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Well, the times they are getting tougher, need some new ideas for some inexpensive meals. Please list some of your best bets, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, anything goes, as long as it's filling, cheap, and good. If you're trying to watch the bill, avoid beverages, and drink water--that difference in cost, can help to defer the tip.

Know that the flushing malls are a favorite of many, but I've never ventured there, because most of all that I have read involves some sort of pork, lamb, or offal of some kind. What about any strictly vegetarian stuff in the malls, and what about shrimp dishes (without heads, please), is there anything that is tame and really remarkable at the same time?

DE MOLE (Mexican Sunnyside, Queens)
Lots of things under $10 on their menu
All of the breakfast items are around $5-6 and are great
The torta's are around $6
The burritos are under $10
Quesadillas under $6
DeMole salad with grilled shrimp is about $7

Sripiphrai (Thai, Woodside Queens)
Now has lunch special that someone just posted about. That would be great, as I never get out of there for less than $40 for 2

Pio Pio used to be a good deal, but they raised their prices, and got rid of their lunch special on Woodhaven, so ordering ala carte if you like white breast chicken gets pricey now.

Spicy and Tasty (Szechuan Chinese Flushing, Queens)
$6 Lunch Special, lots of great choices ,comes with soup and free app, sm portion Eat here all the time My fav's, shrimp with turnips spicy --get an ala carte appetizer from cold bar to share--

Was going to Sun Lok Kee (Flushing), but have no idea what happened in the last couple weeks, their gate has been down, and their lunch special at $4.25 for squid with black bean sauce was great, even though the service always left something to be desired, and that's being kind.

The Lunch Special at Seva the Indian place in Astoria was very good, but I haven't been lately, and last reports indicated a severe slip in the place, so interested in some more recent reports.

Too tired to think of any more, but would like to hear some new ones...thanks.

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  1. Pio Pio Riko (Peruvian, Sunnyside, Queens)
    Cheap chicken and enough choices for vegetarians (i.e. avo salad, tostones, tacu tacu).

    Papacitos (Mexican, Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
    Most items under $10 with good choices of fillings for omnis and vegans/vegetarians.

    Mundo (Turkish/fusion, Astoria, Queens)
    I go for the Red Sonja ($7) but most entrees are $12-$13.

    Mighty Diamond (Caribbean/vegan, Brooklyn)
    I haven't tried this place yet, but I hear you get a ton of spicy vegan delights for $7-$11.

    Veggie Castle II (Caribbean/vegan, South Richmond Hill, Queens)
    Take-out only but $10 worth of food will feed you for a couple of days. Vegan doesn't mean bland or boring at this joint. Excellent, filling smoothies for about $3.

    Corfu (Greek, FoHi, Queens)
    Still has solid, cheap lunch specials ($5-$6).

    Cinco de Mayo (Mexican, Bayside, Queens)
    Solid, filling lunch specials for around $7. Free chips & salsa.

    Happy Buddha (Chinese/vegan, Flushing, Queens)
    Flushing's best Chinese stunt meat & dim sum joint for vegetarians/vegans. Usually packed with locals, not tourists, unlike Buddha Bodai on Main Street (which I find inedible). Lunch specials daily for about $6-$7. Copious amounts of free tea. Friendly service and good portions.

    Avli (Greek, Bayside, Queens)
    My favorite Greek restaurant with lots of options for vegetarians. Portions are huge and they do have lunch specials in the $8-$9 range (I believe the specials are dine-in only). It's hard to finish the huge portion of spanakopita after you've scarfed down a few baskets of grilled pita bread...

    Stir It Up (Caribbean, Brooklyn)
    Large portions of great Ital food near BAM, with lots of choices for vegetarians (the "Ha Ha Chicken Balls" are delicious). Most cost $7-$9 depending on whether you're ordering for lunch or dinner.

    Rice Avenue (Thai, JaHi, Queens)
    Lunch specials for about $6 and entrees around $9.

    7 Replies
    1. re: PlomeekSoup

      Yes, Avli is pretty good, very good pasticchio, and huge portion, the chicken kebab though not as good as Corfu on a good day (sometimes they overcook it),--never had their spinach pie, is it triangle shaped or is it in a big square?

      The Mt. Ararat Bakery on LIE service road just before Springfield, has very nice little mint spinach shallot triangles, and lovely house made pita, and some good cookies and such that they make...good for a quick lunch to take home and make a meal with other stuff..also, great selection of string cheese that is hard to find....

      Cinco De Mayo, I've never tried and I'm in the Bayside area once a week, will have to check the place out...

      Pio Pio Riko is on my sunnyside list to try, do you think it's as good as Pio Pio?

      Thanks for the good suggestions! Please keep them coming!

      1. re: janie

        I never ate at the Pio Pio you're referring to, and it's been a few years since I ate chicken, but I think it's a good spot for the prices and portions. And the white garlic sauce that comes with the tostones? Awesome.

        1. re: janie

          Pio Pio Riko is vile, especially compared to Pio Pio. i was never crazy about their food at all, but they delivered to a former job, so we ordered about once a month. Our order was usually $100-150. The last time we ordered we waited 2 hours (for a large order we knew we'd have to wait, but that was outrageous), and they didn't include any aji or utensils. When we called to tell them, they told us it was "too bad" and we were lucky we got our food.

        2. re: PlomeekSoup

          Second the vote for Pio Pio. Where else can you get a whole chicken and avocado salad for ~ 16 bucks?

          1. re: dbosullivan

            Just about anywhere in Queens...oh, wait, it won't be 16 but rather 9 bucks! Second the idea that Pio Pio Riko is "vile." It truly is. I went there last night, on a Thursday, and I got a ceviche that stunk like fish, a baked tamal that was as dry as a brick, a sopa a la criolla whose meat also tasted old, and then a check with the 15% service charge included but no tax visible--the 15% was in the tax line. I thought that was illegal in NYC. I didn't have the chicken, which is supposedly their specialty, but their criollo dishes really rot. If you want Peruvian in Queens go to Urubamba on 37th Ave in Jackson Heights. The place is much more upscale and looks more expensive than Pio Pio but it's not, at least in terms of food (drinks are more expensive, but ceviche actually slighty cheaper).

            1. re: zemilideias

              The chicken is what you want at Pio Pio, it is top notch. Anything else you order there is at your own risk.

          2. re: PlomeekSoup

            Just got word that Mighty Diamond went bye-bye.

          3. The place on SI that I mentioned the other day- Dosa Garden. A HUGE dosa for $4.50. Add a Lassi and you are set for the day- and under $10

            1. Think Balkan.

              In Astoria go to Cevabdzinica Sarajevo and get 5 cevapi sausages with diced raw onion and Ajvar red sauce and flat bread for $5.00. $9.00 buys you 10.

              In Ridgewood $8.00 buys you a large Bosnian burger (aka pljeskavica) at Bosna Express.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bob Martinez

                There's now a rockin Bosnian place on 12th St. near 30th Ave in AStoria/LIC border

              2. Ghoroa. I've had three course meals for under 4 dollars there.

                3 Replies
                1. re: JFores

                  Location? Cuisine? Any details at all? Anything to recommend it other than the fact that it's dirt cheap?

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    Wow, I have to try this place out.

                    It's on Hillside Ave in Jamaica, Queens:

                    1. re: PlomeekSoup

                      I think I have eaten here but I'm not sure. I have definitely eaten some fantastic Indian food in Jamaica. Can you describe the interior so I can figure out which one this is?

                2. I try to live my life by that rule. Besides the places you mentioned (De Mole and Pio Pio are on my list):

                  Joe's Shanghai- 8 pork/crab soup dumplings and an order of shanghai lo mein with chicken and I am a happy man- you can share that for less than $20.

                  El Coyote- tonight my woman and I shared a large chicken soup and a pollo with salsa verde, rice, beans, and tortillas for $17.

                  Bella Via- get a large thin crust pizza and drink some water. It feeds two :)

                  Jackson Hole- I love their grilled chicken sandwiches- I get one with monterey jack cheese and grilled onions for $8.45 including tax and it is enough to feed me- it's big. That times 2 is $17.

                  Jackson Diner- I know a lot of people don't consider it authentic but one order of chicken tikka masala (which comes with rice) and 2 orders of naan and 2 people are well fed for $20.

                  Salut- 4 kebabs (love the lula and boneless chicken), hummus, and bread for under $20 (if you pay cash you don't have to pay tax).

                  Northern Manor- beef pan fried noodles and an order of rice (white or fried) will cost you in the teens but it easily feeds two and the quality is good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BigV

                    It's not that Jackson Diner isn't authentic, it's that it's long lost its luster and now serves 2nd rate, listless Indian stuff that seems as if it belongs in Toledo, OH

                  2. Fast-n-Fresh Deli on Hoyt between Atlantic & State. Three delicious tacos for $6. Add a Snapple, and that's a hefty lunch! If the weather is nice, you can eat on the back patio with the construction guys. There's a very small bar up front. Otherwise, it's take-away.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: BklnChicken

                      Cheap Chinese vegetarian in Flushing:

                      Sifu Chio - on menu # 24 Ginger & Garlic Lo Mein, delicious ($4.75). #35 Black Mushroon Chinese lomein ($5.25). Add an appetizer #38 Fried Wonton ($6.75), OK, this one has shrimp and a little pork, just under $20 for 2 with tax and tip. By the way, you will not want to have fried wonton any where else after eating these, I haven't. There watercress dumpling is also delicious. You can add vegetable to any noodle dish for an additional $0.50.

                      Sunway - Lunch specials, $5.25. # 1-4 all fish, #1 with brown sauce is good. #43-46 all vegetarian. #44, mushroom with brown sauce also good. They are very good with mushrooms in Sunway. On the regular menu, N15, Supreme soy sauce pan fried noodles ($7.95), a must for us everytime we go there. R05, Assorted mushrooms fried rice, also good. They have delicious bubble tea, a bit pricey. ($4.00).

                      Gu-Shine - Taiwanese makes the tastiest vegetarian food. They have a lot of vegetarian food, mock meat items also. They also have a specials of $16.95 for 2 dish and a soup. Many are non meat items. Bean curd in brown sauce and Sauteed seasonal vegetable are both very good. Try the sauteed shredded potato, it taste delicious and is very different from what we expect potato to taste like. They have really good wok-chi in this restaurant. The other items (meat and stuff) on the special menu are also very good. Portion is more then enough for 2 on the Specials menu.

                      Sushi Family- a little off Main Street (Union Street) has Combo platters, 11 items all under $10. It comes with a meat (Katsu, teriyake, Bulgogi, etc.), california roll, a small piece of fried pork cutlet, miso soup, rice and kimchi. The combo platters are served all day long at this price. You can also get many rolls (Spider tolls, rainbow rolls, dragon rolls) at lunch Monday - Friday for under $10.

                      OK, I drifted off the vegetarian theme but Flushing is full of little gems even for the safe eaters.

                      1. re: PaMa

                        great ideas, thanks , please keep them coming....

                        1. re: PaMa

                          Thank you for the Flushing veg tips!

                          1. re: PaMa

                            Food court, my man, food court = Flushing veggie nirvana

                          2. re: BklnChicken

                            I second FFD, although, you can substitute two Bohehias in place of the Snapple and stay under $10.

                          3. Malecon in Washington Heights. I love the rotisserie chicken. You can stuff yourself for about 10-15 bucks a person. And you will probably have leftovers.

                            Also, my fave supercheap lunch is Congee Village on Allen Street. It gets too crazy dinner and weekends but lunch is mellow. I get congee with roast duck and meatballs and some scallion pancakes. I think it comes out about $8 or so.

                            1. HEIGHTS FALAFAL, I think that is the correct name. It is on Henry Street, right next to FASCATI.

                              We find the quality of the food is excellent, and the best deal around.

                              A platter of deliciously spiced meat or chicken, Shawerma style, served with Salad, perfumed Rice, and either Hummous oir Tabbouli, and Pita bread. Tahini aand Hot Sauce is also included. Desserts are $1.50.

                              Cash only. They have about 4-5 tables inside.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Fleur

                                I don't know about Heights Falafel, I think it is really not so good (but cheap). I prefer Bedouin Tent on Atlantic. Much better. Egyptian. Pretty good and great for the money.

                                1. re: NYJewboy

                                  Heights Falafel may not be the best middle-eastern food in the neighborhood but it's good, fresh, and the prices can't be beat. $3.25 for a huge falafel - sometimes our whole small office orders for lunch, they are so good and filling. And if are really on a poverty diet, just a couple of dollars for their spinach pie.

                              2. Memo Shish Kabob, Kings H'way & E 19 St, Brooklyn. Tasty Turkish food.

                                1. for a different kind of cuisine, try trini or guyanese doubles or a pumpkin roti for lunch. both are vegetarian. doubles usually run anywhere from $1 to $2 (the latter is an outrageous price, mind you, and any double that costs that much had better be unbelieveably delicious.) doubles are curried chana between two small fried roti breads with a little tamarind sauce and peppa sauce thrown in, much more than the sum of it's parts. And some places (A&A comes to mind) will do the chana inside a split slice of deep-friend eggplant (I have no idea what this is called)--v v good.

                                  places to get these things:
                                  in richmond hill/ozone park: singhs, A & A, annie's
                                  in crown heights/flatbush: ram's (great veggies and roti skins) and ali's.

                                  There are other great places to have them, i'm sure. perhaps someone else will chime in.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: missmasala

                                    Miss M,
                                    Have you tried the A&A on Liberty? Haven't tried it myself. Love the namesake joint on Nostrand; any connection?

                                    Also, unless my eyes were playing tricks on me - and I did a double-take to check twice from the car - the Singh's underneath the A is now going by another name. This would leave one Singh's in the area, being the one closer to the Van Wyck.

                                    1. re: Polecat

                                      the A&A on Liberty is the only one i've tried. And I don't know if they are related. Every time I've tried to go to the one on Nostrand it's been closed. (it closes early and for many holidays, and i never seem to catch it. I sometimes find doubles can be elusive like that. For a while Ali's on flatbush didn't have them on weekends and when i finally asked why they told that the woman who makes them doesn't come in on weekends.) Anyway, I liked the one on Liberty. The chana has more of an "indian curry" flavor, if you know what i mean. but they do a great chana-stuffed eggplant.
                                      And I haven't been out to liberty in a couple of months, so I didn't know about the singh's. I always go to the other one anyway. their doubles are my faves, but i think it's because I love their peppa so much.
                                      Also, there's the ali's on fulton, near the A&A on nostrand. but i prefer the one on flatbush. don't know if those are related either.
                                      BTW, do you know the west indian strip of liberty well? can you recommend any of the west indian/chinese places. I've always been intrigued by the idea of jerk chicken fried rice, but not sure of the best place to get it.

                                      1. re: missmasala

                                        "I've always been intrigued by the idea of jerk chicken fried rice, but not sure of the best place to get it"

                                        Me too. I sampled it a few years back, at a desolate little place on Liberty, two blocks or some up from Lefferts (going away from the Van Wyck). Surprisingly, the jerk pieces were laid atop the traditional fried rice, in big greasy gobs, and not mixed in in little chunks, so that was actually a plus. While not bad, neither the jerk or the fried rice were exemplary of their kind.

                                        I noticed, again while driving through the other day, that there are a few more west indian/chinese scattered up and down Liberty than there used to be. If you're curious, I say just pick a joint and go for it. If done well, this dish could be great, everything you'd expect and more.

                                        1. re: missmasala

                                          Just to muddy the waters a bit, Robert Sietsema says on the Voice food blog that the Nostrand shop is closed and its owners opened the shop on Liberty. But a commenter says the Nostrand shop is still open. The Voice also says another A&A will be opening near Nostrand and Church in East Flatbush ... http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

                                          A&A Bake and Doubles
                                          481 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

                                          A&A Restaurant
                                          120-09 Liberty Ave, Queens, NY 11419

                                          1. re: squid kun

                                            To add to the muddle, the Liberty A&A has been around for a while. If the Brooklyn A&A has, indeed, closed (and I sure hope it hasn't), the opening of the Richmond Hill shop didn't coincide with or follow that closing.

                                            1. re: Polecat

                                              yes, i first went to the libery ave one at least two years ago.

                                              but i wouldn't mind another doubles shop closer to me, which nostrand and church certainly is.

                                      2. Okay, so this might not be the best time of the year to suggest frozen custard, but I highly recommend checking out Timmy O's in Corona. Pick up a sandwich at Leo's, eat it in the car, then go for some Madagascar Vanilla or the flavor of the day.


                                        1. Sounds like the OP frequents Queens more than Brooklyn, but I've been going pretty frequently to Schnitzi on Coney Island Ave in Midwood for tasty, filling, affordable fast food. Israeli-style chicken schnitzel sandwiches are under $10 and generous enough for a big appetite. Pretty good baguette for the bread, wide range of sauces to throw on, like garlic mayo, chimichurri, etc. It can get pretty crowded depending on the hour, but the staff has always been efficient and welcoming.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: hhhippo

                                            hhhippo -

                                            Coney Island Ave and where? Been going to Olympic Pita the last few times and could use some place different. Are the menus similar; pita, schwarma, kebabs etc? Olympic Pita seems to get decent reviews on this board, but I really don’t see what the BFD is all about. Maybe if I dined in instead of taking it out it might be better? Food’s OK, but what skeeved me out was the way their customers handle the salad bar (I will spare you the details.)

                                            1. re: MShapiro

                                              CIA b/t Ave I and J, so about a block north of Olympic. The menu focuses mainly on Israeli schnitzel--thin breaded, deep-fried chicken cutlets--on warm, crusty baguettes, topped w/ your choice of sauce. They also have 2 kinds of fries: Schnitzi style are like fresh-fried potato chips and then "stick fries" are the regular kind. They have salads, but not a communal salad bar if that grosses you out. So it's not a pita/shawarma place, but a tasty substitute if you're in the mood for something else. Good fast food.

                                              If you are looking for another decent pita/shawarma option, have you tried Famous Pita on CIA and Newkirk? I prefer their shawarma to Olympic's. There is a public salad bar (smaller now after they reopened down the block from a former location), but I've never seen anyone doing anything particularly unhygienic there.

                                              1. re: hhhippo

                                                Thanks again. I may have been to Famous Pita once, but the line was too long and I didn’t have the patience to wait. Next time I’m in the area I’ll take your recommendations under advisement.

                                                Salad bars in general don’t gross me out, but I think of food as I would Michael Jackson – I don’t need people sticking things where they don’t belong.

                                          2. Ukus, the Bosnian gem in Astoria on 30th Ave. near 42nd St.: today I had a delicious and huge "spinach slice", with homemade yogurt for $4.50. I think it's a spinach and belgian feta pie, always seems to be fresh out of the oven, flaky, buttery, perfect. The amazing pastry seems very different from other spinach pies from around the Mediterranean. I am also seriously addicted to their chopped salad, also unlike anyone else's salad, always fresh and crisp and huge, and about $5.50 I think.

                                            1. AVLI- in Bayside is the best new greek "gyro place" around, and you can get a ton of stuff for pretty cheap.

                                              IL VESUVIOS- in bayside for a coke and a chicken parm hero. best chicken parm hero ever.

                                              SAL CHRIS AND CHARLIES-in astoria for a sandwhich is amazing. order the bomb for 6.50 or so.

                                              BKNY- thai in bayside with some great prices for lunch specials

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: montoya040

                                                avli was okay, good pastichio, but overcooked dry chicken kebab. Portions very fair.
                                                Il Vesuvio used to be good, but they felt like they weren't too good anymore. And as far as the best chicken parm, sorry but that honor belonged to the place in Corono with the killer mozzarella that has been gone for some time. Now, that was the best chicken parm. And I've had Vesuvio's and it's not in the same league.

                                                Where is BKNY in Bayside? Any online menu?

                                                1. re: janie

                                                  janie, BKNY is on Francis Lewis, and they have their full menu online here: http://www.bknythai.com/

                                                  i was there once and thought the red curry was watery so I haven't been back.