The Best Cheap Eats in NYC for Under $5

Tacos are the classic cheap eat for the on-the-go lifestyle
Tacos are the classic cheap eat for the on-the-go lifestyle | © George Dolgikh / Shutterstock
Photo of Dana deLaski
28 June 2019

New York City is known for being pricey, but if you know where to look, it doesn’t have to be. Many of the foods that make NYC famous – like pizza, hot dogs and classic deli fare – are also some of the city’s cheapest, so there’s no reason to spend big bucks on food. Some of the best restaurants in New York are quite affordable. Here are some of the best cheap eats in the Big Apple.

Joe’s Pizza

Pizzeria, Restaurant, American
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A slice from Joe’s Pizza is truly one of the most satisfying and delicious things you can eat in New York City for any price. Grub Street called Joe’s “the absolute best slice of pizza in New York,” and it’s been a beloved institution for years. While the flagship store, opened in 1975, is located in Greenwich Village, Joe’s has since expanded to various locations throughout the city.
New York City pizza is justifiably famous | © Zodiacphoto / Shutterstock

B and H Dairy

Deli, Vegetarian
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Kosher delis are a dying breed in NYC, but one icon of the scene remains an East Village institution. A neighborhood favorite since its inception in the 1940s, B&H Dairy is the sort of place where you can eat at the counter alone, order yourself some pierogis or a sandwich and have a chat with the cooks. The food here is the kind that warms the soul, and while it’s all great, the soups are the best $5 option.
Matzo-ball soup is a classic kosher-deli staple | © Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock


Restaurant, Asian
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Jekyll's Sandwich
Jekyll's Sandwich | © Alpha/Flickr
Steamed buns have become hugely popular in recent years, and the opening of Baohaus may have something to do with it. Opened in 2009 by Eddie Huang and his brother, Baohaus showed NYC how amazing these Taiwanese snacks could be. The buns (called baos) aren’t huge, but they’re all under $5 and are insanely delicious. If you can truly afford just one, go with the signature pork belly.
Taiwan’s traditional food, gua bao, has become popular in NYC | © Shebeko / Shutterstock

Crif Dogs

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Since this St Mark’s staple opened a second location in Williamsburg, its hot dogs are more accessible than ever. Known for its adventurous items, Crif Dogs tops its hand-made dogs with everything from sour cream and peanut butter to the spices that grace an everything bagel. Feeling inspired yourself? Crif Dogs also allows eaters to customize their own creations, ensuring crushed cravings every time.

Hot dogs: they’re not just for children | © JeniFoto / Shutterstock

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
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Chinatown is a cheap-food lover’s paradise. You’ll be amazed at the prices – $1 for a plate of eight dumplings is not uncommon. But despite the plethora of inexpensive options, sometimes you get poor quality for the low price. You need to know where to go in the neighborhood, and one of the best options is Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles. It’s got all the $4-$5 dumplings and noodle soups you’re looking for in Chinatown at top-notch quality.
Hand-pulled noodles are a hearty and economical choice | © L.F. / Shutterstock

Los Tacos No. 1

Restaurant, Market, Mexican
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Tacos Al Pastor
Tacos Al Pastor | © william.neuheisel / Flickr

Hidden inside Chelsea Market at Los Tacos No. 1 you’ll find what are often hailed as NYC’s best tacos. Given that the market caters to an upscale clientele in an upscale neighborhood, these reasonably priced cheap bites are even more beloved. All their tacos are under $5, but as we all know, it’s hard to order just one. For something more substantial go for a quesadilla, and know that you’ll be pleased with anything you order.

M and O Market and Deli

Deli, Market, Street Food
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The New York deli is something everyone should experience, and M&O Market & Deli in SoHo is an excellent starting point. The classic, old-school deli is a dying breed in the city, but M&O is still going strong. Here you can get any deli sandwich you want, but the famous BLT is what draws the crowds. At only $3.50 for a small size, it’s a real steal.
If we got any closer to this BLT sandwich, we’d be inside it | © Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Mamoun’s Falafel

Restaurant, Mediterranean, Fast Food, Halal, Middle Eastern
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First opening its doors in 1971 in Greenwich Village, Mamoun’s Falafel now has numerous locations throughout New York. The simple ground-chickpea delicacy of falafel takes center stage at the outlets, which aim to be New York’s best falafel restaurants. Everything served is made from scratch using the freshest natural ingredients, finest imported spices and Mamoun’s signature recipes. As well as the famous falafel, the restaurant also offers tasty shawarmas and a selection of chicken, shish and kofta kebabs.

A falafel sandwich can hold body and soul together all day | © gkrphoto / Shutterstock

Punjabi Grocery and Deli

Deli, Indian, Street Food
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Punjabi Grocery & Deli may be the place in NYC where you can eat the most food for the least money. This Indian deli, located in the East Village, is a long-time favorite of taxi drivers and anyone looking for cheap eats at any hour of the day (it’s open 24/7), and most items cost $1-$3. There’s nowhere to sit, so once you select your dishes from the counter you’ll probably be eating standing up or on the go.

The Kati Roll Company

Restaurant, Indian
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For a cheap sandwich that’s crazy good, head to The Kati Roll Company. If you’ve never had a kati roll, prepare to be dazzled – it’s basically an Indian wrap made with paratha bread (a buttery croissant-like flatbread) and stuffed with whatever meats, cheeses and Indian spices you could want. There’s tons to choose from on the menu, and nearly half the options are $5 or under. The first location opened in Greenwich Village in 2002, and now Kati Roll has locations throughout NYC.

This is what a kati roll looks like | © vm2002 / Shutterstock

Xi’an Famous Foods

Restaurant, Chinese
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Do not let this counter-serve restaurant fool you; what it lacks in high-end atmosphere, it makes up for with bold flavor. Xi’an Famous Foods offers chain-style Xi’an fare, so be sure to stop in if you’re looking for a fix of cold noodles, hand-pulled noodles, soups and more. Cost may vary depending on location, but salads and burgers can be had for under $5.
Asian noodles are a great on-the-go food | © Sergey Mironov

A and A Bake Doubles and Roti

Restaurant, Caribbean
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This Trinidadian snack shop in Bed Stuy relocated from Nostrand Avenue around the corner to Fulton Street. Owners Geeta and Noel Brown offer a cheap yet delicious menu featuring their namesake doubles, which are small flatbreads sandwiching curry chickpea filling, tamarind and pepper sauces. Bakes are also offered here – hence the name – which consist of fillings ranging from cod to herring and shark jammed into a round roll. The menu also includes rotis with anything from goat to duck inside, as well as an array of curry.

Michael LoRé contributed additional reporting to this article.

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