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Stateside scones get a bad rep for being overly dry and crumbly. Alice’s Tea Cup will change that perception in a minute with its exceptionally moist, caramel-capped pumpkin scones. Whether you enjoy these for dessert, breakfast or as a pre- or post-lunch snack, no trip to Alice’s is complete without one.
156 E. 64th St. at Lexington Ave. (map)
New York, NY 10065
220 E. 81st St. at 3d Ave. (map)
New York, NY 10028
- $4.95 for 2 dogs and drink
- Photograph by Robyn Lee
A cheap eats stalwart that’s been operating since 1973, Gray’s Papaya offers what is quite possibly the original budget-friendly meal. Avoid the sad looking dollar pizza slices and head straight for the hot dogs. The tart sauerkraut and spicy mustard (both free) add some depth to the otherwise generic, greasy dog, making this the perfect snack after you’ve had one too many at the local bar. Plus, at $4.95 for two dogs and a drink, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deal.
2090 Broadway at 72nd St. (map)
New York, NY 10023
- $5 per lb.
Almost any fresh fruit can be candied, Mexican style, as frutas cristalizadas. The transformation begins with a day-long immersion in lime water, which renders the surfaces more receptive to the introduction of sugar (pricking with pins helps, too). The fruits are then boiled repeatedly in syrup and dried. Las Palomas, a shoebox of a grocery that carries perhaps the widest assortment of imported frutas cristalizadas in the city, at times offers apple, banana, fig, pear, pineapple, sweet potato and watermelon. In candied form they will keep for several months—or mere minutes, if someone with a sweet tooth is anywhere near.
- Photograph by James Boo
Luke made his name by slashing the price of NYC lobster rolls in half. So it’s no surprise that many customers overlook his other sandwiches featuring less expensive seafood alternatives, like crab and shrimp. The bargain shrimp roll—a buttered, split-top bun packed with juicy shrimp lightly tossed with herbed salt and a hint of mayo—is worth a detour from the more famous lobster roll (and half the price).
242 E. 81st St. at Second Ave. (map)
New York, NY 10028
(212) 249-4241 (UES)
426 Amsterdam Ave. nr West 80th St. (map)
New York, NY 10024
(212) 877-8800 (UWS)
26 South William St. at Beaver St. (map)
New York, NY
(212) 747-1700 (FiDi)
It’s important to remember that the New York slice is an edible institution all its own, capable of being as artisanal as the newest Napoli-style pizzeria. Sal and Carmine’s plain slice is a testament to this sentiment. Its workman’s crust is chewy, slightly charred, slightly salty and dusted with the same flour that, without fail, rubs off your two dollars in change. The light sauce is at one with olive oil, producing a slightly tangy flavor that blends seamlessly with a generous layer of whole fat mozzarella. The resulting slice rings of a rich, salty, oily flavor that is the stuff of local legends.
Shake Shack has appeared on many a cheap eats list throughout the years, and with good reason. Danny Meyer’s nod to fast food serves up, pound for pound, some of the best burgers in Manhattan. At Shake Shack, order a Shackburger and you’ll receive a freshly ground Pat LaFrieda blend cooked on a sizzling flattop grill. These crusty patties are paired with screamingly fresh lettuce, tomato and a “Shacksauce” that puts McDonald’s secret sauce to shame. There’s usually a line at any one of the Manhattan locations, but it’s always worth the wait.