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 chow down when they’re not on the clock.
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.
“It’s been around forever and I have been going there for years. I love it cause they’re open 24 hours, are consistent and have a wide range of sandwich options. A popular order is the Pho Sandwich, but my go to is either a breakfast sandwich with hash browns and housemade salsa verde or the special BLT with swiss cheese. Note: The Salsa Verde is a gem, but you need to ask for it.”
“This is easily the best fried chicken sandwich in NYC, and it’s only $6. The mashed potatoes and biscuit buns are too good. I often get two at once. The whole menu is bomb, though. Make sure to have some of Din’s Beignets.”
"Vanessa's Dumplings are 50 cents per dumpling (or less!), and they're so delicious. You never wait too long, the amount of dumplings that you get for the price is incredible, and it's one of the best quick and cheap eats in New York City."
“I get the BBQ Roast Pork over Rice. I'm a huge fan of roast meats, and the BBQ roast pork over rice is delicious and cheap. The box is jam packed — makes for a really hearty lunch. Also go for Joe's Steam Rice Roll. This reminds me of the rice noodle carts that used to be abundant in Chinatown while I was growing up. It's made fresh when you order, and you can customize the roll with whatever protein and vegetables you want. Get the peanut sauce."
"One of my all-time favorite 'cheap eats' is a slice of pizza from Di Fara. The slice is perfect, the place is a piece of NYC history and never, ever disappoints. Well worth the trip out there!”
"My top cheap eat is the vegetarian thalis at Ayurveda cafe on 94th and Amsterdam. It’s an all vegetarian plate that caters to the six flavor profiles of India’s ancient Ayurvedic principles: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. Each little dish is presented with a variety of spices and always prepared with fresh vegetables that change daily."
"I love the spicy lamb noodles at Xi'an. I’m obsessed with noodles and I love trying them in ways that highlight other cultures, other than Italian, which is my personal comfort zone. The lamb noodles have so much flavor and it’s just wrong they cost so little. So I get two!"