Where to Find Great Food in New York City on a Budget

by / Sunday, 05 September 2010 / Published in New York City

We interviewed Cia Bernales from Writing with My Mouth Full to get some local tips on finding great food in New York City. There are some great ideas on cheap restaurants and street food–check it out!


Photo of food at Wondee Siam, NYC © scaredy_kat

Jazz Hostels: Cia, what are your 5 favorite places to get food on a budget in New York City?

Cia Bernales: a. Sau Voi: There has been an explosion of bahn mi Vietnamese sandwiches here in New York City, but I still prefer to get it from Sau Voi on Lafayette between Walker and White Streets. I find the collection of Asian music for sale adds to its authentic ambiance. Hahahaha!

b. Woorijip: I would pick a Korean buffet any time over a slice of $2 pizza because I can have my vegetables, my meat, my seafood, my carbs all in one place! (West 32nd Street, Koreatown)

c. Wondee Siam: Really good and cheap Thai food without the club music and ridiculous furniture. Plus, it’s BYOB. (On 9th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen)

d. Snack: I have been going to Snack for at least 10 years! Their Greek food is always consistently good. You can never fail with their lamb ciabatta sandwich or their artichoke chicken salad. (Thompson Street off Prince)

e. Lahore: In New York City, following where cab drivers eat is usually a good rule. Lahore has switched owners, but their food has remained the same even though prices went up a dollar or two. There’s pretty good vegetarian fare here if you’re not feeling the chicken or lamb curries. (Crosby Street off Houston)

Jazz: What’s your favorite place to eat in NYC without budget being a consideration?

Cia: Feel free to buy me dinner at Per Se any time. (And if anyone is reading this and needs an eating companion to Bar Masa, please email me at [email protected])

Jazz: Where is the best place to look for street food in NYC?

Cia: We have a lot of street food in New York City, and a lot of them are good, but there are also the not-so-good ones. I generally go for the street carts outside popular music venues like the Halal Meat Cart near Radio City, because after a concert, it’s usually so late at night that you just want to eat anything!

But most recently, every truck on the streets of New York seem to be selling some type of food so you’re not just limited to carts anymore. Serious Eats has an awesome guide of which of them uses Twitter so you can follow their parking locations: http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/05/a-list-of-street-food-vendors-trucks-carts-using-twitter.html

Jazz: What culinary advice do you have for first time travelers to NYC?

Cia: Step out of your comfort zone and eat something you can’t get back home.

Jazz: What is your favorite country to visit for tasty food experiences?

Cia: Oh, that’s a tough one. I absolutely loved Spain because Madrid was the first European country I visited and where I experienced the pleasure of eating. And before I spent time in Barcelona, I hiked the Pyrenees, so the city and its food felt like the ultimate reward after getting lost in the mountains twice in one week.

Jazz: What’s the most interesting or unusual dish you’ve had in your world travels?

Cia: That’s also tough because interesting and unusual don’t necessarily mean delicious, and something could be unusual to you, but a local delicacy to someone else. Let me get back to you after I’ve eaten guinea pig next week.

Jazz: What is your favorite way to research where to find good food when traveling to a new destination?

Cia: The Internet has changed all that. I used to be content with a travel book’s recommendation, but with the Web, not only can you compare places to eat, but you can also compare what other people are saying about the same place. I don’t take too much stock on bad reviews though; I always want to see for myself because who knows what that other person likes? We may not have the same tastes.

Jazz: Thanks Cia!

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