The Eat Index, Vol. 4

Seven top-notch NYC chefs name their favorite cheap eats

September 8, 2017 9:00 am

You judge a barber by his cut. A tailor by his fit. A personal trainer by his girlfriend.

So when it comes to dining out, we want to go where the chefs go.

Ergo: The Eat Index, a series in which we hunt down some of the city’s most well-regarded chefs and ask them where they are chowing down.

The catch: cheap eats only. Novel concept in this city, we know.

From the corner bodega to a hole-in-the-wall watering hole, here’s where seven culinary experts like to grub on their own dime.

Jason Mendenhall
The Wayland, Good Night Sonny, The Wild Son and Lost Lady

Tacos Morelos
in Alphabet City
“It’s a taco truck that sits on the corner of Avenue A and 2nd Street in the East Village. I would recommend the chorizo and lengua (beef tongue) tacos for $3.50. I eat this on my way home from work all the time.”

Xi’an Famous Food in East Village
“Stewed oxtail hand-ripped noodles. They’re homemade, wide, hand-ripped noodles with stewed oxtail for $11. I easily eat this once a week.”

Scarr’s Pizza in the Lower East Side
“This is my go-to pizza shop in my hood. The Sicilian slice is perfection. These guys are crushing it on so many different levels. The vibe is chill and the pizza on point. And you can drink a beer in the back while you wait for your pie.”

Mina Newman
Sen Sakana
Natural Tofu House in Sunnyside, Queens
“My favorite cheap eats in the city. They make a fresh, soft tofu that’s made to order that’s the absolute best. My favorite thing on the menu is the Pork Jjigae, a spicy kimchi stew, complemented by the fresh tofu.”

Scott Natale
Burger & Lobster
Wing Hing Seafood in Brooklyn
“They have a really cool dim sum selection; you can literally eat till you burst for around $20, and that’s two people! Also BZ Grill in Astoria because of their killer homemade Pork Gyro for like six bucks.”

Tim Sullivan
Great Performances (GP), including Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center
Bonchon in Midtown
“It’s all about the fried chicken. The wings are so crispy and succulent. Really hard to beat. Also for some reason, I get lost when I sit there. Not sure how to explain, it just happens in the moment of enjoying REALLY finger-licking great chicken. Their double fry is killer. I love the thought they put into how the chicken is cooked. The Korean practice is to render the skin, which makes it so thin and crispy. They don’t have to add flour as is the American tradition to get that perfect crispiness. Just talking about it now, I’m planning on having it today at some point. And to think I was going to start a diet and eat veggies today. LOL.”

Sam Talbot
Pretty Southern

in Williamsburg
“This is the best spot for a quick Venezuelan-inspired snack. The cheese and avocado arepa is a favorite, and they also have great drinks.” 

Pomme Frites in Greenwich Village
“It’s an old favorite, and I love the fries here.  Perfect crispy potato-y saltiness. And they have a ton of insane sauce options, but I usually go for the mayo.”

Village Yokocho in the East Village
“I love the pork cartilage yakitori here. It’s cheap and porky and a really satisfying snack. And then if you’re cool enough, you can go next door and get a drink at Angel’s Share.”

Ben Conniff
Luke’s Lobster
Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village
“I have to go with our oldest neighbor. They’re right next to our original shack on 7th Street in the East Village, and though one of their spaces recently suffered a fire, their original storefront is going strong — in addition to newer locations in Williamsburg and the Rockaways. They make amazing arepas, fried crisp on the outside and pillowy on the inside, stuffed with braised meats, beans, cheese, veggies … all amazingly flavorful, and under 10 bucks. And the team is full of wonderful people who have been there longer than the eight years we’ve been in business.”

Laurent Tourondel
L’Amico and The Vine
Cafe Ollin in Harlem
“Great little Mexican spot with tacos priced at around $3. The pollo and chorizo tacos are some of my favorites, and you can never go wrong with their burritos.”


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.