Best Cheap Pizza
Best Pizza: Occupying the former Brooklyn Star space, it’s backed by that venture’s chef-owner, Joaquin Baca, along with the owners of Roberta’s, who tapped Pulino’s alum Frank Pinello as pizzaiolo. He is turning out pies topped with seasonal vegetables and local goods. The House-special Grandma pizza, which is only available by the square slice, features anchovy-laced plum tomato sauce and mozzarella.
Di Fara Pizza: Neapolitan pies consisting of a cracker-thin crust with a pleasing char and a subtle Parmesan zing, are widely considered among the city’s best. The dough is made fresh several times daily. Furthermore, to keep kids occupied during what feels like an interminable wait, point out the window boxes full of herbs used to flavour the sauce.
Giuseppina: This is where Jaz-Z eats, thereby the masses follow. So it is at Lucali, Mark Lacono’s heralded pizzeria in Carroll Garden that has earned as much ink for its artisanal pies as for its famous fans. This week, in Sunset Park, the cultish joint opens a spin-off, helmed by lacono’s brother Chris. The 40-seat eatery offers an identical menu of classic calzones and thin-crust pizzas.
Joe's Pizza: At this classic slice joint, the crust is just stretchy-chewy enough for folding, and the slightly sweet sauce is overlaid with a perfect web of drippy cheese. Tables are limited, so takeout may be your best bet.
Best Cheap Burger
The Burger Garage: This stylish joint opened in August 2010 and takes us back to the good old days of family road trips. At first, the auto-body shop and gas station theme may strike you as less than appetizing, but the onetime garage serves up an inviting atmosphere together with some pretty choice patties, not to mention a lengthy gluten-free menu.
Corner Bistro: The burgers here are legendary, and the New Yorkers who love them legion. You might have to wait in line for a good hour to get your hands on one. Luckily, several $2.50 drafts will help you bide you time, together with the Yankees on the tube and a jukebox that plays everything from Calexico to Coltrane. Make sure to go for the Bistro Burger, which consists of a fat patty of broiled beef, cheese and smoky bacon on a sesame-seed bun for $6.75. A plate of crisp shoestring fries will cost you $2.50, but they are totally beside the point.
Hamilton's: This retro luncheonette is outfitted with a vintage soda fountain doling out ice cream sodas, Lime Rickeys and phosphates.
Petey's Burger: This Astoria fast-food spot gives West Coasters’ a run for their money. The addictive ‘doube cheese’ which is a squishy toasted bun sandwiching two juicy patties cloaked in melted American cheese and brightened by raw onion, iceberg lettuce and tomato, is a gloriously greasy retort to Golden State smugness.
Shake Shake: Sirloin and brisket are ground daily for excellent patties, and franks are served Chicago-style on poppy seed buns with a ‘salad’ of toppings and a dash of celery salt. Frozen-custard shakes hit the spot, and there’s beer and wine to boot. It is definitely worth waiting in line for but if you are in a rush, the Upper West Side’s wait rarely exceeds 20minutes. While the first Shack caters mostly to a working clientele, No. 2 is designed with families in mind, thereby having a stroller parking and having a playroom.
Whitmans: This burger shop features a takeout counter upstairs and a casual dining room on the lower level. Many have a favourite of the speciality sandwiches, being a locavore spin on the Juicy Lucy which is a Minneapolis burger variant cooked with cheese inside the patty rather than on top. The handsome one-hander boasts prime ingredients, like a proprietary Pat LaFrieda rib blend, a seeded Blue Ribbon bun and crunchy McClure’s pickles, together with an added Southern twang: a gooey pocket of pimento cheese bubbling away in the medium-rare centre.
Best Cheap Fried Chicken
BonChon Chicken: Before fried chicken became the It dish, Korea’s version enjoyed its own following, thanks to an impressively crunchy shell and moist meat. For those who haven’t gotten their fill, two Manhattan locations of one of the city’s most celebrated purveyors have opened. BonChon Chicken offers wings, drumsticks and breast meat with one of two sauces, namely soy-garlic and hot-and-spicy. Beer, sake and shochu are already available in the Financial District, while the midtown spot expects to carry alcohol soon.
The Brooklyn Star: The appetizers skirt junk-food territory, with tender pork ribs braised in Dr. Pepper and a crock of lush elbow mac and cheese with bacon. There is also bacon in the port-and-jalapeo-flecked corn bread, which is cooked to order in a wood-burning oven. Shrimp and grits showcased two runny fried eggs over shellfish that was seared in bacon fat, which was all arranged over an appealingly coarse porridge. A supremely juicy half roasted chicken offers flavours which are delicate and robust.
The Commodore: First came an import from Britain, the gastropub, which features an upmarket pub grub in an ale-drinking setting. Now, welcome the gasrodive, which further blurs the lines between restaurant and bar. The Commodore in Williamsburg, with its old arcade games, Schlitz in a can and stereo pumping out the Knight Rider theme song, which offers the city’s best cheap-ass bar eats, served in a seedy venue where folks come to get blotto.
Country Panfried Chicken: Fried chicken has made quite the comeback, and is now the guru of moist flesh and crackly skin, Charles Gabriel, who is making him triumphant return to Harlem with this all-you-can-eat restaurant. In addition to the poultry, there will be barbequed ribs, mac and cheese, yams and other Southern favourites.
Peaches Hothouse: This “tiny little backwoods juke joint in Bed-Stuy” was quietly opened by Craig Samuel and Ben Grossman. With a more casual vibe than its sister restaurant, Peaches, the HotHouse presents some of the forgotten dishes of the South, like deep-fried and spicy Nashville-style hot chicken, together with creamy rice balls made from an heirloom variety of the grain grown in the Carolinas. Bourbons will be available once the liquor license arrives.
Pies 'n' Thighs: Cheat sheet:
- Drink this: Though the wine served in juice glasses is generically drinkable, the lemonade is just right
- Eat this: Chicken biscuit, fried chicken, fried catfish, baked beans, banana cream pie
- Sit here: While all seating’s the same here on warm sunny days, Washington Plaza, the park just around the corner, makes a fine spot for a Pies ‘n’ Thighs picnic.
Wilma Jean: Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond, husband-and-wife, are playing a game of musical chairs down on Smith Street. Unlike the confounding shuffling, things get simpler when it comes to the menu: fried chicken is king, which is served as a dinner platter, in a sandwich or on a stick. Comfort-food classics namely corn bread, cheddar-cheese grits and tater tots round out the offerings, together with lighter salads like a raw-collard-and-roasted-peanuts combo.
Best Cheap hotdogs
If you are craving a hot dog, it might be tempting to grab a dollar dog from one of the city’s dirty-water carts. Instead, chow down on one of our picks for the city’s best cheap hot dogs, including both all-beef classics and nouveau franks.
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