The Best Cheap Eats in New York City
By Abraham Sanieoff
One thing that makes New York City so diverse and colorful is the vast range of foods available in one of its 23,500 dining establishments. NYC is a food traveler’s dream, offering meals that come from many different cultures worldwide. And a lot of them take it to the next level by adding their own unique twist on familiar classics.
Abraham Sanieoff has always encouraged tourists and travelers to enjoy the city’s food culture. Being a well-traveled editor who wants to sample New York’s most popular dining establishments and local favorites, there are a few must-try recommendations for any newcomer.
Joe’s Steam Rice Roll
At $4 apiece, the rice rolls at Joe’s Steam Rice Rolls, a creative specialty derived from Cantonese cuisine, are affordable but filling and delicious. There have always been plenty of inside-jokes about NYC’s Asian takeout culture in the city, but the rice rolls are serious business. They’re available in different variants, from beef to shrimp and even curry fish balls.
Los Primos Restaurant
If you’re in the mood for Latin-Caribbean cuisine, Los Primos is the first place to go. The restaurant is a favorite for many New Yorkers, with meals packed with flavor for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They offer green plantains and longaniza, rotisserie chicken, kingfish and salmon, and an assortment of mofongo. They will even carve the pork roast right in front of you.
B&H Dairy’s Breakfast
Travelers are always in a hurry to their next sightseeing destination, but if there’s one place you can make time for, it’s B&H’s breakfast spread. This cozy counter spot has plenty of kosher meals, but people come for their $7 breakfast of eggs of any kind, crispy home fries, their in-house challah bread, with some piping hot coffee or tea.
If you haven’t tried the flavor explosion of the Jerk House’s goat curry, you’ve missed out on one of the great Jamaican eats of NYC. Located in Harlem, this steam-table restaurant has several island dishes that bear the hallmarks of flavorful Jamaican cuisine with plenty of spices. Their famous goat curry is served on rice with some fried plantains.
Punjabi Grocery and Deli
For fans of authentic, fresh Indian Food, Punjabi Grocery and Deli in East Village is a must-visit. It may seem small, but their Indian food grocery has been slinging some delicious, vegetarian Indian food for years. For only $7, you can get a large plate that has a heap of rice along with three mains. Try the chana masala, daal, or saag paneer.
If you’ve not tried West African food, Teranga is a great place to start. Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam founded this restaurant conveniently at Central Park’s corner at the Africa Center. The menu is full of casual food, but the Senegalese grilled chicken yassa is all you need to be convinced of the merits of this culture’s food. It comes with a delicious relish of mustard and sauteed onions and is one of the local favorites at this stop.
Experience Cultures Through Food
NYC’s food culture is a showcase of the different nationalities that flock to the city, creating the melting pot that it is today. These meals and restaurants do more than offer cheap eats for budget-conscious travelers — they allow you to tour the city through your tastebuds.
For more recommendations of what to see, experience, and eat in New York City or other famous destinations for your next vacation, see the travel blog.