No trip to New York City would be complete without trying some of the city’s fantastic food.
This post lists 13 of the top-notch cheap eats under $10 in the Big Apple so you won't have to take a bite out of your wallet!
As a local walking tour company, we tour guides are experts at finding affordable places to eat, both for our own interest and our guests.
We take thousands of visitors each month around the streets of New York City and a very common question that we get is where to eat well and cheaply.
We also run a popular Facebook group and asked our members where they felt the best cheap eats in NYC were, and boy did they have their opinions.
After reading this post, find out what the roughly 180k members of our NYC Travel Tips Facebook group say are their favorite foods in NYC and join the conversation.
The group is made up of locals, regular visitors to NYC, and those just getting to know the city.
There's no need to join to read the recommendations.
- Top 13 Cheap Eats
- Famous Foods of New York City
- Pay-what-you-like Food Tours
- New York on a Budget
- New York Restaurant Week 2023
- Things to Do in NYC
This tiny shop in Greenwich Village is the oldest falafel restaurant in NYC, going strong since 1972.
For those unfamiliar with falafel, it’s a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine.
It’s a pita bread sandwich filled with fried balls of ground chickpeas flavored with a range of herbs and spices. Mamoun’s throws in parsley which gives the inside of the balls a light green color.
Once inside the pita, the balls are topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, tahini sauce, and, if you dare, Mamoun’s famous hot sauce.
The sandwiches are large and filling, so the sticker price of $7.85 is well worth it.
Mamoun’s is so good and affordable that it's a stop on both Greenwich Village Food Tours (see the video above).
Xi’an Famous Foods began as a 200-square-foot stall in the basement of the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing, Queens (NYC’s largest Chinatown) in 2005.
This family-run business was the first to bring the little-known cuisine of Xi’an, in Northwest China to the US.
It has since opened multiple locations around NYC.
The appeal is the savory, spicy seasoning on its dishes. Get the spicy cumin lamb burgers tucked into a crispy flatbread-like bun or the Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles.
For most dishes, you can request how hot (or not) you want it!
But the burgers come as they are. Be prepared as they are on the spicier end of the spectrum.
Need your greens? The Tiger Vegetable Salad is a fiery mix of cilantro tossed with celery, scallion, and sliced long-horn peppers in a sesame vinaigrette.
3. Joe's Pizza
They keep it simple.
The $4 cheese slice is a big triangle of not-to-thin, not-too-thick crispy crust, slathered with a tangy tomato sauce and covered with lots of mozzarella.
The result is a scrumptious - and foldable - slice, ideal for eating while walking as locals do.
If you prefer sitting, a small park is just across the street.
Joe’s may be well-known for its pizza slices but is also famous for its appearance in Spider-man 2, in which Peter Parker works at Joe’s but gets fired as he is always late!
This New Orleans-inspired sandwich shop started off in 2009 in a tiny space and has grown so much in popularity, they are moving into the upscale Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side.
Try the authentic shrimp and oyster po’boy or the succulent fried chicken sandwich with biscuits and gravy.
Another fave is the braised short rib sandwich served on challah bread. Go full Louisiana with a muffuletta sandwich or beignets dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
This Mexican fast-food restaurant has been rated by many as making the best tacos in NYC.
Dozens and dozens of members of our Facebook group agree!
Los Tacos No. 1 was opened by three friends from California, these tacos may be the closest you can get to authentic Cali-style tacos.
The menu is easy to navigate with under 15 items, including beverages.
You can get tacos or quesadillas filled with either: carne asada (grilled steak), pollo asado (grilled chicken), adobada (marinated pork), or nopal (grilled cactus).
Tacos are $5 each, but so fantastic, you’ll happily pay $10 for two!
6. Crif Dogs
This small hot dog shop in the East Village has a big list of toppings for their franks, which are deep-fried in oil instead of grilled.
Start off with a Crif Dog for $4.50 and build on that.
Choose from pickles, cream cheese, hummus, sour cream, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, sauerkraut, coleslaw, and more. Or opt for one of their signature Crif Dogs.
Try the “Chihuahua” (bacon-wrapped frank, sour cream, avocado), the “Spicy Redneck” (spicy bacon-wrapped frank, chili, pickled jalapeños, and coleslaw), or the “Tsunami” (bacon-wrapped frank with pineapple, scallions, and teriyaki sauce).
It’s open until 2 am, so you're covered for a late-night snack after a night out in the East Village.
7. NY Dosas
On the south side of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, you’ll see a small food cart, with a long line. Join the wait for one of the large, delicious dosas.
Dosas are thin crepes made from a batter of rice and lentils (perfect for gluten-free folk!).
They are filled with potatoes and/or steamed veggies.
Your order comes with a cup of Sambar (lentil soup w/multi vegetables) and a side of coconut chutney -- all for under $10.
Enjoy your mouth-watering meal while watching the colorful characters in the park.
This Hong Kong-style fast food restaurant specializes in, you guessed it, rice rolls. What’s a rice roll?
It’s rice ground fresh daily by a stone mill into a batter, then rolled on a tray, filled with pork, shrimp, beef, or other vegetables, then steamed.
The result is a translucent, chewy, and very tasty roll that can be topped with soy sauce, peanut sauce, or hot chili oil.
For $8 and under, choose from beef, shrimp, roast pork, or vegetables. For $11, try Joe's Signature Rice Roll with beef, pork, dried shrimp, egg, and three types of vegetables.
With the tantalizing aromas wafting down the street, you’ll automatically gravitate to this food cart at W. 53rd Street and 6th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
So what is halal food? And what do these guys serve that has, made them so popular they now have more carts and storefronts around NYC?
Halal is the set of standards that meat must be produced to meet Islamic religious laws. The Halal Guys' signature dish that locals and tourists wait in line for is the Chicken Platter.
First, they start with Halal chicken marinated for 12 hours in their magical seasoning of fragrant spices.
Next, they grill it to perfection, chop it up and serve it over yellow rice with hot sauce and their special white sauce.
If there is only one street cart you eat from on your trip, it should be this one.
It’s right down the block from the Museum of Modern Art, so combine a visit with a stop here.
No trip to New York City would be complete without trying some of the city’s fantastic food. And just like you, we love great food at great prices.
10. Gray’s Papaya
A trip to the Upper West Side would not be complete without grabbing a hot dog and a tropical-flavored drink at Gray’s Papaya.
Ask any New Yorker, and they’ll know Gray’s Papaya. You may too, from the movie "You've Got Mail".
You can’t miss Gray’s, with its huge neon marquee on the corner of Broadway and W. 72nd Street and the wafting smell of grilled franks.
A frank with ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, onions, and relish will set you back at just $2.95.
For another two bucks, get one of the creamy, foamy tropical-flavored drinks.
Those on a tight budget with a big appetite will love the “Recession Special” (two Franks and a medium tropical flavored drink) for $6.95 and that’s including tax!
11. Mei Lai Wah
Come for the best Roasted Pork Bun in Chinatown. Stay for the Pineapple Pork Bun.
The baked buns are a bit smaller than the size of a fist, with a firm, yet lightly flakey shell. Inside is a tangy roast pork filling.
There’s very little room to move around in this shop, so once your order is ready, you’ll have to take it to go.
If you are going late in the afternoon, you may want to call ahead as they may sell out of them as devotees snatch up 5 boxes at a time!
12. B&H Dairy
This tiny no-frills diner-style restaurant has been serving old-world comfort food since 1938.
It's one of the best restaurants in the East Village given the amazing food and equally amazing prices.
The $8.50 breakfast is available until 11 am and comes with two eggs any style, home fries, thick challah bread, orange juice and coffee or tea.
You can't order a side of bacon as B&H is Kosher and vegetarian.
Other terrific dishes on the menu are sweet cheese blintzes, boiled pierogies, borscht, and crispy potato pancakes.
Be sure to check the menu if you crave something in particular. Each day of the week has its own specials and soups.
13. Fried Dumpling
This hidden gem hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown is little more than a counter where you order.
The menu has just two items: 5 fried dumplings for $1.25 and 4 fried pork buns for $1.25.
Stick with their specialty. Though they aren’t the biggest fried dumplings in town, they are delectable, lightly fried with a flavorsome filling of pork.
They are served on a paper plate with a fork, and you can use soy sauce or hot sauce on sitting at the counter.
Given that these dumplings are one of the best cheap eats in the city, expect a line.
Once you get your order, you will have to take them outside of the shop to eat, but it won't take you more than 5 minutes to finish them all -- they are just that good!
Ess-a-Bagel has been making huge, delicious bagels in Midtown East since 1976.
Lightly crunchy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside, their bagels can be eaten plain, but add one of the 20 cream cheese flavors for a filling sandwich.
They don’t do any wacky bagel flavors here - just the classics: plain, poppy, onion, garlic, sesame, salt, and everything (all the toppings just listed!).
A bagel with plain cream cheese is just under $5. Want a more substantial breakfast? Get a BEC (bacon, egg, and cheese) on a bagel for $9.
For lunch, you can’t go wrong with tuna or egg salad on a bagel for around $8.
Ess-A-Bagel is great, but there is some competition! Find out who they are from our post, 15 Best Bagels in New York City