This article was written by our guest Chris from LifeGuideBlog. All thoughts expressed are solely those of the author. Enjoy!
New York City is one of the top travel destinations in the U.S., drawing visitors from other parts of the country and around the world. It’s the largest city in the U.S., and sees some 12 million or more tourists flocking there each year, infusing over $60 billion into the NYC economy. As a major cultural and business hub, there is a wealth of things to do in New York City – truly something for all age groups and interests. That diversity and range of choices for vacation travel and tourism is just one of the traits that makes New York such a desirable place to visit.
Like any major city, the cost of rent, hotels, entertainment, tickets for attractions, and food in New York City can be substantially higher than elsewhere in the U.S.. It’s not uncommon for travelers visiting the Big Apple to be shocked that a burger, fries, and a soda can cost $20-$30, even at fast casual chain restaurants. That can put a real damper on many people’s plans and options, especially if you are trying to do an NYC trip on a budget.
But, if you know where to look, you can find places in New York City where you can manage to score a cheap meal or snack, even late at night, that won’t break the bank. Visitors may not be up on all the latest affordable hot spots, but we’ve got you covered with some hot tips from locals and experts. In our guide below, we’ll highlight the best places for cheap late-night bites in New York City. For the record, these aren’t listed in any particular order – so each is just as good as the next!
A cheap, late-night dining choice needs to offer a few essentials – good, fast food; affordability; and being open late, of course. Crif Dogs fulfills all three of these requirements, and more. After a late night of bar or club hopping, or a long day of tourism, nothing says American comfort and casual food like hot dogs, burgers, and fries or tots on the side. Crif Dogs has very reasonable prices for top-quality delicious hot dog and burger options, and they are open until 2 am Sunday through Thursday, and 4 am Friday and Saturday.
The East Village is consistently cited as the go-to locale for late-night dining, on the cheap or otherwise. Likewise, Empellón Al Pastor is often cited as having some of the best tacos in all of New York City. It boasts a full bar, bar snack menu, and the legendary tacos. As they serve alcohol, this isn’t a suitable place for a family trip to NYC to retreat to for a late night snack – but then most families with young children don’t stay out until the wee hours, either. Empellón Al Pastor is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 am on Friday and Saturday.
No visit to New York City would be complete without a trip to Chinatown. While there, definitely stop in at Wo Hop, where they serve traditional American-Cantonese style Chinese cuisine, and have been doing so since the 1930s. Approachable, delicious, and with prices that seem to have remained unchanged over the last several decades, you’ll get your money’s worth at Wo Hop – as well as a full-flavored taste of classic New York Chinatown food you’ll never forget. Hours vary, and you should call ahead to confirm, but they are often open until 5 or 7 am, especially on Fridays and Saturdays!
The Blue Ribbon brand has expanded over the years, with multiple locations and sub-branded dining experiences throughout New York, as well as in Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. This is the first and original restaurant location, and it maintains the kind of classic menu, atmosphere, and service that has proven so popular. Seafood, the ever-popular bone marrow, and a host of other delicious dishes are on tap until 4 am every night. It’s a bit pricier and more up-scale than some of the other options on our list, but still affordable by NYC standards.
A Japanese-style pub, Donburiya offers a taste of Japan in New York City, along with a wonderful bar and atmosphere. It’s often packed, even late, and is open until 2:30 am almost every night of the week – a testament to its popularity, quality, and affordability of its late-night bites. Donburiya’s menu prices average $8-$15 – a real bargain by NYC standards, and especially given the caliber of their cuisine.
Harlem Shake serves classic late-night fare until 11 pm weekdays, and 2 am Friday and Saturday. Burgers, fries, sandwiches, shakes, and a few other items (including some delicious desserts) are featured in a casual, quick service atmosphere. It’s quintessential Harlem, with an awesome retro feel, affordable prices, and some great food. And in case you were wondering, they had the name before the viral song and memes of 2013.
Late-night budget dining fare is often synonymous with Chinese cuisine and noodle shops, and one of the best in NYC is Great NY Noodletown. Serving a range of Cantonese-style items (not just noodles), Great NY Noodletown is very popular, especially with locals and those in-the-know. A large budget-friendly menu and simple, down-to-earth atmosphere makes it a great place to end up with some friends in the wee hours to enjoy some good food. Open until 4 am every day!
A staple of New York City deli culture, Katz’s is one of the few remaining traditional delis still going strong today. Whole documentaries and TV episodes have been done about Katz’s, so we won’t bore you with the details here – it’s amazing deli fare in insanely large portions that you just can’t miss, whether late night, mid-day, or any other time they are open. If you’re a deli or sandwich fan, then you simply must visit Katz’s while in NYC. Open until 10:45 pm Sunday through Wednesday, 2:45 am Thursday, all night Friday, and 24 hours Saturday.
Odessa is a blend of Eastern European and American diner, with a typically expansive diner menu and standards, in addition to Eastern European favorites. It’s familiar and exotic at the same time, with delicious food at very affordable prices. There’s something for everyone to be found on the menu at Odessa, which is always a plus for late night dining. They’re open until 2:45 am Monday through Thursday, and 24 hours Friday through Sunday.
For a taste of Middle Eastern fare after most other establishments close, look no further than Mamoun’s Falafel. Falafel, kebabs, shawarma – it’s all top-notch and at low prices. They’re now a chain, as their popularity continues to increase, with nine locations throughout the tri-state area (but the original on MacDougal is, in our opinion, still the best). Open until 5 am every day of the week.
No compendium of affordable late night dining in New York would be complete without at least one pizza shop. Prince Street Pizza, which is open until 11 pm during the week and 4 am on Friday and Saturday nights, is worthy of being that one pizza shop. It’s no surprise that many well-known celebrities, chefs, and other notables consider Prince Street Pizza a must-visit while in New York City (often with lines out the door during lunch and dinner hours). Things are more accessible at night, with pizza-by-the-slice at prices typical of NY fare, but at an incredibly high quality with fresh ingredients and a taste you’ll be sure to remember.
You can find Chris Mercadante at his blog LifeGuideBlog where he provides top-quality, well-researched, and in-depth blog articles about topics that matter to you, to help you live a better life.