Eating the Big Apple: A Short Guide to Restaurants in New York City

New Yorkers are often confused (and annoyed) by tourists, but one of the most mind-boggling aspects of visitors to the city is their instinct to eat at fast food chains when the Big Apple offers so much in terms of eating. While this guide is by no means a rule book (and there are plenty more eateries that could be included), here’s a short and sweet directory of cheap eats in New York City – and not a TGI Friday’s in sight.



East Village, 345 East 12th Street; First Park, 1st Avenue and Houston Street; Murray Hill, 157 East 33rd Street

S’Mac, opened in 2006 by husband and wife team Sarita and Caesar Ekya, is a simple but satisfying concept: a comfort food joint serving up only macaroni and cheese. Offering a smorgasbord of mac and cheese mix-ins, S’Mac allows diners to create their own flavours or sample the concoctions crafted in their kitchens. If you’re looking for something more adventurous than plain cheese, try the Parisienne, mixed with Brie, figs, mushrooms, and rosemary; or the Alpine, made with Gruyere cheese and slab bacon. A ‘nosh’ size plate (perfect for one) runs from $4.75 to $7.25, making it a cheap eat for lunch, dinner, or late night takeaway.



Theater District, 1043 2nd Avenue (next to the Ed Sullivan Theater); Midtown, 117 West 57th Street

Opened by John, nephew of titular Angelo, this pizzeria serves pies the way they should be made – thin, blackened crusts fired in a coal burning oven with fresh toppings. Famed for pizzas, pastas, salads, and Italian desserts like cannolis and tiramisu, Angelo’s is a great spot for pre- and post-theatre dinner. Try the classic cheese pizza, fired with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella to crisp perfection.



East Village, corner of 9th Street and 2nd Avenue

This fifty-eight-year-old Ukrainian soul food eatery is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has been a staple in the East Village since agronomist Wolodymyr Darmochwal expanded his candy shop into a luncheonette in 1962. Veselka (Ukrainian for ‘rainbow’) is a cosy, home-style diner serving up Borscht, cheese blintzes, and potato pancakes amongst other Ukrainian specialties. Fried potato pierogi with applesauce and sour cream are filling and delicious – served with a side of sauerkraut, of course.


A Salt & Battery

West Village, 112 Greenwich Avenue

Nestled on a corner in the West Village, A Salt & Battery is a true taste of British fish and chips in the heart of New York. Using locally sourced Pollock (instead of overfished Cod), the chippy serves up a dose of British favourites for the homesick traveller – including battered sausage, mushy peas, and Heinz Baked Beans. For an authentic experience, order a Pollock and chips with lashings of malt vinegar and salt – topped off with a ginger beer and a deep fried Mars bar, if you’re feeling particularly hungry.


Shake Shack

Madison Square Park, near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street; Upper East Side, 154 East 86th Street; Upper West Side, 366 Columbus Avenue; Battery Park City, 215 Murray Street; Theater District, 691 8th Avenue; Brooklyn, 409 Fulton Street

The famous Shake Shack – which started life as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park – has expanded not just around the city, but along the east coast of the United States. The original Shack officially opened in 2004, and has been feeding park goers burgers, hot dogs, fries, and frozen custard shakes ever since. If you’re taking a stroll with your pooch through Madison Square, try the ‘Shroom Burger (a crisp Portobello burger with muenster and Cheddar, topped with secret ShackSauce) with a side of fries and a malted black & white shake. And if Rover’s hungry too, pick up a Pooch-ini: ShackBurger dog biscuits with peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard.


Gray’s Papaya

West Village, 402 6th Avenue; Upper West Side, 2090 Broadway

Gray’s Papaya (not to be confused with competitors Papaya Dog and Papaya King) is famed for more than just the papaya juice drink for which it’s named. Gray’s grills beefy, juicy franks with sautéed onions, relish, mustard, or ketchup served on a toasted bun. If you’re in the mood for a dog, get the Recession Special – $4.95 for two franks and a fruit drink.

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