Devil’s Advocate

Dear Devil’s Advocate,


I feel like food in New York has gotten so expensive. It’s hard to have a good meal without spending a lot of money. What are the best restaurants in the city for cheap eats?



Frugal Foodie


Dear Frugal Foodie,

As difficult as it seems, great cheap eats are easy to find everywhere in the city if you know where to look. To help you get started, check out our master list: 


Mei Lai Wah 

This “hole in the wall” gem is a Chinatown classic. From beef chow fun to sticky rice, this place has it all, but nothing beats their legendary roast pork bao. Dine in the restaurant or get take out and eat in nearby Columbus Park and experience delicious food for a shockingly low price. 


Scarr’s Pizza 

Another “hole in the wall” a few blocks from Mei Lai Wah, Scarr’s has been around for less than a decade, but has already surpassed thousands of pizza competitors in NYC. They make a great classic slice and are also well known for their Sicilian and their “Hot Boy” slice—pepperoni, jalapeños, and hot honey (trust us, it’s good).


7th Avenue Donuts and Diner 

 This spot might be missed on a walk down 7th avenue in Park Slope, but it’s one to seek out. With a real old-fashioned feeling, 7th ave Donuts and Diner is open 24/7 for a midnight snack or brunch. They cook up solid diner classics for reasonable prices, and you can’t miss the enticing rack of donuts upon entry.


Joe’s Steam Rice Roll 

Originating in Flushing, Queens, Joe’s now boasts locations on the Upper West Side and in the heart of Lower Manhattan. Their rice rolls are thin and springy, with a variety of fillings including pork, shrimp, and beef. They’re known as some of the best Chinese bites in the city for good reason.



Sometimes, falafel can be dry or unexciting, but luckily, Oasis has cracked the code of incredible falafel. It may not look like much on the outside, but this Williamsburg spot cooks up some of the best falafel we’ve had. Get it extra spicy in a pita sandwich, and finish it off with some homemade baklava.


Los Tacos No. 1

For delicious Mexican food, look no further than Los Tacos.  Located throughout the city, these restaurants make tacos, quesadillas, and mulas with a variety of fillings, including carne asada, adobada, and nopal, or prickly pear. Don’t miss their refreshing horchata or agua frescas either.



A Brooklyn staple, Hancos has three locations and is a favorite of local high schoolers. All three locations make bubble tea and a variety of delicious Vietnamese hand foods. We recommend the pork banh mi for a great sandwich or the shrimp summer roll for something quick yet satisfying. And when it comes to bubble tea, you can’t go wrong with any flavor.


Naruto Ramen 

Sometimes, a comforting bowl of soup is all you need. Naruto Ramen has outposts on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and in Park Slope, and makes bowls of ramen in a variety of flavors that are just as good, if not better, than a much more expensive one. 


La Bagel Delight

No restaurant list in New York City would be complete without a good bagel place. La Bagel Delight is exactly that. Their bagels are springy and always freshly made, and whether you get their generous spread of cream cheese or one of their breakfast sandwiches, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it. You can find La Bagel Delight locations throughout Brooklyn, and fans of it everywhere.


Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Food

Less is definitely more at Wah Fung. This tiny Chinatown spot serves rice, cabbage, and three types of meat to go. While it may seem boring, believe us when we say that the marinated roast pork alone is more than enough.


Lillo Cucina Italiana

Nestled on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, Lillo whips up some of the best Italian food in Brooklyn. This takeout-only spot works with reasonable prices and comforting meals. Cancel that trip to Italy, and pop over to Henry Street.


We hope these recommendations are the answer to your problem. Try any one of these, and you’ll get a great meal without having to spend more than you want to. Enjoy!



The Devil’s Advocate


The Devil’s Advocate is the Polygon’s advice column. Need advice? Write [email protected] a letter explaining your problem and we’ll publish it anonymously with advice from the Devil’s Advocate.