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New York City is not a cheap town. A Monday night dinner at an average bistro can easily run to at least $50 per person, weekday lunch salad rings in near $15, and the norm for cocktails is nearing $18. But that’s not to say there aren’t still deals available for varied, satisfying, and delightful fare — which is exactly what this guide aims to illuminate.

On here, find the best dollar slice in your neighborhood, elusive Korean-Uzbek dishes, century-old spaghetti and meatballs, late-night Ghanaian food, and other standout affordable fare across the five boroughs. Take yourself on a walking food tour of Chinatown, eat through the city’s top tacos, and gorge on rice noodles, 2018’s hottest cheap eat.

What is cheap eats, anyway? Well, it’s all relative. If you pay $4 for a taco on a single small tortilla with just a scatter of ingredients, you might call it a bad deal. On the other hand, if your taco is made with two six-inch corn tortillas, handmade, and loaded with fillings — and perhaps even topped with a squirt of guacamole — that same $4 seems like a steal.

In this cheap eats conglomeration, we aim to feed you well for $10 or less, especially if you find yourself eating in bargain surroundings. It might be $20 or less if the ingredients are premium, the setting verges on posh, and service is the opposite of the “fast-casual” that’s the norm today. Thus, a pair of lamb kebabs served with a mountain of pilaf and nicely dressed side salad could be $12 or $15, and we’d still consider it a bargain. There are very few places in these pieces where you can’t eat well, and even magnificently, for $20 per person or less.


Edited by Stefanie Tuder and Serena Dai
Fact checked by Dawn Mobley
Photography by Gary He; illustrations by Jordan Sondler
Logo by Eater; icons by Hayley Parke/Noun Project and Valeriy/Noun Project