Where to Eat in NYC for $20 or Less
When figuring out where to eat in NYC, it’s easy to think that you’ll need to decide between paying your rent and enjoying a fabulous feast. Luckily, the city is filled with amazing places where you can find great meals for $20 or less.
When thinking about where to eat in NYC for the very best dining experience, it’s easy to assume that the best places come with the highest price tags, and they often do. Unfortunately, sometimes paying the electric bill or your student loan takes precedence over sipping on $22 Yamazaki Lemonades and working your way through the $450 omakase menu at Masa. And if you’re thinking of heading to Ray’s Pizza in the Village, forget it, it’s gone, as is the Gray’s Papaya that was only a few blocks down.
Where in the world can people go to get a good meal for cheap in NYC? Check out below for where to eat in NYC for $20 or less.
Beyoglu (81st and 3rd Avenue)
If your annual visit to Istanbul is on hold this year, take comfort in the fact that you can still feast on great baba ghanoush and garlicky tzatziki at Beyoglu, by all accounts one of the best Mediterranean restaurants in the city. For less than $20 per person, you get to snack on meze (the Turkish equivalent of tapas), including dishes like cacik, a rich, thick yogurt laced with generous amounts of garlic and cucumber. And their stuffed grape leaves are so good, even your friends who hate stuffed grape leaves will fight you for them.
Los Tacos No.1 (Chelsea Market)
Californians like to go on and on about how amazing their tacos are, something that can get pretty boring for those of us east of the Mississippi. The next time a cocky Los Angeleno or a boastful San Franciscan is in town, cart them over to Chelsea Market’s Los Tacos No.1 to partake in some of the best tacos this side of Tijuana. The ridiculously delicious adobada taco (filled with sizzling pork mixed with a tangy pineapple marinade) is so good you’ll want three. Herbivores can snack on the nopal (cactus) taco. Treat yourself to an ice-cold bottle of pure cane sugar Coca-Cola while you wait for your order. There’s no seating in the place — which you won’t mind because you’d rather wolf down your four tacos in privacy and comfort of your own home.
Beyond Sushi (E.14th Street bet. 2nd and 3rd or Chelsea Market)
Regular Masa diners may burst into apoplectic fits upon hearing this, but according to many New Yorkers, the best sushi in the city isn’t expensive, and it isn’t even made out of fish. Beyond Sushi, with two locations in the East Village and Chelsea, serves up visually stunning vegan sushi fare, and it does so with great success. It’s the names of the entrees on the menu — the Spicy Mang, the Nutty Buddy — that draw you in first, flirting with the tongue and offering brief, delicious glimpses of the decadence to come. The Spicy Mang is a black rice roll filled with colorful, spicy chopped vegetables, sweet mango, and buttery avocado. But what really makes this roll sing is its toasted cayenne sauce. The Nutty Buddy, a fan favorite, is a rice paper wrap containing buckwheat noodles, fiery-hot jalapeño peanut butter, cashews, tofu, carrots, and sesame oil. Combo orders cost less than $20, even when you add in an order of their thirst-quenchingly refreshing cucumber-mint lemonade.
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