Yes you can eat for under $20 in NYC

The NYC dining scene thrives because of the diversity of food it offers. Whether it is Iranian, Ethiopian, Peruvian, Thai, Italian, Bengali...we have an array of ethnic cuisine that is celebrated and envied around the world. Luckily we can enjoy all these cuisines without having to break the bank. Gone are the days where eating French food meant that you needed to spend at least $100 or that a good sushi roll had to be at least $8. As our city continues to grow and diversify, not only are our food options increasing but we can access these foods on a budget. 

Below are my favorite places to dine for under $20. This list will continually be updated so stay tuned! 

Breakfast/Brunch

Bluestone Lane- Bluestone is what I wish all healthy food could be. Their avocado toast and grain bowls are not only good for you but absolutely delicious. Their West Village location is perfect for people watching.

Two Hands Restaurant- Two Hands has one of my favorite avocado toasts, which comes with all the fixings like pepitas, shallots, cilantro, sesame, chilli and lime at $12. You can get other Aussie fare here like smashed peas on toast which is $15 or build your own egg breakfast for $8. I find the prices fair especially in a place like Tribeca. Also the space is gorgeous. Brunch dates here are so much fun.

White Gold Butchers- The sandwiches at this place are drool worthy. Their chopped cheese, meatball parm and egg & cheese sandwiches which, all range from $5-$9 are the definition of breakfast goals. 

Absolute Bagels- These bagels are my favorite in the city. The smell of the bagels in the oven fills the street around 8am and a line forms on the weekends. The prices of the bagels depends on the toppings but you can expect to pay around $3-5. Lox will cost a bit more. 

12 Chairs- What if I told you that you can eat the best shakshuka in the city for $12? Well you would have to believe me because you can find it at 12 Chairs. If you're dining with a friend spoil yourselves by sharing the labne that changed my life for an extra $9. 

Hearth Restaurant- Hearth offers comfort Italian food for brunch which you're going to love. Instead of the typical pasta and pizza that most Italian brunch spots offer you can score a buttery meatball and polenta dish for $15. Their apple cider donut holes with cinnamon are also worth the $5.

Dimes- Dimes brings Japanese/Californian inspired brunch to NYC. Brunch dishes here are on the smaller side and range from $8-$13 but the food is good for breakfast. I enjoyed their selections of toasts that comes with a variety of toppings.

Bar Virage- I love the ambience of Bar Virage. Everything is laid back, the staff is friendly and of course the brunch selection is great. Their chicken shawarma is delicious and comes with fries ($13) and I love the runny eggs in their shakshuka ($14).

Cafe Mogador- This place is a bit on the higher end of your $20 budget but it's worth it for everything you get. For $18 you get your choice of egg dish, coffee, fresh orange juice, roasted potatoes and greens. The egg dishes are very popular and you can definitely expect to see a line on weekends.

Irving Farm- Irving Farm is perfect for a sit down breakfast or to grab something quick to go. You can select from their long list of pastries, hot sandwiches, platters, salads, bagels and much more. Their coffee, lattes and teas are equally delicious. 

Lunch

2nd City- This is the ultimate Filipino fast comfort food spot. Their fusion tacos, burritos, bowls, sandwiches are all under $10 with a few exceptions (like the poke bowl) and it's ridiculously delicious. Their Adobo-Rito ($7.95), a chicken burrito with kimchi fried rice will keep you full till dinner time and you will savor every bite.

Sushi Yasaka- Sushi Yasaka has the best combination of well priced and high quality sushi in the city. Luckily you can enjoy their delicious rolls, chirashi, bento boxes on their lunch menu which is priced from $11-$16. The prices are a steal given how good the sushi is.

Xi'an Famous Foods- Xi'an is one my favorite places to eat in the city. Their food is consistent, wallet friendly and literally spices up my day. I prefer getting their burger options (stewed lamb or pulled pork) which range from $4-6 or dumplings (spinach or lamb) that are around $8-$9 for lunch. I like to reserve their noodle dishes for dinner since they are on the heavier side. 

Tacombi- I love the tacos at Tacombi but I may be even fonder of the sauces. An order of their barbacoa and my favorite crispy fish tacos will set you back around $11. I also love the laid back vibe of this place and the taco truck inside the restaurant. It gives me California vibes right here in NYC! 

PC: @tastesbetterhere

PC: @tastesbetterhere

Peacefood Cafe- Although Peacefood caters to the vegans and vegetarians, meat lovers like myself can easily have lunch here any day. Their chickpea fries, 'un-chicken' tender and chili bowl will make you forget you're not eating meat. Lunch selections range from $8-$14. 

Parisi Bakery- If you wanted the perfect Italian sandwich with the ideal meat to cheese ratio on homemade bread then Parisi is your place. The sandwiches are enormous and ideal for sharing. The fan favorite is The Dennis and you can get it for around $11. They are cash only so have some in handy! 

PC: @onehungryjew

PC: @onehungryjew

Pokeworks- There are so many poke places in NYC now but I'm a fan of how much poke they put on the rice here. The lines can be frustrating but they have gotten much better (especially in Midtown during the lunch rush) and the Hawaiian bowl is very delicious ($12.95). 

Los Tacos No.1- These tacos may be the best in NYC and you can get them at a steal. The tacos all range around $3.50 and you will be tempted to order more than $20 worth. 

Beyond Sushi- Before you rush to judgement on vegetarian sushi please trust that this place knows what they are doing. The sushi actually tastes like real sushi. They also serve it with wasabi and soy sauce so you get the whole sushi experience...but with vegetables.  

Taim Falafel- Taim's sabich and falafel sandwiches are delicious. Their sabich is my favorite in the city. The menu changes often as they continue to do collaborations with famous chefs so you'll never get bored ordering from here. Prices range from $7-$12 depending on whether you want sandwiches or platters.

Dinner

Xi'ans Famous Foods- I love having the noodle dishes for dinner. The noodles are thick, full of flavor and very filling. The broth can be made as spicy as you like (or not) and you have a few options for which proteins you want. Prices range from $9.95-$13.

Keste Pizza & Vino- Keste offers consistently good pizza. The classic red/white personal pizzas range from $7-$20 so you'll have a lot of options to choose from. The special pizzas are usually $20+ but don't fret because their pies are all delicious regardless of price.

PC: @noleftovers

PC: @noleftovers

Jeepney- Jeepney is as real as it gets when it comes to Filipino fast food. The menu is meant to be shared tapas style so I recommend an order of the lumpia ($8), pancit ($13) and kare kare fried chicken ($19) for two people which will cost each person around $20.

PC: @kathryncrosby

PC: @kathryncrosby

Han Dynasty- Han Dynasty is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I love the quality, portion size and prices at this restaurant. The food here is meant to be shared family style and I recommend getting an order of their dan dan noodles which are only $6 along with one or two heavier meat/vegetable curry dish which ranges from $7-$10. 

Mighty Quinns- If you want quality barbecue then check out Mighty Quinns. If you get the half pound portion of meats ($9-$11) with some sides ($4-$8) you'll definitely be full and satisfied.

PC: @thedishelinguide

PC: @thedishelinguide

Motorino- If you are a pizza lover like me then you can usually finish a personal pie without a problem. At Motorino however, the pies are a bit bigger than usual with heavy toppings so it may be worth it to share one pie ($11-$19) and order antipasti instead. I love the meatball pie albeit it is rich but worth the calorie spend! 

PC: @jackie_mey

PC: @jackie_mey

Somtum Der- I had Somtum Der in Bangkok and fell in love with their salads. The salads are tangy, the dressing is sweet and tangy and best of all you can add spicy meats to it. Their noodles and meat dishes are equally delicious. This is definitely a place to share food so you can each expect to spend around $20 each for about 4 dishes. 

PC: somtumdernyc

PC: somtumdernyc

Awash- Some of the best Ethiopian food I've had thus far has been at Awash. Both their portions and price are generous. You can get any of the beef, chicken, vegetable or lamb platters from a $13-$15.50 price range. There have been times where I couldn't get through my individual platter because there was so much food. This is a go to for a cheap yet tasty dinner option. 

PC: foodiesmalls

PC: foodiesmalls

Sweet Chick- Southern comfort food for dinner is hands down the best. The chicken and waffle dishes which you can customize range from $17-$19. There are other great dishes like the fried chicken parmesan ($18) and chicken pot pie ($18) but they're known for their chicken and waffles and boy do they deliver. 

5 Favorite Brunch Spots in 2016

2016 was a year of many highs and many lows. Among the better things was being able to brunch often with people I love. Below is a list of my five favorite brunch places in NYC that I'll definitely keep visiting in 2017.

1.) 2nd City- 2nd City's Filipino fusion offers you a variety of dishes to pick for brunch. From breakfast burritos with runny eggs, sinigang bowl (short rib with rice), pork belly baos and tuna poke with steamed coconut rice...this meal is unlike any other. 2nd City offers only one menu throughout the day which doesn't matter because they have dishes suitable for any time of the day. They also have ube ice cream so it's an overall win win situation.

cafe mogador.JPG

2.) Bluestone Lane- Bluestone is proof that healthy food can be delicious and that even meat lovers can enjoy a good vegetable bowl (of course it has to come with avocado and a nice tahini dressing). The Bluestone Lane in Greenwich is a nice option for a sit down brunch if you're into cute blue hue pillows, cozy seating and good coffee.

3. The Butcher's Daughter- I appreciate how this place deceives me into eating non beef burgers and "chicken strips" because I didn't miss meat while I was eating in this vegan gem. Butcher's Daughter also offers an extensive baked goods list which is perfect as a starter for brunch. Their restaurant in SoHo has a Cali vibe with large windows which I love on a weekend morning. 

4. Two Hands Restaurant- Their avocado toast is amazing and comes with all the works (eggs, pepitas, tomatos, etc.). Their espresso drinks are also delicious. My favorite was the cappuccino. I imagine that Two Hands is as close as you can get to an authentic Aussie cafe. Their location in Tribeca is gorgeous and extremely accessible for brunch. 

5. 12 Chairs Cafe- If you've followed my blog/insta for a while then you know I am a huge fan of 12 Chairs. The food is incredible and I don't mind the 30 minute wait that is inevitable during prime brunch time during the weekends. I am spoiled by their shakshuka with feta cheese, their creamy ground beef hummus and out of this world delicious labneh with sesame. If I lived in the neighborhood I would eat here every morning.

After lots of blood, sweat and tears...you could really use a great goat cheese frittata

This guest blog post is written by Julie Weinstock, a native New Yorker, yoga teacher, tequila enthusiast and avocado lover. Discover Julie's favorite hearty, healthy and delicious places to eat after a long day teaching yoga.

In NYC, you never run out of food options. No matter the time, no matter the craving: the Big Apple has got it covered. We have a variation of every type of food you can think of…and then some. But where do you go for a good post-workout bite to eat? No worries, that’s what I’m here for. 

After a 200-hour training course to be a yoga instructor, I think it’s fair to say I’ve got enough experience in finding the best post-workout snack. Here’s a list of my top four go-to’s in the City that Never Sleeps:

1. Atlas Café- This is a tiny, little café in the East Village. You won’t come here for the intricate decorations (although the decorations are nice) but for the outstanding service and hospitality seldom found in NYC. 

Instagram source: nosharazzi

Instagram source: nosharazzi

When you come here, the owner will instantly take you in as one of his own. You can tell immediately that he does what he does because he loves it; it’s never about the money. Then, that bring us to the food. Everything that I’ve had at Atlas Café has been delicious. There are countless vegan options however, not everything is vegan. Since we’re talking protein, I recommend the Mediterranean Tofu Scramble. (Or actually any of the tofu scrambles) Each scramble comes with a bagel and side salad. The whole meal is super filling and will cost you under $10. Heads up, if you become a regular here, there’s a good chance the owner will start throwing free treats into your meal. 

2. Korilla BBQ- Korilla is a gem I bypassed for YEARS before my friends got me hooked about a month ago.  Also a small place, but Korilla is definitely worth the visit.  The staff here is always friendly and the prices are very reasonable for their generous portions. 

Tofu Salad Bowl with beets, kale and mushrooms (Source: Julie Weinstock)

Tofu Salad Bowl with beets, kale and mushrooms (Source: Julie Weinstock)

When you come in, you’ll have the option of a burrito, corn taco, or rice/salad/noodle bowl. Then, you get to choose a protein and toppings. Personally, I’ve always gone with a Tofu Salad Bowl. From there, I add Sweets and Beets, Kale, and Mushrooms. You do get to choose a sauce with your meal however, you’ll find that the food doesn’t even need it. (Just ask for it on the side). You can get creative at Korilla based on your own food preferences but I assure you once you sit down and take a bite, you’ll understand why I told you to stop by. (So when this becomes your next food addiction, don’t blame me)

3. Earth Café- AH. Earth Café. It’s possible I’ve become their most frequent customer but I’m okay with that. Earth Café is a trendy little spot on the Upper West Side. Again, this is one of those places that has only served me delicious food. 

Goat cheese frittata (Instagram source: @meetonperry)

Goat cheese frittata (Instagram source: @meetonperry)

For a post-workout meal, I recommend the Goat Cheese Frittata. (Or any frittata that they have available when you visit) Once you take that first bite, you’ll understand too. Their frittatas come with bread and a side salad. If you’re a coffee drinker, I also highly recommend their Cold Brew. The staff here makes you feel right at home (probably because it’s become my home) and doesn’t rush you out even though it’s a small place. Earth Café is also a great spot to sit and study or catch up with some friends.

4. by CHLOE.- I was originally brought here by a friend who told me if I didn’t want to eat here, I’d have to eat on my own. (In retrospect, I get why). The food here is all vegan, fresh, and mouth-wateringly good. Read that again for good measure. 

Avocado toast with sweet potato fries (Instagram source: @meetonperry)

Avocado toast with sweet potato fries (Instagram source: @meetonperry)

Super trendy and modern, by CHLOE. Is hyped all over social media but again, for good reason. When I came here, I ordered the Early Bird with avocado (not shown). My friend got a Smoothie Bowl with pancakes. WOW. We have never been happier.  My friend’s order took a while to come so they ended up giving her doubles of everything. (Not a bad deal, huh?). I ate here for the first time after my first (Yes, first ever) hot yoga class….which kicked my butt. Couldn’t have chosen a better place to regain my energy. Highly recommend if you’re looking for some delicious vegan food. Meals gravitate around the $10 range. 

Namaste and happy eating!

Follow Julie's adventures on Instagram , Facebook and on Twitter 

An afternoon eating on the Upper West Side

If you don't live on the Upper West Side you most likely never come up here. You work in midtown and you play below 14th street. I get it cool kid. Why come to the land of Upper West Side when there is so much to eat/do downtown? I'll give you a few good reasons:

On a Saturday morning as you're nursing a hangover, try to make your way up to UWS for an oasis in the city and some of the best bagels in NYC.

1. Absolute Bagels-  Incredible fresh baked bagels that have become an institution on the UWS. They're very generous with the cream cheese too so you're welcome in advance.

Whole wheat bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon

Whole wheat bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon

Feeling full? Walk it off in Riverside Park. As you walk alongside the Hudson River you can stop by the 103rd street dog run and wonder how your roommate would feel about you getting a dog. Don't be sad! If you ask nicely the dog owners may let you play with the pups. All this dog sight seeing must be wearing you out so grab a drink from Ellington in the Park, right across the dog park.

2. Ellington in the Park- They have great cocktails and a good selection of beer at an affordable price. If the bagel was not filling then go for the cheeseburger here. It's worth the calories.

Delicious local beer (instagram credit: @dietzycat) 

Delicious local beer (instagram credit: @dietzycat) 

It's mid afternoon and either you're not hungry (because you've had a bagel and/or a burger) or you are. In case you are then check out:

3. Xi'Ans Famous Foods- The hand pulled noodles are incredible. You cannot go wrong with the beef or lamb noodles. Just do it.

Spicy lamb noodles

Spicy lamb noodles

4. Fishtag- Great mediterranean food in a vibrant atmosphere. The lamb burger is worth the hype.

Shrimp ceviche special (instagram credit: @mpsalikas)

Shrimp ceviche special (instagram credit: @mpsalikas)

5. Sushi Yasaka- My favorite sushi spot second to Sushi Nakazawa. The price and quality makes me a regular here. The lunch deals include a 2 roll combo (with soup and salad) for $12 and a three roll combo (with soup and salad) for $16.

Spicy tuna (front), salmon avocado (back), california roll (right) 

Spicy tuna (front), salmon avocado (back), california roll (right) 

Take a break from eating before you explode and see what's happening in the Museum of Natural History. The suggestive donation will help you stay on budget after all that eating and the museum is easy to get lost in. Alternatively, Central Park is right across the museum if you're in the mood for more nature or to take pictures for Instagram. 

It's around 6pm and happy hour is fast approaching. You want to get a little buzzed before you go back down, right? I suggest E's Bar, Jake's Dilemma or my personal favorite iced margarita joint, The Heights (purely because of college nostalgia). 

Potato chips (instagram credit: @hungryhippie_)

Potato chips (instagram credit: @hungryhippie_)

See you back up here soon!