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Eat Cheap 2008

Illustration by Apirat Infahsaeng  

They say that there are those who live to eat and there are those who eat to live. But what about those who live to eat cheap? In this, our annual “Underground Gourmet” guide to all that is brand spanking new, ecstatically good, thrillingly eclectic, but also, you know, fiscally prudent, we address that question head-on. You may have heard, by the way, that food costs are up and that good cheap grub has never been more in demand. Sadly, it’s true. Fortunately, our town’s talented (and frugal-minded) cooks have stepped up their game accordingly, and that makes us very happy. Few things, after all, excite us more than discovering an unsung bar burger, espying a noodle-pulling virtuoso in the act, or chancing upon a sumptuous off-the-menu goat taco. In our survey of the year’s best new spots, we’ve covered all that, and more. In “The High-Low $20 Showdown,” Adam Platt judges a cooking contest between an upscale chef and a downscale one, both on the same budget. “Chef’s Choice” reveals top cooks’ favorite places to eat cheap. And in “Beggars Can Be Choosers”, you’ll find tasty morsels that will somehow, soaring food prices be damned, cost you only a buck. Think of them as small cheap-eats miracles. Luckily, we live in a city full of them.

The Cheap List
The best cheap eats of 2008.
Chef’s Choice
Top cooks’ favorite cheap eats.
Cheap Eats Consumer Price Index
How the rising cost of food trickles down to pizza and hamburgers.
The Cheapest Of the Cheap
The ten best new things to eat in New York for $5 or under.
Beggars Can Be Choosers
What can you get for a measly dollar these days?
The High-Low $20 Showdown
We asked two very different chefs to create a three-course meal for two using the same $20 budget.