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Manhattan for $8 or Less


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My sister is visiting NYC next week, but will be on a very tight budget. She is aiming for $5 meals, but I think that is unrealistic. I would appreciate advice on where she can eat or get take out for $8 or less per meal. It can be anywhere in the city as long as it is safe and near a subway stop. She has no other restrictions.

I appreciate the advice!!

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I'd say

- Grab a burger at Shake Shack in the Park

- Baoguette (Christopher Street among others)

- http://www.thekatirollcompany.com/

- Bouchon, the Keller one in Time Warner Center. No kidding, but when you stand in front of the Bistro turn left, there is a Sandwich counter maybe 30 feet away that belongs to the bistro. Some of the Sandwiches are around 8$. I'd do that for kicks, it is easy though to run over and if I recall correct the 8$ sandwiches were on the smaller side

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If you eat in Chinatown and utilize the five-for-a-dollar dumpling places, street vendors, bakeries and snack shops then the lower limit on a good meal is about $2. Then at the $5 price point you have many, many lunch specials at all kinds of restaurants all over the city especially Asian, and you have all the street vendors -- most every Halal food cart has a $5 meal of lamb over rice with salad that's more than most people eat. Making lunch the main meal of the day helps keep the cost way down. The thing you're not going to get in that price range is much in the way of service or ambiance. But good, cheap, filling food? No problem. There's also a whole world of hybrid options, like going to Fairway or Zabar's or one of the other good gourmet markets for a baguette and a small piece of good cheese.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Try this too. Great middle eastern rice or pita topped with either chicken, lamb or beef or a combi thereof. They are only there at night and the line can get long especially after a show so go a little earlier. No seating but pick any office building courtyard in the vicinity. I think they cost $6 or$7 a pop.

Good luck

53rd and 6th Halal Cart

Food Stands, Middle Eastern, Halal [Edit]

Neighborhood: Theater District

53rd St & 6th Ave

New York, NY 10079

www.53rdand6th.com

Nearest Transit:

7th Ave-53rd St (B, D, E)

5th Ave-53rd St (E, V)

57th St-6th Ave (F)

I'm a plant-rights activist... I only eat meat!

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Playing off of Fat Guy's suggestion to make lunch the main meal...

Many of the take-out lunch specials at Szechuan Gourmet (I'm eating at the 56th Street, near Columbus Circle, location lately) come out to $8.10 including tax. There is plenty of food there (main dish, rice, soup and an extra item that could be pickled cabbage or edamame or peanuts), and I usually save my soup for another day (that soup plus some dan dan noodles for around $5 makes a great budget lunch). The key is to stick with the Szechuan dishes and avoid the obligatory Chinese-American ones. A fave is the braised crispy tofu with chile sliced pork. Their ma paul tofu is wonderful as well, but can be a bit spicy for the uninitiated. There is also a branch down by Grand Central Station on 39th, probably the better of the two, though I haven't been there in over a year.

For a sit down lunch you could probably do it for $8 at the Southern Indian buffets in Curry Hill (Tiffin Wallah, etc.)- very good for the price. There are many other good options in the neighborhood for dosa and thali. Plus there are plenty of good take out options there- Roomali for kati rolls, Kalustyan's for their mujadarrah sandwich, etc.

As far as chains go- Tina's on Madison by 32nd used to be part of the Sophie's chain. They sell good empenadas at lunchtime for a buck and change each, and 3 or 4 of them with maybe some fruit is pretty filling. I don't know if the other Sophie's offer the same deal. Golden Crust is always good for a few beef patties (they offer many other varieties also, like jerk chicken) or chicken curry.

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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There's a lot of Asian and cart food you can get for $8 or less. I would recommend going to places in the East Village because that area has a lot of college students, which means cheap eats. However cheap eats are truly everywhere so it is a matter of finding them.

- St. Alp's Teahouse: They feature bubble tea drinks and food for about $3-$6. They have both appetizers and rice / noodles. It tastes pretty good and you can sit there as long as you like.

- Mamoun's Falafel: This has falafel sandwiches for about $5 and it's pretty filling. The server guys are really nice too. It is a quick bite.

- Jamaican Cart: They're located in the Financial District, but there is always a line. They're only available for lunch on weekdays so make sure you go there at that time. Stewed chicken and Jamaican chicken is very solid.

- Otafuku: They have delicious takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls) for less than $8. They also have plates of okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and yakisoba (stir-fry noodles) as well. A definite try!

- Pomme Frites: Many reviews of this place shows how popular it is. It's cheap and good, though definitely not the healthiest thing. They are Belgian fries and have over 25 different sauces to choose from to eat with the fries.

- Shake Shack: You can eat a solid burger in the middle of Madison Square Park. There are lines when there is nice weather but many NYers would recommend this place as well. I would get the shroom burger but their other burgers are just as good.

- Joe's Pizza: I find this place to have one of the best NY-style fresh mozzarella slices. You don't need to buy a whole pie so that'll be good on the budget. You will need to stand to eat it but it is very good. Also open late night!

I hope this has been helpful!

-Terry (http://www.foodjournies.com)

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I'd be heading to Great NY Noodletown (28 Bowery) for a delicious, steaming bowl of noodle soup with wontons and your choice of roast pork, roast duck, chicken, etc. for around $7. Tea is free with that.

At any and all of the hand-pulled noodle places in and around Chinatown, you can get a bowl of freshly made noodles in soup, toppings included, for around $6.

Banh mi (Baoguette is mentioned above, but I like others more), also available at various locations around Chinatown are probably $5 or less. Click here for the banh mi topic.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Thanks everyone. I did find this list from NY Magazine with their top 20 street carts.

http://nymag.com/restaurants/features/33527/

And this one from Gourmet

http://www.gourmet.com/restaurants/2009/09/new-york-street-food

Hopefully she will make good use of this info.

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I have never had food-cart kebabs, kofta, "halal" food, etc that i thought was worth eating. to me, the directions to go are chinese/vietnamese (as already noted) and latin american (which is usually called spanish food in nyc.)

it's also a truism that the great cheap eats in new york are clustered in the outer boroughs. i'm leaving those recommendations out on an assumption that, unlike myself, your sister is not planning her entire trip around food.

also, re; Bouchon - I was just there last weekend, it is NOT a budget experience in any sense of the word. Eight dollars will not satisfy you.

my picks are:

peruvian rotisserie chicken, such as the half chicken at Pio Pio, for $6.

http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/pio-pio-2/

classic diner sandwiches and more at Eisenberg's near the Flatiron building, 5th Ave (22/23)

http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/eisenbergs-sandwich-shop/men

if the palate is less adventurous, really honestly good soup, six or seven kinds every day including weekends, at Fifth Avenue Epicure, also Flatiron area:

http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/fifth-avenue-epicure/?restaurantid=4351&page=2#reviews

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I have never had food-cart kebabs, kofta, "halal" food, etc that i thought was worth eating. to me, the directions to go are chinese/vietnamese (as already noted) and latin american (which is usually called spanish food in nyc.)

That's unfortunate, because there's plenty to be had.

it's also a truism that the great cheap eats in new york are clustered in the outer boroughs.

While good, cheap eats are no doubt to be found in the outer boroughs, there are plenty in Manhattan as well.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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you don't have to convince me - i supplied three recommendations myself. if i believed there were no options, i wouldn't have said anything.

Dan - we'd sure love to hear what your sister wound up eating!

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I'd be heading to Great NY Noodletown (28 Bowery) for a delicious, steaming bowl of noodle soup with wontons and your choice of roast pork, roast duck, chicken, etc. for around $7. Tea is free with that.

Last time I was in NYC, I had several excellent, pricey meals--but lunch at Great NY Noodletown was my favorite. The wonton soup was superb, maybe a dozen or more wontons, obviously handmade, each enclosing a large, whole shrimp, in an excellent broth. All for $5-7, depending on whether you added noodles. The pork was excellent, but so was the huge platter of baby bok choy, the tiniest, sweetest, most perfectly cooked bok choy I've ever had. can't remember the price exactly, but somewhere around $5. three bowls of wonton soup, a platter of baby pork, and the bok choy came to about $10 per person. Skip one of the sides and you're under $8.


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Check out these places in the East Village. There is a Mexican bodega on Avenue A b/w 13th and 14th st, Saragosa Mexican Deli Grocery, cheap, authentic tacos! Also, Mamoun's falafel on St. Marks b/w 2nd and 3rd ave... tasty, cheap falafel sandwich.

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