Cheap lunch in Manhattan!
April 10, 2013 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, I found a delicious and huge banh mi on Broome street for $4.50. This made me think: there have to be, in my general vicinity, other good lunches that don't cost a lot. I generally pay $8 to $15 for lunch, and I'm tired of it, and I'm also fatigued from all the places I currently go. Tell me other (cheap) places to try!

Location: I work on Broadway and Houston. I want lunch to be walking distance. Walking distance, for me, is "a fifteen-minute walk."

Cuisine: Anything, but I'm not looking for fast food chains or a hot dog on the street. I already know about halal carts and smoothie carts. I already know about Gray's Papaya and Mamoun's. I'm looking for recommendations that are similar to this hole-in-the-wall banh mi place I found--something delicious and not-entirely-unhealthy.

This is more about lunch boredom than about saving money, so "why don't you bring your lunch from home?!" is not what I'm looking for here.
posted by millipede to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
There's a guy (whose name fails me at the moment) that sells vegan indian food out of cart on West 4th street, south of Washington square park. Between Sullivan and Thompson on the North Side. Be sure to get the lentil flour pancake combo, among the best Indian food I've eaten in my life.

NYC also has some great taco shops in NoLita. Tacombi on Elizabeth st. La Esquina on Kenmare between Center and Lafayette.

Not quite cheap, but good Arpes at Caracas on east 7th in E. Village.
posted by pakoothefakoo at 12:57 PM on April 10, 2013

I work at Varick and Houston.

SoB's at the corner of Houston and Varick, has an amazing Carioca Chicken. All their entrees are pretty tasty. They have different lunch specials all week. Tuesday's are particularly good, 2 entrees for the price of one. Entrees are normally $11-14, so it ends up being $6-7. This deal might be email advertised only, but if you ask I'm sure they'll give it to you. There is also a few drink Tuesday special and they've been letting my work lunch crew combine the two lately. Try them out.

Lower manhattan mefite lunch group?

There is a nice by the pound buffet called Jazzy's at Varick and Charleton, not swanky, but pretty good. I think it's $7.50/pound.
posted by pseudonick at 1:04 PM on April 10, 2013

I used to work close to there, and know that bahn mi place, it's great! Bite serves tasty sandwiches on Lafeyette and Bleecker for $6.50, if my memory's correct. Also check out Hoomoos Asli on Kenmare and Lafayette, which has a delicious $5 falafel sandwich. And on Crosby between Houston and Prince, there's a tiny Bangladeshi (I think) take-out place that dishes out cheap fare- it's popular among cabbies.
posted by mkultra at 1:06 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you know about Midtown Lunch's downtown site? They feature lunch under $10. Check it out!
posted by Pineapplicious at 1:08 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to work at Crosby and Spring. My favorite lunch option (other than banh mi and falafel, which were also in my rotation) was a sandwich place on Spring and Lafayette called D&D deli. Their sandwiches were all around $5.50-$6.50, and their lunch specials all came with a free water or soda.

Their fresh turkey is amazing; you can have it with cranberry sauce year-round if that's your thing, or just with lettuce/tomato/mayo or whatever fixings you are used to. So much better (and probably better for you) than the typical processed deli turkey.
posted by matcha action at 1:14 PM on April 10, 2013

Response by poster: (these are great so far! and I would be all about a lower manhattan mefite lunch group!)
posted by millipede at 1:17 PM on April 10, 2013

The Kati Roll company

posted by Mchelly at 1:35 PM on April 10, 2013

There are a lot of excellent places in Chinatown. Big Wong King on Mott just south of Canal has great roast pork on rice for something like $5.50. Golden Steamer on Mott just south of Grand has great buns--I like the pumpkin one especially--for something like a dollar apiece.

Panya on Stuyvesant St and Cafe Zaiya just south of St Marks on 3rd are really tasty for Japanese buns and onigiri, which all run under $2 apiece (and you can browse the St Marks Bookshop at the same time). You could pick up cheese from East Village Cheese as well.

A bit unconventionally, Oatmeals on West 3rd just east of 6th Ave has great, well, oatmeals with a variety of toppings and they are less than $5 each.

A bunch of lunch trucks roam around that could potentially be good (seconding checking Midtown Lunch's downtown site for this and other info).

(I work near Chinatown and I think about these things a lot. I probably have more ideas if you want. A lunch group would be great!)
posted by mlle valentine at 1:49 PM on April 10, 2013

Pepe Rosso To Go has a great lunch special: pasta or panini with salad for about $6.95. It's on Sullivan and Houston, I think.

Added bonus of an Italian guy yelling at you.
posted by functionequalsform at 2:46 PM on April 10, 2013

Seconding Pepe Rosso. If you hoof it you could make it to Xian Famous Foods in the foot of the Manhattan Bridge; their spicy lamb cumin noodles ($5.50) are fucking sensational.
posted by saladin at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2013

Also, oh god, Lahore. Dollar samosas.
posted by functionequalsform at 2:54 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, memories. Parisi Bakery. It's been a while, but a giant hoagie with fresh bread used to cost around 6 - 8 dollars, depending.
posted by functionequalsform at 3:01 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I live 2 blocks away from that banh mi store (but sadly, work in Midtown... I envy your lunch options). 'Tis indeed one of the best banh mis in Chinatown.

I really like Despana, also on Broome, between Lafayette and Centre. They have all sorts of tapas you can choose from the display case, and they sell sandwiches too. Lunch would probably run you ~$8-$15 depending on how much you order.

If you like falafel, Taim on Spring street is good and around $6-8.

Asia Dog on Kenmare between Mulberry and Mott has some interesting hot dogs - though I've only tried their brick and mortar store once and frankly I remember being more impressed with their stand food.

Seconding the NY Dosas guy mentioned above, on the south side of Washington Square Park. There is also a Cambodian food truck there which I haven't tried, but I've heard good things about.

If you want to go super cheap and are willing to walk a bit further (20 mins?), you are within range of all the cheap dumpling places in Chinatown. My favorite one is on the NW corner of Hester and Eldridge, which changes names all the time but has a bunch of pictures of food in the windows. You can get boiled and fried dumplings and steamed buns for a really low price, something like $1 for 5. But my favorite dishes there are the beef sandwich, which runs $2 and is a filling lunch, and the chive fried pastry.

Parisi Bakery is also good and still costs only $6-8 although the lineup can be crazy long might end up waiting in line longer than it takes to walk to/from there depending on when you go. I can only eat half of one of their meatball parms in one sitting.

Xi'an Famous Foods mentioned above is great and one of my favorites, but their Manhattan Bridge location is closed - but that's fine because their Bayard street location would be closer for you anyway. They also have a location on St Marks which might be even closer to you.
posted by pravit at 5:22 PM on April 10, 2013

Also: Gaia Italian Cafe, further east on Houston. Love that place - has to be one of the best value for money Italian restaurants in NYC. Her paninis are delicious and cost only $5, but everything on the menu is well worth trying and very affordable.
posted by pravit at 5:29 PM on April 10, 2013

Parisi Bakery makes a mozzarella sundried tomato sandwich that will change your life.
posted by jbenben at 5:48 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not sure how far 15 minutes' walk is, but if you're willing to go to 1st Ave, Punjabi Deli is a total hole in the wall where $5 gets you more delicious vegetarian Indian food than most people know what to do with. Note that most dishes are not very spicy unless you add in the sauce and the chilies they put out on the counter; I really like this, but you might be some kind of masochist.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:08 PM on April 10, 2013

There's a guy (whose name fails me at the moment) that sells vegan indian food out of cart on West 4th street, south of Washington square park. Between Sullivan and Thompson on the North Side. Be sure to get the lentil flour pancake combo, among the best Indian food I've eaten in my life.

That's Thiru the Dosa Man, winner of a Vendy Award.

And on Crosby between Houston and Prince, there's a tiny Bangladeshi (I think) take-out place that dishes out cheap fare- it's popular among cabbies.

Yup, that's Lahore.

Another kind of "hidden in plain" site place is La Churreria, next to Socarrat Paella, which does various lunch specials: 1/2 sandwich and soup, 1/2 sandwich and salad, or 3 tapas. (It appears that their web site is acting up, I can't pull up the menu online.)

In addition to Midtown Lunch's "Downtown Lunch" category for Soho and Nolita, you'll probably be interested in Real Cheap Eats, specifically the Nolita, Soho, and East Village categories.

The Lunch Studio archives are also good to peruse -- the two women who run the blog used to have an architectural studio in Soho but recently moved. However, most of the entries have a photo and brief description of the lunch they ate that day. Here are the Noho, Nolita, and Soho pages.

If you do make it to Chinatown, the Serious Eats Cheapskate's Guide to Chinatown, NYC: 13 Snacks for $2 and Under is great as is their guide to 10 Great Chinatown Meals Under $6.
posted by kathryn at 8:22 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

A few years ago now my wife and I spent most of June living about a block from your workplace, in NYU housing. I posted this to request wifi-enabled work spots and interesting cheap lunch options. The results included the requisite references to the dosa guy and Mamoun's (both of which were great) -- but there are also a few other ideas that you might find interesting assuming they're still around.

And my favorite banh mi was the place in the back of a jewelry store at 138 Mott. Be warned -- I think they're closed a couple of days a week, maybe Monday and Tuesday.
posted by sesquipedalia at 11:38 PM on April 10, 2013

my favorite banh mi was the place in the back of a jewelry store at 138 Mott.

Yeahhhhhh Saigon Bakery! I think they've moved though. That's probably the banh mi place OP is talking about.

(This is my new favorite thread.)
posted by functionequalsform at 6:04 AM on April 11, 2013

It might be just outside your 15 minute range, but Vanessa's Dumplings at Broome and Eldridge is divine. My father-in-law once bought an ample lunch for 4 people there for only $15.
posted by rocketman at 7:54 AM on April 11, 2013

Seconding Vanessa's and Lahore.
There is also a place on Carmine called Potjanee that has good and cheap pad thai and lunch specials. I ate there a lot when I worked in that hood.
posted by rmless at 9:02 AM on April 11, 2013

« Older I formed an LLC with a partner, are we Limited or...   |   songs about kissing? catch: the word kiss is not... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.