14 Can’t Miss Cheap Eats in New York City

New York City is an amazing place with so much to explore and that includes all the delicious food you can enjoy. From breakfast to seafood to ethnic dishes to pizza to burgers and so much more. On top of that, one of the things I love about eating in New York City is how many delicious options there are to enjoy without breaking the bank. After two trips to the city last year I wanted to share some of my favorite cheap eats in New York with you.

My first trip to New York City last year was a solo visit and I was working hard to keep a budget but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to eat well. Thankfully, I was able to easily get away with spending less than $50 a day, every day, on food and still get to taste some of the best of the city (some days were way under that budget.

Whether you’re planning an itinerary entirely on a budget or if you want to have some low-cost meals to allow for splurging on others you’ll want to add many of these cheap eats in New York to your list.

Bagels & Breakfast

Breakfast sandwich in a blue box. Cheap eats in New York City.

I have a minor obsession with bagels and while I normally try to avoid them for health reasons I’m pretty much the opposite when I’m in New York City. I try to find just about every excuse and chance to eat them.

Russ & Daughters 

Various Locations

My favorite spot for bagels was at the Russ & Daughters Deli. They have a cafe as well, but all I wanted was a delicious bagel and some cream cheese. You can find everything you need for a picnic here as well. Or if you run in for a quick bagel that you can take with you on your adventures.

Ess-a-Bagel

831 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

Whether you want to dozen bagels or a bagel sandwich it’s worth standing in line at Ess-a-Bagel. A delicious spot in Midtown that was easy to swing by as I started my adventure for the day around the city.

Egg Shop

Various Locations’

If you’re looking for a cheap breakfast that might not be a bagel I suggest checking out one of the Egg Shop spots. They have great breakfast sandwiches that don’t break the bank.

Bluestone Lane Coffee 

If you’re looking to get your coffee fix on and a tasty breakfast you’ll want to check out Bluestone Lane. They have a delicious roast and their breakfast sandwiches and fancy toast are delicious. They also have gluten-free options so you won’t miss out.

Adventure Cafe

85 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002

I didn’t have a chance to visit H&H Bagels but I did get to have one from Adventure Cafe. This cute spot is right by the Tenement Museum which was our first stop for the day. They also made some great coffee. It’s a little spot next to a co-working place but worth a visit if you are in the area and in need of a snack.

Lunch & Dinner Cheap Eats

Shake Shack chicken sandwich, fries and a beer. Cheap East in New York City

Both lunch and dinner are easy to do cheap in New York City. You can find everything from burgers to pizza, meditteranian to asian cuisine, and even more throughout the city. These cheap easts in New York will leave you feeling satisfied and full! 

Xi’an Famous Foods

Various Locations

I love me some noodles and dumplings and if you do too you’ll want to check out Xi’an. You’ll find this fast/casual spot all over the city. They have so many choices that you might even want to visit more than once. But you’ll at least want to try some of the hand ripped noodles. I also loved the dumpling soup. Next time though I want to give their unique take on the burger a trip.

Joe’s Pizza

Various Locations

There are so many spots for a cheap slice of pizza in NYC but my favorite by far was Joe’s. You won’t find many options but you don’t need one. Just grab a slice of cheese pizza (or a whole pie) and you won’t regret that you did.

The Halal Guys

Various Locations

While the Halal Guys are spreading beyond NYC I hadn’t had the chance to try them before. Bring a friend or a book since you’ll likely find a wait. But for you’ll walk away with a flavor-packed platter filled with delicious gyro neat and sides. I also loved their sauce. This was the absolute perfect dinner for the day I had that started with a red-eye flight I barely slept on, then running around with a good friend and her four-year-old, and with me wanting nothing more than some good food and to curl up in my hotel room before bed.

Shake Shack

Various Locations

Another spot you might have nearby but sadly I don’t. I had to check out if Shake Shack was worth all the hype and I have to say it is. After a night at the theatre, I was hungry and it was almost midnight. Thankfully the spot in Times Square near my hotel was still open and it had absolutely no line at that hour. While their burgers are tasty, I have to say go for their fried chicken sandwich it is absolutely delicious. And, of course, add a shake to your order. They are heavy and rich, so you might want to share one but you won’t want to miss it. I also love their crisp

Vanessa’s Dumpling House

220 E 14th St New York, NY 10003
When visiting a friend in the Chinatown area she asked what I felt like,  my answer was that I was staying on a budget. From that, she knew exactly where to take me. I spend less than $6 and had some of the best dumplings of my life. They had simple classics as well as some twists I hadn’t tried before. My friend’s favorite is their dumpling soup which also looked delicious. If you’re in Lower Manhattan you’ll definitely want to swing by. 

Oyster Happy Hours

Oyster in hand at a happy hour. Cheap eats in New York City.

For some reason, I think of oysters a lot when I make it to the East Coast, and you know what they don’t disappoint. We also have very few Oyster Happy Hours on the West Coast. So one of my favorite cheap eats in New York city was finding $1 or close to oyster happy hours.

The Mermaid Inn

570 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10024
On the Upper West side you’ll find Mermaid Inn. It had a great happy hour with raw oysters for just $1.25 and discounted glasses of wine. This ended up being my meal for the evening and I walked away well fed for under $20. Plus if it’s a nice day out you’ll enjoy a seat out on the patio watching the world go by. 

Sagaponack Bar & Grill

4 W 22nd St New York, NY 10010
My sister and I stumbled upon Sagaponack and were not disappointed. This is a perfect place to go for an oyster happy hour if not everyone going actually wants the oysters. I was thrilled to enjoy tasty $1 oysters all while my sister had some gluten-free onion rings. Their happy hour menu also includes a wide range from ravioli to clams and mussels to fries. Plus their menu looks so good you’ll want to pop back by for dinner.  

Something Sweet

Variety of baked good and cookies. Cheap eats in New York City.

Whenever I travel with my sister we go on a hunt for gluten and dairy free sweet treats. They make a perfect afternoon snack and these cheap eats in New York did not disappoint. Whether or not you have dietary limitations you’ll want to swing by for a bite.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

224 Front St New York, NY 10038
Can I just say yum? This is one of my favorite ice cream places I’ve been to yet. They have a great blend of classic flavors and fun modern twists. I absolutely loved their mint chocolate chip. I only wish I had found them earlier on my trip so I could have gone back for more. Also, they always have eight regular dairy-free flavors and often a special or two if you or who you’re exploring with have that limitation. My sister agreed it was one of the best she’s had yet. 

Erin McKenna’s Bakery

248 Broome St New York, NY 10002
Who knew I’d become an expert on gluten-free bakeries? Well as I’ve traveled with my sister I get to try the best of just about every city we visit and Erin McKenna made that list in New York.  Erin is a famous gluten-free baker and cookbook writer and you can see why. Her bakery does everything from wedding cakes to cookies, but we went there specifically for the donuts. And they sure were tasty. 

Schmackary’s

362 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036
Now if you need a to die for a cookie you must head to Schmackary’s in Hell’s Kitchen. They do have gluten-free options so my sister wanted to swing by, but I had a very gluten-filled chocolate chip cookie that was pretty much heaven. It was so rich that I was able to save half for the next morning which was a lovely treat. 

Enjoy These Cheap Eats in New York and Many More

New York might get the reputation of being an expensive city and while in many ways that is true, but one great thing is you don’t have to spend a lot to eat well. These cheap eats in New York will help you balance your travel budget all while still getting a chance to explore some of the best food the city has to offer.

At the same time, I know this list only scratches the surface of the great cheap eats around New York so let me know if you have any favorites and I’ll add them to my list for my next visit.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.