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Cheap Eats NYC: $5 Lunch in the Lower East Side

If you’ve got $20 in your pocket, you can lunch supremely well on the Lower East Side, with a classic pastrami sandwich at Katz’s or a bagel with nova at Russ & Daughters. But the neighborhood has a number of less expensive lunch options, too — some of them downright cheap. Here are five places on the LES to fill up for under $5.


Congee Village

Congee Village (Photo: Seylon Chen Flickr/CC)

Classic Coffee Shop
On its menu, you’ll find a motto-slash-mission statement of sorts: “Serving Real Lower East Siders Since 1976.” That tells you all you need to know about this delightfully kitschy second-generation family lunch counter, with refreshingly affordable prices ($4.50 salami sandwiches) and an excellent classic egg cream. A $5.50 tuna melt is the priciest dish on the menu. 56 Hester St., 917-685-3306

El Castillo de Jagua No-frills Dominician lunch counters tend to be great places for a bargain, and Lower East Side mainstay El Castillo de Jagua is no exception. Five dollars gets you a Cubano, or a pernil or roast chicken sandwich; a large bowl of chicken soup will just set you back $5, too. Got an extra buck? The lunch special is just $6, rice and beans with your choice of meat from the steam table. 113 Rivington St., 212-982-6412

Taqueria Lower East Side For fast food on the cheap, a solid taqueria is always a good bet. At this Orchard Street spot, its walls plastered in  Mexican pop art, $5 can get you a vegetarian quesadilla or any of their tacos (carnitas, chorizo, nopalitos, you name it); for another dollar or so, consider the deep-fried flautas, soups of the day, tortas and tostadas. 198 Orchard St., 212-677-3910

Taquitoria Nope, not another taqueria — a taquito-ria, specializing in those deliciously lowbrow fried mini-tacos. But at Taquitoria, they’re done with much better products and by a team with a fine dining pedigree. Five dollars gets you three taquitos from the menu — Creekstone Farm’s beef, or Berkshire pork, say, with your choice of sauces or nacho cheese toppings.168 Ludlow St., 212-780-0121,

Congee Village Just south of Delancey, Congee Village is an institution, justifiably loved for its comforting and beautifully prepared congees, a Chinese rice porridge that can come topped with just about anything. Whether you’re looking for sliced pork and preserved egg, fresh squid with ginger sauce, or a pork-chicken-duck porridge, it’s all under $5 (until you get to the premium section, with lobster or abalone). There’s an extensive menu, but the congee’s your best bet for cheap eats. 100 Allen St., 212-941-1818,

Check out more cheap eats in Chinatown, the West Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Union Square Williamsburg and around town.

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