Prices are rising everywhere. And that includes restaurants, making it particularly challenging to find affordable restaurants in Manhattan, where a meal can cost you an eyebrow-raising sum.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank to eat out in Manhattan. In fact, if you know where to look—or, ahem, keep reading this article—you can still eat well without emptying your wallet or pocketbook.
The below restaurants are sure to wow your palate without overwhelming your wallet. These are places where you can throw down a Hamilton (that would be $10) and a Lincoln (that’s $5) and fill up on high-quality food in one of the most expensive cities in North America.
Not much has changed at B&H Dairy since it opened in the East Village in 1938. Even the prices are still quite gentle at this kosher restaurant. At breakfast, you can get two eggs of any style plus hashbrowns, homemade challah bread, and coffee for $7. All of their overstuffed sandwiches are under $10.
This no-frills Chinatown spot is one of New York’s only restaurants that focus on the cuisine of Teochew, a Chinese community that spread out all over Southeast Asia. This means the cuisine at Bo Ky (80 Bayard St) is very diverse, with roots in many different culinary traditions in the region. As a result, expect to find a version of pho that is not exactly like the pho you’d get at a Vietnamese restaurant, as well as surprising versions of other various noodle dishes from Cambodia, Malaysia, and Laos. And no dish will cost you more than $15.
This Midtown burger spot is as famous for its location as it is for its burgers. Walk into the lobby of the Parker New York Hotel, look for the neon burger sign, pull back the curtain, et voila! You found Burger Joint. The patties here are of the thin variety and absolutely delicious. You won’t find a $25 burger here. Instead, you can get filled up for under $10.
The cuisine of the Republic of Georgia is having a moment in New York City. Until not long ago, if you wanted to try this delicious, diverse cuisine you had to jump on the subway for an hour or so and go deep into Brooklyn. But now there are Georgian restaurants scattered around Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. Cafe Delia, located on East 8th Street, offers affordable versions of pizza-like khachapuri, the popular cheesy baked bread, plus khinkali, the pork dumplings that hold broth inside. These are known as the ultimate hangover cure among hard-drinking Georgians.
Empellon Al Pastor
After leaving his post as pastry chef at the molecular restaurant wd-50, chef Alex Stupak has proven to have quite a hand with Mexican fare. His East Village eatery, Empellon Al Pastor serves up excellent versions of the namesake taco plus nachos and even corn dogs—all of which are very affordable. Come on Friday or Saturday evening after 10 pm and the tacos are a mere $3.
Taxi drivers, the world over, apparently know the best cheap eats in their cities. Haandi (113 Lexington Ave) in Murray Hill (or “Curry Hill,” as it’s nicknamed) is living proof of this. This Indian and Pakistani restaurant always has a dozen or so yellow taxis parked in front of it. The food is good and, best of all, it’s very affordable.
Brought to you by the restaurant group who gave us the acclaimed Indian eateries Semma, Adda, and Dhamaka, Rowdy Rooster is a casual East Village spot focusing on Indian fried chicken. For under $10, you can indulge in very satisfying hot chicken pieces or chickpea chaat and/or eggplant pakora. Even better, get it to go and take it to a nearby dive bar to pair it with a vodka soda to cool the palate.
Located on MacDougal Street among a mishmash of kebab places and bars, Saigon Shack is popular with the NYU set. Why? It’s good and it’s very affordable. For about $12, you can get a huge bowl of restorative pho or, even cheaper, an overstuffed banh mi sandwich.
7th Street Burger
7th Street Burger fired up its griddle in 2022 and became perpetually packed. To make their burger, they use the smash technique which is to press down on the patty with the spatula, flattening it and intensifying the flavor. They then add a slice of American cheese and put it all on a Martin’s potato roll, et voila! Your burger is awaiting your palate. Best of all, you can get a high-quality burger here for under $10.
It’s a mystery how Simò Pizza manages to make their authentic, super-high-quality Neapolitan-style pizzas and only charge $12 for most of them. Whatever the case, the simple Margarita here is excellent. But for those who want more toppings, the pesto and pecorino pie, as well as the anchovy and black olive pizza, are fantastic.
The restaurant name does not lie. Their Lanzhou-style hand-pulled noodle soups really do taste super. The atmosphere is no-frills and the service can be gruff to downright dismissive, but you don’t come here to get smiles from the servers. You come here for the spicy hand-pulled noodle beef soup. Super Taste is one of the better Chinatown places to eat noodle soups and you can leave there satisfied for under $10.
With locations in the East Village and the Lower East Side, Taqueria Diana has a menu loaded with all the Mexican street food staples: tacos, burritos, quesadillas, etc. But the main reason to come here is for one thing: nachos. For under $13, you get a mountainous portion of nachos so large that it could feed a family of four. Or an individual could extend it over the course of four meals.
Located in Harlem, Teranga is a vibrant eatery serving up the cuisine of West Africa, but more specifically, Senegal. The word teranga means “hospitality” in Wolof, one of the official languages of Senegal. And you’ll feel right at home here tucking into large bowls of grilled chicken and red rice smothered in a spicy peanut sauce. There’s a second location in Midtown East at Lexington Avenue and East 53rd Street.
To get good Egyptian food, you previously had to jump on the subway and trudge out to Astoria. Not anymore for Manhattanites. Located on the Nolita/SoHo border, Zooba is a casual spot that serves up excellent Egyptian street food. You can get an Egyptian version of a grilled cheese sandwich, falafel, or koshari, the national dish of Egypt: a bowl filled with rice, lentil, and chickpeas and then topped with a tangy tomato sauce and crispy onions.
David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes here and here.