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any places to have lunch for $4 in Union Square?

Hey I'm a student and working part-time in Union Square for the summer, where are some places that I can grab a bite for $4-$5 thats a good and filling lunch? Thanks!

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  1. Under $4 is going to be tough... in Union Square, Rainbow Falafel will probably be your only bet.

    Now if you are willing to walk East a little, your choices expand. If you've ever been to In N Out Burger, then you'll love Blue 9 Burger, and if you like Dumplings, you can get out of Vanessa's Dumplings for under $4 too.

    Rainbow Falafel: 17th Just West of Broadway
    Blue 9 Burger: 3 Avenue between 12th & 13th St.
    Vanessa's Dumplings: 14th St. btw 3rd & 2nd Ave.


    1 Reply
    1. try rainbow falafel on 17th and union sq. west. i always see a line at that place and i think it's fairly reasonable.

      1. rainbow falafel, yes. but pita pocket is even cheaper, and it's actually good. on 12th street at the corner of university.

        1. That price range is gonna be tough in Union Square, but here are a couple ideas on the square and north.

          1) Rainbow Falafel - falafel sandwich is about $4. This place isn't as good as it used to be, but still decent. May not qualify as filling.

          2) The Burger Joint on 3rd and 20th - 2 oz burgers are $1.25. 3 make a filling meal.

          3) Maffei's at 6th and 22nd - hot italian food. Ask for 2 or 3 items and a platter is about $6, but it is enough for 2 lunches. We weighed one on the postal scale back at the office and it came out to just under 2 pounds of food.

          4) find a decent halal cart - There is one on 5th at about 18th street. I don't know if it is good, but there has to be one nearby.

          5) FoodWorks on 19th, just west of 5th serves a big vegetable udon for $4.95. It's filling, healthy and decent. Nothing else here is cheap or all that good.

          1. you could go to the salad-bar/steam-tables at Whole Foods, then eat your salad upstairs or in the park...that said, you'd have to make it a medium-sized salad at most, as you might crest the 6 or 7 dollar mark if you add a lot of items...

            1. I agree with many of the suggestions above, and can add a few too.

              Do Sirak - 13th Street (west of the University). They offer a ramen soup for $5, but everything else is well above $5.

              University Deli - SW corner of University and 13th. They have two great sandwiches for under $5, The tuna salad (on multi-grain, with sprouts and swiss cheese), and I ask for a grilled bacon, cheddar and avocado. They have other choices that would fall in around $5, but some of the fancier sandwiches would blow your buget by a couple of bucks. I think this place has the best sandwiches around.

              Pizza is always an option with most places offering a plain slice for $2, You can get two of them. Near Union Square your options are Stromboli (University between 12th and 13), California Pizza (University between 12th and 13th), Amore's (14th St, just east of 4th), and there is another place on Union Square East who's name I am forgetting at the moment. None of these places are particularly spectacular, but they're all fine.

              Big Enchilada - not great Mexican, but it fits your budget. It's on 12th, just west of University. A serving of chili with rice or chips is under $4, as are burritos. Again, not great Mexican, but not god-awful either.

              As someone else mentioned, if you are willing to walk over to the East Village you can find many good & cheap eats.

              By the way, Blue 9 Burger will run you closer to 7 or 8 dollars, when you add a drink and fies to your burger. The burger itself wouldn't be enough to fill you up if you were hungry.

              Good Luck!

              1. Mariella pizza on 3rd and 17th St. Way above average for a run of the mill slice.

                1. Trader Joes might have a few things in the ready to go section that are around $4.00. Otherwise you can get a meat patty probably for that amount at Daphne's Caribbean Express.

                  1. There is a very good Middle Eastern place that specializes in soups, just across from Rainbow I think. The sign is orange. I'm afraid I cannot remember the name. Worth checking out. The corn soup is particularly tasty.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Maxwell

                      I think it's called Cafe Medina? I've been once for sandwiches and thought it was a decent place for the neighborhood.

                      1. re: Lucia

                        Thanks. Yeah, it's Cafe Medina. Have not had the sandwiches, but many of the soups are worth trying if you are nearby.

                        1. re: Maxwell

                          I'm a huge fan of Cafe Medina's soups, but they're not cheap - expect to spend upwards of $6 for a large to-go.

                    2. I know it's not right in union square but I was very surprised to have eaten a hamburger and children's cone of frozen custard at Shake Shack for under $5!

                      1. For about $5 you can get a really good falafel at Maoz with lots o fixings. A lot better than Rainbow's in my opinion. There is also the Halal food guy on the corner of 17th and Union Sq. (outside of Petco) he has lots to choose from in your budget.

                        1 Reply
                        1. Trader Joe's has lots of frozen pastas, Mexican food, and a few other items good for lunch that you could microwave. With many of them, you could get a piece of fruit for dessert and still be under $5.

                          Most street carts will have something under $5. If you have time to walk down to the south end of Washington Square Park, there is a great dosa cart.

                          There are a couple of $1 pizza slice places on 6th but the pizza doesn't look so good.

                          There's a Popeye's on 14th between 5th and 6th. I am pretty sure you could get a small meal there for $5 if you skip the drink.

                          University Pita on 12th.

                          Taco at Dos Toros.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: RussTheRaccoon

                            This post is 7 years old. I think the OP has found lunch by now.

                            1. re: loratliff

                              Hahaha! Might even have a graduate degree now......!

                          2. Go into Union Sq Park. They have all th Xmas booths, and they have some food booths. You can eat for about $4.
                            Or walk down to University and 11th to Torteria, and get possibly the best guacamole in the city for $5, fresh made.