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Spending money might be NYC’s favorite hobby, but that doesn’t make it any less jarring when your low-key gals’ dinner somehow turns into a $90 expense. (That second bottle of Pinot seemed like a good idea at the time…) Luckily, for every pricey meal, there are a dozen other excellent options that will barely register in your bank account. Here are 15 you can always count on.

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arepa lady NY

Arepas from the Arepa Lady ($5–$7.50)

If you’re not into oozy, melty cheese and crispy cornmeal deliciousness, then we can’t help you.

Two locations in Queens; 347-730-6124 or instagram.com/arepalady

ba xuyen banh mi NY

Bánh Mì at Ba Xuyên ($5)

Yes, there are some great bánh mì in Manhattan, but this Sunset Park gem is 100 percent deserving of the trek. We’re partial to both the classic pork-and-pâté combo and the meatball option—and at just $5, you’ll have plenty left over for an avocado shake. 

4222 Eighth Ave. (at 43rd St.), Brooklyn; 718-633-6601

landhaus cheeseburger NY

Haus Burger at Landhaus ($10)

New York abounds with excellent burgers, but the version at this Smorgasburg alum (known for its bacon on a stick) manages to combine fast food-style nostalgia with a hefty, perfectly cooked patty on par with what you’d find elsewhere for twice the price.

Berg’n, 899 Bergen St. (between Classon Ave. and Franklin Ave.); 718-857-2337 or thelandhaus.com

RELATED: The Best Burgers in NYC, Ranked

taim falafel NY
Taim/Facebook

Harissa Falafel at Taïm ($7)

No matter how much time passes, we keep coming back to this downtown (and mobile) staple for our falafel fix. The perfect alchemy of spices, crispiness and unlimited toppings never fails to deliver.

Multiple locations in Manhattan; taimfalafel.com

goa taco NY

Paneer Cheese Taco at Goa Taco ($7.35)

It’s pretty hard to improve upon tacos, but swapping out the tortilla for a buttery, flaky paratha is a stroke of genius. And the fusion-y ingredient combos (like paneer, spinach pesto, fried chickpeas and pickled tomatillos) seal the deal.

Multiple locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn; 347-276-5103 or goataco.com 

RELATED: The Best Tacos in NYC, Ranked

mr bing crepe NY

Classic Bing at Mr. Bing ($10)

Spicy, crunchy, eggy and sweet: The crepe-like street-food sensation stole our hearts the minute we took a bite.

Urbanspace Vanderbilt, 230 Park Ave. (at 45th St.); 678-8879 or mr-bing.com

fried chicken cemita NY

Fried Chicken Cemita at Cemitas El Tigre ($9)

We’re pretty sure a sandwich of this magnitude somehow defies physics, but we’re not about to argue with crispy chicken, Oaxaca cheese, black bean spread and a half dozen more ingredients. And since it’s impossible to finish in one sitting, you just scored two meals for $9.

45-14 48th Ave. (at 46th St.), Queens; 929-296-3946 or cemitaseltigre.com

xian famous foods lamb noodles NY

Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods ($9.69)

Few things in life give us as much joy as a big, beautiful bowl of noodles. And Xi’an’s addictively chewy version is totally worth the chile oil splatters we inevitably incur while slurping like a maniac. 

Multiple locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens; xianfoods.com

cuban sandwich margon NY

Cuban Sandwich at Margon ($8)

We never expected to find an authentic hole-in-the-wall in Times Square, but we’re so glad we did. And this crispy, meat-filled beauty is well worth braving the crowds. 

136 W. 46th St. (at Seventh Ave.); 212-354-5013

joe s pizza NY

Cheese Slice from Joe’s Pizza ($2.75)

At this point, Joe’s is like an older, wiser friend who always knows just what we need. And what we always need is a classic thin-crust slice. 

Multiple locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn; joespizzanyc.com

lam zhou handmade noodle dumplings NY

Pork and Chive Dumplings from Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle (11 for $3)

Whether they're fried to a crisp or boiled and doused in vinegar and hot sauce, you can’t go wrong with a heap of piping-hot dumplings (that you could probably pay for with the change at the bottom of your purse).

144 E. Broadway (at Pike St.); 212-566-6933 or lamzhou.com

RELATED: The Best Dumplings in NYC, Ranked

southside coffee breakfast sandwich

New School Breakfast Sandwich at Southside Coffee ($8)

We're insanely jealous of anyone who lives within walking distance of this unassuming spot, whose breakfast sandwiches haunt our dreams. It's impossible to pick a favorite, but we have to award bonus points for the genius combo of eggs, bacon, miso-tahini kale and hot sauce.

snowdays shaved snow NY

Snow Cream at Snowdays ($6.25)

Happiness is light-as-a-cloud shaved snow, matcha brownies, peanut-butter sauce and Pocky.

Multiple locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens; snowdaysnyc.com

padoca bakery pao de queijo

Pão de Queijo at Padoca Bakery ($2.50)

Sometimes the best things are the simplest. These innocent-looking rolls are Brazilian cheese bread, a magical balance of fluffy, eggy and cheesy. Get one (or five) plain or amped up as a ham and queso sandwich—and by the way, they're naturally gluten-free.

359 E. 68th St. (at First Ave.); 212-300-4543 or padocabakery.com

absolute bagels lox NY

Everything Bagel with Nova and Cream Cheese at Absolute Bagels ($9.95)

You didn’t think we’d leave our go-to source of nourishment off this list, did you? This uptown staple is not only one of the city’s best bagel spots, its prices clock in a little lower than some of its fellow heavyweights.

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