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Manhattan Best Bites, $3 and under

I constantly hear from out-of-town visitors that Manhattan is an expensive place to eat. My reply is always "if you know where to go, nyc is packed with great food bargains".

What are your top $3 and under best bites? Here are some sample criteria for inclusion:
- delicious
- made by restaurant/truck/etc.
- atomic (not part of a larger meal)

let me get it started:
- vanessa dumpling house, peking duck sesame bread, $3
- prosperity dumpling, $1
- street vendor, hot tea cakes (those little, hot, waffle-like cakes) $1
- mei li wah - pork bun, 80 cents
- ess-a-bagel - bagel and cream cheese, $2.95
- joe's pizza, plain slice $2.75
- Ceci-Cela , plain croissant, $2
- shake shack, hand cut fries, $2.85

- honorable mention:
xian famous food, pork or lamb burger, $3.50

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  1. Whatever is in the discounted section at Woorjip.

    1. As someone on a tight budget, I think I'm going to like this thread. I also anticipate lots of Chinatown tips.

      Golden Steamer: salted egg yolk bun $.90
      Sun Sai Kai: baked pork bun $1.10
      Wah Fung: roast pork over rice $3.00
      Royal Pizza: sicilian slice $2.50

      1 Reply
      1. re: Humbucker

        salted egg! roast pork over rice! Hey, you might know where to grab simple bak choy over rice? Wish there were carts that served simple pairings.

      2. dollar samosas on houston. i think the price got upped 25 or 50 cents. mmm, that's still in my budget.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bologna

          I assume you mean Punjabi? (114 East 1st Street)

          1. re: loratliff

            yes, i think that's the one. I caught wind of it from a short story I was reading in Paris Review. It was (not direct quote)" the samosa place on Houston where all the taxi drivers went to" and that was enough info for me to find it.

        2. los tacos No. 1, chelsea market, $3
          doughnut plant, $3
          gray's papaya, hot dog, $1.50
          mamoun's falafel
          ten ren bubble tea, $3
          kossar bialy, $2

          1. Doubles from the Trini Paki Boys cart. $2 (I think). Definitely get with tamarind and hot sauce.

            1. To all the Prosperity Dumpling fans- try Tasty Dumpling on the other side of Chinatown. An order of dumplings cost 25 cents more, but the dumplings are less greasy and taste less of MSG

              12 Replies
              1. re: AubWah

                I used to prefer Tasty to Prosperity, but I went back recently after they changed locations and found their dumplings to be pretty bad with gristly meat.

                1. re: Humbucker

                  yeah, I like them better too but I like the short walk from vanessa (for peking duck sandwich) to prosperity and then to double crispy.

                  This list is not meant to be one per category, so if you have other ideas for dumplings (or anything else mentioned), let them fly!

                  that reminds me:
                  double crispy bakery, Portugese custard pastry, $1.
                  ten-ren bubble tea, $3

                2. re: AubWah

                  have to be honest, chinatown dumplings make me nervous. That said, went to Vanessa's recently and thought it was okay.

                  1. re: Bologna

                    They make you nervous? Take a xanax

                    1. re: MVNYC

                      yeah, invited that, i suppose. cheap dumplings = mystery dumplings

                      1. re: Bologna

                        What do you suppose is in them? Seriously.

                        1. re: Bologna

                          Restaurant food = mystery food
                          Do you not eat out?

                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            have you never had food poisoning?

                            1. re: Bologna

                              The only bout I have had with food poisoning was from a fairly pricey restaurant here in NYC. I have eaten dumplings in Chinatown hundreds of times with no issue. They're not trying to get you sick.

                              1. re: MVNYC

                                i don't think anyone is trying to get anyone sick. i've gotten sick from a fancy place as well. this is a tiresome back and forth. i'm happy you love dumplings.

                                1. re: Bologna

                                  Sorry, i just found it amusing that someone with the moniker Bologna was complaining of mystery meat.

                  2. shrimp rice roll at sun sai gai on baxter/canal $2.10

                    fried pork bun at dumpling house (not sure of name) on centre just off canal -- 6 for $3....their dumplings, same price, are good as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: debinqueens

                      thanks, that's on my list to try. there's a lotta good eating here that fits the criteria:
                      - steamed pork bun
                      - combination bun
                      - coconut bun
                      - egg tart

                      I've never actually sat and eaten here, it's always the last shopping stop before the 6 train.

                    2. - pick a bagel plain cream cheese or plain tofu cream cheese

                      - garlic knots at most pizzerias are $1/ 3-4 with marinara to dip. I love the ones at rocky's pizzeria on 2nd ave at 33rd $1/4 huge fat fluffy garlic-y ones

                      - the olive oil cake at abraco is $3

                      - a few of the cookies at city bakery

                      1. There are several good items at Moishe's (2nd Av. just south of 7th St.) for under $3, including black & whites and small slices of chocolate or nut strudel.

                        1. Slices at Patsy's ($1.75), crispy fish tacos at Dorado ($2.95), egg + cheese on a roll at local bodega (~$2), tacos at El Aguila ($3), honorable mentions to the tacos at Taco Mix ($3.50) as well as the butternut squash or cauliflower slices at Grandaisy ($3.50).

                          1. Hoping that Flushing is allowed (as most of these places seem to be Manhattan-based), but the $1 Peking Duck Buns are a pretty good deal, too.

                            1. A bite of the Betony Foie Gras. Yum!

                              1. For $4.95 you can get 2 franks w/topping + a drink at Gray's Papaya - corner of 72nd Street and Broadway.
                                My favorite lunch.


                                3 Replies
                                1. re: pbjluver

                                  Is it still called the recession special?

                                  1. re: pbjluver

                                    Sadly, I recently read that grays has closed due to exorbitant rent price increases. :(

                                    1. re: mama2ama

                                      That was the downtown location. 72nd & Bway is open.