Manhattan is expensive and lunch breaks are short. As an unpaid intern, your lunch goals should be simple: eat well but spend as little money as possible. From my stomach to yours: a guide to a work week’s worth of cheap lunches in Midtown because eating a great meal shouldn’t require you to smash your childhood piggy bank.
If you like Thai food…you need to try this place. If you don’t like thai food, well then, you just haven’t been to Der Krung yet. Nestled on the corner of 9th avenue and 56th street, this hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves large portions overloaded with traditional Thai flavors, all on an affordable lunch menu.
You can find anything from traditional pad thai to spicy cashew nut chicken for just $7.75. Be cautious – this tiny restaurant is packed during the weekday lunch rush, so plan accordingly. It’s worth waiting for a table, but if you’re on a time crunch, order one of the many lunch specials to go. You’ll be sure to make the rest of the office jealous.
2. Cancun NYC
Monday blues got you down? Take a little midday trip to Cancun – no passport or plane ticket necessary. This restaurant has got you covered for authentic Mexican cuisine served in the heart of Midtown. Walking in the doorway, you’ll immediately feel transported on a mini vacation south of the border.
While you’ll be tempted to try one of their famous margaritas or a glass of sangria, keep in mind you’ll have to head back to work eventually and stick to the lunch menu with all options served hot for $9.95. If you’re feeling in the mood for a splurge, you can’t go wrong with ordering an appetizer of chips and guacamole; the chips are stacked high and the guac is smooth and creamy.
3. Pick A Bagel
Breakfast for lunch. Brunch. It’s the best part of the weekend, so why not bring your weekend brunch game to the work week lunch (minus the hangover from the night before and the bottomless mimosas, of course). Pick A Bagel has all of your breakfast needs from overloaded omelets to true New York bagels with an assortment of cream cheese options. A classic bagel with a schmear will cost you about $3.50, so you’ll have money left over if just one bagel can’t fill you up.
4. Sacco Pizza
There’s nothing more New York than a cheap, great slice of pizza. This place does the trick and it does it quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be scarfing down a slice of crispy crust topped with the perfect balance of sauce and cheese. Just order and by the time you pay, your piping hot slice will be out of the oven and in your stomach in no time.
Keep in mind that it’s a $10 minimum to pay with a credit card, so bring cash or order at least four slices. Yeah, that’s right. Four slices of pizza for $10. Now that’s the deal of the century. You will leave with your tastebuds satisfied and your belly full for sure.
Serving up sandwiches with Cambodian twists at eight different locations throughout the city, Num Pang is not your average sandwich shop. Every sandwich is freshly made and served on a toasted semolina flour baguette with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and their signature chili mayo. Diners have a choice of various different meat and vegetarian options for the base of the sandwich from pulled duroc pork and ginger barbecue brisket to roasted cauliflower and spicy organic tofu.
Unfortunately for all you picky eaters out there, there are no substitutions allowed on their sandwiches. But never fear: they’ve spent time crafting and mastering the flavors that work best. With the multitude of options of sandwiches under $10 and an additional seasonal menu, you could eat here every single lunch break and still not get sick of it.