Murray Hill isn’t exactly known for having the best restaurants in the city. But this neighborhood, right up against office-dense stretches in the East 20s and 30s, has a number of cheap eats spots to know. Many cluster in “Curry Hill,” a micro-neighborhood dense with Indian restaurants; others are more Middle Eastern in slant, and there’s even a venerable deli.
This international food superstore is known for its unparalleled spice and imported goods selections, but the even better find is its casual eatery upstairs, where you can get all manner of Middle Eastern lentil and vegetable pita sandwiches for around $5. Or share the $10 vegetarian combo platter with a friend — so much food that even the two of you probably won’t finish it. 123 Lexington Ave., 212-685-3451, kalustyans.com
At this Curry Hill spot, the kathi rolls (fillings rolled up in a soft flatbread) go for $5 to $6.50 — vegetarians should consider the chana pakora (chickpea) or paneer (soft fresh cheese); for meat-eaters, the chicken tikka or lamb. All come with spiced onions and coriander chutney for extra spice. 97 Lexington Ave., 212-679-8900, roomalitogo.com
If you’re a kathi roll fan but looking for a little more variety, consider Desi Galli, where a long menu of other “fast food”-style Indian fare, like spiced chickpea or paneer “sliders” ($3.49-3.99), is joined by all manner of chaat, essentially various (often fried) ingredients layered together and doused in sauces (try the spinach pakora chaat for $3.99). Or for a bit more, opt for the salads and biryani. 102 Lexington Ave., 212-683-2292, desi-galli.com
Recently reopened after a severe fire in 2012, Sarge’s is a legit old-school delicatessen, with the meat-heavy menu to match. The classic deli sandwiches aren’t cheap, but opt for a classic hot dog with kraut, a potato knish, or potato pancakes and escape for under $5. (Or get the pastrami and corned beef-stuffed pastry “Deli Wellington” for $5.95.) 548 3rd Ave., 212-679-0442, sargesdeli.com
With samosas starting at a dollar and kebab at $1.50, it’s easy to put together an affordable meal at this Pakistani favorite. Assemble your own meal and add some $1 roti or $1.25 naan; or spend just a little more and spring for the lunch special, like the $6.99 vegetable platter with two kinds of vegetable dishes, one lentil dal, rice and salad. 113 Lexington Ave., 212-685-5200, haandinyc.com