Who doesn't love cheap food?  What about cheap NYC food? I met up with two college friends one day and we had only one thing in mind: food. Yes, traveled through NYC by eating food all day. And get this, the food was UNDER $30. Here is the day we had and how we owned NYC like a boss with a $30 budget.


chocolate, coffee, milkshake, smoothie, milk
Srishti Chauhan

I met my friends at Grand Central Terminal at 10:00 am. From there, we started our food expedition. We wanted to try authentic chai tea and there were two perfect places we had in mind. We first went to Chandi, an Indian and Pakistani eatery in midtown with delicious chai tea. It was only $1. You heard me. One. Dollar.

We wanted to go to another authentic restaurant to compare each tea. We went to Haandi, which had different types of teas that ranged from $1 to $3. I got the regular chai tea, which was $1. If you like chai tea but with not as much milk and sugar, then this is the place for you.


ramen, meat, broth, vegetable, soup
Daniella Pagano

After being caffeinated with chai tea, we needed to start eating delicious food. We decided to walk to Momofuku Noodle bar, the perfect place to share something that make you feel full. Inside there was a huge communal wooden table with bar stools for everyone to sit on. They mostly had natural lighting from the window in the front of the store, which made the environment have a warmer vibe to it.

 My friend and I decided to get the Hozon Ramen bowl, which is filled with scallions, chickpeas, and kale. This is simply the perfect meal for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. It was $16 (the most expensive dish on our agenda for the day), but since my friend and I shared it, it was only $8 for me. We totally found a loophole. Shhh!

Sweet Treat

tea, chocolate, cookie, cake
Daniella Pagano
Daniella Pagano

After our savory meal, we wanted something sweet. That's why we went to the Cookie Dō in Greenwich Village, a new and popular place seen all over Instagram. The hype is edible cookie dough. This little place contains several flavors, including the standard chocolate chip cookie dough, birthday cake, salted caramel, coconut caramel cookie, and more. You can even ask to have ice cream with it. A small scoop is $4, which isn't bad at all because they pack the cookie dough in the cup (or cone).

Dinner Time

dairy product, sweet, cream
Daniella Pagano
sushi, sauce, chocolate
Daniella Pagano

Next we went to Chinatown in NYC and wanted Dim Sum restaurants. Not only are they served in large portions, but they are extremely cheap. I had 8 vegetable dumplings for only $4.95. The soup dumplings my friends got were only $5.95. The service was extremely quick and the food was delicious.

espresso, coffee, tea
Daniella Pagano
sweet, dairy product, flour, dough, dumpling
Daniella Pagano

To compare the different Dim Sum restaurants, we walked to the restaurant next door which was called Shanghai Heping. One difference between the two restaurants was that this one included tea. I ordered steamed vegetable buns, which were only $4 for two of them. It's safe to say that at the end of this, we were Dim Summed out. 

Post-Meal Sips

coffee, tea
Daniella Pagano

Last but not least, we wrapped up the day with bubble tea. There was a cute little bubble tea shop a couple of blocks away from the Dim Sum restaurants called PaTea. What was cool about it was that you can request the amount of sugar/sweetness in it (0% sugar, 50% sugar, or 100% sugar). I got a small Taro Milk Tea with tapioca pearls, which was only $3. It was a perfect ending to a food adventure in NYC

All of my food expenses came out to be $22.95, which can sometimes be the total cost of only one meal or even a few drinks. NYC food doesn't have to be expensive. You can split it with friends or go to cheap places like Chinatown and still got a lot of bang for your buck. Now my friends and I feel like complete professionals at keeping a low budget on food in NYC.