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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.