Calling someone a foodie can be a bit of a joke these days, but the sense of taste has to be appreciated just as much as the other senses. The culture of food is something that has transcended the practical function of survival, and it has evolved into a hobby in and of itself. No judgement here; but often foodies gravitate towards the gourmet and super-fancy flavors. You don’t need beaucoup bucks to enjoy great food. Look below for a list of seven spots foodies need to try in New York City. They range from the super cheap hole-in-a-wall to a nice sit-down restaurant to a food truck. See if we’ve included any of your favorites.
1. Prosperity Dumpling
Eldridge Street is filled with cheap dumpling places, and all are worth a visit to find your own preferred mixture of dough, filling, vinegar, and oil, but Prosperity Dumpling is certainly one of the best. They’re also one of the cheapest, at five dumplings a dollar. They are nicely fried on the bottom, with just enough grease to give them flavor, but not absolutely swimming. The dough is slightly chewy, and the pork filling is tender and juicy. Other items on the menu include soups, sesame pancakes at 50 cents a pop, noodles with peanut sauce, and soy bean milk. Find it at 46 Eldridge Street, and leave with a full belly, and still-full wallet, feeling prosperous.
2. Levain Bakery
Advertised as “your little piece of cookie heaven,” this tiny bakery on the Upper West Side is known for its huge, hand-sized cookies. Entering the shop, you’ll be welcomed by lovely smells and warm smiles. At $4 a cookie, that makes them about a dollar a pound. But seriously, just one cookie will fill you up. The four flavors are Chocolate Chip Walnut, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. On weekends and busier times, you’ll find a line coming out the door; to avoid the lines, you can either try going on a Monday morning, or go to the Harlem location at 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd., where you’ll find the same great cookies. They also serve homemade breads, and rolls, coffee cakes, scones, brioches, and other baked goods, all with fresh and wholesome ingredients.
3. Yunnan Flavour Garden
Located on lucky Eighth Ave, Brooklyn’s Chinatown, at number 5121, the Yunnan Flavour Garden has relocated from a smaller, truly hole-in-the-wall place named the Yunnan Flavour Snack Shop, about three years ago. It’s now a fixture for its noodle dishes, especially the cold rice noodles, which are full of Southern Chinese flavors, and made by the wife in the husband and wife team who own and run the place. Don’t try to order the cold noodles in the winter, though; you’ll get scolded for risking catching a cold by eating chilled food. The hot noodles are good too, and there are also dishes with rice available. Each dish is from four to seven dollars, making it easily affordable and authentic cuisine.
4. Artichoke Basille’s Pizza and Bar
This doesn’t compare to New York’s one dollar pizza in price, but for some extra topping flavors, late night hours, and a cult following, this pizza place makes the list. As with all places that have some hype, sometimes it doesn’t live up, but their namesake Artichoke and Basil pizza is definitely a pizza creation worth trying. The Margherita is also good, with a thin crust that is crunchy, buttery, and flakey. Their beer is served in Mason jars, which maybe is a bit much, and along with the 90’s hip hop music, tips the ambiance over into hipster vibes, but for some special toppings like crab and vodka (?) on your pizza, you can deal with some hipster vibes. Located at 328 East 14th Street, with other locations in Chelsea and Greenwich Village, you can check out their website here.
5. Streecha Ukrainian Home Kitchen
A small, easy to miss place, the Streecha Ukrainian Home Kitchen is located at the bottom of a church with folding tables and chairs. As you can see from the picture, food comes on simple paper plates. Visitors come for the food, not so much the atmosphere. Truly authentic, here, you not only eat Ukranian, but you hear it too. The mom and pop who own the place welcome many regular guests who come to be reminded of home-food. Some items from the small menu are kielbasa and sauerkraut, borsht soup to eat with varenyky, and stuffed cabbage. Although the selection is small, every item is good, and amply portioned. Most of the food is vegetarian, excluding the sausages, of course, and the fare is incredibly cheap! You can get a good meal for only $5. Only open for lunch on Fri, Sat, and Sun., and closed all summer, it’s located in the middle of the block at 33 East 7th St., New York, NY.
This East Village restaurant is perhaps the priciest on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s unreasonably upscale. If you want a nice, sit-down meal with full service, and you happen to have Greek food on your mind, this is the spot to visit. Located on 128 East 7th Street, this cozy spot has great decor, with a ceiling of clay pots that are hopefully securely fixed up there. Start off with their pita and some dips, and make your way through entrees which include everything from baby lamb chops to chickpea soup, chicken farci, and grilled octopus. They also have an extensive wine list with authentic Greek options. You can check out the menus on their website, here.
7. Yvonne’s Jamaican Food Truck
No list of New York food destinations would be complete without a food truck. When I asked a friend in New Jersey what she does when she goes to New York City, each answer involved the words “food truck.” Making it onto this list as the representative for food trucks, NYC, is Yvonne’s Jamaican Food Truck. The typical spot for authentic Caribbean cooking is Crown Heights, Brooklyn, but Yvonne’s Jamaican delivers its island comfort food to the Upper East Side, with a spot on the corner of 71st St. and York Ave. You can get a hefty meal of oxtails with rice, jerk chicken, or fried whiting. Then you can wash it all down with their refreshing, home-made (or truck-made) lemonade and ginger beer.
– Article by Lydia Snyder for The Untitled Magazine