It’s tough out there in this ever-evolving cheap-eats universe. One day it’s Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles, the next Hackensack sliders. You never know exactly where things stand. Are burgers really over? How about fried chicken? Where can I find a grilled pimiento-cheese sandwich? Or a serviceable stroopwafel? Is there such a thing as a good bowl of vegetarian ramen? What is the going rate for artisanal pizza these days? Are cake balls the new cupcakes? What is the Chinese flavor of the month? Can a locavore be a cheapavore? And are restaurateurs who traffic in small plates out to get you? In this, our annual Underground Gourmet guide to all that is brand spanking new and good to eat—and, if not downright dirt cheap, then certainly moderately priced, fiscally prudent, or at least won’t leave you feeling like you’ve been snookered—we tackle those burning questions and more. We also track the increasingly ubiquitous meatball movement, revealing the top new orbs, and take a very close look at the nascent miniature-food craze. We scout out the best meals on wheels. And we talked four discerning chefs, whose palates we admire, into revealing their secret cheap-eats haunts in their own neighborhoods. Finally, we answer what is for many the most burning question of all: What’s for dessert?