Whether you traveled to Barnard from Westchester or from Hong Kong, chances are, one of the greatest attractions was this city, a place where endless resources and “infinite possibilities” (NSOP 2013 shout-out!) are at your fingertips. Many beautiful and exciting things surround us here, but many of these things also require an investment banker’s salary. Barnard and Columbia provide us with so many opportunities—for example, the chance to meet notables ranging from the president of Senegal to Suzanne Vega, free of charge, or a student ID that gets us free admission to world-class museums. But there are some things Barnard and Columbia won’t subsidize. You guessed it, I’m referring to the tempting panoply of cuisines available in these five boroughs. Sticking with Manhattan for now, here are two of my south-of-the-(110th)-border favorites for cheap and exceptionally tasty food.
1. Mission Chinese, 154 Orchard St. between Rivington & Stanton
The New York branch of this San Francisco native is kind of a puzzler, but decidedly delicious. Reader, I literally teared up with joy at the table the first time I ate here. Don’t let its proximity to Chinatown fool you—this is not meant to be “authentic” Chinese food, but rather hipster-famous chef Danny Bowien’s gourmet version of our beloved American Chinese food. Get there in time to put your name on the 9 o’clock wait list (though it literally never closes) and partake of the complimentary keg of Yuengling as you wait. Don’t leave without trying: thrice-cooked bacon, salt cod fried rice, kung pao pastrami.
2. Tacombi, 267 Elizabeth St. right off East Houston St.
Hands-down, one of the strangest restaurant venues I’ve seen in the city. The lighting is so enchanting and the late weekend hours so perfect for ending (or beginning) a downtown bar crawl, that it was only after enjoying my pork belly tacos that I realized they’d been prepared in a spiffed-up VW van parked in the center of the room. $4-6 for three generous tacos. Don’t leave without trying: Pork belly taco, crispy fish taco, spiked horchata.
Don’t let the stereotypes of $50 entrées and $12 cocktails scare you away from the downtown food scene—these examples don’t even scratch the surface of the city’s delicious cheap eats. Go find out!
More recommendations from: