The Eat Index, Vol. 6

13 righteous NYC chefs name their favorite cheap eats

By Shari Gab

13 Righteous NYC Chefs Name Their Favorite Cheap Eats
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08 November 2017

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, in which we hunt down the city’s most well-regarded chefs and ask them where they like to chow 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 13 culinary experts like to grub on their own dime.

Jason Mendenhall of The Wild Son, The Wayland, Good Night Sonny and Cocktails in Motion

Tacos Morelos
“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. $3.50. I eat this on my way home from work all the time.”

Xi’an Famous Foods
“Stewed oxtail hand-ripped noodles. Homemade, wide hand-ripped noodles with stewed oxtail. $11. I easily eat this once a week.”

Scarr’s Pizza
“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, the pizza on point and you can drink a beer in the back while you wait.”

Ben Lowell Co-owner, Hanoi House
Vanessa's Dumplings in Williamsburg
“Their spicy beef noodle soup is perfect. The broth is rich and spicy. The beef is fatty and melts in your mouth and the thick noodles have great chew. Add a side of spicy wontons to seal the deal.”

Michael Lomonaco, Porter House Bar
“My favorite ‘cheap eat’ is the beef saltena at Bolivian Llama Party at Turnstyle in the Columbus Circle subway station. No, really: in the station, at 8th Ave and 57th Street.”

Alex Stupak, Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Al Pastor
Joe Junior's for the burger. Factory Tamal for any tamale. Los Hermanos Tortilleria for the potato and chorizo picadasSuper Taste for all the dumplings. Rudy's for free hot dogs. Uogashi for the affordable omakase.”

Robby Cook, Morimoto
Bahn Mi Saigon is classic, quick, tasty and huge for $5.25 ... Luke's Lobster for a shrimp roll: once again a quick, easy bite. East Coast goodness ... And Setagaya Ramen. No wait. Cheap lunch deals. Awesome salty dipping broth with tons of charred pork, fat noodles.”

Pastry Chef Natsume Aoi, Morimoto
Veselka
“It’s open super late and close to my house.”

Chef de Cuisine Tony Inn, Morimoto
Red Bowl Noodle 
"It’s 24 hours and good for hangovers.”

Executive Chef Dianna Daoheung, Black Seed Bagels
“Hands down, Nha Trang in Manhattan on Baxter Street. It's dirt cheap and has great pho. I've been going there for 12 years almost once a week.”

Executive Chef and Owner Laurence Edelman, Left Bank
“My favorite is Shu Jiao Fu Zhou at the corner of Broome and Eldridge. They have the best pork and chive dumplings and peanut noodles, and also these fish dumplings with a beef center that they serve in-broth. Even getting all three, it's still cheap. I also like about five others in the vicinity, but this is my go-to. I keep coming back.”  


Executive Chef Ricardo "Ricky" Arias, Dinnertable
“In Brooklyn, on Myrtle Ave near Fort Greene there is a place called Buff Patty. They make handmade Jamaican patties and some daily specials. Truly a gem on cheap eats and my go-to, always.”

Chef and Owner of Simone Tong, Little Tong Noodle Shop
“My favorite cheap dish is the century egg and salted pork congee from XO Kitchen. I love it because they cook the porridge in a clay pot, making the texture perfectly silky. I order an extra serving of fried cruller to dip in the bowl. I couldn't dream of getting a better bowl of traditional Cantonese-style congee, which I grew up eating. It's right across the street from Hong Kong Supermarket, so it's a must-stop after any shopping trip for ingredients for [my restaurant].”

Oliver Ressler, The Press Shop
“Favorite cheap bite for me is always tacos from Los Tacos No. 1. Same thing every time: one carne asada, one pollo asada, one adobada. Squeeze of lime and a coke. You can take the boy out of California, but not California out of the boy.”

Kianna Flowers, FryGuys
BOBWHITE Lunch & Supper Counter
"Tenders Plate — $12. Chicken tenders with mac and cheese and a biscuit. It’s my favorite because the tenders are crunchy on the outside and juicy on the in. The mac and cheese is deliciously cheesy with a spice to it that’s not overpowering, but enough to give you a little kick in your mouth. They come with a Buffalo dipping sauce that goes perfectly with the chicken; you can drizzle it on the mac to up the heat. The biscuits ... OMG. One of my favorite parts. Buttery, soft and moist. Smother it with honey. If I’m feeling sandwich, I order a chicken biscuit, which comes with a piece of boneless fried chicken in between two soft buttery halves and smother that with honey. Only $3.25 during happy hour — weekdays from 3-7 PM.”

Chef Gary Barawidan, P.S. Kitchen
Kings County Imperial in Williamsburg
“For market-driven Chinese food, the stars of the show are the sweet and sour walnuts ($8), the fried vegetable dumpling with in-house smoked tofu, a custom soy sauce from China, and the mock eel ($9) made with shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce.”

Oasis in Williamsburg
“Falafel sandwich ($4), which includes amazing house-made pickles. They are also great late night options, as they are open until 3 AM nightly.

M Shanghai Bistro in Williamsburg
“Hipster Chinese food with a dedicated vegan menu. Get the Spicy Peanut Dumplings ($7), bean curd with black bean sauce and veggie fried rice.”

Chef Jessi Singh, Babu Ji
Rosie's in the East Village has the best happy hour in the city, with great non-taco options too. Beer is $3, margaritas are $7 and tacos are $2.50 each. Punjab Grocery & Deli on Houston for samosa and chai. Nom Wah Tea Parlor for the best cheap dim sum. Prince Street Pizza for a great cheap slice. Virginia's in Alphabet city for a great burger served with Vidalia onion marmalade and Cabot cheddar on brioche.”

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