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New York Cheap Eats: My Top 20 Picks...

 

JourneyWoman Jodi Ettenberg is a former New York lawyer who left legal practice to pursue her dream of seeing the world, one country at a time. Travelling since April 1, 2008, she writes about her obsessive love of street food, transportation misadventures and the politics of the places she visits. You can follow Jodi via her Legal Nomads blog or on Twitter. We asked Jodi to tell us about her favorite cheap eats in New York. She writes...


I'm a low-class foodie ...

I have a food problem. The friends who have met me on the road know that I will drag them across the city (and sometimes to neighbouring towns) insearch of a new food. I will insist on copious time in local markets, at street stalls and crouched at roadside restaurants. I spend full days learning new recipes from the food stall owners I have met on my travels. I just love food. And from a half a world away, I still get emails about where to eat in New York.

This is not because I am an expert on New York restaurants, but because I am a low-class foodie: I love to eat good food, but I refuse to pay too much for it. Cheap eats are almost permanently accessible when you are travelling through Asia or South America, but less so in New York, where restaurant prices easily tend toward the astronomical. I was saving up for this round-the-world adventure when I worked and lived in New York City, and thus I became the go-to person for friends and family who wanted to eat on a budget, but not sacrifice taste.

 

Favorite cheap eats in NYC ...

Best Tapas: There are many wonderful tapas restaurants in New York, but Tia Pol (205 10th Avenue, New York, NY) remains my favorite. Their patatas bravas comes with a spicy mayonnaise dipping sauce and both the chorizo al jerez and lamb skewers are impeccable. They also make a great tortilla espa�ola. Bonus: killer sangria.

Best Burger: Corner Bistro (331 West 4th Street, New York, NY) is rumoured to be the best burger in New York and it does not disappoint. I also love The Burger Joint in the Parker-Meridian hotel (119 W 56th St, New York, NY?). Bonus points for walking into a fancy hotel and walking out having spent minimal money, and smelling like burger grease. Both of these spots serve their burgers on paper plates, and with no fanfare. Prices hit the spot too.

Best Chinese: Xi’an Famous Foods (81 St. Marks Place, New York, NY) a newfound discovery for me (but not for my friends, who were appalled that I hadn’t eaten here prior!) this hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves spicy, lamb-filled dishes at unbeatable prices. From the burgers served on thin buns to the spicy, cumin-doused lamb over thick rice noodles, everything I’ve eaten here has been delicious.

Best Sushi: Iron Chef House (92 Clark St, Brooklyn, NY) and Nana (155 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) in Brooklyn are both delicious, well-priced and serve consistently fresh fish. Iron Chef has a creative selection of maki rolls to choose from, tempered by a long list of sashimi and sushi options. Nana has a patio out back and a fun bar in the front, which makes it a great choice in the summer months. I have many sushi faves in the city itself, but the value of the food at these Brooklyn options made them consistently worthwhile.

I love TatzikiBest Mediterranean: Kashkaval (856 9th Avenue, New York, NY). Kashkaval has a fantastic lineup of small plates, including hummus, creamy artichoke dips, stuffed grape leaves and tzatziki. Their meat and cheese options don’t disappoint either: the each compliments the other, leaving you wanting more. Bonus: a sparse but good wine selection, and fondue.

Best Sandwich: The Bedouin Tent’s leg of lamb with onion, tomato & homemade lemon-mint mayonnaise in fresh pita is hands down the best sandwich for me (405 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY). A close second: the banh mi sandwiches from Ba Xuyen (4222 8th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY) � they have a surprisingly plentiful set of sandwich options, including meatballs, and the bread is always fresh.

Best Soup: Ippudo (65 4th Avenue, New York, NY) is always packed, but worth the wait: you�re in for rich, complex soup broths and perfectly cooked noodles. Bonus: get the pork buns while you wait, they are superb. Another favorite is Menchanko-tei (45 W. 55th Street, New York, NY), especially in the summer months when they serve cold soups with slices of roasted pork and noodles.

Best Pizza: Piola (48 East 12th Street, New York, NY) A pizza chain based in Italy, Piola offers thin crust and Neapolitan style pizzas that I absolutely love. For any deep-dish pizza fans, this is not your place. But for those of you who, like me, want their dough to be crispy and light: this might just be your new pizza destination.

Best Espresso: Zibetto Bar(1385 Avenue of the Americas, near 56th street, New York, NY). Zibetto is the perfect espresso bar. It is standing room only, with a long marble counter and expert baristas who make excellent coffee. They also serve biscotti and teas, and sell Illy products. I worked nearby and this was a weekly treat. You won’t find a better espresso in the city � except at their other location on Fulton street.

Best Vietnamese: Nha Trang (87 Baxter St, New York, NY?) has reliably delicious pho soups, huge summer rolls (including a grilled pork version that I cannot resist) and great prices. There are a slew of other Vietnamese restaurants on Baxter, but I keep returning to Nha Trang.

Best Indian Food: My friend Sarah introduced me to Banjara Restaurant (97 1st Avenue, New York, NY) and I was hooked. Mouth-watering, creamy curry dishes, amazing palak ghost, light and crispy naan breads and a huge menu to choose from. It isn’t the cheapest option in New York’s “Little India”, but it is by far my favorite.

For more great cheap eats, click here

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