he discerning budget gourmet will detect something of an American theme in this, our annual guide to the city’s best new cheap eats—one that homes in on the current state of the iconic foods that made our nation great and, well, okay, a tad overweight. And why not? Despite the fact that many red-state citizens consider New York a foreign country, our homegrown American grub is pretty good and improving all the time. Take barbecue. Has there ever been a better time to gorge on smoked meat?
We think not. For succulent proof, click here, where we identify our own emerging New York barbecue style, a glorious fusion of obsessive tradition and off-the-wall experimentation. In these penny-pinching times, cheeseburgers have gotten smaller—a consequence, no doubt, of the potent Shake Shack effect—while sandwiches have gotten bigger. (Here, we celebrate a return to the voluminous hero-shop handiwork that predates the passing panini fancy.) And then there are doughnuts, as American a cheap eat as there ever was. Yes, the sinker is having a moment—and so is that French Frankenpastry you might have heard about (look for the coveted cronut and its blue-collar brethren here). If all this strikes you as a bit provincial, fear not: We haven’t overlooked the boundless multicultural all-you-can-eat buffet that makes this city the epicenter of cheap eats. Elsewhere, you’ll find Georgian khachapuri, mazemen ramen, and Israeli Scotch eggs, plus plenty more exotic vittles to satisfy your hunger, once you’ve had your fill of streamlined cheeseburgers.
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