image of a patacon sandwich from Venezuela

Ever had a sandwich made with fried, flattened plaintain instead of bread? Patacon Pisao offers this Venezuelan specialty — one of the best cheap things to eat in NYC. (Source: Patacon Pisao via Yelp)

Let’s face it: The typical NYC apartment kitchen is not suited for cooking. And with so many restaurants in this city, it’s easy to eat out for every meal. If you’re not careful, though, that plan will leave you hemorrhaging money. Luckily, there are frugal options outside of hot dog carts and $1 pizza shops. If you’re looking for spots to socialize and scarf without spending a fortune, check out this list of the best meal deals in NYC.

Cheap Eats in Brooklyn

Image of tortilleria mexicana los hermanos cheap eats nyc

Tacos, tacos, tacos. (Source: Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos via Yelp)

1. Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, Bushwick
Looking for cheap, no-frills Mexican street food? Look no further than Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos in Bushwick. Most items are under $5 and it’s BYOB. Plus the tortillas are made onsite. At those prices, you really can’t ask for more.

2. Guacuco Hot Dogs, Bushwick
Yep: arepas and Venezuelan-style hot dogs for under $10. Whatever you order, make sure you douse it in Guacuco’s specialty green sauce. It’s beyond delicious.

3. A&A Bake and Doubles Shop, Bed-Stuy
This humble shop serves up some of the best doubles in NYC. For those unfamiliar with Trinidadian cuisine, doubles are sandwiches made with fried flatbread and filled with curried chickpeas. These tasty, filling sandwiches are a steal at $1.50. Yes, my friends: $1.50!

3. J&V Pizzeria, Bensonhurst
J&V Pizza is a classic slice joint that’s been open since the 1950s and hasn’t let its cult following inflate prices. At just $2.75 for a high-quality, plain slice, J&V is a deal. If you want to get a little more fancy, add a calzone or an order of garlic bread to your slice. Trust me, the extra side dishes won’t break your bank account.

4. L&B Spumoni Gardens, Gravesend
Need to take a pizza break on your way back from Coney Island? No? Well L&B Spumoni Gardens is worth the trek to Gravesend anyway. Slices start at $2.75, which means there’s plenty of funds left over for an Italian ice.

Cheap Eats in the Bronx

image of cheap eats nyc landins mac and cheese

All you need: a box, a plastic fork, and mac and cheese. (Source: Landin Mac & Cheese Yelp)

5. Landin Mac & Cheese, Melrose
Where else can you get mac and cheese, beef patties and tacos at the same time? It’s like Super Bowl Sunday everyday at Landin Mac & Cheese, where you can get the eponymous dish plus beef patties, tacos and quesadillas. Dishes start at around $5, so you can get your cheesy pasta fix on the cheap.

6. The Dumplin Shop, Baychester
If jerked chicken or ackee and salt fish are more your speed, check out The Dumplin Shop. The place is known for its delicious fish and dumplings, along with other tasty Jamaican dishes.

7. Ali’s Roti Shop, Wakefield
At this Trinidadian place, you can stuff your face with delicious doubles and roti without draining your wallet. Ali’s Shop may be light on ambiance, but makes up for it with heavy flavor.

8. Louie and Ernie’s Pizza, Schuylerville
This Bronx pizza place has been in its current location for 58 years, and has been featured on several Best Pizza in NYC lists. Get a slice for $3 or a calzone for $6.

Cheap Eats in Manhattan

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Big bites required. (Source: Mamoun’s Falafel Yelp)

9. Mamoun’s Falafel, various locations
Mamoun’s has been a staple for broke college students and those banking on high calorie-to-cost ratios since 1971. Come hungry, but not hangry — because there is always a line.

10. The Halal Guys, various locations
Oh yes, miracles are real. NYC’s renowned halal cart has a couple brick and mortar stores with seating. Get the obligatory chicken or beef over rice combo and add falafel — still comes out under $10.

11. Xi’an Famous Foods, various locations
This chain of restaurants started as a booth in the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing, Queens, and now has several locations throughout Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Be sure to try the hand-pulled noodles. Portions are large, which is great for leftovers — there’s nothing like cold Chinese noodles for breakfast.

12. Cuchifritos, East Harlem
No need to splurge on expensive local, farm-to-table produce when it’s fried. At East Harlem’s Cuchifritos, basically everything is fried and cheap. With chicharròn (Español for pork rind), alcapurria (a fritter made with green bananas) and mofongo (fried plantain), this shop has you covered.

13. Artichoke Pizza, various locations
While this spot is on the pricey end at around $5 per slice, its signature artichoke pizza is definitely worth the splurge. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the tasty crab slice. Artichoke Pizza has now expanded to several locations throughout NYC, so you don’t even have to factor subway fare into the cost of the meal.

14. Patacon Pisao, various locations
Ladies and gentlemen, I present the patacon, an epic plantain sandwich with some serious Venezuelan flavor. Instead of bread, your sandwich filing comes between fried plantains — they’re delicious and gluten free! Patacon Pisao is just about the only place in the city where you can get this style of sandwich, so you’d best order it. Also not to be missed on the menu are the arepas.

Cheap Eats in Queens

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Love them dumplings. (Source: Tianjin Dumpling House via Yelp)

15. Tianjin Dumpling House, Flushing
Tianjin Dumpling House is one of many stalls in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall, including the original Xi’an Famous Foods (see above.) This tiny stall churns out custom dumplings made to order. Simply choose from various fillings, and minutes later, piping hot dumplings appear on a plate before you. Twelve dumplings will set you back about $6. Pro tip: Frozen dumplings are also sold to take home in sets of 25 or 50. Buy a couple of bags of your favorite (mine is the sea bass) and stock up for winter.

16. The Strand Smokehouse, Astoria
Just when you thought BBQ was an expensive affair, the Strand Smokehouse swoops in for the win. With most meats under $10 per half pound and sides just $4, this joint is a frugal option for all those NYC transplants longing for classic summer BBQ fare.

17. Romano’s Famous Pizza, Astoria
While Romano’s isn’t artisanal pizza, it definitely will satisfy your late-night cravings. Get a slice for $2.75 or a whole cheese pizza for only $8.80.

18. Uncle ZhouElmhurst
Uncle Zhou’s has noodles galore. Take your pick of ramen, hand-drawn and knife-shaved noodle dishes served flavorful and on the cheap for under $10.

19. Hyderabadi Biryani & Chat, Flushing
With the generous portions served at this small, family-run Indian restaurant, you can feed two people for the price of one. Most of the Biryani and main courses are under $10. But if you take on a whole dish on your own, be prepared for the inevitable food coma afterward.

Cheap Eats in Staten Island

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Don’t mind the styrofoam. (Source: New Asha Yelp)

20. New Asha Sri Lankan Restaurant, Tomkinsville
As the home of NYC’s largest Sri Lankan population, Staten Island is the go-to borough for authentic Sri Lankan fare. New Asha is a modest restaurant that low on frills but high on flavor. Try the dhal vadai (lentil fritters), egg hoppers, or mutton roti. Best of all, nearly everything on the menu is under $10.

21. Ariemma’s Deli, Dongan Hills
This Italian deli has been churning out tasty and wallet-friendly sandwiches since 1956. With an long list of hot heros for $5, it’s no wonder this joint is a local favorite.

22. Pho Mac, Bulls Head
A bowl of pho does the body good just about any time of year. With a large bowl of brothy noodle soup only $9, Pho Mac is definitely a contender for anyone looking for some edible TLC on a tight budget.