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 ask the city’s most decorated chefs where they chow down off the clock.
The catch: cheap eats only. Novel concept in this city, we know.
From a 130-year-old Jewish deli to a fleet of “famous chimichurri trucks,” here’s where 13 culinary experts like to grub on their own dime.
“The food is affordable and rustic yet totally unique, soulful and inspired. We love the Piccantino panini (salami, mascarpone, spicy cabbage, parsley, tomatoes), which are made on on super thin, crispy flatbread, unlike anything we’ve had elsewhere. We also love the chicken cutlet salad and the ever-changing handmade pasta specials.”
Christian Petroni of Fortina
The famous chimichurri trucks of Washington Heights, Washington Heights
“The classic chimi with everything! Latin spices, burger patty, ketchup, mayo and shredded cabbage, all on a soft Dominican bread. After a long night of cooking/working/dancing, there is nothing more satisfying than the cheap eats at any of the many chimi trucks in the heights. Chimichurri El Malecón is my favorite. Make sure you also try the morcilla!”
“Baking fresh potato knishes all day long since 1890, this place offers a variety of flavors. I like the red cabbage best after the plain potato. It’s the perfect cheap snack to eat on the go or to keep warm in your pocket on a cold day.”
“The go to: Milanesa de Pollo Torta. The place is open until 2:30 AM and they serve a full menu. Another go to? The delicious ‘Sopa de Mole” for only $6 that is big enough for two.”
“I love to get the Big Tray Chicken with noodles. It's $14 and comfortably feeds two people. It's super flavorful and a must-try dish.”
PJ Calapa of Scampi
Los Mariscos’ Enchilado Taco and the Especial Ceviche, Chelsea
“Growing up on the Mexican border and on the coast, there is a sense of nostalgia and I’m reminded of my hometown each time I eat here.”
“I love stopping for a chocolate soft serve ice cream cone! I get a mini cone; it’s the perfect pick-me-upper. I have a sweet tooth and their chocolate soft serve is perfect.”
“After a long shift, I love to grab a falafel sandwich and bring it back to my place to watch my DVR'd shows. It’s such a great deal and always makes me full and happy, especially because it brings me back to my Lebanese roots. ”
“I get the Steamed Pork & Crab Meat Tiny Buns. It’s cheap, the service is fast, and their soup dumplings are some of the best I’ve ever had.”
“I get the Godfather Hero: Prosciutto, capicola, sopressata, salami, pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, arugula, mortadella and roasted peppers with balsamic vinaigrette.”
“It's right by my apartment and it is life-changingly good. I get the double, spicy. A double is basically a sandwich made with fried quick bread called barra that they stuff with curried channa or stewed chickpeas. At A&A, they put mango chutney on it and hot sauce if you want it spicy. (You should get it spicy). They are really filling and only $1.50! Sometimes I go in before work and buy a bunch for my cooks to surprise them. They're hooked on them too. Best cheap eat in the entire city by far!”
“My two favorite dishes are the Big Pineapple Pizza and the Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese. The location is right next to Junoon, so it's quick and accessible for me. I personally don't like thin crust pizza except theirs, which is only thin crust. Over the past few years that I have gone there, it has always been consistently great.”
“It's right by my apartment and they have a walk-up window where you can order a pie or just a slice. Their regular cheese pizza and the Margarita pizza (with fresh mozzarella) are my go to slices. The crust is buttery without being greasy and the cheese-to-sauce ratio is perfect. A great slice to fold in half and eat on my way home from the subway station.”