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I'm sick of pizza! (cheap eats query)

Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 06:50 PM

My observation of NY cheap eats (I am an LA hound):

Cheap, delicious food that shines and is widely available in NY:
- Pizza
- Americanized Chinese food
- Hot dogs

Cheap, delicious food that shines and is widely available in Los Angeles:
- really authentic, delicious al pastor tacos for $1 each (taco table on Vermont just north of the 10 freeway)
- a giant bowl of hand pulled noodles and spicy beef tendon soup for $5 (at Malan in Hacienca Heights)
- fantastic korean hotpot and bulgogi for $10 (enough food for 2 people at Beverly Soon Tofu in Koreatown... free raw spicy crab panchan included at the joint across the street)
- huge bowl of vietnamese pho for $4 (enough for 2 people in Little Saigon)
- big plate of authentic chicken pad see ew for $6 (enough for 2 people: Sanamluang Cafe in Thai Town)

In LA, there is a virtually endless list of these types of meals... most of them quite healthy, Asian foods cooked not primarily for "the white man", but for those members of the community who live there. (Having spent 7 months traveling through Asia last year, I can vouch for the fact that there is no "dumbing down" of the cuisines that I refer to above, and all are excellent examples of their kind, whether here or in their representative Asian countries)

Help me, New York hounds........ I refuse to believe that your options for an outstanding $5/person meal are limited to pizza, hot dogs, and Americanized Chinese!

I have a feeling Indian food must be somewhere on your list.

Thanks!

Mr Taster
(who is staying with his sister in Brooklyn, Clinton Hill just south of Williamsburg-- but as always, will travel for excellent chow)

  1. scarlet starlet Jan 7, 2008 07:53 PM

    While I agree that you should do a search of cheap eats on the Manhattan board, don't listen to the nasty comments from the above poster - Brooklyn is awesome (as is Asian food) and there are tons of really good cheap eats there, so make sure you search the outer boroughs board, too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: scarlet starlet
      Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 07:55 PM

      I actually did post this in the Outer Boroughs board as well, but it looks like the powers-that-be zapped it.

      I do realize that "cheap eats" is a popular topic but my question is a little more pointed.... to recap:

      Cheap eats which NY does way better than LA.
      (Hot dogs, pizza, and NY style Chinese food excluded)

      Suggestions?

      Mr Taster

    2. Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 08:01 PM

      If I may analyze your suggestions, il Trifulau....

      Love the Spanish restaurant suggestions (La Nacional, Despaña) because other than a spanish foods importer in San Pedro (La Española), LA has virtually no worthwhile Spanish/tapas restaurants to speak of.

      The Mexican restaurant suggestion (Tehuitzingo) isn't particularly relevant to my question because, as we Angelenos say, "LA is the second largest city in Mexico" (food and other-wise).

      Melampo-- like the suggestion... LA's Italian immigrant community is lacking, and while we have many excellent, expensive Italian restaurants, we have virtually no excellent cheap italian places. I'd love to hear some suggestions for cheap, delicious Italian food.

      As for Asian food, LA has some of the largest Asian immigrant communities in the country (Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Korea, Japan, ad infinitum), and as such I don't think NY can compare in terms of sheer scope, volume and quality of these cuisines. I should add that most of these restaurants fit into the super delicious/under $8 category, and nearly all of them serve an almost exclusively native clientele.

      Keep the suggestions coming

      Mr Taster

      1. j
        JFores Jan 7, 2008 11:10 PM

        Am I the only person who finds this post to be pretty ridiculous (il Trif's)? Get out of Brooklyn and don't ever go there again? Why?

        The places I would like to suggest are primarily Chinese so scratch that. Malecon in Washington Heights is good for Dominican, but there are better picking in the Bronx, though the street cart scene is awesome up there in the summer. Go to Katz's Deli. It will only fit the bill if you share a sandwich, but go. Frank on the LES has good Italian food. I don't particularly like Italian restaurants, but that's because my mother, grandmother and self can usually toss something better together.

        Make a Queens and Bronx post on Outer Boroughs.

        5 Replies
        1. re: JFores
          Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 11:42 PM

          I specifically avoided mentioning Katz's pastrami because

          1) It is out of price range for this post, and
          2) LA has Langer's, which The New Yorker has declared the best pastrami in America (sounds like sacrilege, I know, but since I am very familiar with both pastramis I have to admit that Langer's edges out Katz's.... but just slightly)

          http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002...

          OK, now let's watch as this thread spins out of control...........

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster
            Polecat Jan 8, 2008 05:35 AM

            Having loved Katz's pastrami for years, I would certainly look forward to trying Langer's if/when I'm in LA. If Katz's is, indeed, number two, it's as good a number two as it gets. That said, I get tired of the "best" argument. In the end, it obscures the point. If you have, indeed, tried both, I would be far less interested in reading about what you feel is best, and more interested in the differences in taste, texture, experience, etc. When people actually talk about food on this site, the threads make for a great and fascinating read.

            Mr. T -
            There's lots of great cheap food in NYC. If you maintain an open, adventurous mind, and are truly willing to veer from what appears to be the forgone conclusion of your post, you will find love and happiness eating such dishes as the Chinese Watercress salad or the charred pork tips (or just about anything else) at Sripraphai (Woodside, Queens), the outstanding Chicharron de pollo at El Mundo Fried Chicken (Washington Heights), the filling and delicious Cheb Jeune at La Marmite(West Harlem Senegalese), any of a choice of 8 or 9 crispy and tasty Banh Mi at Ba Xuyen(Sunset Park, Brooklyn) or the tangy, amazing Vietnamese crab noodle soup made with real crab, heart and soul at World Of Taste Seafood (Jerome Avenue, the Bronx). This is only a partial listing, along with some of my fellow poster's excellent suggestions, of cheap eats available in NYC.

            If you are you truly interested in debunking the negative assumption of your post, then get out there and explore the vast edges of the city, eat hearty, and enjoy.
            P.

            1. re: Polecat
              chompchomp Jan 8, 2008 06:01 AM

              I agree. Mr Taster, if you approach NYC with the notion that the city will consistently pale in comparison to LA, of course you will be disappointed. I will say that in Manhattan, you have to dig a bit deeper for delicious cheap eats; but in Queens they are bountiful and wonderful and a true reward. Keep your mind and taste buds open, and I think you will be surprised and satisfied.

              1. re: chompchomp
                Mr Taster Jan 8, 2008 08:45 AM

                Hi Polecat and chompchomp

                Please understand that I am not here to bag on NY vs. LA... I am only trying to point out that each city has its distinct strengths when it comes to excellent, cheap food.

                I am not complaining about NY's Chinese/Thai/Korean, etc. food so much as to say that since I live in LA, I've been-there-done-that. I'm looking for different pastures on which to graze, and in Manhattan and Brooklyn I've been disappointed (aside from the pizza, hot dogs and thick-skinned eggrolls which are non-existent outside the area). I've had some very good *expensive* food in New York, but I've had real difficulty finding great cheap food.

                Senegalese is an excellent suggestion as I know of no significant Senegalese community (or restaurants) to speak of in LA. For my purposes, banh mi is a moot point because in LA for example the shop Banh Mi Che Cali in Westminster (Little Saigon) you can buy superb foot-long Banh Mi sandwiches... 3 of them for $4, on a baguette to rival bakeries in France, and just out of the oven. When you bite into it, you hear the crispy crackling of a million newly created crumbs falling into your lap. It's awe inspiring.

                As for Katz's, I've discussed this elsewhere of Chowhound in the past, but I will say to summarize, both pastramis are extraordinarily tender, and incredibly flavorful (I had some pastrami at Junior's a few days ago with my sister and while the pastrami was tender, the flavor was bland by comparison to Katz's and Langer's). Truth be told, I think I actually like Katz's seasoning just a hair more than Langer's, and Katz's serving of pastrami is much more generous. However where Katz's gets edged out by Langer's is in final sandwich product... Langer's has their rye baked by a local bakery, which they then "steam toasteded" to order, and is delivered to Langer's slightly underdone. The result is that rather than the chewy soft bread out of the plastic bag that you get at Katz's, Langer's bread is fresh baked with a super crispy crust, which adds an amazing added element of texture to the sandwich, edging the total taste experience just slightly ahead of Katz's.

                So... to recap... both awesome. For sheer pastrami goodness and volume = Katz's. For total sandwich experience = Langer's.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster
                  squid kun Jan 9, 2008 01:14 AM

                  Native Angeleno here; I'd say that if you haven't checked out New York's Fujianese food, you shouldn't write off all New York Chinese as "been-there-done-that."

                  I've been away from L.A. for some time, but a quick search of the boards suggests that my hometown still doesn't have much Fujian or Fuzhou chow - though I do find mentions of a decent place downtown. (Yes, there's overlap between Fujianese and Taiwanese, which is well represented in L.A. - and in your household, I gather - but as you know they're not identical.)

                  In New York, by contrast, immigrant demographics have made Fujianese the fastest-growing cuisine in Manhattan's Chinatown as well as the smaller Chinatown in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood (straight shot from Manhattan on the N or R subway lines, if you're game). Unfortunately it is under-explored on this site. Brian S and others have sampled a handful of places, but for the most part hounds (me included) have just scratched the surface.

                  A few that have come up on the board are Good Good Taste in the newer, eastern quarter of Chinatown (http://www.chow.com/digest/2214) and, in Sunset Park, Everett, Wang Cun Ju and Ren Ren, f.k.a. Sheng Xiang (http://www.chow.com/digest/785 ).

                  To muddy the waters a bit, many Fujianese have opened small eateries that specialize in wheat noodles from Lanzhou or other parts north. They're popular among Chinese from all over. But beyond the noodles (which you have in abundance out west), check the menu for Fujianese specialties like fish balls stuffed with ground pork, usually listed as appetizers. These snacks would meet your $5-a-head criterion. A full meal at a Fujianese restaurant, like a full meal at any Chinese restaurant, probably would not, but you could always split a dish with a friend.

                  -----
                  Good Good Taste
                  13 Market St, New York, NY 10002

                  Wang Cun Ju
                  5609 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

                  Ren Ren
                  5318 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

                  Everett
                  5721 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

        2. c
          cimui Jan 7, 2008 08:06 PM

          You're making me really jealous, Mr. Taster. I've lived in LA and I have to agree that it is a mecca of cheap food, especially Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. But you have to drive, there, and think of all that money you waste on gasoline!

          There are many things that NYC does well. A few faves:

          Halal Cart on 53rd and 6th
          Cafe con Leche for Dominican
          Sukhadia's for Gujarati Indian, chaat, and sweets
          Saravana's or Chennai Garden for dosa and other s. indian dishes
          Mamoun's Falafel

          Given our public transport commuter culture in this town, street vendors are a great municipal treasure that I don't think LA has. There are lots and lots of great carts around. Do a search for "street vendors" on this board to find other options.

          6 Replies
          1. re: cimui
            Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 08:14 PM

            Hi cimui-- I'm glad to meet someone who knows exactly what I'm talking about. Minus the Mexican and dumpling suggestion on your list (for reasons I've elucidated above), I love your suggestions... particualrly the dominican suggestion since LA has almost no caribbean restaurants. Isn't flatbush in brooklyn the center of a caribbean community? There must be some fantastic cheap eats joints there. Where are they?

            It is true that street vendor carts in LA are few and far between, but what we don't have in carts we have in taco trucks (that's our equivalent). However in Latin american pedestrian areas, you will often find carts selling Tijuana dogs (1/4 lb hot dogs wrapped in bacon with peppers and onions, $3), mexican fruit (watermelon, pineapple, mango, papaya, cucumber and jicama seasoned with cayenne, salt and lime juice) and every so often you find the odd taco table (just a table, no truck)

            In New York, I find that although street carts are ubiquitous, it's rare to find a street vendor that does not sell the typical hot dog-pretzel-nuts rotation. I really like the Halal cart suggestion.... any other different/delicious street carts? (this should probably be its own topic.... street carts not selling the dog/nut/pretzel thing)

            Thanks again for your suggestions... keep 'em coming

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster
              Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 08:19 PM

              I went ahead and started that street vendor thread:

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477167

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster
                c
                cimui Jan 7, 2008 08:38 PM

                Mmm.... the thought of fruit vendors is making me drool a bit on my keyboard.

                the better known street carts include:

                the jamaican dutchy (51st near b'way; i like this one a lot)
                daisy mae's bbq
                hallo berlin (various wurst)
                the dosai truck (washington square south; vada available tuesdays)
                veronica's kitchen (see http://www.streetvendor.org/vendies/finalists.html
                )kwik meal (see http://www.streetvendor.org/vendies/finalists.html
                )choux factory cream puff cart (location varies; there's a number you can call to find out where it is that day)

                This might also be a good website for you: http://midtownlunch.com/blog/category/food-type/food-type-cart/

                I don't remember seeing a lot of Venezuelan places around in LA. If you want it, here, try the arepas at Flor's Kitchen or Caracas Arepa Bar. There's a reportedly good arepas vendor in Queens (see http://www.cheapassfood.com/eats/show...) if you don't mind the travel.

                And last, but not least, try some of the Senegalese places on 117th and 116th. Africa Kine is one of the better known. If you can get out there during lunch, I've heard it's better. I've only been at dinner time, and even then it's good. For a $10 plate, you get enough to feed yourself for 2-3 meals.

                I know that Brooklyn is a fantastic place for good, cheap eats, though I'm embarrassed to say I don't venture out enough to know where the best of anything is. WHy don't you ask on the outer borough's board (phrase the question differently so it doesn't get tagged as a duplicate) for specifics?

                1. re: cimui
                  Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 09:41 PM

                  This is a fantastic response-- *thank you* for all your fantastic suggestions. I have reposted on the Outer Boroughs board at this link:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/477178

                  Mr Taster

                2. re: Mr Taster
                  j
                  JFores Jan 7, 2008 11:31 PM

                  They're mostly on Nostrand and you can basically sample it all. Don't be so fast to condemn all that is Chinese in NYC. While Chinatown might not meet what you're looking for, Flushing is amazing. One food mall (in which no English at all is spoken or written) can have restaurants specializing in the foods of Sichuan, Xinjiang, etc with sinfully low prices. The Flushing food scene is extensive and rivals LA Chinese on a restaurant by restaurant basis. For example, the Szechuan food there is very very high quality. For street food, there's a wide variety of Hispanic (mostly Ecuadorian and Mexican) eats in Jackson Heights. This area is also home to a few excellent Colombian bakeries and an El Salvadoran cart with delicious pupusas, but that's probably irrelevant. Great pan de bonos, though. A few blocks over from there is Elmhurst which has three Thai restaurants (Srip, Zabb and Chao) which rival LA's equivalents. At Chao and Zabb, the customers are almost exclusively Thai. Going deeper in and then past Corona you hit Forest Hills which is home to one of the world's largest Bukharan Jewish communities (larger than Bukhara's now.) Incredible kosher Uzbek kebab joints which also serve bowls of lagman, pelmeni, tea, etc.

                  That's a preview of what can be put into a Queens post. In regards to Dominican, go to La Economica at 231st in the Bronx. It's BARELY out of Washington Heights so I might as well post it here. Get a whole chicken and be amazed. For a dumbed down version, go to Malecon on 175th in Washington Heights.

                  1. re: JFores
                    Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 11:52 PM

                    Hi JFores... thanks for all your extremely interesting and useful posts.

                    I do know about Flushing's Chinese restaurant scene as my wife is Taiwanese and has relatives who live there. However LA has many great, cheap regional Chinese restaurants and I'm looking for cuisines and foods that are not represented well in LA.

                    So far, I have been disappointed with the city's offerings of ethnic foods (though admittedly I have not gotten around too much), which seem on the whole to be way overpriced and caters almost exclusively to a non-ethnic (yuppieish) and trendy clientele (Brooklyn, I'm looking at you...). We have plenty of those types of scenes in LA, which is why I avoid the yuppie factor entirely by taking the 30 minute drive to the Chinese communities of the San Gabriel Valley where I pay 1/3 of the price for food that is 100x tastier, and whose customer base would not accept changes in the recipes which most Americans expect.

                    Certainly that Uzbek kebab joint is right on target. Even though we have one prominent Uzbek restaurant in LA, we certainly don't have the massive community to back it up. I'd love to check it out if I have the time.

                    Mr Taster

              2. s
                sugartoof Jan 7, 2008 09:39 PM

                Note that your list of California cheap eats consists of Asian food, tacos, and more Asian food. The Asian food in California isn't any better then it is here. I can't vouch for LA, but the concept of a Noodle and dumpling House is pretty foreign to Northern California, where cheapness seems to cloud peoples taste buds when Asian food is involved. In fact, it's so bad out there that the second anyone mentions Pan Asian, Asian anything, I don't trust their suggestions.

                Now the tacos.... New York has real mexicans now...and sometimes they make tacos. Unfortunately, it takes effort to find them. So the point is, aside from decent Thai food, New York has you covered.

                There's also an endless list of foods in New York you can't get as readily on the West Coast or as good. Pirogies, Cubano Sandwiches, rice balls, jamaican beef pattys, croquets, empanadas, a decent Porterhouse (okay not cheap eats, sorry), burgers, french toast, hot cocoa, retro style cake, knishes, bagels, dosas, egg and cheese on a toasted roll, etc. etc.

                9 Replies
                1. re: sugartoof
                  Mr Taster Jan 7, 2008 09:56 PM

                  I didn't forget about all those delicious bagels, knishes, and pickles, which NY has in spades over LA. The reason I didn't include them is that I know where to go for them.... every trip to NY ends me up in the LES where I bring home a jar of Gus's, a bag from Kossar's, some knishes from Yonah Schimmel's and a big tub of whitefish salad and belly lox from Russ & Daughters

                  The latter is definitely not cheap eats, but a trip to NY is not complete for me without it... there simply is no equivalent for these items in LA because what is available is of very poor quality by comparison. Add Junior's cheesecake to that list as well. Even the best LA cheesecake, though tasty, sucks by comparison.

                  Similarly, I have been regularly disappointed here by the Thai and Japanese food (had some expensive, mediocre rolls at Dushi D in Clinton Hill). I really have no desire to try NY's representations of these foods, because they are on the whole a better bang for the buck back in LA, no matter how hard we try.

                  To conterpoint your Mexican argument, I would feel perfectly satisfied going back to LA without having eaten a single NY taco. The goal here is to find excellent representations of what I can't get in LA, and LA is certainly not wonting for tacos.

                  I'm looking for that Junior's Cheesecake. That Kossar's Bialy. That cheap, delicious item that you just can't get in LA.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster
                    s
                    slewlew Jan 8, 2008 05:36 AM

                    not sure about the Hummus in LA but as an Israeli - the Hummus place is as close to real thing in NYC. Limited menu but really good Hummus and Lebenah.
                    Also amazing falafel at Taim in the west village

                    1. re: slewlew
                      Mr Taster Jan 8, 2008 08:47 AM

                      Hi slewlew... where is the Hummus Place? For comparison, my favorite Israeli/middle eastern is a small food stand at the LA Farmer's Market called Moishe's.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster
                        c
                        cimui Jan 8, 2008 08:54 AM

                        If I'm not mistaken, I think it's on MacDougal in the W. Village, just south of Third St.

                        1. re: Mr Taster
                          s
                          sugartoof Jan 8, 2008 09:33 AM

                          the original is on st. marks.
                          it's thicker then moishe's but you're not going to be blown away taste wise.
                          better yet, go to holy land market across the street from hummus place, and buy their pita. last i checked, los angeles was still serving thin floppy cardboard as pita. try the big fluffy israeli stuff here in NY.

                          1. re: sugartoof
                            Mr Taster Jan 8, 2008 10:18 AM

                            Great suggestions... thanks

                            Adam

                            1. re: sugartoof
                              Spoony Bard Jan 8, 2008 10:59 AM

                              Even better, though in Brooklyn, is the fresh pita from Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Ave. Make sure you get the fresh stuff though- it's in a bin on your right as you enter in plain plastic bags. They also sell the factory-made stuff in the fancy packaging which is like a different comestible entirely.

                            2. re: Mr Taster
                              s
                              slewlew Jan 9, 2008 06:20 AM

                              the one on st marks is better then west 3rd i think. the serve the same fluffy pita you an get at the holy market right across the street. Also check out the labeneh - it is great.
                              Also try Taim for falafel and sabich in the west village!

                          2. re: Mr Taster
                            s
                            sugartoof Jan 8, 2008 09:31 AM

                            Well you might have phrased your challenge a little better in that case. Plus we don't know exactly what you have tried, so we're going to list them anyway.

                            For every krappy Katz's deli suggestion you're getting, there's a fried potato pirogie one right behind it. You're getting some great suggestions, but it sounds like you're approach to this is a little bit contrarian.

                        2. p
                          pronek Jan 8, 2008 05:38 AM

                          You may want to search the Village Voice archives for reviews by Robert Sietsema, who is the NY equivalent of Jonathan Gold. He's always uncovering interesting cheap eats, especially ethnic holes-in-the-walls, in all the boroughs.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pronek
                            Mr Taster Jan 8, 2008 08:31 AM

                            You said the magic password... Jonathan Gold. I'll definitely check out Mr. Sietsema's reviews.

                            Mr Taster

                          2. o
                            oyvey Jan 8, 2008 08:51 AM

                            I just wonder how Mr. Taster is going to get his disinterested sister to travel to all of these places without making her extremely irritated.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: oyvey
                              Mr Taster Jan 8, 2008 08:56 AM

                              That's a whole other nut to crack. Usually I have to do these journeys on my own. oy vey.

                              Mr Taster

                            2. Spoony Bard Jan 8, 2008 09:14 AM

                              As a native Angeleno I understand your plight in NYC. A couple things to understand first: Most of Manhattan is the equivalent of West LA. For good cheap stuff, you have to get out of the tourist areas. That said, there’s gems mixed in with yuppie/tourist/expensive stuff, more so than in LA, I believe. Also, your $8 cut off might work in lower-cost-of-living-LA but you’re going to have to bump that up in New York, especially in Manhattan, even in the “cheap places.”

                              So, a few of my favorite things to load up on before visits back West:

                              Bouchon Bakery (Columbus Circle- 59th and Broadway): There’s one in Vegas, but it’s still worth going for baked goods and the tuna or pork sandwiches (though these are about $10 it’s worth it).

                              Cafe Zaiya (41st bet. 5th and Madison): Japanese bakery and cheap prepared meals. Especially for the baked goods, don’t dismiss this out of hand. I’ve been unable to find curry doughnuts (kare-pan) in LA, among other items (Mont Blanc), though my Japanese eating is usually done on Sawtelle and not the South Bay.

                              Uncle Nick’s (9th Ave and 51st): People seem to overlook Greek food here. Order the appetizer of grilled octopus with a side of fries (approx $10) and you’ll be baffled too. Tender garlicy goodness.

                              Kyotofu (9th Ave and 49th): As far as I know there’s no tofu-fusion Japanese dessert place in LA (a branch of a restaurant in Japan). Desserts are $8-10.

                              La Bonne Soupe (55th bet. 5th and 6th): Not really any cheap French food in LA. Omlettes, soupe a l’oignon and crepes for $12-13.

                              Margon (46th bet 6th and 7th): Hole in the wall, below ground, lunch only, Cuban-Dominican wonderland. Octopus salad or roast chicken are flawless, pernil sandwich or Cuban sandwich are quite good too. Wash it down with the orange-milk drink morir soñando, and don’t forget to order maduro (plantains).

                              Taim (Waverly just off 7th Ave): Upgraded Israeli take-out/bar with three kinds of falafel, excellent fries, date-mint and other shakes, and especially Sabich, an eggplant-egg sandwich that defies description. Might exist in Pico-Robertson, might not.

                              Africa Kine (116th and 8th aka Fredrick Douglass): Lunch is Senegalese (lamb mafe and tibou djenne rock), dinner is Franco-Senegalese, mostly grilled meats. Do lunch if possible. La Marmite was once on 121st and has since reopened elsewhere. Used to be the best, not sure about in its new incarnation.

                              Saravana Dosa Hut (Lexington bet 27 and 28): South Indian, more than just dosas, and very high quality. (And apparently Padma Lakshmi’s go-to.)

                              For a splurge go to Pearl Oyster Bar or Mary’s Fish Camp for New England specialties like lobster rolls. Haven’t sprung for those, but fish and chips are worth seeking out (I like Chip Shop in Brooklyn).

                              Finally, carts are becoming excellent ways for New Yorkers to get good cheap eats, especially in midtown. Some of these have been previously mentioned:

                              Hallo Berlin Cart (German sausages)
                              Jamaican Dutchy Cart (Jerk)
                              Kumar’s Dosa Cart (veggie Indian)
                              Carnegie John/Tony Dragonas cart (Greek)- 56th and 7th and 60th(?) and Lex.

                              Of course, that’s not all at once. Make sure you report back!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Spoony Bard
                                Mr Taster Jan 8, 2008 09:25 AM

                                Wow.... awesome list. I will try as many as possible in my 2 remaining days in NYC

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                  Spoony Bard Jan 8, 2008 11:03 AM

                                  Thanks! I've given this topic a lot of thought. :)

                                  Anyway, for your next trip (or anyone else's) a couple other suggestions (downtown):

                                  Pomme Frites (2nd Ave and bet. 7th and 8th): Belgian fries, which aren't bad, but not as good as those at places like Petit Abeille (out of your price range, sadly.) Most noteworthy, however, is their poutine- a Quebecois speciality, it's fries with cheese curds drenched in gravy. Surprisingly good, and not often found south of the (other) border.

                                  One of the few cheap eats in SoHo is La Conquita (Lafayette and Spring): a counter-service Dominican take-away. Good for stews and chicken, super cheap carbs like rice and maduro too.

                                  FYI: There's also a Cafe Zaiya on Cooper Square East (3rd ave) bet. 8th and 7th.

                                2. re: Spoony Bard
                                  r
                                  Renguin Jan 9, 2008 11:32 AM

                                  I have to agree. i think the cut off is a little too low for NY. i think there's a lot of stuff to be had for like 11-12 bucks but you can't really get anything for under 8 dollars except for a bowl of noodles in a really cheap place or street food.

                                3. Mr Taster Jan 8, 2008 09:26 AM

                                  I'd like to get your opinions on Sietsema's "top 100" list of cheap restaurants:

                                  http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/i...

                                  Anyone know if this list is regularly updated? I didn't see any updates on the village voice website.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                    Polecat Jan 8, 2008 09:52 AM

                                    They discontinued his annual food issue, the last one being - to my recollection - the Latin food issue, which depicted a Sunset Park taco stand on the cover, in 2005. It's disappointing to me as I've always loved those lists - the guy really gets around. As Sietsema himself suggested in his book on cheap ethnic NYC eats, it would be wise to phone up a place before going; a considerable amount of venues have either moved or gone out of business. For that matter, the same can be said of the weekly Voice Choices - call before you go.

                                    Enjoy your last two days, and please report back.
                                    P.

                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                      Polecat Jan 8, 2008 10:01 AM

                                      Correction: I'm pretty sure that the last food issue was the cheap ethnic eats list. Regardless, as you already know, all of the lists are still available online.

                                      As I wrote that last post, I remembered a great little joint which I first heard of as the result of perousing Sietsema's lists: Bosna Express in Ridgewood, Queens. Try the signature Bosna burger, or pljeskavica, which is a close relative to the hamburger, and unlike any burger you're likely to have tasted. The cevapi, tiny sausages that explode with flavor, are also delicious. It might be a haul getting out there for you - it's on the M train, I believe - but I would definitely recommend that you put it on your checklist for either this visit or your next. Here's the link to Sietsema's original review: http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0...

                                      1. re: Polecat
                                        s
                                        Stacy Jan 8, 2008 10:59 AM

                                        Azuri (51st and 10th): best falafel I've had in New York
                                        Cafe Medina (17th Street between 5th and Broadway): amazing soups (sandwiches are average and baked goods should be avoided)
                                        Madras Cafe (2nd Avenue between 4th and 5th): not in the "cheap eats" category, but really great southern Indian food at good prices

                                        I'll also second Bouchon Bakery (caramel macaroons are heavenly), Carcas Arepa Bar and the Hummus Place

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