New York City is a foodie wonderland where you will find any type of food your heart desires — from vegan eggplant sandwiches to deep south eggs. In fact, the choice can be a little overwhelming at times, and it’s easy to get ripped off if you’re a visitor to the city.
But don’t freak, #WeGotChou. We’ve put together the ultimate guide to the best places to eat in New York on a budget. It’s here to help you sift through all the options for EVERY mealtime and easily find the best breakfast in Manhattan, or the best food truck in Brooklyn. We got the tips, we got the hints, and we even handpicked the best dishes from each place to help you when ordering. So prepare yourself, you will have major food envy after you read this.
Best Breakfast In NYC If You’re In A Hurry
Regardless if you’re a first-time visitor to the Big Apple — ready to see ALL the sights — or a New Yorker doing your daily hustle-and-bustle, breakfast is important. Since you’re eager to start your day, why not take breakfast with you?
1. Amy’s Bread – Hell’s Kitchen
Famous for their hand-made breads & pastries, this is one of the best bakeries in New York. Get there early because they often sell out before noon.
Address: 672 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Price: $2.25 – $7
2. Russ & Daughters – Lower Eastside
This cafe has a century of experience under its belt, so you know you’re in good hands. They specialize in bagel work, and you can’t go wrong with “The Classic”.
Address: 127 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Price: $3 – $12
3. Oatmeals – Greenwich Village
If you want to try the world’s best oatmeal bar, make your way to Greenwich where your grandma’s favourite breakfast dish is served with a very modern twist. Order the Matcha & Black Sesame Mochi Bowl for a healthy yet decadent start to the day.
Address: 120 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012
Price: $4.25 – $7
4. Doughnut Plant — Long Island City
No preservatives, no eggs, no artificial ingredients, no trans fat… Who knew a doughnut could be so healthy? Stop by this place before you start your day and you won’t be sorry. These doughnuts are BOMB.
Address: Falchi Bldg., 31-00 47th Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101
Price: $3 – $5
5. Pick A Deli Any Deli
When we say “there are Delis EVERYWHERE” we’re not joking. Delis are as ubiquitous as Starbucks or McDonald’s— and there’s a reason for that. These are the go-to spots for New Yorkers on the go. You’ll find bagels, breakfast burritos, sandwiches… and they’re pretty much all amazing and super cheap!
Price: $2 – $6
Best Cheap Brunch Spots In New York
Grab and what?! If you regularly stroll out of bed at a casual 11:30am, brunch is the meal for you. Let’s be honest, brunch should be considered the most important meal of the day… We all know it’s the tastiest AND it serves a very important function: helping you recuperate after that ragger you had on Saturday night.
1. Jack’s Wife Freda – Lower Manhattan
Jack’s Wife Freda makes Mediterranean brunch plates that have a fresh/healthy vibe but still satisfy your comfort food cravings. What to try: Green Shakshuka — two baked eggs in a green tomatillo shakshuka served with challah toast.
Address: 50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014
Price: $10 – $16
2. Good Enough To Eat – Upper Westside
If you’re after a homey brunch, look no further. This place has a cute white picket fence outside, and feels like your grandma’s living room on the inside — complete with old photos & farm toys. What to try: Deep South Eggs— three scrambled eggs with biscuits and sausage gravy.
Address: 520 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024
Price: $10 – $15
3. Harefield Road – Brooklyn
Harefield Road is the poster child for Brooklyn brunch vibes. Dark woods, skylight, and a full bar for a boozy brunch with friends. What to try: Huevos Rancheros — two eggs any style with black beans, avocado, pico de gallo, salsa verde, and cheddar cheese on a crispy tortilla. Served with home fries.
Address: 769 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Price: $13 Flat
4. BlueBell Café – East Village
Quaint, rustic, fancy… BlueBell Café is all of these things at once. What to try: Crab Cake Benedict— two poached eggs, crab cake, béarnaise sauce, English muffin, potatoes.
Address: 293 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010
Price: $10 – $20
5. Baby’s All Right – Brookyln
The name says it all. When you brunch here, you’ll be completely set for the rest of the day. If artsy vintage is your aesthetic, this place is for you. It even sells its own apparel, so you can buy a t-shirt with your brunch eggs. What to try: Wake and Bake — two poached eggs, spinach, smoked gouda, home fries, hollandaise.
Address: 146 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Price: $10 – $15
6. Black Ant – East Village
Feeling adventurous? This resto is famous for the fact that they garnish their food with crunchy ants, but don’t worry… you can ask for “sans ants si te plait.” What to try: BOTTOMLESS brunch for $20.
Address: 120 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012
Price: $11 – $20
7. Miss Lily’s Café – SoHo
This is the small town brunch spot you’ve imagined from the movies. From the moment you enter, you feel like you’re in a cute (very busy) small town diner. What to try: Coconut Pancakes—shaved coconut, fresh berries, maple syrup.
Address: 132 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012
Price: $10 – $17
8. Blue Dog Kitchen – Hell’s Kitchen
Do NOT be fooled about this small, unassuming restaurant, it cooks some spectacular food, not to mention their all natural fruit super smoothies with colors more vibrant than a toucan’s feathers! What to try: Florentine Benedict — sautéed spinach, tarragon hollandaise, poached eggs, English muffin.
Address: 308 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019
Price: $12 – $18
9. Mother’s Ruin – Little Italy
Dishes that will have you drooling and drinks that will keep you thirsting for more. Known for its frozen cocktail specialties, this is the place to make your weekend brunch a boozy brunch. What to try: Tri Tip Hash — Worcestershire marinated steak bites, poached eggs, red bliss potato hash.
Address: 18 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Price: $10 – $16
10. Cafe Luluc – Brookyln
Want to get your French fix in NYC? Café Luluc is where to go to feel Parisian. Get there early, there is usually a line! What to try: Open-Face Western Omelet —sausage, red peppers, scallions and red onions.
Address: 214 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Price: $5 – $12
INSANELY Tasty Food Trucks in NYC
Restaurants in New York can be exhausting — having to wait for a table… walkthrough the 3-page menu… order drinks… then starters… THEN food. Sometimes you just want food ASAP, Rocky! Well don’t think you have to sacrifice quality for timeliness. These NYC food trucks cook up spectacular dishes in no time flat. (These are mobile, so the best way to find them is on their website!)
1. Chick’nCone –Bryant park
Yes. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Chicken bites in an ice cream cone. You know you’re interested, so stop reading this and go hunt them down! What to try: Chick’nCone — fork-Free chicken and waffles slathered in a sauce of your choice: kick’n ranch, yella BBQ, cinna-maple, buffalo blue or traditional BBQ.
Price: $5 – $9
2. The Morris Truck –Brooklyn
Grilled cheese exactly as it should be. Morris Truck is a great crowd-pleaser because they offer so many yummy veggie grilled cheeses sandwiches too. What to try: Green Machine — grilled cheese, fontina, fennel butter and kale two ways.
Price: $5 – $10
3. Tacos El Bronco –5th Avenue
The amazing tacos and burritos from this popular food truck will fill up your belly #HellaQuick. What to try: Burritos Asada — grilled steak burrito
Price: $5 – $12
4. Snowday Food Truck –Manhattan
This Canadian food truck will have you inspired with their incredible dishes that sound like they belong in a fancy resto. What to try: Famous Maple Grilled Cheese —sharp cheddar, shewolf bakery sourdough, maple.
Price: $5 – $11
5. Hard Times Sundaes –Brooklyn
A food truck that will make all those hard times disappear. They’ll whip you up a burger so yummy that your taste buds will cry. What to try: Hard Times Sundaes Signature Burger — American cheese, caramelized onions and thick cut hardwood smoked bacon, on a buttered and grilled potato roll.
Price: $3 – $11
6. Korilla –East Village
Korean-Mexican fusion food, anyone? Just pick your protein & sides, within minutes you’ll be tucking into NYC’s tastiest Korean-Mexican. What to try: Rice Bowl – rice, protein, and three sides. Also check out their second outpost, KBBQ (55 Spring St, NY 10002) which sells amazing Korean BBQ in a cup.
Price: $5 – $10
7. Gorilla Cheese NYC –Madison
Not to be cheesy… but you’ll go bananas once you eat at Gorilla Cheese. They have ALL the cheeses. What to try: Sammys Asiago— Asiago cheese with prosciutto di parma, aioli on wholewheat.
Price: $7 – $10
8. Halal Guys –53rd and 6th
This is basically a New York staple. You’ll find 2-4 carts on 53rd street all with a line, but worry not, these guys are fast! What to try: Falafel Platter — falafel, rice, pita, lettuce & tomatoes.
Price: $5 – $9
9. Breakfast Carts –Madison Square Garden
Okay yeah, so it’s technically not a truck… BUT it’s a mobile vehicle ready show you how to enjoy an NYC breakfast in style. Bagels, muffins, croissants, coffee… New Yorkers make a pit stop here before heading into the office. What to try: “Everything Bagel” with plain cream cheese
Price: $1 – $4
Location: Madison Square Garden & 8th avenue
10. Wafels & Dinges –Central Park West & 79th Street
Waffles every way you can think of — sweet or savory — they know how to make it… trust them, Belgians know their waffles. What to try: Wake Up, Grumpy — waffle-biscuit with egg, bacon & cheese.
Price: $5 – $9
Best Lunch In NYC For $7 Or Less
We won’t lie to you… New York City can be expensive — the average cost of lunch + a drink is $15! So if you cut out the drink, most people spend about $12 on their midday meal. But don’t be like most people, be smart! Affordable yet delicious food in NYC is possible… if you know where to look. Don’t sweat it, we’ve pulled together a list of the best place to get lunch in NYC for under $7.
1. Bolivian Llama Party – Columbus Circle
📸 Caviar & Will Englemen
Funky vibes. That’s Bolivian Llama Party. This place is perfect for a cute funky lunch while you’re making your way to central park. What to try: Salteñas Beni — Sliced organic beef, smokey panka chiles.
Address: 1000 S 8th Ave Suite 5.5, Underground @ the corner of 57th st and 8th ave.
2. 2 Bros – St. Marks
If you’re trying to keep your spending to a minimum, 2 Bros have got your back with their NYC style pizza slices bigger than your head! Don’t think because it’s only $1 it must taste like cardboard… because these are actually scrumptious. What to try: $1 Cheese Pizza!
Address: 32 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
3. Little Saigon Pearl – Brooklyn
Vietnam anyone? Little Saigon will be your new favorite lunch spot. With multiple items under $7 Little Saigon was made for the budget foodie. What to try: Canh Chua Ga, Tom — Vietnamese-style sweet and sour chicken soup served with noodles or white rice. bean sprout, tomato, pineapple, celery.
Address: 9 Bay 35th St, Brooklyn, NY 11214
4. Wrapido – Hell’s Kitchen
Award winning Falafel for under $6 INCLUDING A DRINK? Sign yourself up. Their pita falafel + drink is one of the best value lunches in NYC. What to try: Falafel Pita — gluten-free pita, falafel and lots of greens.
Address: 673 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036
5. Kopitiam – Lower East Side
Calling all Malaysian foodies! Kopitiam has a number of items under $7, so no need to worry about the bill. What to try: Nasi Lemak — coconut rice with egg, cucumber and anchovy with homemade sambal sauce.
Address: 51 Canal St B, New York, NY 10002
6. Yaso Tangbao – Brooklyn
Street food & dim sum? Get yourself here. Yaso has plenty on offer for under $7… but watch yo’self, those plates add up quickly! What to try: Blue Crab And Pork Soup Dumplings.
Address: 148 Lawrence St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
7. Shake Shack – Theater District
Shake Shack has some VERY loyal fans, and once you taste their burgers you’ll be one too. With locations all over NYC and some amazing options for under $7, Shake Shack is always a good idea! What to try: ‘Shroom Burger — crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce™.
Address: 691 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036
8. Noodle Q – Chinatown
Soups and noodles that are authentic and affordable. Noodle Q is one of the best places to eat in Chinatown on a budget. The dumplings are to die for too. What to try: Vegetable Fried Hand-Pulled Noodles.
Address: 2 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038
9. Buffalo’s Famous – Brooklyn
Got a hankering for some homemade wings, hot dogs and burgers? Buffalo’s Famous is the go-to, and they even have amazing veggie and vegan options. What to try: Black Bean Burger — with lettuce, tomato, and onion.
Address: 1111 Church Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11218
10. Mama’s Empanadas – Queens
If you’re looking for a quick grab and go lunch come to Queens! One bite into Mama’s Empanadas and you’ll find yourself coming back for more. What to try: Pastel De Yuca Relleno De Carne — cassava pasties filled with beef heaven.
Address: 3241 Steinway St, Astoria, NY 11103
Best Places To Eat In NYC For Vegans And Veggies
Vegan or Veggie? No Problem, NYC has yo’ back! Most menus around the city have a very robust selection for the non-meat eaters BUT there are several spots that specialize in the art of veggies.
1. SweetGreen – Greenwich Village & more
Some of the best vegan food around at Sweetgreen 📸@meglamothe
Sweetgreen makes eating your veggies interesting, so forget about the usual boring wraps and salads. Vegetarians flock here for a reason. What to try: Spicy Sabzi —organic baby spinach, shredded kale, organic tofu, spicy broccoli, raw beets, carrots, spicy quinoa, sprouts, basil, dried chillies and carrot chilli vinaigrette.
Price: $7 – $11
Address: Various (Greenwich Village, Williamsburg & more)
2. The Little Beet – Midtown
Eating clean is easy with Little Beet 📸@michellekelseylee
Vegetarian food that’s off the beeten path. Hahaha, you see what we did there? Never mind. These veggie dishes are unique, tasty, and Instagram-ready. What to try: Tofu & Shroom Roll— marinated shiitake mushrooms & tofu with avocado, happy slaw & brown rice wrapped in nori served with chipotle aioli and ponzu sauce.
Price: $6.50 – $13
Address: 135 W 50th St, New York, NY 10020
3. By Chloe – Various
Probably the best place for affordable vegan food in NYC, by Chloe is a also a great place to convert meat eaters over to the dark side. With 3 stores already and more opening soon, By Chloe is clearly onto a good thing. What to order: EVERYTHING.
Price: $2.50 – $12
Address: Various (West Village, Flat Iron, Soho)
4. Toad Style (Vegan) –Brooklyn
Smoked date toast – an amazing vegan option 📸@toadstylebk
Nestled in Brooklyn, Toad Style brings you great vegan food at affordable prices —so go forth and eat plants. What to try: Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich — marinated grilled eggplant with almond cheese, marinara, arugula and basil on garlic bread.
Price: $7 – $11
Address: 93 Ralph Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
👉 Check out our full list of the best vegan restaurants in NYC.
NYC Neighborhoods that Cook “It” Best
New York is booming with exotic foods from all over the world, but sometimes the culinary knowledge gets a little lost along the way. So if you want to keep it authentic, these are the neighbourhoods that have held true to their roots.
1. Chinatown, Manhattan: Best for Chinese
Almost all large cities in the USA have a small section of the city referred to as Chinatown. In NYC, Chinatown is huge and it’s filled with Chinese bakeries, noodle stops, and traditional restaurants. Try eating some salt and pepper squid, dumplings, chow mein, peking roasted duck, red bean bun, sesame ball and ma po tofu.
2. Sunnyside, Queens: Best for Filipino
In Sunnyside aka Filipinotown you’ll find bakeries that specialize in Filipino breads, grocery stores that sell Filipino products, and restaurants that make traditional Filipino food. Dishes to try in Sunnyside include Sinigang (sour soup), Kare-Kare (peanut butter soup), Lechon (fried pig), Tapa (sweet pork), and Adobo (savory chicken).
3. Midtown South / Garment district, Manhattan: Best for Korean
There is a very small area of Manhattan referred to as Koreantown by locals and it’s right where midtown south (6th avenue) meets the garment district (34th street). Here you’ll find the best Korean bakeries, soup shops, and traditional restaurants. Head to Korea 32 Food Gallery, where you’ll find all the best Korean food New York has to offer.
4. Harlem, Upper Manhattan: Best for Soul Food
Craving some fried chicken, mashed potatoes, or mac & cheese? Harlem is the place to be. Here you’ll find the most traditional soul food goodies. To expand your food horizons, branch out with fried okra, grits, chitterlings, or hog maw.
5. Astoria, Queens: Mexican
For traditional Mexican cuisine, Astoria is NYC’s best neighbourhood by a mile. Tres leches, empanadas, tacos Al Pastor, chiles En Nogada… you name it! And if you’re on a super tight budget, stock up at the local Mexican grocery stores and cook up a storm in your hostel kitchen.
Top NYC Foods And Where To Find Them
If none of the delicious restaurants above tickle your taste buds or if you feel like you want to explore on your own… here is a list of traditional NYC dishes that are practically mandatory to try while visiting the city.
Most people have never heard of this traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad, and unless you’re planning to go to Hawaii after NYC you might as well try it here as it’s amongst the best in the world!
Wisefish Poké – Chelsea
Address: 263 West 19th Street, NY 10011
Price: $8 – $13
2nd City – Greenwich Village
Address: 525 Hudson St, NY 10014
Price: $7 – $10
Everyone has eaten a taco right? WRONG. The Tacos in NYC are more diverse, more authentic, and even more modern than other cities around the US, let alone the rest of the world.
Taco Mix – East Harlem
Address: 234 E 116th St, NY 10029
Price: $3.50 – $9
Tortilleria Nixtamal – Long Island City
Address: 104-05 47th Ave, NY 11368
Price: $3.50 – $16
3. Cookie Dough
Why? It’s always so tempting to eat all the cookie dough before they’re even made into cookies. Well NYC has a solution for your dough craving. Get cookie dough scooped into cones and eat it like ice cream! The best bit: no one will judge you.
Cookie DŌ – Greenwich
Address: 550 LaGuardia Pl, NY 10012
4. Ramen & Noodles
Sure, Asian food is ubiquitous across most of America, but NYC takes it back to its roots. Here you can get traditional ramen and noodle dishes on a backpacker’s budget.
Totto Ramen – Midtown East
Address: 248 E 52nd St, NY 10022
Price: $10 – $12
Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles II – Hell’s Kitchen
Address: 648 9th Ave, NY 10036
Price: $6 – $12
An NYC bagel is like no other bagel. The cream cheese is thicker, and the detail that goes into baking these treats is impressive. You can’t say you’ve been to NYC without trying a bagel. Start off with these spots, and by the end of your trip you’ll be addicted.
Baz Bagel – Little Italy
Address: 181 Grand St, NY 10013
Price: $1 – $6
Bagel Maven – Madison Sqaure Garden
Address: 362 7th Ave, NY 10001
Price: $1.50 – $6
Absolute Bagel – Upper Westside
Address: 2788 Broadway, NY 10025
Price: $7 – $16
6. Desserts & Pastries
NYC bakeries have become so specialized in what they make, that they just stop trying to make everything else. You’ll find everything from cookie cafés to gluten free cupcake bars.
Schmackary’s – Hell’s Kitchen
Address: 362 W 45th St, NY 10036
Price: $3 – $24
Bonus Hint: Go 30 minutes before close and get buy 1 get 1 free cookies until they’re all gone!
Baked by Melissa (Gluten Free!) –Fashion District
Address: 526 7th Ave, NY 10018
Price: $4 – $25
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About the author
Teejay lives in NYC and has made it his mission to eat his way across the city. He also loves to eat in other cities around the world, follow his adventures over on his Instagram @teejayhughes.
Got a hot tip for the best places to eat in NYC on a budget? Share it with our travel community in the comments below 👇