“Cheap Eats” is my post-series on cheap restaurants and prepared food options in New York. I recommend cooking your own food most of the time, but every once in a while it is nice to indulge and you don’t have to pay through the nose to do so. I plan to review many of the cheap options I find on various websites and will let you know if they are as good and as cheap as advertised. If you have a suggestion for a place to review, feel free to let me know through my contact page.
It was only a couple of years ago that food trucks took NYC by storm. I admit, I was enchanted by them (I still am to a certain degree). What’s more “hole-in-the-wall” than an actual hole-in-the-wall restaurant? Food trucks! You can peer in the window and see the person making your food in front of you. They always have an interesting theme or hook for the style of food. But as tried more and more of these food trucks, I realized that I expected to be getting cheap eats, but often ended up paying $10-$15 for lunch! For a $15 lunch, I can go to a sit-down restaurant. Food trucks are expensive, so eventually, I found my way back to a vendor that’s been a part of the NYC landscape long before food trucks blew up:
That’s right. The food cart! Food carts typically don’t have a cute name or nice branding, but the easiest way to tell the difference, for you out-of-towners, is the fact that they park on the sidewalk, not the street. You’ll find food carts all over the city. Many of my friends who love food trucks won’t even consider hitting up a food cart. I’m not sure why.
In my opinion, some of the carts sell food that is every bit as good as many of the food trucks. I love getting a delicious chicken gyro with white sauce and spicy sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.
For my cheap eats breakdown, I’ll be looking at this particular food cart and this particular chicken gyro, but you should know that different carts have a WIDE variety of foods, including super cheap breakfast sandwiches, traditional Middle Eastern foods, classic hot dogs, and many more. Next time you pass one, take a look at what they have and how much it costs.
THE CHEAP EATS BREAKDOWN
How was the ordering experience? The middle aged couple that works in the food cart near my office have great energy! They are always laughing, making jokes and generally happy. The line is never more than 2 people long, unlike the food trucks right nearby. I once waited a full 45 minutes to order. That was the beginning of the end of my love affair with food trucks.
How unique is the food? It’s hard to say it’s unique since you can find similar food carts on every other corner in the city, but it is really good food and often good ethnic food.
How delicious was the food? There’s a reason I keep going back to this food cart and ordering the same chicken gyro. It is SO delicious. If you are at another food cart though, I encourage you to experiment. It certainly won’t cost too much.
Did it fill me up for $5 or less? Definitely! It takes me 5-10 minutes to pop down from my office and grab a chicken gyro. I spend the rest of my lunch hour sitting back in my chair, satisfied with my meal that cost only $4.
Conclusion: Whether or not you are a food truck fan, get out there and give the food carts a chance. They might surprise you!
Like this post? Sign up to receive posts via email and never miss a tip for living well and saving money!