21 Tasty Places to Eat for Cheap in NYC

Pizzaiolo in New York cutting a giant cheese pizza to take out


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Three New York City Style Pizza Slices on a Red Tray
James Andrews/istockphoto

Big Apple, Small Budget

New York restaurants are infamous for being expensive, with multi-course tasting menus costing hundreds of dollars per person. Still, by exploring the variety of cuisines, international influences, and under-the-radar eateries, residents and visitors can sample some of the city's best cheap eats for just a few bucks.

The following selections were chosen based on personal experience as well as high-praise from customer reviews and food critics.

Prices and availability are subject to change.

Gray's Papaya, 2090 Broadway
Will C./yelp.com

Gray's Papaya

  • Address: 2090 Broadway
  • Neighborhood: Upper West Side
  • Hours: Sunday – Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday – Saturday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Phone: 212-799-0243
  • Website: grayspapaya.nyc

For the quintessential New York hot dog, head to Gray's Papaya, where a frankfurter with spicy mustard costs $2.95. Got a bigger appetite? Order the Recession Special: two franks and one tropical drink for $6.95 (including tax).

Gray's Papaya serves up "The best hot dogs on the Upper West Side," according to New York Magazine, and they're one of the best hot dogs in New York, according to Grub Street.

Empanada Mama, 765 Ninth Ave.
Torrie W./yelp.com

Empanada Mama

  • Address: 765 Ninth Ave.
  • Neighborhood: Hell's Kitchen 
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Phone: 212-698-9008
  • Website: empanadamama.com
  • Additional locations: Times Square, East Village, Lower East Side

It's hard to beat the quality for the price at Empanada Mama. Among the many varieties of the namesake dish are cheesesteak and Viagra (seafood). Some can be made with corn flour instead of wheat or oven-baked instead of fried. Prices start at $4.50 per piece.

Eater New York's review of Empanada Mama calls the Viagra empanada, "one of the city’s most remarkable shellfish dishes."

Shake Shack, 11 Madison Ave.
Jason C./yelp.com

Shake Shack

  • Address: 11 Madison Ave.
  • Neighborhood: Flatiron District
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
  • Phone: 212-889-6600
  • Website: shakeshack.com
  • Additional locations: Multiple neighborhoods

The city's best-known burger has spread to locations across New York and around the world, but this is the original. The single Shack Burger, with its Danny Meyer pedigree, costs less than $6. Plan to wait in line in Madison Square Park — go online to check the Shack Cam and wait for the crowd to thin.

Don't forget to try out some of Shake Shack's secret menu items, while you're there.

2 Bros. Pizza, 32 St. Mark's Place
Mariana P./yelp.com

2 Bros. Pizza

  • Address: 32 St. Mark's Place
  • Neighborhood: East Village
  • Phone: 212-777-0600
  • Website: 2brospizza.com
  • Additional locations: Flatiron; Port Authority; Times Square; Brooklyn; Bronx

Slap a buck on the counter at 2 Bros. Pizza in the East Village, or one of six other locations, and a fresh, steaming slice is yours. For a full meal, grab two slices and a soda for 

Hungry for more? There are plenty of other great hole-in-the-wall pizza joints around New York and beyond.

Zaragoza, 215 Avenue A
Liliana R./yelp.com


  • Address: 215 Avenue A
  • Neighborhood: East Village
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.  
  • Phone: 212-780-9204
  • Website: facebook.com/zaragozadeli/

Some of the best cheap burritos in New York are found at Zaragoza, a Mexican deli and grocery in Alphabet City. An enormous burrito filled with meat, cheese, and mouthwatering sauces costs only $9. Zaragoza was also recently featured on CBS News for their homemade recipes.

Punjabi Grocery and Deli, 114 E. 1st St.
Mousumi I./yelp.com

Punjabi Grocery and Deli

This under-the-radar place serves tasty, homemade, all-vegetarian Indian food 24 hours a day. Look for the taxis parked out front, just north of Houston Street near Avenue A, while hungry drivers procure a taste of home. Meal prices start at $6.50 for two helpings of vegetarian dishes such as chana masala and paneer over rice or bread. You can also grab a samosa for $2.50.

Kaitlyn Rosati, a New York City-based food and travel journalist, recently praised Punjabi Grocery and Deli in the New York Daily News for its "affordable, veggie-forward Indian fare."

Ray's Candy Store, 113 Avenue A
Ray’s Candy Store/yelp.com

Ray's Candy Store

  • Address: 113 Avenue A
  • Neighborhood: East Village
  • Hours: Open 24/7  
  • Phone: 212-505-7609
  • Website: linktr.ee/RaysCandyStore

Ray himself has been known to work the graveyard shift at this 24-hour ice cream and soda shop, a New York institution. Try the beignets, at $7 for a small, or a hot caramel sundae for $6.50.

Related: 46 Restaurants to Satisfy Late Night Cravings

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery, 126 Rivington St.
Elaine W./yelp.com

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery

  • Address: 126 Rivington St.
  • Neighborhood: Lower East Side
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Phone: 212-995-1960
  • Website: sugarsweetsunshine.com/

Do you have a giant sweet tooth and a small budget? Skip the "Sex and the City"-inflated prices at the cupcake place across town. At Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery, scrumptious flavors such as pistachio, peppermint chocolate, and red velvet sell for $3.50 each.

"Sugar Sweet Sunshine’s cupcakes are incredibly well-balanced," according to a review from The Infatuation New York. "They’re moist, tender, and sweet but not too sweet."

Wah Fung No 1, 79 Chrystie St.
Cassie Z./Yelp

Wah Fung No 1

  • Address: 79 Chrystie St. 
  • Neighborhood: Lower East Side
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. 
  • Phone: 212-925-5175
  • Website: facebook.com/WahFungNo1/

This neighborhood haunt is famed for low prices and long lines. There's no seating (grab food to go), but many find it worth the wait for a $5.50 lunch box that comes with roast pork or chicken, rice or noodles, and veggies.

Infatuation New York says, "Wah Fung is a no-nonsense, takeout staple where you can get a fantastic meal for under 10 bucks."

Bánh Mì Saigon, 198 Grand St.
Daniel S./yelp.com

Bánh Mì Saigon

  • Address: 198 Grand St.
  • Neighborhood: Little Italy
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  
  • Phone: 212-941-1541
  • Website: N/A

Vietnamese food in Little Italy? Yes, indeed. Bánh Mì Saigon offers one of the city's best bargains with its cheap, flavorful sandwiches. The foot-long bánh mì Saigon (pork) sandwich is $8.

A recent Eater New York review claims, "One of NYC’s earliest banh mi is still every bit as satisfying."

Big Wong King, 67 Mott St.
Liana L./yelp.com

Big Wong King

  • Address: 67 Mott St.
  • Neighborhood: Chinatown
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday to Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.  
  • Phone: 212-964-0540
  • Website: N/A

It might take longer to read the menu at this cheap New York restaurant than to eat whatever Chinese dish you've ordered. Among the more than 100 options at Big Wong King are duck congee for $8.50 and wonton soup for $8.

Vanessa's Dumplings
Chris H. / Yelp

Vanessa's Dumpling House

  • Address: 118A Eldridge St.
  • Neighborhood: Chinatown
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Phone: 212-625-8008
  • Website: vanessas.com
  • Additional locations: Financial District; Upper West Side; Upper East Side; Williamsburg; Long Island City; Forest Hills; East Rutherford, New Jersey

Dumplings cross culinary boundaries. If it's the Chinese variety you crave, turn to Vanessa's Dumpling House. A full plate loaded with dumplings costs $5.50 and delicious sesame pancakes are $1.50 each.

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, 1 Doyers St.
Aysia M./Yelp

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

  • Address: 1 Doyers St.
  • Neighborhood: Chinatown
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.  
  • Phone: 212-791-1817
  • Website: tastyhandpullednoodlesnyc.com/

Slurp up ultra-cheap Chinese cuisine at Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, where enormous portions of eponymous noodle soups start at $8. Meat and veggie options are available.

Wo Hop, 17 Mott St.
Wendy F./yelp.com

Wo Hop

  • Address: 17 Mott St.
  • Neighborhood: Chinatown
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Phone: 212-962-8617
  • Website: wohop17.com/  

This late-night Chinatown staple offers some of the most beloved, authentic Chinese fare in the city. The menu features bargains including six fried dumplings for $8.95 and Hunan crispy sliced pork for $11.95. The majority of the menu is less than $15, and much of it is under $10, making this a perfect spot to fill up after a night of munchie-inducing bar hopping.

The restaurant opened in 1938, making it the second oldest restaurant in Chinatown after Nom Wah Tea Parlor. It also recently won a prestigious James Beard America's Classics Award.

Oasis, 161 N. 7th St.
Jules B./yelp.com


  • Address: 168 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY
  • Neighborhood: Williamsburg
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.  
  • Phone: 718 389-4680
  • Website: oasisbedford.com

This hipster magnet serves cheap falafel and shawarma sandwiches until the wee hours of the morning. Though the prices have gone up slightly over the years, it's still only $5.50 for a fresh, crispy, fried-chickpea sandwich with all the veggie toppings you can squeeze in.

Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop, 727 Manhattan Ave.
Jessica L./yelp.com

Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop

  • Address: 727 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY
  • Neighborhood: Greenpoint
  • Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday: 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday: 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Phone: 718-389-3676
  • Website: peterpandonuts.com  

Anyone who has ever been to this beloved Brooklyn doughnut bakery returns for the quality. The low prices are just the icing on the éclair. The specialty here is the cake doughnut, which comes in many flavors and is touted by many customers as the best they've ever had. Doughnuts start at $1.75 a pop.

The New York Times calls Peter Pan, "a doughnut shop where time stands still."

Sejla A. / Yelp


  • Address: 7523 Third Ave., Brooklyn, NY
  • Neighborhood: Bay Ridge
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.  
  • Phone: 718-748-5600
  • Website: tanoreen.com  

Eat enough Middle Eastern appetizers and you don't need to spring for a main dish. At Tanoreen, you can have your fill of tasty and cheap dishes such as eggplant with tomato and basil for $16 or grape leaves stuffed with lamb for $14.

Tacos Matamoros, 4508 Fifth Ave.
Miguel P./yelp.com

Tacos Matamoros

  • Address: 4508 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY 
  • Neighborhood: Sunset Park
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
  • Phone: 718-871-7627
  • Website: N/A

This cash-only joint in Sunset Park has delicious, super-cheap Mexican fare and a BYOB policy. Tacos Matamoros serves large chicken, beef, or pork tacos for $2.75 each (though you can get small versions for $1.75 each). With those prices, the $9.50 burritos feel like a splurge.

"Matamoros made its name with excellent tortillas adorned with grilled tripe, wonderfully greasy chorizo, and al pastor pork sliced directly off the trompo onto warm tortillas," raves New York Magazine in their review

Xi'an Famous Foods
Brian N. / Yelp

Xi'an Famous Foods

  • Address: 41-10 Main Street, Basement Stall #36, Queens, NY
  • Neighborhood: Flushing
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Phone: 212-786-2068
  • Website: xianfoods.com/  
  • Additional locations: Chinatown; Chelsea; Financial District; Upper East Side; Multiple locations in Queens and Brooklyn

The competition is hot for the best budget Asian noodles in New York, but Xi'an Famous Foods is a serious contender. Try the hand-pulled noodles starting at $9.25 or a spicy cumin lamb burger for $7 in the Golden Shopping Mall food court. If Flushing is too far away, there are plenty of other locations.

Petey's Burger
Charles F. / Yelp

Petey's Burger

  • Address: 30-17 30th Ave., Queens, NY 
  • Neighborhood: Astoria
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.  
  • Phone: 718-267-6300
  • Website: facebook.com/peteysburger/  
  • Additional locations: Long Island City, Queens

As you'd expect, Petey's Burger turns out juicy and affordable burgers. Made from scratch, they're often likened to California's beloved In-N-Out burgers. Burger prices start at $6.25, and it's $9 for a double dripping with American cheese. Add hand-cut fries for $4.95.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Burger Joint in Every State

Joe's Shanghai, 136-21 37th Ave.
CT C./yelp.com

Joe's Shanghai

  • Address: 46 Bowery St.
  • Neighborhood: Chinatown
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Phone: 718-539-3838
  • Website: joeshanghairestaurants.com  

Credited with helping to popularize Shanghainese-style soup dumplings (aka Xiao Long Bao) this famed spot for cheap eats in New York recently relocated from Pell Street (and its original location in Flushing has since closed). Joe's Shanghai is the place for delicious dishes such as an eight-piece order of steamed pork dumplings ($11.95) or shredded pork noodle soup ($11.95).