New York is huge. With the title of most expensive city to live in the world,it also is America’s most densely populated city. With limited space within resident’s homes for kitchens, you’ll find most people either eating or “taking out” from their favourite places, meaning there’s an overwhelming number of places to choose from.
With very little time to do any research, and instead of relying on the internet for help, I enlisted the help of friends who now call NYC home to recommend some places that fit the cheap eats from New York criteria. Here are a few of my favourites places during a one week stay in the ‘Big Apple’.
The Hamburger at Corner Bistro
One of the first people who I caught up with in New York City was Amy, a friend and ex-colleague from Sydney. Now a resident in West Village, she gave me an extensive rundown of her time living in the area as we walked towards the low-key yet brownie dingy neighbourhood pub called the Corner Bistro.
Of all the burgers that Amy’s had in the city, she thinks it’s the best around, because of the beef that they use – and she was right. We ordered the hamburger and it came out with presented as an open burger with the patty on display as though to be inspected and approved prior to consumption. No cheese or bacon as insisted by the bartender as we ordered, but we stuck to our guns, so that we could taste the flavour of how properly treated beef should taste – all thriller and no filler.
There’s a separate dining area inside, but you can enjoy a burger anywhere there is space. If you’re dining solo, find a place at the bar and order from there as you can also strike up a conversation with the bar people or other patrons.
Where: 331 West 4th Street, New York.
How much: $21 gets you a hamburger and a couple of beers.
The Lobster Place at Chelsea Market
Being so close to New England, you can’t go to New York and not try lobster or a seafood chowder. I met my friend, Jay at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market for a lobster roll; one of the many cold or hot seafood sandwiches that they offer.
Set within a seafood market, customers can order a range of seafood meals ranging from sushi to grilled fish and crab. Jay recommended the lobster roll, along with a small tub of soup. There are a few types of soups on offer, but deciding which one to go with is easy as you’re able to taste them all before deciding. Don’t let the size of the lobster roll fool you, as a few bites in, you’ll be more than satisfied from the rich lobster meat, packed into the roll.
Where: Inside the Chelsea Market. 75 Ninth Ave, New York.
How much: $20 for a lobster roll and soup.
Bleaker Street Pizza for a late night Pizza Slice
There’s no shortage on activities each night in NYC, so inevitably, you’ll find yourself on your way home late night without having eaten dinner. This is where the New York slice becomes your best friend, because who wants to eat an entire pizza before bed, right? To be honest, pizza in New York is pretty good in most places, and everybody seems to have a personal favourite.
After more than a few drinks at the local sports bar, we ended up at Bleaker Street Pizza where I had a slice of Nonna Marina; a simple and traditional style tomato base with mozzarella, and garlic on a thin crust. At $3.50 on average for a slice, it’s a perfect top up without that guilty feeling the following morning.
Tip: There are also gluten-free options available.
Where: 69, 7th Avenue. South
Vanessa’s Dumplings in Chinatown
Pound for pound, there’s nothing better value than Chinese dumplings. Vanessa’s Dumplings have become an institute in NYC over the past fifteen years, and has expanded from a hole a hole in the wall store to three stores around the city.
I visited the original store in Elderidge St in Chinatown, based on a recommendation by Jenny, my food writer friend. Despite retaining much of what seems like the original rustic interior, it attracted a broad cross-section of customers, from business workers to tourists and students.
Tip: With 46 items on the menu ranging from dumplings, pancakes, noodles and soups it may seem daunting to make a decision. Start with the pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings for $1.25 (4 pieces) and decide what else to get after. An absolute steal!
Where: 118A Eldridge Street, Chinatown
Tacombi Nolita for Tacos
With a sizable Hispanic population in America, it isn’t difficult to find fresh and tasting Mexican flavours in the city. Tacoma Nolita is a Mexican restaurant with humble origins out of a VW Combi van that journeyed from Mexico City to NYC, where it was eventually converted into a taco truck.
With four locations throughout the city, my favourite location is the original restaurant Tacoma Nolita in East Village. Set in a garage workshop amongst a casual dining environment, the friendly staff serve up a range of fresh Mexican cuisine, cooked straight out of a replica of the original VW Combi.
Tip: Be sure to try the crispy fish taco.
Where: 267 Elizabeth Street
How much: $3.95-$5.45 per taco.
Jeffrey’s Grocery for Oyster happy hour
The oyster has an extensive history in NYC, long before pizzas and bagels were a common thing. In the 1700’s, these salty and creamy molluscs were as popular with street vendors as the hot dog and corn vendors you’d see in the city nowadays.
These days, it’s quite common to see an individual oyster priced at well over $3.50 each. However, with so many oyster bars in New York City, many of them have oyster happy hour in order to lure in new customers.
Located on a quiet corner in The West Village, Jeffrey’s Grocery puts its entire menu of Oysters on special for $1.50 each weekday between 4-6pm. Depending on market conditions, that could be nearly a dozen varieties of oysters up for grabs, appealing to the oyster fiend in all of us.
Tip: Get in early before five as the venue has a limited capacity and can get busy, with few staff on service.
Ramen Burger at Smorgasburg
I’ve never understood the obsession with lining up for something, regardless of how good it is? However, on this occasion, I was willing to line up for the Ramen Burger at Smorgasbord markets in Brooklyn – only because I was up for trying something different and a little wacky.
Constructed with only two pre cooked ramen ‘buns’, a smaller than usual grilled beef patty and garnished with some baby rocket, the ramen burger is void of any firm textures. It left me a little confused as to how to assess it, but what prevented the burger from being a complete disaster was the smoky BBQ sauce which gave the burger an incredible savoury finish .
I’m still on a fence with this one. However, you should at least give it a try – it’s a nice trip over into Brooklyn anyway.
Where: Smorgasburg Food Market. 50 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY
How much: $9 for the burger
Bagel Brunching at Sadelle’s
You can’t go to New York without having a Bagel. When you ask for a smoked salmon bagel at Sadelle’s, you just don’t get an ordinary salmon; you get a tower of salmon, resembling something that you’d be offered at high tea at The Ritz Carlton.
With booth styled seating along both walls and a communal table splitting the middle of the room, the venue is mostly occupied by brunching mothers or girlfriends. If you’re not intimidated by that, then you won’t walk away feeling hungry from Sadelle’s.
Tip: The coffee isn’t the greatest, so best to avoid it.
Where: 463 West Broadway, New York
Cost: $16 for the Salmon Bagel (Large enough for two persons)