Best Cheap Quick Bites in NYC

October 25, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Here are the top-rated restaurants in New York City to grab a quick bite under $20.

Italian · Murray Hill · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.7

“Fresh, crispy” bread plus “so many choices” of “high-quality” meats and cheeses add up to “heavenly” , “humongous” panini at these “primo” Italian sandwich shops; just brace for “long lines” at lunchtime, “grumpy” counter service and a cash-only policy, not to mention limited seating ( “take it to go and enjoy” ).
Los Tacos No.1
Mexican · Chelsea · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.0 · Service 3.7

“Outrageously good” tacos made with “super-fresh” fillings headline the short, “top-notch” Mexican menu at this Chelsea Market stall ( “just look for the long line” ) with a Times Square spin-off; there's "zero seating" , but eats this bueno and “cheap” are “worth standing for.”
Arepa Lady
Elmhurst · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.1

After plying her “fabulous” mozzarella-stuffed corn cakes from an “insanely popular” cart, Maria Cano is now doing her thing at this “small” Elmhurst storefront where fans say “the lady’s still got it” ; the digs “aren’t much to look at” , but with “friendly” service and “reasonable” prices, “who cares?”
GENUINE Superette
Cocktail Bar · Little Italy · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

A “super-fun” faux “throwback” inspired by California’s classic roadside diners, this all-day Little Italy counter-serve joint offers “terrific” “casual eats” (burgers, fish tacos, salads) plus “interesting” juices and cocktails; it’s “perfect for a quick bite” , while “sneaky surprise bar” Genuine Liquorette below is more of a “scene.”
NoLita · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.0 · Service 3.5

“Fresh and fabulous” falafel is “the really real thing” at chef Einat Admony’s “hole-in-the-wall” Israeli joints, where “glorious” eats at “gentle prices” are “a vegetarian’s dream come true” ; they’re both “fast” and “satisfying” , though the West Village original’s “vest-pocket” space means it’s “best to take away.”
Leo's Latticini
Corona · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.0

“Nobody makes a sandwich” like this Corona “old-school Italian deli” , where the subs are “fit for royalty” and the mozzarella is among the “best in the boroughs” ; its Citi Field stand services Mets fans on game days, but, unfortunately, without those “adorable ladies” behind the counter.
Breads Bakery
Breakfast · Union Square · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.9

As its name suggests, you’ll find “unbeatable” breads (100% rye, French sourdough, challah), but also “unbelievably good” babkas, “delicious” rugelach and more at these “welcoming” stops; the “wide variety” of snacks and sandwiches is also perfect for a “quick bite on the run.”
Absolute Bagels
Brunch · West 100s · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 2.7 · Service 3.7

“Old-fashioned” bagels have “just the right texture” ( “crunchy on the outside, soft inside” ) at this Columbia-area storefront, a “benchmark for rivals” turning out “piping hot” rounds available with “tons” of spreads or just “perfect by themselves” ; just expect “zero atmosphere” and “crazy-long” weekend lines.
Untamed Sandwiches
West 30s · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.3

“Bringing sandwiches to a new level” , these “fun” fast-casual spots feature “creative combos” of “killer” braised meats and veggies, plus beer and wine; “friendly” service and “affordable” tabs add to their “understated” appeal.
Di Fara Pizza
Pizza · Midwood · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 2.5 · Service 3.0

Pizzaiolo “legend” Dom DeMarco is “a master plying his art” at this 1965 Midwood “institution” , where his “lovingly handmade” pies are “a must for the pizza addicted” ; despite “unappealing” digs, “interminable waits” and service with “zero sense of urgency” , it’s “thronged” with those who urge “patience – it’s worth it.”
Shelsky's of Brooklyn: Appetizing & Delicatessen
Brunch · Cobble Hill · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.0

“A real find” for “Manhattan-worthy” noshes in Cobble Hill, this “old-fashioned” Jewish deli trades in “a wide variety” of “first-rate” staples, from “tasty sandwiches” to “the smoked fish you know you want” ; a “helpful staff” dispenses “the good stuff” , but “be prepared to pay” for it.
Stapleton · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 2.9 · Service 3.7

“Don't eat for a week” before attacking the “two-handed” “Dagwood” sandwiches at these “lip-smacking” Italian sub shops; the '20s-era Red Hook original “used to feed the longshoremen” and still exudes a whiff of “old-fashioned Brooklyn” , while its Staten Island outpost continues the tradition.
Almondine Bakery
Bakery · DUMBO · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 3.9

It “feels like Paris” at this “authentically French” Dumbo cafe where the “delicious baked goods” include “excellent” croissants and some of the “best baguettes in Brooklyn” ; the “small” brick-walled space also has a few tables – ideal for sampling from the “nice variety” of soups, salads and quiches.
Arcade Bakery
Bakery · TriBeCa · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.0

“You’ve stumbled upon a secret” when you find this “lovely” French bakery “tucked away” in the lobby of a TriBeCa office building where it offers “exceptional” breads ( “especially the laminated baguette” ), “delicious” croissants and “tasty” lunch options; “minimal” seating leads most to take out.
Tortillería Nixtamal
Corona · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.9

It’s “all about the masa” ground in-house at this Corona Mexican renowned for the freshest tortillas “this side of the Rio Grande” , as well as “authentic” tacos and “melt-in-your-mouth” tamales; sure, it’s a “hole-in-the-wall” , but compensations include “friendly” service and “Queens prices.”
Ayada Thai
Thai · Elmhurst · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.2 · Service 3.7

“Spicy means spicy” at this “friendly” Elmhurst Thai whose “uncompromising” dishes pack “powerful flavors” and come at a “fair price” ; the “humble” storefront space gets “crowded” with “lines out the door” at prime times, but a recent expansion has added a bit of elbow room.
Joe's Pizza
Pizza · West Village · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 2.7 · Service 3.5

“Iconic for a reason” , this local chain delivers “reliably excellent” “old-school” slices “straight from the oven” ; “divey” surroundings and “stand-up” tables mean many take it “on the go” , but when you want “classic NY pizza” , it’s “still one of the best.”
Sullivan Street Bakery
Bakery · Chelsea · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.9

The “outrageously good” bread ( “crusty” loaves, “worth-a-detour” olive rolls) tastes like it was “baked by angels” at Jim Lahey’s bakeries, where “top-notch” offerings also include “delicious” thin-crust pizza and Italian pastries; though mostly for grab-and-go, the Chelsea locale has seating and an expanded menu of light bites.
Denino's Pizzeria
Pizza · Elm Park · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.2 · Service 3.7

“Always a contender for Staten Island's best” , this circa-1937 Elm Park pizzeria (with a Greenwich Village offshoot) turns out “phenomenal” pies with “the most remarkable” crispy crusts (not to mention “out-of-this-world” fried calamari); it's cash only and the space is “no-frills” to put it mildly, but “bargain” tabs help keep it perennially packed.
IL Bambino
Astoria · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

Panini fans and “pork lovers” dig these “homey” Italian “nooks” serving “imaginative” pressed sandwiches (many that are pig-centric) on “crunchy” bread, plus small plates, wines and “fantastic” brunch; backyards and “cheap” tabs are more reasons “locals flock there.”
Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitana
Pizza · Coney Island · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.0 · Service 3.4

An “old-fashioned place unchanged by time” , this 1924-vintage Coney Island pizzeria is renowned for “terrific” coal-oven pies “lovingly made with the freshest ingredients” ; despite “utilitarian” service, “not much atmosphere” and a cash-only rule, fans insist it’s a “must-visit” experience.
Best Pizza
Pizza · Williamsburg · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.2 · Service 3.7

Though it “looks like your typical corner pizza shop” , this Williamsburg joint “doesn’t shirk” from its “bold” name, turning out “delicious” brick-oven pies ( “absolutely get the white slice” ) plus a handful of Italian subs; the “small, crowded” space with paper-plate decor does the job for “a quick bite.”
Harry & Ida's Meat and Supply Co.
East Village · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.0

The “pastrami is for real” at this “hip” East Village deli from the Ducks Eatery team, where the “outstanding” signature sandwich is offered alongside other “thrilling” options (e.g. smoked eel); the vintage-inspired space also has “interesting” smoked and pickled goods to take out.
East Village · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 2.7 · Service 3.5

Famed for its “crave-worthy” namesake – “divine” Italian-style roast pork sandwiches and platters – Sara Jenkins’ “tiny” East Villager offers a few other options, including soup, beans and greens; the setup is “counter service with a few stools” , so most do “takeout.”
Brunch · East 50s · $
Food 4.4 · Decor 2.9 · Service 3.5

The “giant” bagels are so “fresh, chewy and flavorful” they “don’t even need a schmear” , though you’ll still find “interesting” spreads and “tons” of deli fixin's at these at these daytime “madhouses” ; lines can be “ridiculous” and the ambiance is “minimal” , but after one “delicious” bite “nothing else matters.”