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Great Cheap Eats for Weekend in Manhattan

Hi All,

I love this website and must thank each and every one of you for your contributions!
A buddy and I will be visiting the city for a weekend and were hoping for some good cheap ideas even though I have been to the city many times but feel like I don't know anything about it. For instance, so far my favorite pizza is John's on Bleeker mainly because I haven't tried any of the others. We will have a car so treading out to the boroughs should be possible but considering traffic etc we might not want to do that for every meal since we will be staying in the Theatre District. We are aware of the Babbo's, Per Se's, Le Bernardin's, Daniel's etc etc but they will have to wait til next time (think $5-15 pp meals). Just FYI, we don't eat pork/ham/bacon.
Yeah, the other posters are easy, aren't they? :)

Thanks so much!

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  1. Split an enormous Pastrami sandwich from Katz's Deli, $14.95 plus $1.00 tip to cutter so it comes to $8. each. Delicious, cheap Thai at Wondee Siam lll, I believe on 10th Ave in midtown.

    1. If you're in Nolita; go to cafe habana for some mexican corn on the cob.
      (chili powder, lime, cojita cheese....)

      4 Replies
      1. re: notsochubbychubette

        Just be ready to wait 45 minutes for said corn.

        1. re: notsochubbychubette

          Sounds like something you would find in the streets of India and Pakistan. The street vendors smoke the corn and then dress it with lime and a chilli-based spice rub. Good stuff !!
          BTW bakerboyz and everyone else, is pastrami definitely the way to go at Katz's? What about their brisket??

          1. re: DeprivedinDC

            The brisket is excellent if you get it juicy, and their 2nd-best item.

            Another great sandwich, and a much cheaper one, can be had at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery, on Mott St. between Grand and Hester. Go for the Banh Mi Ga, which is a chicken and not a pork sandwich. It's my standby, and it's great!

            Your best bet for cheap eats is Chinatown. Go to places like Great NY Noodletown, Chao Chow or Bo Ky, East Corner Wonton, Shanghai Cafe.

            In Koreatown, Arirang is quite inexpensive. You can have a sizable dinner by sharing one bowl of noodle soup and eating the banchan of regular and daikon kimchi, which they will keep refilling if you need more.

          2. re: notsochubbychubette

            You could probably get it faster at Pinche Taqueria which is nearby.

          3. My go to cheap eats are Caracas in East Village, Saigon Grill on UWS (new branch on University), and Big Wing Wong in Chinatown.

            1. Sandwiches:

              Lamazou on 26th and 3rd...great sandwiches, plenty of swine-free
              options. DeFontes is further south on 3rd (21st street I think)..they have great eggplant. Both of these places have sandwiches that are $10 and under...DeFontes is a little more expensive I think.

              Banh Mi from Saigon on Broome St...I get the house special vegetarian spicy. They're cheap (around $5) and taste great..a real good bargain.

              1 Reply
              1. re: venezuelan

                We just tried DeFontes. The sandwiches are in the $8-10 range but one is perfect for sharing so the price is not bad. I confess to eating a whole one but, really, normally I'd get two meals out of it. 8>D

              2. One of my fave ways to cut costs is to go to a great place at lunch, and order one to eat and one to go. I love Pukk (veggie Thai on 1st bet 4/5th) and go for lunch and take home dinner (or tomorrows lunch etc...) If you don't have a nuke in the hotel room, just order something you are happy to have warm.

                I have had lunch at Tsampa too -- Tibetan momos yum yum. 212 9th st bet 2/3rd aves. Good tasty reheating. And both places are nice atmospheres -- and completely different! Tsampa is totally close to Astor Place subway, and Pukk is a not very far away as well.

                The whole close to NYU area has some great cheap eats. I'd check this site for precious posts on that subject.

                Have fun!

                4 Replies
                1. re: BratleFoodie

                  I gave Pukk one chance a couple of years ago. Nothing had any spiciness whatsoever or, really, any taste to speak of except excessive saltiness. It wasn't that cheap, and I found the experience miserable. Have they changed drastically since them?

                  1. re: Pan

                    I guess my taste buds (intestines) are different -- I am not in search of blowing the top of my head off with spice. For some reason, I am less able to eat spice than I was. And I guess I haven't found it too salty. But I really do like Pukk, and getting the cheap lunch deal is indeed a cheap eat. Great eats, well, one has to make one's own choice.

                    1. re: BratleFoodie

                      I'm talking about any spiciness at all, not "blowing the top of my head" spiciness.

                      1. re: Pan

                        I love Pukk, but I do ask them to make my curry extra spicy. That usually does it just fine. I do think of it as one of my cheap go-tos for a sit-down meal. A curry is like $8, apps are $5 -- thems cheap eats in my book (unless we're talking Prosperity Dumpling or something). Try their spinach toast, the duck salad and any of the curries (extra spicy) and I really think you can't go wrong.

                2. Cuban food! Only open during the lunch hours in the midtown area. Wonderful selection of food with enough to share between $5 and $8, Literally a hole in a wall but the food is absolutely amazing! Seating in the back and order up front.

                  136 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                  1. What if we decided that since we're already in teh city, no trip would be complete without having at least once really good lunch or dinner? Where would you recommend that we go for lets say $25-30 pp??
                    How are Buddakan, Kittichai and Spice Market? Inwhat order would you rate them? Is there perhaps, some place that's better that serves similar cuisine?

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: DeprivedinDC

                      I've never been to any of them, but why do you think you couldn't get a really good lunch or dinner at anyplace we've recommended so far? Is it the decor and atmosphere or luxe feel that you're looking for?

                      1. re: Pan

                        Point taken, Pan. Although it is easy to find great cheap eats, especially in the Apple, I suppose you are right in assuming I am looking for ambiance but then again if I will be paying substantially more just for ambiance when I can get perfectly good cheap meals elsewhere, why bother!

                      2. re: DeprivedinDC

                        Buddakan, Kittichai, or Spice Market for $25-30? Sure..you can order an entree with tap water. Don't forget the tip and tax. You would probably have better Indian, Thai, and Chinese in Queens. A full course one too!

                        1. re: DarthEater

                          Darth, you took the wind right outta my sails... What if we just ordered entrees and not much else? I mean we don't drink alcohol so we would save on that and perhaps we order an appetizer to share. Would an appetizer and two entrees cost more than $60 at any of the above mentioned "hot spots"?? If so, then I do not think it is worth it, especially since i do not need to "impress" my buddy - we'd do just as well, if not better chowing down on some good cheap ethnic eats. What about Thai? Where in Manhattan can we get some really good kee mao (drunken noodles)??

                          1. re: DeprivedinDC

                            Those are places to be seen. Appetizers are priced in the teens, entrees itself is in the $20-30s...so yes that would be over $60 for 2 entrees and an appetizer. If you do a search for Rhong Tiam located in Greenwich village, they have pretty glowing reviews for Thai food. Its a different crowd if you don't mind but you will have a better meal there.


                        2. re: DeprivedinDC

                          I'd recommend Perry Street for a more upscale brunch experience. It's one of Jean-Georges's restaurants. Three courses is $24. If you only have tap water, with tax and tip (20%), you'll be paying $31.32 per person. They also have other food than typical brunch food (which I'm not really fond of). It's definitely not as high end and refined as eating at Jean-Georges. But for the price and value, it can't be beat.

                          1. re: DeprivedinDC

                            Haven't been to Kittichai, but I've been to the other two and Buddakan has more consistently better tasting food than Spice Market. I really love Spice Market's ambiance in warm weather when they open all the windows, though. A little pathetic, but the ambiance makes me so happy (it reminds me of upscales restaurants I've eaten at in SE Asia) that I suffer through the mediocre overpriced food. Not even a non-drinking vegetarian could make it out of any of them only $30 poorer incl tax and tip. This is not Asian Fusion, but I really like Bon Chon Chicken in koreatown. It has a trendy feel, there are Asians there and the food is much cheaper.

                            1. re: kim e

                              So if you had to choose between the three (Budda, Kitti, Spice) is it safe to guess that Kittichai would be the winner? Which do you all prefer? Or is there perhaps another restaurant that may fall into the same-ish category that you find to be the best?

                          2. Honestly my best suggestion for good cheap eats is to head down to St. Mark's and Alphabet city and just wander around, IMHO that area has some of the best food in the city but since it's not nearly as clean or as "classy" as other places it's automatically ignored.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hungry_fox

                              I would second that. My brothers live in Stuy Town and they take advantage of that area. I visited over the weekend and we did a walkabout down there. In the space of a half hour or so we had tacos, empanadas, and dumplings. The line for arepas was too long, and we were too full for felafel. You can't get an experience like that in too many places.

                              Plus, there are many cafes where you can take a load off in between stops.

                              1. re: hungry_fox

                                There are plenty of crappy places in the East Village, so it's a lot better if you mention places you like - "classy" or not. So, what do you like in the neighborhood?

                              2. If you really are "Deprived in DC" the two cheap foods that come to mind for me are bagels and pizza (because I've never had a good version of either in DC). Search for previous posts on either.

                                Definitely second the Katz's recommendation (pastrami is the thing to get and half is plenty!) and maybe look into Otto if you want to try the "casual" version of a restaurant from a TV chef. It might stretch your budget a little bit depending on drinks/dessert but would be worthwhile and it's a fun place.

                                Another fun cheap/good experience worth checking out might be Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JMJD

                                  I can't help you with bagels but can recommend Pizzeria Paradiso in DC (Georgetown and Dupont) and Mia's Pizzas in Bethesda, the next time you're looking for good pizza in DC!
                                  Thanks for the Otto rec - thats on my list to try next time I visit.

                                  1. re: DeprivedinDC

                                    I second Pizzeria Paradiso, but it might not impress the serious NY Pizza hound. Wow, its been so long since I've been there -- hoping its still as fun as it was!

                                2. Thanks so much for all your suggestions!! We had a great time this past weekend. Unfortunately we did not make it to Chinatown primarily because we never got into the mood for chinese. I had written down Rhong Tiam but lost the piece of paper and couldnt remember the name - really wanted to try it because i love Thai!
                                  We tried getting into Lupa on Friday night but couldnt - the wait was 1.5 hrs even at 10 pm!! By that time we were almost dying of hunger and even though we had checked out Kittichai -you were all correct, its sorta pricey - we ended up around the corner from Lupa at Arturos. It was ok, just ok. We ordered pizza, and a couple pasta dishes. The pizza was forgettable - that means John's on Bleeker is still the best I have had in the city. Sat morning was brunch at Public - it was ok, not that great but trendy spot. Lunch at teh halal cart at 53rd and 6th was great as usual and dinenr at Lupa was so-so. The highlight sunday, before we headed back was the pastrami at Katz's - it was great!
                                  Next time I will prepare a list and definitely hit the spots you mentioned, that I missed!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: DeprivedinDC

                                    I'm not surprised the wait was too long at Lupa on a weekend night. What kind of pizza did you get at Arturo's, and what did you have at Lupa on the Saturday (and how long was the wait then)?

                                    1. re: Pan

                                      The wait on Saturday, we were told, was about 30 mins but we were seated in about 15-20..
                                      At Arturo's we ordered the Lasagna, A tortellini and the onion, mushroom and green pepper pizza... I gotta give them props though for sending out fresh, hot from the oven bread... that was a nice way to kick things off because too often I find that restaurants don't serve piping hot bread right out of the oven!

                                      1. re: DeprivedinDC

                                        Hummus place on St. Marks is a great spot for a cheap & delish lunch...if you like hummus that is :)

                                  2. Kuma Inn in the LES is good and then you definitely need to go to Mamoun's!! It is near Washington Square Park and it is delicious:)