50 Favorite Cheap, Tasty, or Unique Eats In NYC

50 Favorite Cheap, Tasty, or Unique Eats In NYC

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I'm always on the lookout for cheap, tasty, and unique food in NYC. I put together a list for you so you can go to the best places! #nyc #newyorkcity #food #nyccheapeats #cheapeats #taiyaki #yelpnyc #yelp

People kept asking me about favorite places to eat in NYC since food has been featured on this blog. I like to eat :D. Since this blog is about money and the value of things, I’ve put together a list of both cheap and unique eats in NYC. I’ve personally eaten at all the venues mentioned below as I didn’t feel comfortable recommending a place I hadn’t been to.

Some of the eats are not as cheap, but have incredible value compared to the price other restaurants charge or are eats that are really unique. Some of the really cheap places are hole-in-the-walls. Click through to their links to see what the restaurants look like if you’re not comfortable with that.

All eats in this post are either in Manhattan or Queens. There are plenty of awesome eats in Brooklyn, Harlem, and Long Island, but I have not had the opportunity yet to frequent a ton of restaurants there:(.


Xian Famous Foods

Favorite appetizers: Spicy cumin lamb burger and stewed pork burger ($4). The burger isn’t with normal bread, it’s a hard bun with no cheese. It cuts the high fat content meat well. Favorite noodles: Spicy cumin lamb ($10) and stewed oxtail noodles in soup. Best drinks: Jasmin tea ($3) everyday with soy milk only on the weekends. Seats are hard to find, but people tend to eat quickly. Multiple locations in NYC.

Wah Fung

Come here for lunch (get here early at 11AM or so to avoid the line) or mid-afternoon. Get the three different kinds of meat deal ($7.50?), which comes with rice and some veggies. Get duck, pork with crackling, and BBQ pork. Big enough portion for two people to eat. Head over to the small park across the street and enjoy a beautiful day. No seating here and cash only. Best and cheapest roasted meat meal in NYC.



Fu Run Dong Bei

Best cumin lamb rib in the city. Best described as lamb ribs covered with cumin, pepper flecks, and other spices ($27). One of the few places that does it in NYC, and one of the only places that does it well. Other favorites are crispy lamb ($19) and crispy pork intestines ($14). Favorite pork intestines in the city, but they may be weird to eat for some people. Ask for the complimentary hot tea.

Zest Szechuan

Szechuan food is extremely spicy and if authentic, mind-numbingly spicy. Prices here are very reasonable for midtown west, with appetizers starting at $6 and entrees starting from $12. The grilled Chong Qing fish goes for $40, but that will probably feed 4 people. Favorite appetizers: wontons in chili sauce, tripe. Entrees: Chong Qing fish, Chong Qing Chicken (normal sized), beef tendon, and braised beef. If you’re extra adventurous, the intestines are really tasty. I swear! They even give you complimentary orange slices at the end of the meal.

New York Food Court

A Chinese food court with no frills. If you’re in Flushing, come here for a quick meal. Bring cash since half the “stalls” require it. Favorite stalls: Happy Lemon with their salted cheese green tea (super good, like sweet whipped cream cheese on top). $4. Multiple food stalls with dry hot pot ($8/pound). Popcorn chicken from 8090 Taiwanese ($5).

Tim Ho Wan

Dubbed the cheapest Michellin star restaurant in the world, they’ve finally brought over a branch to NYC. Though not as good at the HK one, it’s still quite tasty. Unless you’re going to HK in the near future, go here. Favorites: pineapple pork buns, chicken feet, congee (rice porridge), and steamed pork spare ribs. All dishes are small and sharable for $4-$5. Go in the afternoon for no wait time or be prepared to be in line for a while.

99 Favor Taste

Join the VIP club and get a $1 discount. All you can eat hot pot for $21.99 and if you want to get BBQ as well, it’s $30.99 for both options. If you participate in one or the other, each person in the table has to participate. You get 2 hours to eat, and you can choose sauces buffet style. Ordering is really easy, you just list all the meats and veggies to the waiter and they bring out the food within a few minutes. Favorite broths: Szechuan and pig bone broth. The watermelon juice ($4) is really refreshing here. If you eat here for lunch, it’ll absolutely be enough for one day. If you’ve never had hotpot, Mikey Chen does a good breakdown for best tips.

Jing Fong

Best cantonese dim sum experience in NYC. Don’t want to fly halfway across the world for those rattling carts and tiny dim sum eats? Try and come before 11AM. Get the BBQ pork buns, shrimp har gow, egg yolk buns, shrimp rice crepe noodle. Dim sum dishes run between $3-$6. Don’t get food items that are not dim sum since the dim sum is the real star here.

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Ain’t no thang but a chicken wang 🌶

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Han Dynasty

Oddly enough, the best chicken wings I’ve had in NYC come from a Chinese restaurant. This place is spicy! Get the wings ($10) and Dan Dan noodles ($8) for appetizers. For entrees, share the cumin lamb ($19). Other favorite flavors are Salt’ N Pepper style and Dry Pepper style, which cost $12-$20 depending on which meat your choose. The dry pepper chicken is a favorite, and I love salt N’ pepper shrimp.

Dim Sum Palace

Happy hour between 3PM-5PM for half off all dim sum! Dim Sum dishes are between $4-$7 mostly, so half off is a great deal. My favorites are the soup dumplings, salt and pepper crab, salt and pepper ribs, shrimp dumplings, chicken feet, and egg yolk buns. No carts, but you get a friendly and quiet atmosphere.


Jun-Men Ramen

Small ramen shop with the best uni mazemen ($18), complete with pancetta, grated cheese, and a creamy undertone. For appetizers ($8+), I like the fried sweet potatoes, flavorful chicken wings, and chicken bun (most places have a pork bun so the chicken one is unusual).  The spicy or black garlic Tonkotsu ($14) is the best for broth. For dessert, get the green tea cheesecake with red bean ($7).


Most great Japanese ramen restaurants do not allow takeout as per Japanese tradition. The only good one that does so is Kuro-obi. It’s run by the same people as Ippudo, but the menu only has pork buns ($9) and different ramen ($12+). The pork buns are good and the aka-obi ramen is great for spicy lovers (not super spicy). This location has a food court feel, but with quality ingredients. They also have a location in Chinatown and Grand Central.

Omusubi Gonbei

Stop here for some authentic onigiri, which are triangular rice balls with all sorts of meat, pickled veggies, or fish. Favorites include mentaiko (cod roe #5), fried scallops with tartar sauce, and spicy tuna. If you’re adventurous, try the pickled veggie ones! Onigiri ranges from $2-$3.5 here.

Ramen Shack

Favorite ramen in Queens. The owner works almost every shift and the extra egg is only $1 compared to other places! If you like spicy ramen, get the sunset red ($14). If you like black garlic oil, get the BGO ($13). Free refreshing Japanese tea and water. The ramen burger ($10) came from here. It’s not something I would crave every time, but it’s pretty interesting to try. Instead of bread, they use noodles as the bun.


Ever wish you could customize your ramen ($13+)? From deciding whether the noodles were straight or wavy, firm or soft all the way to what kind of richness and spiciness your soup base has. Or you can just get the signature Zenbunose ramen that comes with all the toppings ($18). The pork buns are perfectly paired too ($6).

Sushi Yasaka

My favorite chirashi ($18) bowl in the city, which is raw fish with rice underneath. Giant portion with amazingly fresh fish. Mini omakase ($24), which means “chef’s choice”, for 6 pieces and a roll. Regular omakase (12 pieces and a roll) is $48, both of which are amazing deals for NYC. They add wasabi automatically, so let them know if you don’t want it.

Sheng Ramen

A blend of both Japanese and Taiwanese dishes. Favorite appetizers: popcorn chicken, takoyaki, and minced pork with rice (authentic, just like being in Taiwan!, prices are $5+). Get the fried buns dipped in sweet milk for dessert. Get the spicy beef ramen with beef ribs for $15. Great value and incredibly hearty.

Sushi on Jones

$58 omakase with no tipping and no tax. 12 pieces with an additional $12 for a wagyu and uni handroll. Only 6 seats with 6 more during warm weather — it’s a small stall in the middle of an alley. No bathrooms. You can only make reservations via text to their two locations. They add wasabi automatically, so let them know if you don’t want it.


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Thank you @grubstreet for the recognition and @lizclayman for the beautiful picture. Credit fully goes to our culture and my upbringing as a Tibetan refugee. Usually I don’t mix politics and food but being a refugee and trying to adapt and embrace different environment, I was exposed to many cultures which strongly influence the food. My sincere thanks to the all countries that took us in, specially India, Nepal and Bhutan. Being American Tibetan, I feel proud that our culture and food is getting recognition and appreciation city and nation wide. Congratulations to all the Restaurants that got listed (absolute best Himalayan restaurants in NYC)We made it and this one is for love and peace through food.

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Incredible Bhutanese/Nepalese food. Sandwiches before 5PM: Cod and fried chicken ($11+). Juices: Strawberry lemonade is delicious, beet orange is refreshing, but I feel the later depends on someone’s palate. Appetizers: Super Crispy Beef Shabaley with chili garlic sauce (almost like circular empanadas), Momo (soup dumpling meets gyoza), and blood pudding. Entrees: Pork chilies + baked bun, Thenthuk (delicate thick noodles with beef, cut with daikon). Dessert: We’ve never had room in our belly.


Best Bengali food in the city. Favorites are the tandoori chicken ($6 for 5 large pieces), biryani mutton ($7?). Each order comes with some salad, and the garlic butter naan is only $1.5. Chicken samosas are $1.5. Employees are super friendly, but you might have to repeat yourself because everyone there is speaking another language. Which is cool, because then you know it’s authentic.


Favorite Filipino food in the city. The sizzling sisig (pork, $16) is the perfect comfort food with garlic rice (ask to replace it instead of regular rice). They also have chicken and waffles Filipino style. Maharlika does it with Ube waffles with an umami anchovy butter ($21). Other fav entrees, pork adobo ($21), kare kare (oxtail with peanut sauce – $19), and sides of longganisa ($9)  (sweet garlic pork) and tocino (sweet pork) meat sides. One of the few places in the city with authentic Calamansi juice – if you’ve never had it, it’s incredibly refreshing and a member of the citrus family. Closer to lemonade than orange juice. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try the Balut, which is a fertilized chicken egg.


Pho Best

An entire lobster for $15. They also have caramelized beef marrow, just $3 for a giant bone. Pho broth and noodles ($12) are flavorful and firm. The Calamansi juice ($4) is also just as good as Maharlika. Complimentary coconut jelly at the end.

Zen Yai

A no-tipping Thai restaurant. They have the best priced and authentic bahn mi ($5.25) — favorites are the oxtail, pate, and crispy pork all drizzled in oyster sauce, special mayo, and spicy sauce. Get the super pho ($14), which is loaded with meat and in a giant bowl with fresh leaves, bean sprouts, and lime. Their Thai tea and rose lattes ($4+) are delicious. No tipping!

Lam Zhou

Though they moved from their old being-back-in-China-feeling location, the new location is much brighter, but still has a handwritten menu and only accepts cash. $4 for 8 pieces of boiled or fried dumplings. Get both. Favorite noodle dish is beef with tendons ($7). Try the Wang Lao Ji drink, herbal tea. Their chili oil is absolutely amazing, so bring home a giant tub of it if you can ($4). You can also get frozen dumplings for really cheap from them, 50 for $11! I can make dumplings at home, but not for that cheap! Stock up for when you’re not near.



Rocket Pig

Imagine an entire roasted pig (porchetta) stuffed into a sandwich with some mayo for moisture and sweet jam to cut the fattiness. The best pork sandwich I’ve ever had. A normal sandwich  size is $9 and an XL is $14. The hazelnut chocolate mousse cookies ($4 for 3) are also some of the best desserts I’ve eaten. It’s like a sandwich composed of super-thin chocolate cookies  with the most delicate hazelnut mousse. If you’re near the high-line, stop by and get some to go, then eat them as a picnic on the highline.


Best Italian sub. Get the Italian special ($15), which is loaded with meat, cheese, and veggies. One sub should be enough to fill 2-3 people. Rice balls are also great for snacks.


If you’re near Times Square, head to Margon for a meal. Amazing cuban sandwiches ($8), oxtail ($11) on Mon. and Thurs., shrimp ceviche ($12.5) for W-F, and Octopus salad on Friday. Giant portions, so two people could share a plate.

Muncan Food

Not a restaurant or sandwich shop, but the best place for charcuterie and other meat-derivatives. They have different kinds of pate for $12-$14 a pound. Pair that with some bread to pretend like you’re in France. While you’re there, if you only get one thing, get the chicharron, which Muncan does best in the city. Other favorite meats: goose pastrami, headcheese, and pastrami. The bacon dried-meats there are very salty, but I’m told Hungarians like it that way. You can pair it with congee at home. Tastes great. Bring a knife and buy a large loaf of bread there and you can have charcuterie or sandwiches along the LIC waterfront.


Burger and Lobster

$20 for a lobster roll, butter garlic sauce with fries, and a small salad is a really good deal in NYC. Plus the lobster roll is amazing. Coated in herbed mayo, chunks of lobster meat sit in a soft, buttered, pocket of bread. They also have the same deal for a whole lobster or a burger. The whole lobster is sweet and fresh as well and the burger is incredibly juicy. The lemon garlic sauce, truffle creme fraiche sauces, and chipotle mayo are also perfect to dip your fries in! Unfortunately we’ve never had room for dessert while coming here.

The Marshal

Brunch is the best meal here. Get the biscuits with brown sugar butter (so amazingly good). We always get extra sugar bacon butter for $3. Favorite entrees: pork sandwich — super moist, the perfect comfort food. Braised beef fried hash — melt in your mouth braised beef. Entrees are $15+.

The Alcove

Kid-friendly gastropub. Favorite appetizers ($8+): Chorizo and pork shoulder tacos with the freshest guac, truffled gruyere tries. Favorite Entrees ($12+): cuban and smoked Angus beef burger. Tons of beers on tap and bottles as well, with great mojitos. Incredibly flavorful food and friendly service.

Steak Freak

This is my favorite food truck in NYC. It’s parked on 50th street between 6th and 7th Ave. Their steak plate is incredible. A ton of flavorful, juicy steak in garlic herbed butter and chimichurri sauce with crispy steak fries in old bay-like seasoning. $10 for a giant plate, amazing value. My only complaint is they tend to run out for lunch since they’re so popular. Try and go before noon so you don’t have to wait in line (otherwise expect to wait 30 min!). They usually run out around 2PM+, but really it depends on the day. Cash only.



Best described as a Lebanese make-your-own-bowl place. Favorite base: Falafel and lamb (sujuk or kafta). Toppings: pickled veggies, hummus, onion parsely sumac, diced tomato, and tahini. Favorite sauce: Garlic whip. Baklava for some sweet and pastry dessert. Bowls are $10+ and stuffed in pita is $8. Naya has four locations in Manhattan.

Tomi Jazz

Jazz bar with live jazz from 8PM Sun-Wed and 9PM from Thurs-Fri. Feels like a speakeasy because you have to ring a doorbell to be let in. No cover charge except on weekends ($10). It has Japanese roots with delicious Okonomiyaki, spam onigiri, and mentaiko (code roe) spaghetti. It has a variety of hard liquor and a lot of different kinds of sake.


Artichoke Basille’s Pizza 

Best pizzas are the artichoke and crab ones. The artichoke is slighty salty, with fresh mozerella and artichoke special sauce on thick pizza. The crab is savory on thin-crust pizza. Slices range from $4-$6, but are very large. They have a bunch of locations in NYC, with a location in Laguardia as well.

Prince Street Pizza

Best pepperoni pizza for those who like thick pepperoni and a chewy base ($4). Grab your pizza while you walk around in SoHo and explore the neighborhood. Be prepared for at least a 10 minute wait most days. Proscuitto balls are pretty delicious as well.

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GRAB A FRIEND // get into it #farmersdaughter #OG

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This is one of my favorite pizza places because you can choose unlimited toppings and unlimited sauces! No more agonizing over $2 per extra topping! The ingredients are much higher quality than normal pizza shops, but the cost is comparable to pizzas at most places. You feel light and airy after eating the pizza, instead of stuffed and weighed down. Pizzas are $10 each. They have a few locations in Manhattan.

South American


Brazilian churrascaria, without the guys coming around on swords. You pick your own sides buffet style and tell the carver what you want for meat. Meat with side dishes is just $8 a pound. Favorites meats include, sirloin, spicy sausage, chicken hearts, and short ribs. Favorite sides include mashed potatoes, feijoada (beans with cuts of meat), fried plantain, liver, beets, and their salsa. Favorite drinks are the cashew juice and Guarana (the ingredient they put in energy drinks. You’ll find it tastes like a much cheaper Red Bull).

Arepas Cafe

Best arepas I’ve had. Get the mami arepa ($7.75), which is avocado, spicy stewed pork, and cheese. Favorite sandwich is the patacon de pernil ($11), where they used fried plantains instead of bread. The arepa is enough for one person, and the sandwich can be split into two. Mango juice ($3) was refreshing. The horchata is heavy and on the thick side, and the guava and brown sugar lemonade are worth a try! The green sauce they have there is the stuff of legends.


Pier I Cafe

Take a bike up Hudson River pathway from the highline and stop along the Pier I Cafe. Lobster roll ($22) is stuffed full and moist on a buttered roll. It also comes with extremely crispy fries and salad. Mahi tacos ($19) and fried calamari ($14) are great appetizers. Blueberry lemonade ($3.5) for drinks! Prices might be a little higher because of the view.

The Lobster Place

Great lobster rolls for $18. Delicious and juicy, but for $21 you can get the picnic box, which include chips, a lemonade, and cookie. They also have whole uni some days. Get your rolls and head to the highline to sit on a patch of grass or large wooden chairs to enjoy the sunset or just the view for free.

Red Poke

Best poke, which is raw fish with greens or rice, topped with unlimited toppings, no extra charge! A Small is $11 (2 proteins) and a large is $13.5 (3 proteins). I usually just get the tuna and salmon, with spicy pork if I get a large. Favorite toppings: hiziki seaweed, cilantro, masago (tiny caviar), crispy garlic, and crispy shallot. Favorite sauces: red poke, yuja chojang (similar to gochujang base), and seaweed seasame. You build your own bowl by circling everything on an erasable laminated piece of paper. Super fun! They also have matcha lemonade!

Ice Cream


Sundaes and Cones

Extremely creamy ice cream with some unique Asian flavors: Thai Tea, Black Sesame, Lavender, Lychee and Taro. Don’t worry, they have normal scrumptous flavors like pistachio almond, maple walnut, salted caramel, chocolate, etc. Single scoops are $3 and 2 scoops are $5.

Taiyaki NYC 

The best traditional Japanese ice cream in NYC. Your ice cream comes in a soft fish shaped cone with custard or red bean paste. Great Japanese flavors like black sesame and green tea, but they still carry normal flavors like strawberry and vanilla. They have the most adorable unicorn flavor and rainbow mochi. Delicious and perfect for Instagram. $7 per ice cream.

Van Leeuwen

They offer this at Whole Foods in NYC now, but nothing beats the original. They also have vegan ice cream for those who are lactose intolerant, but it’s an extra .25 per scoop. Favorite flavors: pistachio, black sesame, salted caramel, and honeycomb. Favorite vegan flavors: Planet earth (almond ice cream with green tea cake). 1 scoop is $5.5, and two are $7.5. Pricey, but worth it.


Bibble and Sip

My favorite coffee shop in NYC. Drinks: Lavender latte and green tea matcha with sweetened Jasmine syrup (Drinks around $5). The cream puffs ($3.5) here are incredible. Flaky, with fluffy cream. Favorite cream puff flavors include all of these — matcha, early grey, and black sesame. They also have chocolate and vanilla. Favorite cake: Pistachio ($6), but all of them are great. They also have the cutest macaroons and are constantly doing random cartoon characters. Just go with your favorite flavors!

Mi Tea

Really great salted cheese tea (sweet cream cheese). This place makes fresh tea instead of from concentrate so the wait is a little bit longer and a little more expensive. $5 for a large cup. They also have incredibly refreshing fruit juices. The lemon/lime juice with mini golden bubbles is the best in summer ($5.5). They also have a ton of trendy Asian desserts and savory cafe foods.

Dominique Ansel

Back when I had ample free time, I once waited 2 hours in line for a delicious cronut ($6). While I wouldn’t do it again, they offer pre-ordering online now 2 weeks in advance and don’t have to wait in line. You can buy 6 per week. Other favorites: milk and cookie shot, chestnut cassis, and daisy hot chocolate. Not exactly cheap, but quite unique.

Levain Bakery

Best chocolate chip cookie ($4). Giant, thick, cookie with a gooey center and crunchy exterior — eat them at the store while they’re still hot for maximum deliciousness. Get the chocolate chip walnut or peanut butter dark chocolate. Oatmeal is good too, but really nothing beats chocolate! Be prepared to wait about 10 minutes on average.

Keki Modern Cakes

You know those jiggly soft Japanese cheesecakes you’ve seen in all those Japanese videos? Well, they’re finally here in NYC! $14 for an entire cake, which can be shared amongst 6-8 people. You can also get a giant rectangle of it ($9) instead. They have normal cheesecake flavor and matcha.  The more Western cheesecakes are called “fancy” ($35) are 2 layer cheesecakes that take 2 days to build. The matcha one is my favorite. They don’t sell slices of them though, so you’d have to buy the entire cake. The apple rose tart ($35) is delicious as well.

Got any recommendations? Have you tried any of the above?

Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

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