, you can make this sweet treat and comfort food restaurant part of your late-night plans. Ray’s fries just about everything — including twinkies and oreos — and serves up decadent milkshakes to wash it all down. $13 buys you the most expensive thing on the menu, with many items well under $10.


Final Thoughts

Vacations are the perfect time to splurge on everything and really live it up. Lucky for you, indulging in the best food the Empire City has to offer won’t put you in the poorhouse. No matter your tastes, you can find affordable fare for every meal (with a few extra treats thrown in for good measure). And just think — spending less on food gives you more cash to shop and take in the sights.

Have you eaten your way through the Big Apple? Discover the cheapest, most delicious eats in New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Washington, DC.

Tell Charlie: What are some of your best places to eat in NYC on a budget?

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