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A square filled pizza with the top pulled back on one square slice.
Fetteer, a double-crusted Egyptian pie filled with sausage, cheese, and vegetables, from Mum Mediterranean
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

40 Inexpensive Dining Destinations in NYC

Eater critic Robert Sietsema rounds up good food deals in the five boroughs and beyond

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Fetteer, a double-crusted Egyptian pie filled with sausage, cheese, and vegetables, from Mum Mediterranean
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The coronavirus pandemic has tossed a brick into the machinery of New York City restaurants, but — at least according to what I’ve seen — small, inexpensive, often immigrant-run restaurants are surviving. Here are 40 great dining establishments, including some old chestnuts as well as new favorites, where you can dine well for $15 or less — or occasionally more in consideration of meal size, cost of ingredients, or restaurant location, since overhead is often higher in expensive neighborhoods.

New to this edition of the map are Amuni, Calle 191 Pescaderia, Harry Sweets & Snacks, King David Tacos, Lamoon, Mum Mediterranean Cuisine, Operation: Falafel, Santa Clarita, 7th Street Burger, Taqueria Al Pastor, and Ugly Donuts & Corn Dogs.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Paula's Soul Food Cafe

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746 E 233rd St
The Bronx, NY 10466
(718) 655-1022
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This classic cafe — owned and operated by Omar Bailey just down the block from Montefiore Medical Center in the Wakefield neighborhood — provides great renditions of soul food standards. The whiting sandwich is piled high with crisp filets (catfish is also available), the mac and cheese crusted with extra cheddar, and the banana pudding every bit as good as Magnolia Bakery’s. And the fried chicken is to die for.

A stack of fried whiting filets on sliced bread. Robert Sietsema/Eater

2. Calle 191 Pescaderia

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1609 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10040
(212) 740-8999
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Located in the northern reaches of Washington Heights near Highbridge Park, this Dominican establishment handily combines a fish market with a restaurant a tad more formal than most fish market eateries. Decorated with artificial palm trees, it also boasts a bar, and the lengthy menu features nearly every Spanish and Latin-Caribbean seafood dish you can imagine. The favorite on a recent visit was a marvelous asopao, a tomatoey and vinegary rice soup flavored with garlic and cilantro, generously dotted with large shrimp.

A hand lifts up a spoonful of red soup with shrimp. Robert Sietsema/Eater

3. Dukagjini Burek

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758 Lydig Ave
The Bronx, NY 10462
(718) 822-8955
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This long-running Albanian coffee shop owned by Marjan Kolnrekaj makes one thing, and one thing extremely well: the flaky, rotund pie known in the Balkans as burek, a stacked mass of paper-thin dough stuffed with cheese, meat, or spinach. A wedge makes a full meal; an entire pie feeds a family. The coffee’s good, too, at this anchor of the Pelham Parkway food scene.

A group stand around a couter, behind which a woman in a baseball cap sells filo pies. Robert Sietsema/Eater

4. Jerk House

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2143 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(917) 675-7477
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Harlem has rarely seen a Jamaican steam-table restaurant with such a broad, pristine selection of island-style dishes. Sure, the jerk chicken is great, finished over a flame right before being served, but you’ll also find jerk pork, jerk ribs, and even jerk fried chicken. There’s also escovitch fish, curry chicken, and, perhaps best of all, curry goat. The restaurant is an offshoot of an earlier Jerk House in the Bronx, both operated by Sideon Stewart, affectionately known as “Jerk Chicken Jackie.”

Goat curry with plantains in a small Styrofoam container. Robert Sietsema/Eater

5. Santa Clarita

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237 Willis Ave #2
Bronx, NY 10454
(718) 292-9399

Santa Clarita was a Puerto Rican restaurant when it was founded way back in 1971 — but now it’s among Mott Haven’s best Mexican restaurants. The spacious, barely renovated dining room may induce nostalgia, and a broad carryout window directs your attention to a rotating al pastor cylinder. Step up and grab a taco or two and sit on the restaurant’s shady front porch. Other antojitos and bargain one-plate meals available.

A restaurant with a brownish red awning with the name of the restaurant and an giant order window visible on the left. Robert Sietsema/Eater

6. Bilao

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1437 1st Avenue Store 1
New York, NY 10021
(212) 650-0010
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This Filipino cafe owned by three nurses and led by chef Boji Asuncion serves all three meals, and the breakfast selection includes a fish congee called goto, plus many “silog” dishes that feature fried eggs, garlic rice, and a main meat. Other standards served here include a nutty oxtail kare kare and a sizzling sisig rich in random porcine parts.

A big bowl of peanut butter stew with green beans visible and a dark red relish poised overhead. Robert Sietsema/Eater

7. King Of Falafel & Shawarma

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30-15 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 340-8068
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King of Falafel and Shawarma is a Palestinian restaurant a stone’s throw from the Broadway stop on the N and W trains, which descended from a truck launched by Fares “Freddy” Zeideia in 2002; it turned into a restaurant in 2016. The falafel is indeed some of the best in town, big and cylindrical, with a crust that makes an emphatic crunch and an herby soft interior. Another favorite is qudsia, a plate of hummus with a reservoir of stewed fava beans in the center, and an unforgettable green sauce. “What’s in it?” I asked. “It’s a secret,” the server replied.

A carryout container of hummus with fava beans on top and a green sauce.

8. Ugly Donuts & Corn Dogs

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136-84 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11354
(347) 506-0425
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You’re going to have to sit in the park across the street from this new Korean carryout window in the middle of Flushing’s transportation hub. But the one-two punch of misshapen doughnuts and Korean corn dogs (really, rice dogs, since the batter is made with rice and not corn) makes a very enjoyable meal. The dog-on-a-stick that comes with potato cubes implanted in the batter, making french fries unnecessary, is particularly enticing.

A corn dog dotted with potato cubes with a pair of blue jeans with legs in them in the background on a sunny day. Robert Sietsema/Eater

9. Cevabdzinica Sarajevo

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37-18 34th Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101
(718) 752-9528

The awning proclaims “since 1976,” but that’s when the predecessor of this small corner restaurant opened in Sarajevo. The present establishment originated in the 90s, when founders Ifeta and Ismet Huskovic emigrated to Queens during the Bosnian War. Grilled meats like pljeskavica (shaped like a hamburger) and cevapi (skinless sausages) are delectable and halal. They’re served with chopped raw onions and ajvar, a red pepper paste. Beans and smoked meat, salads snowed with feta, stuffed cabbage, and dessert crepes round out the bill of fare.

Bosnian sausages Cevabdzinica Sarajevo Astoria

10. Nurlan Uyghur Restaurant

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43-39 Main St
Queens, NY 11355
(347) 542-3324
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Nurlan is one of the few Uyghur restaurants in the city, presenting the food of an ethnic minority in far northwestern China. The menu is influenced by Middle Eastern and Central Asian fare, with its kebabs, pastas, and rice pilafs, but then there’s also the fabled “big tray” of chicken or lamb, which features those meats swimming in chile oil with potatoes. The charmingly decorated cafe is run by Adil Nurdun and Arkin Ali, and you might be surprised to find that the kebab list includes that most New York of meats — the hot dog.

Four kebabs on metal skewers. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

11. Voilà Afrique

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844 2nd Ave Enter through 45th Street Between 1st and, 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10017
(917) 327-3510
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This West African café just west of the United Nations is from Ghanaian owner George Quainoo and Nigerian chef Margarete Duncan, and the menu is a pleasing collection of culinary commonplaces from both countries. Suya is a fistful of peanut-crusted beef kebabs, while egusi is a sauce of greens and ground pumpkin seeds that looks something like scrambled eggs. You can never go wrong with the vegetarian peanut sauce, served with mashes such as white yam fufu or the fermented cornmeal loaf called kenkey.

A bowl of red, a tray of green and yellow, and a loaf of cornmeal mush wrapped in corn husk. Robert Sietsema/Eater

12. Angel Indian Restaurant

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7414 37th Rd
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
(347) 848-0097

This northern Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights comes from an Adda alum, and recently added meat and poultry to a menu that had once been vegetarian. Chef Amrit Pal Singh still makes a vegetarian version of Adda’s signature dish, dum biryani, Lucknow-style with a dough crust across the top. There’s also paneer khurchan (paneer cheese stir-fried with tomatoes and peppers) and pani puri (a snack of small pastry globes to be cracked on top and filled with chutney) that are popular here. Most dishes are made to order.

A vegetarian biryani pie with the crust on top torn open to reveal the filling. Robert Sietsema/Eater

13. Amazing Grace Restaurant

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6902 Roosevelt Ave
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 335-7036

Successor to neighborhood mainstay Krystal’s, Amazing Grace took over the same Little Manila space not long ago, offering a similar mix of Filipino standards that went from barbecued brochettes (the pig ear is especially chewy, in a good way), to set lunch and dinner plates, to the omnibus breakfasts known as silogs. The one featuring smoked milkfish is a favorite, also including garlic rice, fried eggs, eggplant strips, and a fresh salsa of onions and tomatoes. The restaurant is run by longtime area denizens Mary Jane De Leon and Efren De Leon.

In the foreground on a white plate, a whole fish head and all browned from smoking, with an array of dishes around it. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

14. Operation: Falafel

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232 7th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(646) 791-5161
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Operation: Falafel is a Dubai fast food chain that arrived in New York City for the first time and set down in Chelsea. Most of the dishes will already be familiar, but some display interesting twists. Chicken shawarma comes as a pair of pita sandwiches stuffed in a wallet-like box, and “stuffed falafel” betokens a big, sesame-seed carpeted fritter plonked on a stuffing that includes chickpeas, a spinach salad, and a cracked-wheat casserole.

A falafel covered with sesame seeds, with a bunch of dishes jammed underneath, one featuring baby spinach. Robert Sietsema/Eater

15. Lamoon

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8140 Broadway
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(917) 745-1168
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At Lamoon in Elmhurst, Arada Moonroj whips up a slew of northern Thai specialties in a space that looks like a living room. The coconut-laced chicken soup khao soi is a good bet, more mildly spiced than many of the chile-laden dishes there, which include nam giaw, another agreeable soup laced with chiles and filled with pork ribs and ground pork.

A place of rice salad and bowl of red soup, with garnishes that include sprouts and pickled mustard greens served separately. Robert Sietsema/Eater

16. Harry Sweets & Snacks

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248-6 Union Tpke
Queens, NY 11426
(718) 347-0888
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This modest spot concentrates on Mumbai-style street snacks and is strictly vegetarian. One favorite is bun choley, a small round roll stuffed with chickpeas, potatoes, and onions sweetened with tamarind sauce, very much like Trinidadian doubles. The menu also offers samosa chaats and other chaats, poori-accompanied vegetable curries, milk-based sweets, and snacks combining fried lentils, nuts, chips, and crunchy noodles, sold by the pound.

A flatbread stuffed with chickpeas and potatoes, Robert Sietsema/Eater

17. Minar Halal Meat

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771 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 216-0222

What could be better than a butcher shop with a small sub shop planted in the front window selling meats grilled over charcoal? This halal establishment in Jersey City’s India Square (a name that doesn’t quite capture the neighborhood’s South Asian diversity) makes kebabs into nourishing and inexpensive sandwiches, and also grills freshwater fish prominent in Bangladeshi cuisine, and tandoori chickens, too. There isn’t much seating space, but a counter stands on one side for the dining convenience of patrons.

This may be the metropolitan area’s best chicken tandoori. Robert Sietsema

18. Crop Circle

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126 MacDougal St
New York, NY 10012
(917) 409-1666
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Gui kui, a popular street food, is a stuffed flatbread invented in Shaanxi, perfected in Hubei, and now popular in Sichuan, Shanghai, and Singapore. In the form that landed on Greenwich Village’s hopping Macdougal Street, oblong flattened dough is stuffed with a choice of pork, pickled mustard greens, chicken, or — best of all — spicy beef with Sichuan peppercorns, and then lowered into a tandoor-like oven and baked till golden brown. Chefs Michael Zheng Chen and Zhuobu Zheng round out their menu with a few dim sum classics, including pork dumplings and shrimp rice-noodle rolls.

A cook in a mask stands before a vertical oven topped with tile and pulls out a flatbread with tongs. Robert Sietsema/Eater

19. Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery

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215 Avenue A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 780-9204

Via Pueblan owners Pompeyo and Maria Martinez, this grocery in the East Village — its shelves are stocked with dried chiles, fresh tomatillos, Mexican beers, and tortillas by the kilo — has a few tables. Check out the display by Zaragoza’s register for the daily taco and burrito fillings, which may incorporate chile-laced chicken, steak, dried-beef cecina (a southern Mexican jerky), and goat barbacoa. On weekends, there’s sometimes a pork pozole served with two avocado-topped tostadas, and specialties of the house run to potato flautas and meatballs with a quail egg planted inside. Grab a cold one from the refrigerator case, and enjoy.

A bowl of pozole soup with nuggets of hominy and a couple of tostadas on the side. Robert Sietsema/Eater

20. 7th Street Burger

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91 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009
(646) 490-6797
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This new burger joint has only four items on its menu — two burgers, an Impossible burger, and french fries. The burger is one of the best in town, juicy and compact, with sauteed onions and cheese spilling out, and a patty bigger in proportion to bun and toppings. Not fussy, but delicious. The owner is Kevin Rezvani, who was previously involved with the Diesel & Duke chain in New Jersey.

A homely, squished down cheeseburger on greasy wrapping paper. Robert Sietsema/Eater

21. The Chippery NYC

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85 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(917) 261-6820
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Who doesn’t love fried seafood? Flaunting its nautical decor, the Chippery recently appeared on bopping First Avenue boasting a menu that runs to clam bellies, crabs, shrimp, and chicken nuggets, but stick with the basics: Eschew the more-expensive cod for the basic fish and chips, which deploy spectacularly fresh flounder or whiting filets, often locally caught. The calamari is a great deal, too, accompanied by the round potato coins sometimes referred to as “cottage fries.”

A white styrofoam tray of heavily breaded squid rings, a beautiful shade of orangish brown. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

22. Terra Thai

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518 E 6th St
New York, NY 10009
(646) 478-7415
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This tiny cafe just south of Tompkins Square specializes in the street food of Bangkok, with a limited menu of full meals that will make deciding what to eat easier. Karuna Wiwattanakantang and Norawat Margsiri previously owned a Thai restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, and the best dish on the current menu is basil chicken, with ground poultry cooked down to a rich mixture served with rice, a poached egg, and boiled sweet potato. For vegetarians, there’s a very nice pad Thai.

A black plastic carryout tray with a green chicken stir fry on one side, and rice with a poached egg and sweet potato on the other. Robert Sietsema/Eater

23. Pyza

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118 Nassau Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 349-8829

The days when the streets of Greenpoint were lined with the small Polish cafes labeled obiady (“meals”) are now long gone, but a few remain. One of the best is Pyza (“dumpling”), a sparsely furnished dining room with an order counter in one corner. When the cook, seen through the kitchen window, finishes assembling your selection, she calls out the name of the dish and you pick it up. Meals include stuffed cabbage, potato dumplings with meat, hunter’s stew, and schnitzels galore. The portions are so big that leftovers are a sure thing.

A well browned veal schnitzel with an egg on top, and mashed potatoes and purple cabbage on the side...

24. Banh Mi Co Ut

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83 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10013
(646) 767-0444

Owner and chief sandwich maker Co Ut Tran opened this new banh mi shop north of Canal Street not long ago. There are two other Vietnamese sandwich shops in close vicinity — both good — so why pick this one? Because the sandwiches tend to be overstuffed: the No. 4, for example, begins with the usual pate, cha lua, and salami, but then adds a bonus slice of fatty Virginia ham. What a combo! The vegetarian banh mi made with baked tofu is also good, redolent of lemongrass, and the kitchen staff ably turns out a modest collection of more ambitious dishes, which include a well-priced bowl of pho, and the wonderful tapioca dumplings called banh bot loc, which come wrapped in banana leaves and glow like amber.

A hero sandwich seen in cross section with layers of meat and vegetables. Robert Sietsema/Eater

25. Kaieteur Express II

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8808 183rd St
Jamaica, NY 11423
(718) 526-6251
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This compact Guyanese bakery with a lovely mural of the namesake waterfall delivers not only freshly made tennis rolls (a sweet bread), butter flaps, and pine tarts, but a full range of savory meals. Look for curries of lamb, duck, and red snapper served with white rice, roti, or dhal puri, or smaller savory dishes such as pepper shrimp, chicken in ruff, or fried banga mary, a freshwater fish. Finally, find a full menu of Guyanese-Chinese fare, mainly chow mein, fried rice, and lo mein, including the wonderful jerk pork fried rice.

A carryout tin of orange rice topped with jerk pork and shredded cabbage. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

26. Mum Mediterranean Cuisine

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66-28 Fresh Pond Rd
Queens, NY 11385
(347) 689-4228
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A new Ridgewood Egyptian restaurant, Mum replaced Little Egypt in the same storefront. The premises are now sleek and modern, and the food less seafood-oriented. One specialty of the menu is fetteer, a double-crust sheet pizza said to date to the time of the pharaohs. Fillings are diverse, including pastirma, shawarma, vegetables, and the sausage called sujuk. The usual dips and flame-grilled kebabs are available, but then so is the rice, pasta. and bean casserole koshari, and mombar, a rice sausage in a sheep casing.

A platter with falafel squiggled with tahini, with a brown sausage on the side and salad underneath. Robert Sietsema/Eater

27. Caravan Uyghur Cuisine

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200 Water St
New York, NY 10038

This halal restaurant near the South Street Seaport owned by Abdul Ahat Bakri put in a surprise appearance in the middle of last summer, peddling Uyghur standards — charcoal kebabs, rice pilaf, meat-bulging samsa, and fist-sized dumplings. The floppy spaghetti called lagman is made in the kitchen from scratch, and for fans of lamb, multiple dishes are available. One more tip: The entrance is on Pearl Street.

Peppers, lamb, onions, noodles, celery, and red broth on a plate. Robert Sietsema/Eater

28. Semkeh

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53 Morgan Ave Rear
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(347) 599-2889
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While most Lebanese restaurants have a straight-up Middle Eastern menu of such items as falafel, hummus, kebabs, and salads, Semkeh does the formula one better by including some rarely seen regional dishes, including the namesake samke (a more common spelling of the dish in the restaurant’s name). This classic from the north of the country features a fish poached in a spicy garlic-and-tahini sauce, which makes for a very spicy fish. Have it wrapped in a pita, or substitute sujuk, a Lebanese beef sausage. For vegetarians, check out the wrap of falafel and fried cauliflower with the garlicky aioli called toum.

A tubular wrap made with a grilled flatbread, a tomato slice peeking out the end. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

29. Mamak House

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250 NJ-440
Jersey City, NJ 07305
(201) 333-0072
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Maybe this spot on the Hackensack River facing Newark is not the first place you’d look for great Malaysian fare. But Mamak (the name is an honorific that can be used to refer to a maternal uncle, or any shopkeeper) delivers in all categories. The building boasts two big dining rooms with a lively carryout operation in between (for the neighborhood, it also functions as a Chinese restaurant). Check out the nasi lemak, a multi-item meal featuring a boiled egg, chicken curry flavored with pandanus, a sambal (spicy relish), cucumbers, and yellow rice. Plenty of vegetable dishes on the menu are worth checking out, too, along with thick noodles and meal-size soups.

Yellow rice in a white compartment tray, with a dark chicken curry in one part, and brown relish, cucumber, and split boiled egg on top of the rice in the other. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

30. Taqueria Al Pastor

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128 Wyckoff Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(718) 269-7538
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Sure, there are dozens of great, old-fashioned, mainly Pueblan taquerias within the broad borders of Bushwick, but this place opened early in 2020 with a jazzier demeanor, including a brighly painted minibus on its exterior. The lure is a humongous rotating trompo of pineapple-marinated pork al pastor, sliced and deposited on a rustic corn tortilla, Or have it as a volcan, which is something like a rimmed tostada. Cactus, chicken, and carne asada fillings also available.

A man in a blue shirt with a long knife bends over a twirling vertical spit of meat. Robert Sietsema/Eater

31. Pupusas Ridgewood

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71-20 Fresh Pond Rd
Queens, NY 11385
(347) 599-0858

Sure, you can find places that make their own Salvadoran pupusas, sometimes hand-patting the masa or rice dough, but this new establishment from Guillermina Ramirez takes the process one step further. Its pupusas are of larger circumference, juicier, and stuffed right when you order with a choice of 10 fillings. Some, like broccoli and cheese, are hard to find, but neophytes should first try cheese and loroco, a pickled flower that resembles oregano; and revueltas, which combines pork rind, beans, and cheese. You should first split the pupusa, then shovel in some of the slaw called curtido, for extra crunch.

An assortment of outsize papusas, browned stuffed pancakes sometimes broken open to show fillings, on a red plastic tray. Robert Sietsema/Eater

32. Grandchamps

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197 Patchen Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11233
(718) 484-4880
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Haitian restaurant Grandchamps, owned by Sabrina and Shawn Brockman, has rustic modern decor, featuring a big communal table with views of the neighborhood and a counter selling food products imported from Haiti. Appetizers and breakfast menu items are available, but the heart of the menu are seven classic Haitian dishes. Griot is one, the pork confit made by cooking the meat in its own citrusy marinade. Instead of being served as an entree, this griot is incorporated into a sandwich. The result is wonderful and unique. A dark red and slightly oily gravy accompanies.

A sandwich on a French roll filled with chunks are pork, with gravy in a small cup on the side. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

33. King David Tacos

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611 Bergen St
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(929) 367-8266
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What started out as a Manhattan pushcart first operated by Liz Solomon Dwyer in 2017 has recently turned into a handsome brick-and-mortar establishment in Prospect Heights, popularizing the breakfast tacos of San Antonio and Austin. These use a fresh flour tortilla, with ingredients like refried beans, cheddar cheese, chorizo, potatoes, and eggs rolled inside, seasoned with either of the shop’s salsas. Seating in a side courtyard makes breakfast or lunch a pleasure.

Four foil wrapped cylinders on a tray. Robert Sietsema/Eater

34. Unique J Kitchen and Bakery

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4120 10th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11219

Borough Park, near the border of Sunset Park, was ripe for a Jamaican restaurant when Unique J’s opened there recently. Though no seating is available, there are benches in the park directly across the street. The steam table displays luscious and pristine versions of oxtail, curry goat, mac and cheese, and callaloo. Meanwhile, a smoking oil drum outside promises great jerk chicken, heavy on the jerk coating (ask for the jerk sauce on the side — it’s incendiary). As an added bonus, Jamaican breakfasts are also available featuring dishes like saltfish and ackee (shown).

A metal container with something that looks like scrambled eggs and peppers, with a big fried dumpling on the side. Robert Sietsema / Eater New York

35. The Roast 28

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5124 8th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 633-8288

There is no better spot for an introduction to Chinese charcuterie that the spread that features prominently in the lap mei served at Roast 28, which also boasts a branch in Flushing. Go inside to find a series of backlit menus that offer nearly 100 choices, including three types of roast duck and five variations of roast chicken. In addition, parts like chicken wings, pork stomach, and “country-style squid” further fill out the menu. All the meats can be served by itself, or over rice or noodles. Congee and rice noodle rolls are also available at this spectacular Sunset Park place.

A round metal tin of Chinese roast meats, including roast duck and tripe. Robert Sietsema/Eater

36. New Asha

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322 Victory Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10301
(718) 420-0649

Located across the street from a mosque a short bus ride straight uphill from the Staten Island Ferry, New Asha, founded by Vijayakumari Devadas in 1999, is a funky sort of place with excellent Sri Lankan food. A glass case displays heavy tubular fritters that are good for snacks, but why not sit and chow down on mutton or jackfruit curries, poured over rice and served with yellow dal and a chopped vegetable salad? All meat is halal.

The front of a storefront with a green awning that with the words “New Asha Srilankan Restaurant” in all capital yellow letters

37. Amuni

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7217 3rd Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11209
(718) 833-7833
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Chef Vincent Dardanello is also the owner of this nifty Sicilian cafe in Bay Ridge, where standard dishes — things like rice balls, fried calamari, potato or chickpea croquettes, focaccia, and olive-oil-glossed salads — are presented in a modern context and not as afterthoughts on a mainly Neapolitan menu. Amuni back-constructs a wonderful muffuletta sandwich from its New Orleans original, and two types of the Sicilian pizza called sfincione are available, as well as such characteristic vegetables as fennel and cardoon in refreshingly simple presentations.

An oblong white bowl of round pasta in tomato sauce, with cheese and bread on the size. Robert Sietsema/Eater

38. Lahori Chilli

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1026 Coney Island Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11230
(718) 859-1400
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This 24-hour West Midwood Pakistani cafe with a chile-pepper logo has it all: from snacks like samosas and freshly made stuffed breads that are great for quick to-go orders, to full meals that include combinations and meat and vegetarian dishes served with rice or bread (or both) and yogurt sauce. Additionally, there’s a vast array of sweets in a rainbow of colors. Go for the ground meat kebabs, which absorb lots of smoke in the clay oven, or haleem, a delicious porridge of lamb, wheat, and lentils. The steam table also offers many vegetarian dishes.

A steam table with bright yellow, orange, and brown dishes in metal tubs, with two headless figures standing behind. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

39. Lagman House

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2612 E 14th St
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 872-5979

Lagman House — named after the signature noodle of Central Asia, and owned by Damirzhan and Gulshat Azimova — may be the only restaurant in town serving the Dungan cuisine of Central Asia. Compared with the Uzbek menus more commonly found in New York, there are more Chinese and fewer Russian influences on Lagman House’s menu. There’s no plov, for example. The salad section is substantial, each focusing on one vegetable like mushrooms, eggplant, or cucumbers. Dapanji is one of the best chicken stews you’ve ever tasted. 

Dapanji chicken stew with noodles

40. Berikoni Brick Oven Bread

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125 Brighton Beach Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 708-5040

Hey, where do you go for the best khachapuri — the Georgian bread boat brimming with cheese, a raw egg, and a surfeit of melted butter — in town? Not to a restaurant, but to the city’s best Georgian bakery: Berikoni Brick Oven Bread. The bread just mentioned, adjaruli khachapuri, is only one of seven types available (shown here is the beef-stuffed kubdari). Other Georgian recipes such as kebabs, khinkali dumplings, and baked dishes like chicken tabaka are also available at bargain prices. 

A round flatbread pulled open to show its filling of beef and onions. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

1. Paula's Soul Food Cafe

746 E 233rd St, The Bronx, NY 10466
A stack of fried whiting filets on sliced bread. Robert Sietsema/Eater

This classic cafe — owned and operated by Omar Bailey just down the block from Montefiore Medical Center in the Wakefield neighborhood — provides great renditions of soul food standards. The whiting sandwich is piled high with crisp filets (catfish is also available), the mac and cheese crusted with extra cheddar, and the banana pudding every bit as good as Magnolia Bakery’s. And the fried chicken is to die for.

746 E 233rd St
The Bronx, NY 10466

2. Calle 191 Pescaderia

1609 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10040
A hand lifts up a spoonful of red soup with shrimp. Robert Sietsema/Eater

Located in the northern reaches of Washington Heights near Highbridge Park, this Dominican establishment handily combines a fish market with a restaurant a tad more formal than most fish market eateries. Decorated with artificial palm trees, it also boasts a bar, and the lengthy menu features nearly every Spanish and Latin-Caribbean seafood dish you can imagine. The favorite on a recent visit was a marvelous asopao, a tomatoey and vinegary rice soup flavored with garlic and cilantro, generously dotted with large shrimp.

1609 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10040

3. Dukagjini Burek

758 Lydig Ave, The Bronx, NY 10462
A group stand around a couter, behind which a woman in a baseball cap sells filo pies. Robert Sietsema/Eater

This long-running Albanian coffee shop owned by Marjan Kolnrekaj makes one thing, and one thing extremely well: the flaky, rotund pie known in the Balkans as burek, a stacked mass of paper-thin dough stuffed with cheese, meat, or spinach. A wedge makes a full meal; an entire pie feeds a family. The coffee’s good, too, at this anchor of the Pelham Parkway food scene.

758 Lydig Ave
The Bronx, NY 10462

4. Jerk House

2143 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10027
Goat curry with plantains in a small Styrofoam container. Robert Sietsema/Eater

Harlem has rarely seen a Jamaican steam-table restaurant with such a broad, pristine selection of island-style dishes. Sure, the jerk chicken is great, finished over a flame right before being served, but you’ll also find jerk pork, jerk ribs, and even jerk fried chicken. There’s also escovitch fish, curry chicken, and, perhaps best of all, curry goat. The restaurant is an offshoot of an earlier Jerk House in the Bronx, both operated by Sideon Stewart, affectionately known as “Jerk Chicken Jackie.”

2143 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10027

5. Santa Clarita

237 Willis Ave #2, Bronx, NY 10454
A restaurant with a brownish red awning with the name of the restaurant and an giant order window visible on the left. Robert Sietsema/Eater

Santa Clarita was a Puerto Rican restaurant when it was founded way back in 1971 — but now it’s among Mott Haven’s best Mexican restaurants. The spacious, barely renovated dining room may induce nostalgia, and a broad carryout window directs your attention to a rotating al pastor cylinder. Step up and grab a taco or two and sit on the restaurant’s shady front porch. Other antojitos and bargain one-plate meals available.

237 Willis Ave #2
Bronx, NY 10454