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Robert Sietsema

60 Cheap Eats Destinations You Should Know About in NYC

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

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As fancy restaurant prices continue to soar, finding great inexpensive ones becomes more of a priority. If the food is not only delicious but also outside your previous dining experience, all the better. In short write-ups, neighborhood round-ups, and full reviews, I post about cheap restaurants I’ve stumbled on in the five boroughs and adjacent metropolitan areas, and make menu recommendations. Here is a choice collection of those restaurants, listed geographically. Please let me know by email about restaurants you’ve visited that deserve to be more appreciated.

Added July 2017: Al Nour, Bosna Express, Buffalo's Famous, Dera, Fouta, Hillside Dosa Hutt, Manousheh, La Duena Deli, Western Yunnan Crossing Bridge Noodle

Note: Restaurants on this map are listed based on geography, south to north through Manhattan, and north to south through Brooklyn. This is an updated version of a map.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Casa Adela

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66 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009
(212) 473-1882
Principally slinging Puerto Rican chow to an admiring and diverse audience, the café's scrumptious, salty food can be eaten at one of several comfortable tables, but more often it's carried out to tenement apartments in the vicinity. The hot pressed sandwiches are notable, too, including the roast pork pernil (pictured), which can be dandied up with lettuce and tomato; the plain but delectable ham and cheese; and the Cuban sandwich, with cheese and dill pickles oozing out the sides. [Robert Sietsema]

2. Jen's Roti Shop

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825 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11226
Jen's has very little in the way of seating (confined to two stools at a counter looking out the window), and you're likely to encounter a line any time you go — the food is splendid. For $1.25 you can get a doubles (the word is both singular and plural): a split baby poori filled with chick-pea curry. For $5, you get a sandwich called a "bake," which is made with a deep-fried roll also called a bake. Shark and bake is shown, but there are other seagoing fillings, including a smoked herring version that shows either a Dutch or English colonial influence, depending on who you believe.

3. Lakruwana

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668 Bay St, Staten Island
NY, 10304
(347) 857-6619
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The seven-foot buffet includes 17 dishes and condiments, two types of rice, and four choices for dessert, featuring a really great tapioca pudding and a classic Spanish flan. Highlights from the savory side of the menu: an orange-colored manioc curry, a rich pork "black"curry in which the spices have been toasted, a coconut-and-kale sambal, pineapple curry, and a really strange boiled egg curry. The price for limitless platefuls is $11.95, and the buffet is served Saturday and Sunday all day from noon until 10 p.m. Going there from another borough makes a perfect weekend expedition — and don't forget, the ferry ride is free.

4. Shanghai Dumpling House

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6301 8th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11220
The place does wonderful xio long bao, Shanghai soup dumplings distinguished by their thin skins and rich gravy inside. Six largish pork dumplings will set you back $4.75, constituting a decent-size feed for one person. The stall doesn't offer the usual pork-crab hybrid (sometimes presented with a wad of crab on top); instead, there's an all-crab dumpling priced at $9.75. Steep, but probably worth it.

5. Don Pepe Tortas & Jugos

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3908 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11232
Don Pepe and his minions, who labor behind a small window surrounded by seductive, brightly lit sandwich pictures, turn out 35 types of tortas, many with wacky themes. Most are $7 or $8 and would feed an army; you'll be wrapping half the sandwich to take home with you for later — but only if you can stop gorging yourself. [Robert Sietsema]

6. Taste Of Lahore

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73-10 Northern Boulevard
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
A steam table the size of an airstrip at nearby LaGuardia displays a plethora of pungent, spice-driven meat dishes featuring chicken, lamb, and mutton, reminding us that the Spice Road runs through Pakistan. What is more surprising is the large number of vegetarian offerings — the national love of veggies (things like bitter melon and snake gourd predominate) is a well-kept secret in a cuisine that flaunts its kebabs.

7. Taqueria Izucar

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1503 Myrtle Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(718) 456-0569
Number one on its lengthy list is suadero, braised veal flank (shown). It looks something like canned tuna, but the flavor is rich and subtle, especially when squirted with the green sauce from the bottle on the counter, tart and fiery. The other taquitos are worth trying, especially the oreja (ear), buche (pig stomach), and Arabe (spicy pork). Vegetarians especially will appreciate the "de papa" taco, which comes stuffed with stewed potatoes — though be forewarned a thick lard haze hangs heavy in the taqueria's air at all times. And, by the way, the tacos are only $1.25 apiece.

8. Lechonera & Pollo Sabroso

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3326 3rd Avenue
Bronx, NY 10456
The interior is boxy and a little darker than you might like, and the food is delicious and spectacularly inexpensive. A friend and I carried out several things and avidly munched them in the car. We had a serving of the lechon itself, with skin that was delicate and crisp, the meat well-salted and well-garlicked; a few shards of pork belly, crackling skin attached; and an alcapurria, one of several cuchifritos on the menu. Atypically, this giant, lard-fried orb had a coating of mashed potatoes instead of the usual mashed yuca. When bitten into, though, ground pork tumbled out in the usual fashion.

9. La Savane

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239 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10026
My crew and I dined sumptuously on mafe, a Senegalese stew of lamb in a creamy peanut sauce, served with an expanse of polished white rice topped with a steamed Scotch bonnet pepper, for extra spiciness. Not hot enough for you? You can also ask for the chile paste known as "pima." We also enjoyed a grilled fish — I think it was a sea bass, though taxonomic identification proved difficult — topped with a wonderful dice of vegetables flavored, in the Franco-African manner, with mustard. Alongside we asked for a plate of attieke, the signal starch of the Ivory Coast, consisting of a manioc porridge served with a pepper puree and, somewhat oddly, a bouillon cube. A third dish was a mixed meat palm-oil sauce served with a loaf of plantain foutou. Altogether a delicious meal, washed down with ginger juice and bright red bissap, which is a punch made of hibiscus blossoms and pineapple juice. The massive meal cost about $45 for three.

10. Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao

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59-16 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 661-2882
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The soup dumplings are absolutely killer, and you've probably never had them with such a gossamer-thin wrapper before. Of the four varieties available, the pork version ramped up with a small amount of crabmeat ($6.95 for six) is highly recommended, but for something really unusual, check out the dessert dumplings filled with molten chocolate. Be careful not to squirt it on your shirt!

11. Tamashii Ramen

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29-05 Broadway
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 278-5888
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The signature Tamashii ramen — with a light, Tokyo-style broth and add-ins that include an egg, bamboo shoots, scallions, seaweed, and slices of pork — will set you back only $10.95, or $8.95 at lunch. Which explains why the place is mobbed in the early afternoon. A friend who is an old hand at eating ramen in Tokyo pronounced the soup "very fine."

12. New York Pão De Queijo

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31-90 30th Street
Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 204-1979
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A delightful Brazilian snack shop just off of Broadway in Astoria. In addition to bouncy little baked cheese balls, oblong fritters called coxinhas are also available on a rotating basis. But the real raison d’etre for this cozy little place are the burgers, Brazilian style. One of my favorite burgers here is the X Calabresa — a good-sized patty with two types of white cheese, lettuce, tomato, corn, potato sticks, an egg, and a slice of smoked sausage. The thing will set you back only $7.50, and you won’t miss the french fries. By the way, ask for specials when you go to Pan de Queijo. Sometimes there’s black beans and rice, sometimes an entire feijoada.

13. Souvlaki GR

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116 Stanton St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 777-0116
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At this cafe laid out like a tiny Greek village, the off-price wine list alone is worth a visit, and the bread dips are a great deal. Three hefty scoops for $15 (out of a choice of seven), come with a generous wad of grilled pita triangles. The tzatziki is hyper-garlicky, and also comes as an accompaniment to many of the kebabs, which are the main reason for this café’s existence. Get these kebabs in a pita sandwich, which comes stuffed with a brochette of your choice, tomato, purple onions, tzatziki, and french fries. The hamburger ($7) treated this way is particularly wonderful.

14. Little Saigon Pearl

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9 Bay 35th St
Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718) 996-8808
This small café on a side street has only five tables and a sparse menu of 20 dishes. The rolls called kim tien are a "don’t miss" dish. Each consists of a shrimp wrapped along with vermicelli and pork sausage in rice paper and deep fried, served with nuoc cham, a sweet-and-sour dipping sauce. The pho is also superb, with a broth a little lighter and sweeter than usual, and at $6.95, it's one of the cheapest in town.

15. Patacon Pisao

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139 Essex St
New York, NY 10002
(646) 678-5913
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Patacon Pisao ("Smashed Plantain") is the name of a sandwich, but also of this narrow café specializing in Venezuelan street food. The namesake dish is its specialty: two fantastically flattened frisbees of tostones stuffed like a sandwich with roasted pork, grilled steak, or simply black beans, cheese, and avocados. Novelty fillings include bacon, lettuce, and tomato to make a crunchy BLT, and a hamburger patty with all the trimmings.

16. Brazil Aroma

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75-13 Roosevelt Avenue
Flushing, NY 11372
(718) 672-7662
There have long been inexpensive Brazilian cafes in Astoria, peddling pao de queijo, elaborately dressed Cariocan burgers, and big Saturday servings of feijoada, the national dish of black beans and pig parts. Now a new one has scampered over to Jackson Heights. Brazil Aroma seeks to at least partly emulate the great churrascarias of Newark’s Ironbound. The buffet clocks in at $5.99 per pound, and it’s easy to fill yourself up for six bucks or so. But you’ll likely be distracted by the order window at the end of the room. Therein find a guy working a gleamingly new charcoal oven with a dozen spits, on which skewers of meat are pinned. This selection costs $7.99. The skirt steak, pork sausage, and chicken legs are terrific.

17. Sky Cafe

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86-20 Whitney Ave
Elmhurst, NY 11373
(718) 651-9759
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Sky Café is a real Indonesian warung — a small family owned restaurant specializing in everyday food, often selling groceries as well. The gado gado is spectacular: a composed salad of lettuce, cabbage, tempeh, and boiled egg furnished with a spicy peanut dressing creamy with coconut milk. If you haven’t tried lontong (one of Southeast Asia’s most interesting rice-delivery systems), give lontong sayur a try, a thick soup flavored with anchovies and fried shallots, with some bonus beef rendang in its depths. Most one-plate meals run $7 or $8, a real bargain.

18. Red Bowl Noodle Shop

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4052 Main St
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 353-7683
On the roof is a giant rice bowl with chopsticks poking out. Jonathan Gold once wrote that you could see it while landing at LaGuardia. The café has evolved into a street-food landmark, with a window open to sidewalk traffic that displays charcuterie and grilling sausages, including the spectacular do chang bao xiao chang: a small link known as a Taiwanese hot dog stuffed inside a bigger rice sausage with a slice of cucumber. For carryout are ducks, pork chunks, sliced cuttlefish, chicken wings, and other transportable morsels. Inside, a café specializes in clay-pot congees, Chinese BBQ over rice, and soups, plus house specials such as whelk, frog, blue crab, and pork chops. Open 24 hours.

19. Papa's Kitchen

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65-40 Woodside Ave
Woodside, NY 11377
(347) 724-9586
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The owner hails from Bicol, a region 50 miles southeast of Manila. The dining room is small and boxy, with just a handful of tables and a convivial hostess. One more thing: The karaoke is continuous. Once a customer stops singing, another picks up the cordless mic and plows onward. Highlight of a recent meal was a wonderful sinigang, a tart fish soup floating a pompano and Napa cabbage in a tamarind-laced broth. Other enjoyable dishes included crispy pata (a pair of whole pork shanks, skin-on, roasted to perfect crispness) and the national dish of chicken adobo. For a pork- and fish-intensive cuisine, there are a surprising number of vegetable-focused dishes, though vegetarians beware: these often contain fish or fermented-shrimp sauces.

20. Grotto Pizzeria & Restaurant

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69 New St
New York, NY 10004
(212) 809-6990
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The Grotto lies way downtown on New Street — who would expect to find a great cheap southern Italian restaurant there? Named after Capri’s Blue Grotto, the premises are reached by diving down a long narrow stairway into the basement, where an L-shaped glass counter lies before you like a pirate’s treasure, displaying rice balls and potato croquettes, fricassees of chicken and pork, strombolis both Italian and American, the cheese-drenched baked pastas beloved of southern Italians, and a stunning array of pizzas ready to be purchased by the slice. Take your food upstairs to the secret dining room.
Robert Sietsema

21. Parisi Bakery Delicatessen

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198 Mott St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 226-6378
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NoLita’s Parisi Bakery (founded 1903) runs an amazing sandwich shop out of its antique premises, where two fabricators painstakingly create hero sandwiches out of cold cuts and a daily selection of hot prepared items. Though you can depend on meatballs and just-fried chicken cutlets always being available, on Fridays there are warm seafood heros — a recent afternoon saw a shrimp parm special, and it really was special. Look for house-prepared condiments such as pickled red peppers. This place is spectacular! Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Sundays.
Robert Sietsema

22. Knish Nosh Knishes & Franks

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98-104 Queens Blvd
Rego Park, NY 11374
Since 1952, Rego Park’s Knish Nosh has been enfolding tasty fillings in spongy dough and baking the heck out of them. The primary result is the Jewish snack called the knish, which was probably brought here by Polish immigrants around 1900. Knish Nosh makes them in the traditional round format — not for the pillow knishes associated with hot dog carts and Coney Island — and offers a choice of eight fillings. These include cabbage, kasha, potato, and the undefined “meat.” The innovation here is simply making them much bigger than usual. Also available are several varieties of pastry-wrapped hot dogs, including the dazzling foot-long.
Robert Sietsema

23. Buff Patty Restaurant & Bakery

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376 Myrtle Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205
(718) 855-3266
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What’s the cheapest meal you can get in Ft. Greene? Probably the patty and coco bread at Buff Patty, just east of the hilly park on Myrtle. This long-running Jamaican café and bakery specializes in meat patties, the island equivalent of the empanada, with a crisp, annatto-laced dough and finely minced filling of beef, chicken, fish, or vegetables. The patty is around $1.75, and for another $1, the coco bread can be acquired to go around it. Together they constitute a full meal. The café also has a fine selection of other Jamaican food, including a delicious escovitched fish, breakfast porridges, braised oxtails, and, of course, jerk chicken. Buff Patty is one of Ft. Greene’s culinary treasures.
Robert Sietsema

24. Mitchell's Soul Food

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617 Vanderbilt Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238
(718) 789-3212
Founded by Johnsie Mitchell and presided over by James “JB” Bromell, this gem has been one of Prospect Heights’ greatest dining resources for four decades. The fried chicken is front and center, with crisp skin and moist flesh. The best sides are the slightly sweet collards and extra-cheddary mac and cheese. The meat loaf, fried fish, and smothered pork chops are equally good, and, when patrons clean their plates, the corn bread never gets left behind.
Khushbu Shah

25. Lee's Tavern

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60 Hancock St
Staten Island, NY 10305
(718) 667-9749
Staten Island is an incubator for many obscure forms of pizza, created in isolation and flourishing on the fortress-like island. One particularly amazing type is the bar pizza found at Lee’s Tavern, a working-person’s bar dating to 1969 , a literal stone’s throw from the Dongan Hills stop on the Staten Island Rapid Transit train. The crust is unfussy and cracker-like, and the small pie is easily sufficient for one or two diners, depending on how hungry. The clam pie is well-furnished with briny bivalves, and other favorite toppings include sausage, black olives, mushrooms, and anchovies. Full southern Italian menu available.

26. Pho Rainbow

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42 New Dorp Plz S
Staten Island, NY 10306
(718) 987-1084
Restaurant-wise, Staten Island is the new frontier. Building on a bedrock of unique and excellent pizzerias, Italian restaurants, seafooders, and honky tonk bars, new places arrive daily in many categories. One of the latest to appear is Pho Rainbow, conveniently located in the plaza opposite the New Dorp Station of the SIRT. The pho is better than average; indeed the rice noodles themselves are spectacular, with fish ball and chicken versions available. Com dia (over-rice plates) are especially lively, including “combo CSNLXA,” which features a whole Chinese sausage, fried egg, and pair of pork chops dumped over broken rice with salad and pickled vegetables. Pour on the nuoc cham dipping sauce!
Robert Sietsema

27. Ecuatoriana

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1685 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10031
(212) 491-4626
This Ecuadorian restaurant occupies a double-wide premises, with a formal dining room on one side and a juice bar, café, and carryout on the other. The ceviches here are super-sized, and great for warmer weather. Get the ceviche mixto con concha negra, which features black clams, the signature bivalves of Ecuador’s mangrove shoreline. Meal-size soups are another specialty, including weekend-only caldo de bola, which features one massive stuffed dumpling the size of a softball. You should take for granted that the roast pork and llapingachos (cheesy potato pancakes) will be fab.
Robert Sietsema

28. Sons of Thunder

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204 E 38th St
New York, NY 10016
(646) 863-2212
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Specializing, somewhat illogically, in franks, pokes, and shakes, Sons of Thunder is the sort of fast casual place that encourages you to linger in its cavernous and relatively comfy dining rooms. It describes itself as Californian, but you might be more inclined to think Chicago, if that city were in Hawaii. The poke is good of its sort, more fish than salad, and the proprietary hot dogs come in several permutations, of which the Chicago and banh mi dogs are our favorites. And the chocolate shake is just as thick as you’d hoped.

29. Shawarma House

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70w 39th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 827-0801
From the outside it looks like a juice bar, but there’s also a savory menu of lunch and dinner fare at this narrow stall with counter seating south of Bryant Park. As the name suggests, there are two grease-dripping shawarma cylinders — chicken and a beef-lamb combo, both halal. (The chicken tastes better.) Either can be made into rice-pilaf platters or bargain pita sandwiches. On the vegetarian side of the ledger are falafels fried to order and other Middle Eastern delights, including good hummus and baba. But you can also get Indian vegetarian samosas with yogurt raita, Syrian cracked-wheat kibbe stuffed with ground beef and pine nuts, and the Turkish flatbread called gozleme stuffed with mushrooms or potatoes.

30. Margon

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136 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 354-5013
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Fifty years ago the dining landscape was littered with Latin lunch counters, many of them originating as Cuban institutions, but then passed down from Puerto Ricans to Dominicans. Still located somewhat miraculously on Times Square, Margon fabricates magnificent Cuban sandwiches right in the front window of its walk down space, as customers twirl on the stools, ordering from a menu that varies by day of the week. The pernil (garlic-rubbed pork roast) is superb, and so are the roast chicken, tripe and pig-feet soup, and oxtail stew, served with white or yellow rice, black or red beans.

31. Azuri Cafe

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465 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 262-2920
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This Israeli restaurant originated during the hippie era, and the menu and décor shows it. You can’t go wrong with the shawarma or any of the flame-grilled kebabs, but the real forte of this place — located in an obscure corner of Hell’s Kitchen — is its vegetarian fare. The falafels are acknowledged some of the best in town: bouncy, spice laden, and fried to order (don’t burn your mouth!) and the pita sandwich stuffed with them also contains bonus pickles and hummus and a pair of Yemenite sauces, one herby and the other fruity and incendiary. Also don’t miss the fried cauliflower dressed with tahini or the triangular, sesame-seeded pies called bourekas.

32. Gurra Cafe

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2325 Arthur Ave
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 220-4254
Though Arthur Avenue is known as the Bronx’s Italian food hot spot, many other types of restaurants, some of them excellent, hang in the background. Gurra Café is an Albanian café with a clubhouse feel, and the décor may remind you of a ski chalet. There’s a guy grilling cevapi and pleskavici (outsize, mixed-meat burgers) behind a partition, and every once in a while he comes out front to see how your meal is going. Other highlights of the short menu include a white-bean-and-jerky stew called fasule and a paprika-laced goulash served with a hearty scoop of mashed potatoes.

33. Al Naimat

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37-03 74th St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
(718) 476-1100
The number of cheap cafes in Jackson Heights serving the food of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh has dwindled as the Tibetan and Nepalese presence has ramped up. And most of those remaining have switched over to buffets, where the food on a per-pound basis remains inexpensive, but who wants to eat such a compulsively humongous meal? One alternative is Al-Naimat, which magically occupies the old Jackson Diner space. Meal combinations go for under $10, and might include a light take on keema featuring chicken rather than lamb, an excellent palak paneer with abundant cheese, basmati rice, fresh-baked naan, yogurt raita, and salad.

34. Dhaulagiri Kitchen

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124 Lexington Ave, New York
NY, 10016
Himalayan cuisine has finally made its debut in Curry Hill. This Nepalese newcomer, branch of a celebrated café in the back of a flatbread bakery in Jackson Heights, is far more ambitious. All the typical meat jerkies, curries, Chinese-South Asian hybrids, homemade noodle dishes, and stuffed momo dumplings are available. Highlights include a thali consisting of vegetables curries, pickles, chutneys, and bhutan (goat-organ jerky, not to be confused with the country of the same name). But the thali’s focus is dhendo, a big clot of brown buckwheat starch kneaded into the equivalent of a West African mash. It’s wonderful. For the more timid, chicken chow mein is a good choice.

35. El Comal

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14860 Hillside Ave
Jamaica, NY 11435
(718) 523-3353
The city’s foremost Salvadoran pupuseria makes them from scratch— walk in the front door and you’ll hear the “thwap, thwap, thwap” of the pupusas being hand-patted. Pick various combinations of beans, cheese, chicharron de puerco, and loroco flowers (which taste something like pickled oregano), and you’ll have yourself quite a snack or a meal, especially if you slit the things and spoon in the cortado (pickled cabbage) and squirt in the hot sauce. All sorts of other Salvadoran set meals available.

36. Lucy's Vietnamese Kitchen

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262 Irving Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(347) 921-4062
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The menu at this former laundromat in Bushwick couldn’t be simpler: a couple of bowls of pho and a handful of banh mi sandwiches. The operators grew up in the neighborhood and this Vietnamese café is light years away stylistically from any other Southeast Asian restaurant in the five boroughs. Its modest contribution to pho-ology is using smoked brisket as the meat centerpiece of the iconic soup, which makes it a liquid species of Texas barbecue. Another is a vegetarian-based broth that sings with flavor. Lucy’s is a must-stop establishment on your food tour of Bushwick.

37. Royal Rib House

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303 Halsey St
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 453-9284
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For 50 years this Bedford-Stuyvesant stalwart has been channeling the great barbecues of North Carolina. In emulation of that objective, the place is only open on weekends — Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — from afternoon to evening. The meat and poultry is cooked on vertical rotisseries, not over charcoal, but the eponymous ribs develop a smoky crust, with rendered fat making the flesh fall off the bone. Chickens are crisp skinned, and the vinegary pulled pork sandwich topped with cole slaw at your request. Sides include all the usual soul food favorites, with mac and cheese and collard greens particularly well-executed. There’s no place to sit, so carry out your order to nearby Decatur or Potomac playgrounds.

38. Cafe Kashkar

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1141 Brighton Beach Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 743-3832
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This Brighton Beach standby on the northern end of the island’s commercial strip specializes in the topsy-turvy cooking of Xinjiang, an autonomous region in China’s remote northwestern frontier. Handmade noodles in soup, monster dumplings, Russian pickles and preserved fish, and Uzbek-style plov (here referred to as “fried rice”) are the principal components of the menu, and don’t miss the charcoal-grilled kebabs that perfume the air inside the delightfully over-decorated space. BYOB!

39. Beyti Turkish Kebab

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414 Brighton Beach Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 332-7900
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For meat lovers, there are no better or cheaper spots than the Brooklyn’s Turkish grills, which tend to concentrate in Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Kings Highway, and Brighton Beach. There on the latter’s main drag find Beyti Kebab, open seven days until midnight. Go no further than the twin doner cylinders in the window, twirling chicken or lamb. The guy will cut a great quantity of the moist herbed meat and deposit it in a sandwich or on a platter along with salad and well-oiled pilaf. The menu also offers a choice of a dozen other kebabs, and a vast collection of vegetarian bread dips involving beans, eggplant, and yogurt.

40. Aksaray Gyro

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1618 East 16th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11229
This restaurant is named after a small city smack dab in the middle of Turkey on the vast Anatolian plain and the small premises — more like a market stall, really — is furnished with tables bearing cheery but worn blue-checked tablecloths. As in most Turkish cafes, the double spinning cylinders of doner kebab draw you inside. Pick the spice-rubbed chicken over the blander lamb, but make sure you also give consideration to the ground-lamb adana kebab and the iskender kebab — consisting of sliced lamb doner heaped on flatbread and moistened with yogurt and spicy tomato sauce. Plenty for vegetarians here, too, and super convenient to the B and Q trains.

41. Christina's Polish Restaurant

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853 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222
The far-ranging Greenpoint neighborhood used to be strewn with Polish lunch counters, offering Eastern European peasant fare at rock-bottom prices. A dinner of fried pork shank, coleslaw, and two scoops of mashed potatoes would be less than $10, and you’d walk away stuffed. Today, Christina’s is one of the few left, conveniently located on Manhattan Avenue near the Greenpoint Avenue G stop. The blintzes, pierogi, tripe soup, and stuffed cabbage are all up to snuff, and the beef goulash served with potato pancakes is particularly recommended. Don’t order breakfast without considering a side of kielbasa: the garlicky flavor is as satisfying as bacon.

42. Hyderabadi Biryani & Chat

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44-27 Kissena Blvd
Flushing, NY 11315
(718) 353-5577
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In its unique culinary traditions, the southern Indian city of Hyderabad — which has become a high-tech hub — has more in common with northern India. This is reflected in its signature dish, biryani, a wonderful rice cook up. The biryani here is some of the best in town, available in eight varieties — one vegetarian, one vegan. Rather than sitting on the steam table and drying out, it is assembled to order with freshly cooked morsels of meat and vegetables. The rice is kept exceedingly fluffy, delicately flavored with ginger, garlic, and cardamom. Other don’t miss regional dishes include Kerala pepper chicken — which is so spicy it will burn your mouth — and so will “bullet naan,” shot with fresh jalapenos.

43. Kuu Ramen

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20 John St
New York, NY 10038
(212) 571-7177
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44. La Salle Dumpling Room

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3141 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
(212) 961-0300
A dim sum craze is sweeping the cityscape. This Chinese comfort food includes dumplings, turnip cakes, congees, and other snacks that make perfect light lunches and dinners at discount prices. Now, new neighborhood spots are appearing not in Chinatowns, and La Salle is an example. Though sounding like an effete French tea room, it’s named after the street in Morningside Heights where the restaurant is located. Made in-house and available in three permutations, the Shanghai soup dumplings are excellent. Steamed or fried, five kinds of pot-stickers are available, along with sesame noodles, ramen, and “beef scallion pancake wrap” (shown), which is really a meat-stuffed jian bing.

45. Oita Sushi

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1317A 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10021
(212) 535-0002
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the dining room is tiny at this Upper East Side sushi parlor, with only a counter and one table. But the décor and staff are charming, the fish unfailingly fresh, and the prices low for sushi. The premium rolls are the attractions here, all of them invented out of whole cloth, including the mommy rose (tuna and salmon intercut to resemble a blossom), yellowtail basil (maki with a Thai twist), and healthy cucumber (an able contribution to the vegetarian sushi canon).