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The Contest Day 3: Eggs, Pastries, Fear, Loathing, and Bananas. Lots of Bananas.

Two and a half days down, two and a half days to go: Here's how Eaer's editors are doing in #thecontest

Seven editors are still competing in the $10-per-day dining challenge called The Contest.  Here's a report on what everyone ate this morning. If you're playing along at home, please share your day three meals in the forums, and don't forget to tag any photos on Instagram or Twitter with #thecontest.

Breakfast on Wednesday, July 15:

Player: Robert Sietsema

Order/Strat: Better not to overthink your $10 day ahead of time. Spontaneity is a gift where budget dining is concerned.

Today I stumbled bleary-eyed into Andy's Deli on Sheridan Square around 8:30 a.m. It's the place with the cheapest egg sandwiches I know of. Having learned the value of conserving money for the evening repast, I ordered the cheapest one available, one egg on a roll, $1.75. Here's the trick to maximizing your enjoyment: ask for "one egg on a buttered roll," and the sandwich guy, sensing your hedonism and approving of it, will really slather the butter on, making a mediocre egg taste golden.


Player: Vince Dixon

Order/Strat: My goal for the week is to eat under a different quintessential New York dining experience each day. Yesterday I ate New York "street food." Today I will try to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner from fast food giants, as commercial fast food is essential to tourist destinations like New York.

I started the day with a $1 "Fruit N' Yogurt Parfait" from McDonald's. It was small, but went well with half of the twin banana I bought yesterday, and some green tea. Nine dollars left! Mood-wise, thanks to Rafiqi's, last night was not as bad as Day 1. I actually had leftover chicken, two munchkins and the banana.


Player: Sonia Chopra

Purchase: Diner breakfast sandwich ($2.50). Remainder: $7.50.

Order: I took an early morning coffee meeting at LES's El Rey (if it had been any less muggy I would have seriously contemplated whether the brownie batter hot chocolate counted as a meal or if it was technically exempt), which conveniently put me a block away from a Dominican-Caribbean diner, El Castillo de Jagua, on my list. I got an egg and Swiss on whole wheat (!!) and a coffee for $3.50 + tax, which came out to some number in change that I didn't have and the nice lady kindly let it slide instead of making me break a dollar, which I then of course tipped her. The sandwich was not that pretty, especially after I came home and doused it in chile sauce left over from Monday's banh mi purchase, so here's the exterior of the restaurant instead.

Strategy: So far I've hit the following cuisines — at least three a day, and only restaurants I've never been to before: Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese (dumplings), Polish, two bakeries that were ostensibly-but-unconfirmed Taiwanese, Bangladeshi, Pakistani/Indian halal, Filipino, and Dominican-Caribbean. Very happy that this week has forced (encouraged!) me to explore more and get out of my usual routine.


Player: Amanda Kludt

Purchase: pastry filled with cream ($1.50) and spicy cod roe onigiri ($1.95)

Place: Cafe Zaiya

Of course I had a banana as soon as I got to my desk (purchased in bulk on Monday). For my second breakfast I went to Cafe Zaiya and got a pastry and an onigiri (to be eaten for lunch). I'm glad I had a restricted spending amount because otherwise I wouldn't have chosen this lowly pastry and would have been dazzled instead by the more expensive almond croissants or the even more expensive pastries over at Maison Keyser (where I went first). Zaiya is a great resource for cheap, delicious, fresh pastries and takeaway Japanese snacks. Glad to have it around.

My strategy today is to have two small breakfasts (banana + pastry) and two small lunches (onigiri plus a baguette thing from Arcade bakery) and have $5 left for dinner. That said I'm leaning heavy on the carbs with not much protein to speak of. Fingers crossed I won't need a 4 p.m. empanada run.

Remainder: $6.05


Player: Jarret Meskin

Purchase: four bananas: $1

Strategy: With the Slice Count™ now at 5, I needed to step away from the BECs and bagels I had previously planned on eating for breakfast this week. As the rain started to come down, I walked past a fruit stand on my way home from the gym. They had an impressive selection of affordable fruits. I had my eye on a container of strawberries for $2, but I was able to snag four bananas for ONE DOLLAR. I am now beginning to realize the importance of bananas in #thecontest.

I've eaten two already (as of 10:30AM) and I can snack on the other two later. Best of all, I'm planning on having $6-7 for dinner.

Fruit Stand | Corner of 14th Street and University Place


Player: Daniela Galarza

Purchase: None

Cost: $0 Remainder: $10

Strategy: Stumbled out of bed around 7 a.m. and pushed the leftover half of yesterday's Cuban sandwich into my mouth while standing over the sink. Righteous. Looked for a fruit stall this morning, but came up empty. I guess they're trying to stay out of the rain. Subsisting on green tea. Soon, coffee. Might opt for an early lunch.

Mood: Feeling the burn.


Player: Greg Morabito

Order/Strat: After last night's nervy Jackson Heights dinner, I wanted to start the day off with a substantial breakfast sandwich, so I headed to Manhattan Avenue's Bagels By the Dozen. This is, in my mind, the platonic ideal of a Brooklyn bagel cafe. The bagels are baked on premises and the muffins are the size and shape of medicine balls. The shop has four refrigerator cases stocked with multiple varieties of Gatorade and juice. The bagel counter is elevated about a foot off the ground so that you're always looking up at the person that's going to make your sandwich. And the stereo is always playing chirpy top 40 hits. There's no funny business at this place. It's all action.

I got two eggs on a kaiser roll with cheddar cheese for $3.25. Arguably my best food decision of the week.


Running out of competition:

Player: Hillary Dixler


Location: Pio Bagel, 136 Lawrence St, Brooklyn

Cost: $2.95

Order: Egg and cheese on a plain bialy

This has been my most disappointing meal consumed during The Contest. I was hellbent on getting the sandwich on a bialy in some misguided effort to watch my carbs/calories during this cheap eats bonanza -- but that means I had to settle for a plain bialy. The cheese isn't even melted. Just so so not what I hoped for. But such is life in Downtown Brooklyn. At least we have a bagel shop now. That's what I tell myself.

Find all of Eater's cheap eats coverage here.