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10 under $10 - Weekday Lunch Spots in Manhattan (May 2019)

This weekend was particularly rainy, but still very eventful thanks to Mother's Day! I had an early mothers day celebration Saturday night with my family with some delicious food in Chinatown. Also just watched another stunning episode of Game of Thrones... just one episode left!

Anyway, for this post I thought I'd turn to one of my favorite topics: food! It's great to live and work in NYC where you can quality food without spending your whole paycheck. For lunch during the weekdays, I try to get something filling and delicious.

Here's 10 places to get delicious lunch for under $10 in Manhattan. These places won't appear in any fancy foodie magazine (maybe a Vendy award), but they're a downright bargain. You can trust me, as a native New Yorker, to not steer you wrong. Yelp links or Google Maps included below so you can browse locations, photos and reviews!

"Fast Casual" - Grab & go or assembly line spots.
  • BBQ Olive Chicken [Ktown] (Yelp link | Google Maps) 25 W 32nd St - I come here to get the salad topped with Korean fried chicken! This restaurant has a substantial grab-and-go section that you can see the moment you walk in. The rice combos and chicken salads are mostly under $10 after tax and the portions are huge. They also fried chicken buckets (~$13-15), kimbap, and non-chicken items. 
  • Wasabi Sushi & Bento [FiDi; Midtown West] (Yelp link | Google Maps) - Nothing to write home about, but they have great options for 2pc sushi and curry rice bowls on the cheap for your Japanese food fix! There are 3 locations in midtown and 1 in FiDi.
  • Cava [Multiple] (Yelp linkGoogle Maps) - Cava is the Mediterranean version of Chipotle and it works. The pita here will cost just under $10 and it's delicious. Lines here do get long, so try to get here pre- or post lunch rush.
  • Xi'an Famous Foods [Multiple] (Yelp link | Google Maps) - This restaurant has really brought Xian food to the masses. I really enjoy the Liang Pi cold noodles on a hot day or the stir-fried version on a colder one. This is the only noodle dish that comes under $10 after tax, but I love it so much, the restaurant makes it onto my list. They also offer delicious fatty pork buns and lamb buns, each under $7 with tax.
Street Cart Vendors - Not every street cart offers the same quality, but these are well rated and get my thumbs up. Note, street carts don't always have "solid" hours; check social media, call, or take your chances.
  • Potato House NYC [Truck Locations on their Website(Yelp link) - On Fridays, the truck is at 46th St and 6th Ave. The line can be long, but it moves quick! It's $3 for the potato of your choice (regular or sweet potato) and then $1 for each topping (cheese, butter, meats, veggies, and cold items too) and optional free sauce. You can go traditional with a cheese and broccoli potato or make a teriyaki chicken version. Friendly staff and family owned.
  • NY Dosas [Greenwich Village, inside Washington Sq Park] (Yelp link | Google Maps) 50 Washington Sq S - It's vegetarian fare, but I don't miss eating meat when I come here. $9 dosas are what you need to try first, and it comes with chutney and small lentil soup. $3 samosas are good too. Everything is just the right amount of spicy/spiced. The owner has been featured many times in media and print.
  • Rice Noodle Vendor [Chinatown] (Yelp link | Google Maps) 153 Centre St outside J train stop - This cart is no frills and caters to locals but there is English translations on the cart's menu. It offers congee, thick rice noodles, and vermicelli all really delicious. I'm happy to see this place has a yelp page and such great reviews. They are open until they sells out by or before noon, so get there early!
Lunch Buffets - Don't sleep on the salad bars and hot food buffets that you often find in grocery stores! They're great if you are picky and like to make your own food choices.
  • Whole Foods [Multiple] (Google Maps) - The Bryant Park and Columbus Circle locations have the largest buffets and it's not necessarily cheap at $10.99/lb. However, with a big base leafy greens that's light as air, I can find that I spent under $10 and be stuffed. I'm fond of the baby bell peppers, the sweet chili soy nuggets, mac & cheese, and yucca fries!
  • Key Food [South Street Seaport] (Google Maps) 55 Fulton Street - Not every Key Food has a hot buffet, this one has a pretty large one, food is fresh, and highlights a multitude of cuisines. The 'good' food does taper off at 2pm so I suggest going during prime lunch hours.
  • Morton Williams [Multiple] (Google Maps) - It's a local grocery store chain that has a hot buffet to boot. Definitely works in a pinch to get hot foods or to make your own salad.
Bonus: Other ways to save money without having to meal prep? Get digital!
  • I've mentioned the Ritual app more than once on this blog because it gives you $5 off your first order at a number of restaurants (Click my Ritual referral link to get $10 to use on your first Ritual purchase!
  • You might also want to consider a monthly lunch plan like Mealpal. Each meal ends up averaging $6-8 depending on the plan you choose. Signing up, going on hold, and canceling your plan has gotten easier since Mealpal first came around (initially called Mealpass); they also now offer a separate dinner plan option as well.

Of course there are many places to get a good lunch on the cheap. Many of the best sit down lunch spots for under $10 are in Chinatown and the LES in my opinion. What spots do you like? Let me know in the comments below!

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