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Eat Out in New York for $20 (or Less) a Day!

This blog post was updated on September 4, 2018.

Eat Out in New York for $20 (or Less) a Day!
One of the best reasons to visit new York City is the food! New York may have fine dining locked, but it also really wins when it comes to diners, delis, food trucks, bodegas, and cafes. If you’re looking to lower your meal costs (as eating is one of the things you absolutely need to do), we’ve put together a guide that can have you eating for less than $20 a day (approx. $5 per meal)! Don’t believe it? Keep reading.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This goes double for when you’re going to be walking for miles around Manhattan. A high carb first meal is recommended for a slow burn to keep you going – plus a bit of caffeine!

•  While you’re in the city, you have to try an authentic bagel. Ess-A-Bagel has been a top ranking breakfast stop for years. Get a bagel, small coffee, and 10oz fresh-squeezed OJ for $4.95.•  Downtown Bakery Cocina Mexicana has a whole host of delicious breakfast sandwiches, starting as low as $1.50. You can also get a veggie breakfast burrito for only $5!

•  If you’d like to start the day a little sweeter, head to Blue Sky Bakery (located in Brooklyn). $3 gets you a delicious muffin (like Apple/Walnut Pumpkin) and a small coffee.

You may not typically be a lunch person, but you’ll likely be needing a midday pick-me-up in the bustling city.
•  One of the more controversial choices on this list is 99 Cent Fresh Pizza. $1 pizza places can be found all over Manhattan — and are often worth what you pay for. 99 Cent Fresh Pizza is amongst the best (it’s really, really, really good). But it should be noted, that most other pizzerias in New York charge only $2.50 for a plain slice.
•  You’ll have your choice of dumpling houses, but Vanessa’s is head & shoulder above others. Get 6 pork dumplings for $1. Get a steamed bun for $1. (Noticing a theme?) It’s not the most friendly place. The staff is fast and no-nonsense and the seating is for eating customer only — no dawdling!
•  Pomme Frites is one of the top Belgium-style fries restaurants. About $6 gets you a big-enough-to-share Grande fries, with a special sauce included.
The dinner section goes slightly above the $5-per-meal budget — but for good reason. Take a load off, and enjoy supper at any of  these fine places!
•  Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? At S’MAC, you can get your dream dish, served in a cast-iron pan. Get your “Nosh” on for $6.75, with your choice of cheeses, veggies and meats. There are even vegan & reduced-lactose options!
•  For great Middle Eastern food, at a very good price, head to one of 2 NYC locations for Mamoun’s. Full-size sandwiches or plates start at $3.50, with lots of affordable side dishes. There’s something to satisfy everyone here!
If you followed your food budget for the day, you’ll be pleased to see that you have some leftover for dessert! So, go ahead, treat yourself!
•  Probably not the kind of donuts you’re used to: Doughnut Plant’s unique pastries maybe a little pricey (around $4-$5 a pop), but the dense, dreamy doughseeds (round, filled donuts) are to die for.
•  Don’t play it safe at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Why get vanilla when  you can also choose from Black Sesame, Don Tot, Taro or Zen Butter? A single scoop will run you $4.50 – but you’ve earned it!
•  Insomnia Cookies was actually founded in Philly, and has 70 locations around the East Coast. But if you’re looking for a late-night sugar rush, stop in for a Double Chocolate Mint, Cookiewich, or Brownie. Regular cookies start at $1.50.

About the author

Danielle Thillet

Danielle (Danyell) Thillet is a writer, illustrator, and social media professional living in Brooklyn, NY with her spouse and an orange cat. She can be reached at

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