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Soon-to-be-student here- need cheap eats!

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After several years working, I'm getting ready to head back to school - and to having no money! Any recs for good, cheap food to keep me going all summer, preferably downtown? Bonus points if it's healthy and/or filling. Willing to travel by subway to different areas - or boroughs- if it's worth it. Thank you!

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  1. I too will be a student again next week . . .Ukrainian National Home in the East Village has comfort food - pierogi, hand grated potato pancakes. I love Casa Adela's (on Avenue C or B? and?) baccalau (+ beans/rice, plaintains). Ambience leaves alot to be desired but delicious and cheap. Brunch/lunch can also be a good value. And many places in Chinatown are both good and cheap.

    1. Mamouns' on MacDougal btw 3rd and Bleecker (and also on St. Marks btw 2nd and 3rd) was my go-to place as a student. They're a middle eastern hole in the wall, and I will totally rock a babaganoush sandwich from there to this day, whether I'm broke, or just hungry and in the neighborhood. You can get a TON of food for under $5. Even though its summertime, if you end up in super-student induced poverty, you can get their great lentil soup for $2 and if you ask nicely and try to look especially underfed they'll give you a pita to go with it for free.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SarahFromTheFuture

        Yep, me, too. I can't begin to fathom how many generations of students Mamoun's has fed. Another good bet in the area is the dosa stand (Thiru's cart) on Washington Square South. He has vada on Tuesdays and samosas every day of the week. You'll need to go at slightly slower times to get a really great, crisp dosa, since at peak times, he tends to undercook them a bit. There are too many places to list in full on MacDougal and Bleeker in general, but a few good ones to try include Kati Roll, Abondaza's, Indian Bread Co., Yummy Village Sushi (at one point this dubiously named place was wonderful and had a $1/piece sushi happy hour, daily, but it may not be so good, nor so open, anymore), Press Bread, Le Basket, Jamaican Flavors on Sullivan, and that crepe stand on W. 4th. GNC on 6th has well-priced (for the area) smoothies. For slightly more expensive cheap food (you know what I mean), try Gray Dog on Carmine, 'Ino on (I think) Bedford, Mama's Food Shop on Sullivan, Galanga on W. 4th, St. Alps Tea Shop, Flor's Kitchen, Joe's Kitchen, and Moustache. Further south, there's Ivo and Lulu and Mooncake Foods (owned by the same folks). A lot of pricier restaurants have decently priced set menus for lunch.

        [This isn't really all that responsive, but if you don't mind cooking just a bit, nuked baked potatoes with toppings are such a great standby, as are smoothies of your own making.]

        How far downtown are you talking about? There are some great cheap eats in Chinatown, of course!

      2. Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches (roughly $3.50-$4.00). Best sandwich deal in my opinion. Check out Saigon banh mi on Mott (or the many others in Chinatown) and Nicky's in the East Village.

          1. re: johnnyappleseed

            1 Arepa & 1 natural juice $7.50 lunch special noon-4:30

          2. My daughter (also going back to school) just found this place last week and swears that it is amazing, and amazingly cheap.

            14 W. 4th St., New York, NY 10012
            at Mercer St.

            11 Replies
            1. re: BarbaraGale

              Other great places,

              Kati Rolls on Macdougal between West 3rd and Bleecker...so delicious...

              1. re: BarbaraGale

                Dojo's incredibly cheap, but IMHO, it's also amazingly bad.

                1. re: cimui

                  i can't believe dojo is still there especially in such a prime location. it opened over 10 years ago when i was a grad student down there. bleh... bleh... bleh. it was a block from the building where most of my classes were held. we were excited as it looked unique and was cheap but ... did i say bleh? best bet is chinatown. you can find really cheap but great places mentioned in countless CH posts. btw, isn't there a peanut butter place near macdougal and w4. not sure if it's been around as long as dojo but i noticed it just a couple of yrs ago . they may serve cheap pb and j sandwiches. not sure.

                  1. re: nativeNYer

                    PB is fun but pricey. Definitely not student prices if it's the same place.

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      ok. thanks. never ventured into the pb place. too bad it's pricey.

                      1. re: nativeNYer

                        Yeah, they are pricey and the PB is not even outstanding.

                  1. re: BarbaraGale

                    I tried to go into Dojo last week, because I read on this board that the tofu burger was outstanding. But it had this really off smell that made me turn around and walk out. Is it always like that, or was it an off day? Or is that smell what it's supposed to smell like?

                    1. re: annaesm

                      Nope, it pretty much smells like that all the time. They have really fallen off. Wouldn't be surprised if that location closes down as well.

                    2. re: BarbaraGale

                      She's right on the "amazingly cheap" front.

                    3. The lobster bisque at The Lobster Place in the West Village (252 Bleecker, at Leroy). A small bowl is $3.50, medium is $5.00. This is luxury food at a very low price. They also have a comfortable bench out front -- it seems to taste even better when you eat it outside.

                      1. Hit chinatown. Most non fancy places will charge you 3 -5 bucks a for a variety of "with rice" dishes and noodle soup ie. roast duck with rice , bitter melon with rice, wonton noodle soup etc... For healthier options you can ask for stir fried vegetable with rice.

                        If you wanna go ultra cheap. Hit the chinese bakery and get roast pork buns for 50 -70 cents. Eating 2 or 3 will make a meal. Eat an egg custard for desert. Fancier bakeries like Tai Pan will also offer cheap sandwiches and pasta. Hit the 5 dumplings for a dollar places too.

                        Chinatown is also a great source of a variety of instant noodles. I recommend the nong shim neo guri noodles if you like spicy. They are sold cheaper in chinatown than most korean supermarkets. Chinatown also sells frozen dumplings ready to boil at your convienience. Some butcher shops will also sell cooked foods at cheap prices that you can take home and nuke and eat.

                        Lots of different asian cuisines (malaysian, vietnamese) in chinatown too, so you can spend a whole summer exploring cheap options.

                        Around 48th and 10th there is a deli called tehuitzingo that serves awesome tacos in the back for around 2 -3 bucks. Tulcingo de valle in that location also serves awesome tacos for 2 -3 bucks.

                        Woorijip on 32nd sells prepacked korean food cheaply. A large serving of healthy japchae is like 5 bucks. Its not the tastiest korean food but it is cheap.

                        Theres always some local pizza place charging pizza for 2 -3 dollars a slice.

                        There are a bunch of papaya hot dog places in the city too. 2 hotdogs and drink for around 3 -4 bucks.

                        1. Mamouns...whether you have money or not....Delicious, cheap food...

                          1. When we lived in the city our very favorite cheap eat was fresh pasta and sauce from Rafetto's on West Houston. It's been there for over a hundred years and is really cool! A pound of delicious pasta, bread, parmesean cheese and a pint of sauce will run you less than 10 dollars. As long as you have a way to boil water you're good to go!

                            1. East Village has a couple of Paquito's locations. Food is not glamorous, but portions are very large and the price is pretty good. Burritos, enchiladas and fajitas are in the $5-7 range. Everything made fresh there for you, etc. Third Ave. at 17th. First Ave. at St. Marks.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: foodmonk

                                Saigon Grill on University Place has great lunch specials and the food is good.

                              2. You should def visit roomali, thier one rolls are such a fillers.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Sona0mh

                                  2nding that. I'll eat one for lunch and be perfectly satisfied. Two is stretching it.

                                2. I'm really into Ennju, on E. 17th Street off Union Square. I love most of their rolls and their rice bowls and entrees come with soup, too. The food is fresh and prices are reasonable, and at 9 pm they mark all their rolls and prepared foods half off, making it an even better deal. People tend to line up in the place a little before or at 9 pm to take advantage though, so there's not usually much left by say, 9:15 pm. Gotta hustle!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: soopling

                                    Their lunch time Benti Boxes are enough for lunch and dinner for around $6.50.

                                  2. Bereket for really good Turkish kebaps on E Houston and Orchard St. They are open 24 hours, too.