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Foodies on a tight budget

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Foodies on a tight budget

Next month I hope to have a chance to visit New York again. It's one of my favorite city's.

So far we have enjoyed really good food but this time I'm on a budget. Compared to The Netherlands there's a good choice of cheap food in the US but being a obsessed foodie I wonder were to go to get interesting food without breaking the bank.

During our last two trips we went to The Shake Shack, this is the kind of thing I'm lokking for. Good food, nice vibe, something different and quite cheap.

We know our travel date"s just two or three day's in advance and will book our hotel after that so at this time I have no idea were we will be staying.

Hope to get some interesting suggestions. Thanks in advance.

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1. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

First i have to ask what is cheap for you?. How mutch you looking to spend on a meal?. For some people a 30 dollar dinner is cheap and for others it's expensive.

Edited: 15 October 2012, 15:57
Birmingham, UK
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2. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

Check out sites like restaurant.com or Groupon for deals. (Check tripadvisor reviews before committing to anything though).

If you don't mind eating an earlier dinner (usually before 7.30pm, a lot of really good restaurants offer fixed price menus at affordable prices (particularly in midtown near the theatres).

Decide whether you need to drink alcohol with your meal as this can really bump the price up. Could you do a happy hour somewhere before dinner, or try a BYOB place to save money.

Just some ideas. If you are after more specific recommendations I imagine the experts will need an idea of budget, locations and any food(s) you don't like.

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3. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

Thank's for the feedback.

I'd love to stay under $30 for our main meal. Don't mind having lunch and getting a sandwich for dinner. Early dinner sounds nice, with a jet lag I tend to eat early any way.

We have no idea of the location we will be staying in. When we know our travel date I'll try and get the best deal on a hotel I can find. Good restaurants w can afford might influence our location.

We pretty much like anything, haven't found any kitchen I dislike.

Thanks for recommending restaurants.com. Didn't know that site. I use Groupon a lot when traveling but this trip is uncertain until we are on the plane. For that reason I don't want to buy any vouchers I might not get to use.

Montreal, Canada
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4. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

Many high-end restaurants have lunch specials. Most will break your $30/person limit, but if you want one really fancy meal you can have one for much less than the $100+ you would pay in the evening.

For example:

Le Bernardin - lunch from $45; dinner starts at $127

Del Posto - lunch from $39; dinner from $115

Gotham Bar & Grill - lunch prix fixe $25; dinner about $75+

etc. (all prices not including tax & tip)

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5. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

Thanks, that sounds really interesting. Having one really good meal is a great option even if it costs a little more.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

For something edgy and interesting look into the various "Food Trucks" around NYC.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

New York is a great place for foodies on a budget. Here are some ideas.


Taim is so much better than any other falafel place in New York that it doesn't really have rivals.


If for some reason you'd like the second-best, that's probably King of Falafel, although their shwarma is better than their falafel:



After a long period of sub-par Mexican food, New York is now swimming in good taquerias. The best restaurant tacos, imo, are at Tacos Matamoros, which is easy to combine with a visit to Green-Wood Cemetery:


El Paso has three locations in East Harlem and serves some of the best restaurant tacos in Manhattan:


Tortilleria Nixtamal, in Queens, is more casual than Matamoros or El Paso, but is the only shop in town that makes fresh masa dough for tortillas and tamales. They sell their tortillas to many other Mexican restaurants, but all local foodies make regular pilgrimages to the source.


There are a bunch of other very good tacos to be had in Queens (Tacos al Suadero, Coatzingo, etc.), but I think if you only have time for one Queens Mexican destination, it should be Nixtamal.

I've been mentioning "restaurant tacos" to distinguish them from taqueria tacos (those served by places that just focus on tacos and takeout) or bodega tacos (those served at small convenience stores that have a couple of cooks in the back). For taqueria tacos, a couple that we like include

El Aguila: http://elaguilanewyorkrestaurant.com/

Taco Mix: http://www.yelp.com/biz/taco-mix-new-york

We just wrote this roundup of our favorite bodega tacos for CBS:



In Manhattan, the NY Dosas cart is a local institution. It's location right on Washington Square is ideal, letting you eat in the park.


Swami Chennai is another good dosa cart at 39th and Broadway.


For dosas in a restaurant, our Manhattan favorites are

Chennai Garden: www.menupages.com/restaurants/chennai-garden/

and Saravana Bhavan: yelp.com/biz/saravana-bhavan-saravanaas-new-…

Some of the best dosas overall are those at the Dosa Hutt in Flushing, Queens:


The Dosa Hutt is right around the corner from the Ganesh Temple, which has a cafeteria in the basement that's another big foodie destination. The food is good and cheap, but it's the whole experience here that makes this such a draw:


*Bành Mí*

A couple of years ago, a bành mí craze swept through New York. While the time when a new bành mí joint seemed to be opening every week is gone, there are still plenty of options. A taste test:


*Ramen and soba*

Since you'll be here during chilly weather, you'll definitely want to get some warming ramen or soba. For ramen, a few we like are

Totto Ramen (very long lines, though): http://tottoramen.com/

Ippudo: http://www.ippudony.com/

Rai Rai Ken: nymag.com/listings/restaurant/rai-rai-ken/

And for soba, our favorites are

Cocoron: http://cocoron-soba.com/

and Soba-ya: http://www.sobaya-nyc.com/

Speaking of noodles, we also make regular winter stops at Arirang for kalguksu (Korean knife noodles):


*Chinese food*

The Chinese food universe in New York is so vast that it's hard to map it. You could spend your whole trip eating cheap Chinese food and never have the same thing twice. In Manhattan's Chinatown, you won't want to miss

pork buns from Mei li Wah:


hand-pulled noodles from Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles or Lam Zhou:



dumplings from Prosperity, Vanessa's, or Tasty Dumpling:




soup dumplings at Shanghai Cafe or Shanghai Asian Manor:



By the way, Serious Eats did a three-part article on cheap eats in Chinatown, focusing on

snacks: …seriouseats.com/2008/08/guide-to-cheap-eats…

noodles: …seriouseats.com/2008/05/guide-new-york-manh…

and bakeries: …seriouseats.com/2008/04/a-guide-to-the-best…

Those guides are a little outdated now, but a lot of the places mentioned are still open.

Here are a bunch of recommendations for places to eat in Flushing, Queens, which has a larger Chinatown than the one found in Manhattan:



For all-around quality, Court Street Grocers is to sandwiches what Taim is to falafel -- it's heads and shoulders above anything else.


Parm is very good for classic Italian sandwiches:


As are Sergimmo Salumeria: http://www.sergimmo.com/site/

Salumeria Biellese: http://www.salumeriabiellese.com/

and Bottino: http://www.bottinonyc.com/catering.php

You should also read the Sandwich a Day column on SE:



Cheap and very filling, arepas give a lot of bang for your buck. Our favorites are

Arepera Guacuco: http://www.areperaguacuco.com/

the Arepa Lady (a food cart): www.yelp.com/biz/arepa-lady-jackson-heights

Though I think those are the two best, if you want something more convenient, Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village will do:


Edited: 15 October 2012, 19:04
New York City, New...
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8. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

I will second everything on Crans' list. Trust in Crans.

Ethnic food will be your best bet. There are a lot of great noodle bars around NYU - on East 9th or St Marks Place.

Xian Famous Foods on East Broadway (under the bridge underpass) - excellent hand pulled noodles.

On Saturday, go to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. So many great options there - the Dough doughnuts are probably the best ones I've ever had. Not sure when it moves only indoors for the season - check their web site.

There are a few decent foodie worthy places on Restaurants.com - like Hill Country - so it is worth checking. There's a great app Ive just discovered called Savor (benefit of losing my former job and Blackberry - I now have a phone with apps!), that lets you reserve restaurants and get up to 30% discounts - some prime spots on there.

Also - look for No Jet Lag Pills. They work! Theyre all natural and sold by a company in New Zealand.


Edited: 15 October 2012, 19:43
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9. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

Wow Crans, what an amazing post with tons of information.Thank you so much! I had to use Wikipedia to find out what Dosas and Arepas are. I love new foods and am looking forward to trying both. I'll need a couple of evenings before I've worked thru all the websites.

Smorgasburg seems like a place we would love to visit. Thanks for the tip.

No Jet lag is alway's in my hand luggage, I was a little sceptic but they really work.

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10. Re: Foodies on a tight budget

They are amazing pills. The difference between SE Asia trips 1 and 2 was substantial due to those pills.

The Dosa cart in Washington Square Park is OK but not as good as the restaurants.

Dhaba is another excellent Indian place in that (Saravanaas) neighborhood - their chaat dishes and vegetarian food are excellent and Im not a vegetarian.

Edited: 15 October 2012, 20:38