Dining in New York City can be hard on your wallet, but my friend Julia knows where to go for the best cheap eats in the city:
Generally, New York City is a great place for foodies, but Manhattan is expensive, especially the Midtown area, which I try to avoid at all costs. The outer boroughs are a lot more interesting, but if we start with Manhattan, the best neighborhoods for cheap and tasty food are Lower East Side, Chinatown and East Village. They are also the best neighborhoods for ethnic food.
Pizza is cheap in Manhattan and I really like the pizza over here. When I was living in Vienna I hated pizza, but after tasting real New York pizza this has changed completely. Even the cheap $1 slices are really tasty! Two of my favorite pizza places are Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village and Prince Street Pizza in Nolita. Both places are very popular and kind of touristy, and there is always a line outside, but their pizzas are worth waiting for. At Joe’s, the pizza crust is thin and crispy, whereas Prince Street are known for their deep dish pizzas.
Overall, the west coast, and California in particular, is a lot better than the east coast, when it comes to Asian food. In NYC it is often a hit or a miss, and for some reason, authentic Thai food is particularly hard to come across, but Queens is the exception to that rule. Queens is the best place to go for Asian food, and you will find restaurants out there, specializing in just one dish that they make to perfection, just as they do in Asia. In Queens, Elmhurst is the best neighborhood for Thai food, and I have had some really good Khao Man Gai (Thai chicken rice) and Thai pork rice there. There are so many cozy small restaurants lining the streets, and recommending just one is impossible, because all the places I have tried have been really good.
Brighton Beach is located right next to Coney Island and the neighborhood has a big Russian community. It is quite far from where I live, but I try to go there at least once a month because it is always worth the trip. The food is so good and much cheaper than in Manhattan, and the servings are big enough to share. There are plenty of Russian restaurants to choose among, but you will also find other, less common, Central Asian cuisines. I have tried Uyghur food and Uzbek food at restaurants in Brighton Beach, and those are both cuisines that you do not otherwise just stumble upon. In Brighton Beach, people primarily go to the restaurants to eat, so the interior is often outdated and rather tacky, and for some reason, there is always a big tv screen on the wall, but that is part of the charm.
There is a cozy Mexican community at Sunset Park in Brooklyn and this is probably the best place to go for Mexican food in NYC. At Tacos Matamoros, tacos cost less than $2 and I should also mention that they still have the best piña colada that I have ever tasted:)
Where I go when I am craving Austrian food?
Unfortunately, my favorite Austrian restaurant Freud closed earlier this year. It is such a shame because their food was really good and authentic. Now there is only Werkstatt left and it is in Brooklyn, south of Prospect Park. Probably a bit too far for the average tourist, but for homesick Austrians, this is the place to go.
My friend Julia in New York City
It was love that brought Julia from Vienna to Brooklyn in New York City, where she now lives with her husband. Julia has a penchant for cute Asian cafes and an outstanding ability to sniff up those quirky hole-in-the-wall spots that you wish you had discovered yourself. I know Julia through blogging, and when I was in the city, we used to meet for weekly lunch dates in Lower East Side and Chinatown. Julia writes a blog about New York City and she takes some really nice photos, which you can see on her Instagram @viennyc. Julia is also a licensed tour guide, and if you want to book her, you can send her an email at: [email protected]