When visiting New York City, eating out gets expensive really  quickly. While eating food is one of the few things we all need to do in order to survive, there comes a point when we just want something quick and cheap to eat. Having lived in NYC for a few years, I've found a lot of inexpensive dining options in the city. Below are the best downtown Manhattan restaurants if you're on budget, and I hope this list will save you some valuable time searching for a good place to eat in the future.

Cafe Patoro 

Located in the Seaport District, Cafe Patoro is a cute and friendly Brazilian cafe. Their most popular item is their PDQ, a cheese roll that comes in eight different flavors. Besides their PDQs, everything else on the menu is fresh, delicious, and under $10.

Pearl Diner

Located a few blocks north of Wall Street in Downtown Manhattan, Pearl Diner is a small but comfortable diner. Regardless of the time of day, I'd recommend ordering their breakfast burrito, which isn't too spicy, but is healthy and only costs $11.

Bonchon Chicken

A few blocks over from Pearl Diner in Downtown Manhattan is a Korean chicken restaurant called Bonchon Chicken. They've got generous portions and pricing, with nothing on the menu over $18.

Out of everything on their menu, I'd recommend ordering the Korean tacos, which consist of either bulgogi or chicken on a bed of lettuce, and then are drenched in buttermilk dressing and spicy mayo. These babies are $12, filling, and easy to eat. 

Squires Diner

Located up the block from Bonchon Chicken, Squires Diner is a quick and casual diner that provides good food in generous portions, with the most expensive dish being $18. From personal experience, it's hard to spend more than $10-$15 per person, including tax and tip.


Located on Fulton Street in Downtown Manhattan, GRK is a Greek chain that serves amazing fries and plates. A plate of food costs $11, and a separate order of fries costs $4. Alternatively, if you're looking to save a few extra dollars, you can just order a plate and have fries as the side that comes on the plate. 

Melt Shop

Also located on Fulton Street in Downtown Manhattan, Melt Shop is a cheese-based chain restaurant. Out of everything that they have on their menu, I recommend getting the loaded tots for $6.50 since it's basically a meal in itself. They're flavorful, served in generous portions, and always warm. Wash 'em down with one of their $5 milkshakes for good measure.


Located on the corner of Beekman and William Street in Downtown Manhattan, Rosella's Pizzeria has got to be one of the best cheap eats in NYC. While I'd recommend getting any of their slices, a pasta slice with a Snapple is only $6. If you're not a fan of Snapple, I'd get one of their Rosella branded sodas, an especially tasty one being their Raspberry Lime Rickey.


Down the block on the corner of Ann and Nassau Street in Downtown Manhattan is an Italian panini shop with their own bakery component attached to the side of it. All of their panini sandwiches are about the size of your arm, and can easily amount to two or more meals. None of these sandwiches cost more than $14. The best part is that all of the ingredients are fresh and imported straight from Italy.


Located on 1st Avenue and 12th Street in the East Village, S'MAC is a casual mac 'n cheese restaurant. Their standard size portions range in price from $6.25 to $8.25, making it one of the best cheap eats NYC has. On that note, I'd recommend getting either their four-cheese or their cajun dish. 

The Halal Guys

The Halal Guys is located on the corner of 14th Street and 2nd Avenue, but they also have a lot of food carts. Their main focus is serving gyro and chicken in sandwiches and platters. I'd recommend getting their regular combo gyro/falafel/chicken platter with white sauce for $9. It'll last you two meals, and is more flavorful than spicy.

#SpoonTip: Don't go hard with red sauce unless you want to be breathing like a dragon for the rest of the day. 

Washington Square Diner

Washington Square Diner is located on the corner of West 4th Street and 6th Avenue. Their omelettes are around the $14 mark, but they will fill you up without a problem. Another good thing about this diner is that it's open 24/7, meaning you can eat whenever your heart desires. 

Caliente Cab

Located on 7th Avenue South in Greenwich Village, Caliente Cab is a cozy Mexican restaurant with prompt service and good food. Their quesadillas are filling and come out to $9 or $10 and their tacos are two for $9. If you're of age, I'd also suggest getting their frozen house margaritas. Despite them being $17 a pop, they're 24 ounces and delicious.


Located on the corner of 6th Avenue and 17th Street, Cafeteria is known for being more of a bougie 24/7 diner. I'd recommend getting some of their avocado toast and either their "mac attack," containing their three different mac 'n cheeses, or their mac 'n cheese spring rolls since both are different and under $15.

Big Daddy's

Big Daddy's is located on the corner of Park Avenue South and 19th Street. Instead of ordering real food, order a milkshake because deep down inside, you're still a little kid.... also because  their milkshakes are amazing.

Pietro Nolita

Located on the corner of Elizabeth Street in Nolita, Pietro Nolita is the city's only pink Italian restaurant. For brunch, I'd recommend getting the egg sandwich or the lemon pasta. For lunch, go for the tiramisu for dessert. Keep in mind that this restaurant only accepts cash and American Express cards.

Regardless of where you end up choosing to eat, the places on this list cover some of the best cheap eats in NYC. I'd recommend going to all of them whenever you can, unless your time here in the city is limited, which then means that you're stuck having to decide which of these to stick to.