New York Dining on a Dime
Dining on the cheap in New York City isn't nearly as hard as you may thing it is. New York is a city of many nations in that there are probably more nations represented in the dining options of New York than any other city in the world. You can find wonderful food options that represent these many nations and won't break your wallet. What a wonderful way to literally enjoy the flavors of the world while on vacation!
Rainbow Falafel is the first place I recommend. This may very well be the best falafel shop (if you can call it that) in New York City. If you've never tried falafel you are definitely in for a tasty treat. Falafel is essentially a ball of veggies and spices (chick peas, onions, garlic, and other goodies) that has been fried and placed into a pita along with tomato, hummus, lettuce, and yogurt. Getting hungry? We've only just begun.
Gray's Papaya offers the best hot dogs in the city, particularly when you consider the fact that it is hard to mess up hot dogs, especially when that's all you do for the price. The price in fact is what keeps packing the clientele in by the droves. Where else in New York can you get two hot dogs and a drink for two dollars? Be warned however that the décor and atmosphere are about what you'd expect in a restaurant that charged two bucks for the average meal and don't expect a Jimmy Buffet type of atmosphere with umbrella drinks and neon colors.
For hoagies of heroic or would that be epic proportions you really must try Tony Luke's. The décor is simple and the service is quick. You won't find a huge menu or massive variety of specialty breads or carb friendly diet options here (there are some items but not a massive selection). What you will get are mammoth sandwiches with lots of meat and perhaps a side of cheese fries and a soda to wash it down with. The food is good and the price is right making this one of the best cheap places to eat in the city.
Whether you refer to it as southern fare or soul food, the Soul Spot has it going on. They offer many of the traditional Sunday dinner types of foods such as fried catfish, fried chicken, and vegetables dripping in 'drippings' for those willing to risk the impending heart attack. This food is certainly and fabulous example of the culinary delights one would experience in the south while also being offered at a price that is comparable to what you would pay on a Mississippi Sunday afternoon. They do offer a lunch menu that is a little bit less expensive than the dinner menu and either offers a great value for the money.
Schnack is another institution of inexpensive dining excellence in the great big city of New York. If you have a Krystal's or a White Castle in your area then you'll get the concept of "Schnackies" which are very much like the burgers you'll find in the joints I've mentioned above. Be assured however that you also have other choices if the cheap little burgers aren't really your thing. If you make it in before 5 PM you can have eggs almost anyway you can think of having them and if you have the time and the room you really should try Harry's Famous Warm Chocolate and Banana Bread Pudding. My mouth is watering from just thinking about it.
The point to all of this, other than getting you good and hungry was to let you know that despite its reputation for being an expensive place to visit, if you know where to look you can not only find cheap entertainment but also cheap food. You can enjoy the best that New York City has to offer without breaking your budget. And cheap isn't necessarily a bad thing.