Three Great Cheap is a weekly series from critic Robert Sietsema that seeks to find and popularize New York City’s most interesting and inexpensive food in the five boroughs and beyond. Find the back catalog here. Also consult the bigger cheap eats guide, with maps, walking tours, and other resources.
I’m a sucker for any place that calls itself a “hut,” and this place is no exception. Curry Hut, located on the burgeoning cheap eats strip behind the Port Authority Bus Terminal, is a small cafe with a steam table, but before you question the freshness of steam table fare, note that this one, with about two dozen receptacles, is pristine in its choices. And lunch is an especially good deal, with lots of options — vegetarian as well as meat-bearing — in the under $10 range. (Many other specials are available, but check the signs outside.)
The other day I was in the mood for some goat curry, and sure enough, there was a steaming tub of it, some pieces boneless, some bony, about half pleasantly rimmed with fat — and no potato filler. The lunch special comes with a second vegetable dish, and I picked saag paneer, said to be made with organic spinach. Both were excellent, and the basmati rice couldn’t have been fluffier or more flavorful. Other interesting dishes on the menu, not always available: egg curry in a tomato and chile sauce, tandoori shrimp salad, Peshawari naan with nuts and raisins, and chicken biryani. 534 Ninth Ave., between 39th and 40th streets, Hell’s Kitchen
At its heart, Murray Hill’s Lamazou is a place for an affineur, people devoted to the proper aging of cheeses. In practice, though, it’s more of a European deli, offering crackers, breads, cookies, mustards, and other goods needed for the enjoyment of cheese and charcuterie. Some are used to make very nice sandwiches, which are based on a choice of breads. They’re available in half sizes for $6 or $7. The flagship of the sandwich fleet is caprice de Lamazou, which features smoked salmon, capers, and cornichons wetted with lemon sauce. A reader favorite suggested in a tweet is the troubadour, a simple but delectable sandwich of sliced chorizo and manchego cheese. Homemade soup is available weekdays. 370 Third Ave., between 26th and 27th streets, Murray Hill
Danny’s Tasty Delight
Danny’s is one of dozens of Jamaican restaurants in East Flatbush, but with a slight difference. It includes a bakery in an adjacent storefront that also specializes in Trinidadian savory and sweet pastries, in addition to Jamaican ones. Meat patties at Danny’s are particularly memorable, Jamaican empanadas of large surface area, with a crust crisp yellow with annatto. My favorite here is the spicy beef patty. The finely minced meat inside is laced with scotch bonnet sauce, causing a prodigious and perfumey burn. To tone down the heat somewhat and ramp up the volume, also order a coco bread and place the patty inside, making the pair a full meal. The combination will set you back only $3. 778 Lenox Rd., between East 49th Street and Utica Avenue, East Flatbush