Seeing Shamus Khan and Phil Kasinitz’s ASA eating guide, I asked a colleague and friend of mine, Grace Nguyen, (a former chef and sometimes New Yorker) to put together a list of good, cheap(er) food options for NYC in preparation for this year’s ASA.
Here’s her compilation. A few more suggestions from her may be forthcoming in the comments. The places are linked to their Yelp pages.
You should also hit up some of these places after the Bad Hessian party, since you’ll be in the Village anyhow.

One major word of advice: DO NOT try to find Vietnamese food in NYC (although with THIS caveat:

Benny’s: FOUR WORDS – Cheap. Margaritas. All. day. I think they’re $3.50. Get excited. It’s NYC, drinks aren’t less that $10. And, you can get them blended- Blended! Free chips and salsa. Food is whatever. You’ll probably run into me there. WEST VILLAGE

Breakfast carts:

Super cheap:
Joe’s on Carmine (at 6th Ave)-My favorite slice: WEST VILLAGE.
Famous Ben’s Pizza (on West 14th Street): Pretty solid grandma/square/sicilian slice. Discovered this recently. UNION SQUARE.
Veselka (Ukrainian 24 hour diner (uhh…how cool is that?!?!)): Get the borscht. EAST VILLAGE. [Alex: I completely vouch for this place]
New Wonton GardenI like their fried tofu starter, if you like tofu.  It’s a dive, and a strange place I used to go to late at night. Solid, cheap. Tons of dumplings. CHINATOWN

Shake Shack – my favorite burger in the country! $5 price point. Fries suck. Only go to the one in Madison Square Park. And, get a custard, the daily special, if it sounds amazing. FLATIRON
Umami Burger – A recent, and highly anticipated, LA import. I’ve been there in LA. They’re all about creating that umami flavor. $10-$14 a burger. The owners are my friend’s partners in 800 degrees (Los Angeles). GREENWICH VILLAGE

Lunch deals:
Gramercy Tavern – they have a lunch sandwich special-$15: great sandwich and soup. Beautiful space, impeccable service. NYC instiution. I love love going here. Food is solid.  Dinner here is awesome, also. GRAMERCY
BCD Tofu House – Go for the lunch special. You get Soon Tofu (silken tofu soup and a large BBQ side, plus panchan, of course. Crap load of food). K-TOWN
Aldea – fancy restaurant, but they have a lunch special, $25, I hear. It’s suppose to be great. FLATIRON
Alidoro – Italian sandwiches…I’ve been dying to go here. I here amazing things. Lunch only. they close around 4pm. GREENWICH VILLAGE

Ippudo: Modern, fantastic.  Cool space. Trendy. Decor is pretty awesome. Try to go here. Either go when then open, or late at night. They make noodles in house. There’s always a wait, but it’s easily the best ramen in NYC. They do the Ramen from Hokkaido, I think. The tonkatsu broth that everybody loves right now (I’m not so much a fan). UNION SQUARE AREA/ASTOR PLACE
Sategaya – my preferred ramen. They offer only two types: the shio (salt broth) and shoyu (soy). Get the Shio. It’s delicious, lighter than the tonkatsu, and, IMO, more similar to vietnamese soups. EAST VILLAGE.
Totto Ramen – Nathan’s favorite, along with hundreds of other people’s favorite. It’s one of the best in NYC, also. A true ramen hole/dive/bar. MIDTOWN/TIMES SQUARE

La Vie en Szechuan – Their version of fried chicken looks great. MIDTOWN EAST

There are two places in the East Village, apparently one of them is Anthony Bourdain’s favorite. I’ve been to one of them. Probably worth checking out 🙂
Maharlika – Been to this one. They have this neat eggplant and scrambled egg puree dish that you eat with rice.

Popular places:
Dominique Ansel Bakery – This is where you can get the overly hyped Cronut that’s all the rage right now (in the food world), but only if you wake up at the crack of dawn and charge the lines. I’ll probably never try one in my lifetime. I also here he makes the best Kouign Amann-I love these. Caneles look okay. One of my favorite french pastries – SOHO
Pok Pok – A Portland import. White dude goes to Thailand and learns Thai BBQ, comes back, opens a restaurant in a converted home in Portland. I hear it’s good. Been wanting to try it.

Bakery (there are tons of great ones). Just don’t go to Magnolia Bakery.
City Bakery – Pretzel Croissant. It’s like $3.50. But, it’s pretty amazing. Never had anything like it.


(all in the Lower East Side)

Kossars Bialys – Great bagels AND bialys. Get a bialey. They’re great, although better toasted the next day. Hours are weird. They keep the Sabbath, so check hours.
Ess-A-Bagel – Great bagels. Don’t go crazy on the bagel sandwich, if you get one. They’re huge. I feel like NY bagels are getting even bigger.
Russ and Daughters – Bagel and Bialys with Lox. They’re known for their amazing quality and selection of cured Salmon.

Napolitano Pizza:
Keste – Amazing. Get the Truffle and mushroom pizza. This is NOT a NY pie. GREENWICH VILLAGE
Sullivan Street Bakery – Square slices. They’re delicious. HELLS KITCHEN

Food cart:
53rd and 6th Halal Cart – Haven’t been, but it’s always written about in the paper. Yelp it. There’s about 3,700 reviews. Insane.

Luke’s Lobster –  Haven’t been (is on my list of places to go to) but I hear they have a great lobster roll (and crab roll) for a great price (it IS NYC-and lobster rolls run about 30-something dollars here). EAST VILLAGE