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Starving Foodie Student

Just moved to NYC from Boston, attending NYU and would love to know some affordable places to eat in the East Village/Union Square area- aside form the NYU dining halls... Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and especially places that are quick or good for take out.

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  1. check out Grand Sichuan on St.Mark's, Cafe Mogador for Moroccan breakfasts, Zaab City on 13th St for grilled pork salad and green papaya salad, Cacio e Vino for Sicilian food...

    Also, i'd recommend doing a search on this board under: "East Village" plus "takeout", "affordable", "NYU" and "cheap", and you'll get hundreds of suggestions...

    1. Porchetta
      San Loco
      Royale (alphabet city)
      Pete's Tavern
      Momofuku Ssam and Noodle
      Rai Rai Ken
      Peanut Butter & Co

      That's off the top of my head (I went to NYU as well)

      1. Stand
        Rainbow Falafel
        The Smith

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          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryn

            I second Time Out NY's Cheap Eats issue/link. It's a good resource.
            On the website, they categorize by neighborhood. Neighborhoods closest to NYU are east village, greenwich village, soho. A little further is chinatown or murray hill.
            Also check out this website: http://3buckbites.com/
            They usually have some places in ny.

          2. Artichoke Basille's and, a bit farther afield, you're not *that* far from walking to Chinatown. Hard to find a better, more filling $2.50 lunch than a sesame pancake with beef and an order of dumplings at Prosperity.

            2 Replies
            1. re: craig_g

              Pita Joe's on 14th St / 5th Ave

              1. re: craig_g

                I second Prosperity. Their $1 Sesame Pancake with Vegetables will definitely make one of the cheapest and most filling lunches you can find. And it's delicious. Dumplings and pork buns are too.

                Non-take out:
                There is supposed to be some crazy all you can eat/drink happy hour at Boka on St Marks for Korean Fried Chicken and Beer. I wanna say it was in the low $20s for all you can consume.

                Also Pukk on 1st and 4th if you want a sit down place to share food and cocktails with friends. Cocktails are $5, and pretty good, entrees are around $8, apps are $5. Its vegetarian, but I like it, and I'm a dedicated carnivore. You have to know to order some things extra spicy, or they're too sweet (like the curries). They do delivery too.

                Cheap sushi around the corner at Jeollado -- they usually have some sort of special that is ridiculously cheap. Also a good place for friends, since getting a large table is easy.

                1. Momofuku? Really? $16 ramen for an NYU kid?

                  Here's where you should be when you have $1.

                  Prosperity Dumpling
                  46 Eldridge Street (Between Canal and Hester)

                  In this time of high unemployment, shrinking 401Ks and Wall Street Ponzi schemes, there's a good chance you'll wake up tomorrow broke. But just because you're out of money doesn't mean you're out of luck. All you have to do is take a long and lonely walk down to Chinatown.

                  Prosperity Dumpling is a tiny hole in the wall that's easy to miss, but the fried chive and pork dumplings are hard to forget. Quickly fried and placed into a styrofoam box, you get 5 perfect pieces of dumpling heaven for the bargain price of $1.00. That's a better deal than any fast food "Dollar Menu" out there. For big spenders, add a slice of delicious sesame bread for another 75 cents.

                  Tip: When you're in this part of Chinatown, it's like a foreign country and people who live there have no patience for visitors. So don't be surprised if locals cut in front of you in line. Just let it go - They'll be quick, and the dumplings are worth it.

                  Good luck!


                  1. There are dozens of places in Chinatown where you can get a feast for about $5... get thee to Canal street my dear benoit48!
                    Fay Da bakery.. coffee and 2 buns for about $3---great breakfast or lunch!

                    1. soy and sake for cool vegetarian sushi ,,,,,, quantum leap good breakfasts,,,,, Veselka open all nite everything kind of place from sandwich to pierogies. Republic by union sq for noodle dishes cheap and good

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        I've said it before and I'll say it again. There are 100 better places that are better and almost all cheaper then Republic for noodles.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          As a former NYU student myself, you can do much better than Republic for Thai/noodles, even in the USQ area.

                        2. Some really good suggestions here. Finding good cheap food will be fun. I wouldn't worry too much because you will quickly find some favorites and you're in cheap food central. Also if you're a food network fan, a lot of places featured are in ny.

                          Some tips:
                          1. Eat your biggest meal at lunch and take advantage of lunch specials. A lot of places have lunch that is cheaper than their dinner with almost the same menu. Good lunchtime specials near NYU - Spice thai & Balucchi's Indian. Both have several locations. Spice gives you an appetizer with the meal. Balucchi's is 1/2 off at lunchtime.
                          2. Murray's bagels is on 6th Ave & 13th.
                          3. Au Bon Pain has several locations, one on Union Square. There's a Pret-a-Manger at Union Square as well.
                          4. Rainbow Falafel (17th near Union Sq). It's a hole-in-the-wall but they're good and have been there forever. Also there are street carts and mini chain stores like Maoz and Chickpea. You can get chicken or lamb over rice from the carts as well. Usually about $5-$7. Try with white sauce and hot sauce. A lot of the best carts are in midtown (see midtownlunch.com) but there are some downtown too.
                          5. For burritos, Chipotle is always good. It's a chain but ingredients are fresh. There are a few locations. (St Marks, 19th & broadway, 6th and 13th.) Cosmic Cantina (3rd Ave nr 13th) is also good. The Big Enchilada (E12 near University) for takeout. Mary Ann's (2nd and 5th st) when you are eating in.
                          6. Local delis. The one on 5th and 19th has specialty sandwiches like cajun chicken or bbq. Also there's udon, a noodle soup with chicken, beef or fish. Around $7.
                          7. Whole Foods & Au Bon pain for soup. Whole Foods Union Square. Pricey for some things but a good deal on other things. Their prepared food is ok. Salad bar can be pricey but it's good. Soup is very reasonable at Whole Foods.
                          8. Trader Joe's 14th street.
                          9. Blue Nine Burger (12th Street & 3rd Ave.) Also if you have spare time, walk to Madison Square Park for Shake Shack. Their burgers are famous.
                          10. I've never tried 99 Miles to Philly (next door to Blue Nine, across Cosmic) but it looks good. Cheesesteak.
                          11. Pie (4th ave bet 12th & 13th street) has pizza by weight. Also try Two Boots Pizza if you get a chance. Several locations, but not super close to the area you requested. (Bleeker & Broadway, Ave A and 3rd, 7th Ave & 11).
                          12. St Mark's (East 8th street) has lots of cheap food. For ex, Crif dogs (hot dogs), Baoguette (vietnamese sandwiches called banh mi), etc.
                          13. East 6th/1st ave in the east village for cheap Indian food. Panna 2 or Milon. (Both are 93 1st ave)
                          14. Chinatown (Mei li wah bakery for pork buns & banh mi saigon are both on mott street. Get some buns and banh mi and refrigerate for the next day. They're best fresh but will last a day. Or go to Vanessa's dumplings or Prosperity dumplings on Eldridge. Most people think of chinese food as beef with broccoli type dishes but you dont go to chinatown for that. Instead go for dumplings, noodles & buns. Or dim sum.
                          15. Groceries outside manhattan are cheaper. If you have a chance to go to Queens or Brooklyn, you'll see.