Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC

We planned our recent trip to New York City with a couple of things in mind. I knew that I didn’t want to try to cram in all the sights in our short time there, nor did I want to lug around my DSLR and spend all my time snapping photos. So we selected a couple must-eats, and tried to keep it fairly simple, inexpensive, and allow time for exploring!

Starting with my favorite first: After watching this documentary about eccentric Greenwich village restauranteur Kenny Shopsin, there was no question that “slutty cakes” at Shopsins would be high on our NYC list. They’ve since moved to the Essex Street Market, and locals say Kenny has tempered a bit with age, but Shopsins maintains their 900-item menu, as well as the strict ban on parties larger than four.

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Shopsins | Thought & Sight

Pancakes are a luxury, like smoking marijuana or having sex. That’s why I came up with the names Ho Cakes and Slutty Cakes. These are extra decadent, but in a way, every pancake is a Ho Cake.

– Kenny Shopsin

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Shopsins | Thought & Sight

I went with the Zazie cakes; cinnamon, plantains, goat cheese, and nutella, and naturally they were fantastic! While you can splurge on some of Shopsins’ menu offerings, my 2-stack of pancakes was more than enough food for me, and just $9.

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Shopsins | Thought & SightOur (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Shopsins | Thought & SightAlso delicious was the pumpkin donut: fresh fried, smothered in pumpkin and fresh whipped cream. So good! If you can’t make it to Shopsins, there’s a recipe book available (now on my wishlist! stumbled across it while searching for the documentary–which sadly is out of print and will set you back $200).

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Stanton Pizza | Thought & Sight

Next up, New York pizza! I put together a short list of popular Manhattan slice shops, and we set off on a sampling tour–but were so full after two stops that we had to call it quits (don’t ask me to explain how this is possible. i’m disappointed in me, too). Stanton Pizza was my favorite for their thin crust basil and fresh mozzarella slice, a new standard against which all Ohio pizza will be measured, and inevitably fall short. It was also a bargain, at only $2.50 for the slice, plus $1 for a can of soda.

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Stanton Pizza | Thought & SightOur (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Mimi Cheng's | Thought & Sight

In our wanderings the evening of our slice tour, we stumbled upon Mimi Chengs, and found a little space in our stomachs for Taiwanese dumplings. We snagged a sidewalk table for people watching, and 8 hearty pork dumplings for $10.

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Mimi Cheng's | Thought & Sight

Because we’d visited and loved the original Tokyo location, the NYC outpost of Ivan Ramen was also high on our list!

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Ivan Ramen | Thought & Sight Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Ivan Ramen | Thought & Sight

I wish I’d been able to sample more than one ramen, but we both chose the Tokyo Shoyu ramen…and honestly, I was a little disappointed. Some of the difference lies in Orkin’s signature rye noodles, which I don’t believe are served in his Tokyo shop. Beyond the noodles, which could be chalked up to personal preference, the broth just didn’t have the wow factor of richness and complexity I remembered from Tokyo. It was also one of the most expensive spots we ate at, with a bowl of ramen starting at $15. I’d give them a second try, but maybe I just need to head back to Japan to get the authentic ramen I’m craving.

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Ivan Ramen | Thought & Sight Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Ivan Ramen | Thought & SightI did like Ivan Ramen’s 1,000 Year Old Deviled Egg. Obviously not 1,000 years old, but basically a deviled egg spiced up with bonito–something I’ll have to try soon.

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Shake Shack | Thought & Sight

And now I can finally weigh in on great the East vs West coast / In-N-Out Burger vs Shake Shack debate! And guys, as much as I love California, I think I have to side with Shake Shack on this one. But only if there’s no Five Guys available. Because they trump both. The Shack Burger was a great classic burger, though there’s way too much going on with the toppings and sauce on the Smoke Shack burger. They definitely score points for their perfectly crispy fries!

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Gray's Papaya | Thought & Sight Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Gray's Papaya | Thought & Sight

And finally, classic 24 hour hot dog shop Gray’s Papaya. Their no-frills dogs can’t compete with my beloved Dirty Franks, but there’s plenty to love in the all beef franks, selection of fruit juices, and great prices ($4.95 for two dogs and a drink). They were only a block from our hotel, and made the perfect late night snack!

Our (mostly) Cheap Eats in NYC: Gray's Papaya | Thought & Sight

Do you have any NYC restaurant favorites, or spots that are high on your to-eat list?


    • We stayed at Hotel Beacon on Broadway. The area was safe, close to Central Park, and rates weren’t crazy for New York, at around $200 a night and up.

      Airbnb is also a good bet, as it’s often less than the price of a hotel room! If you opt for Airbnb, you can use this link to get $25 off your first booking: http://www.airbnb.com/c/hbeach6?s=8

Comments are closed.