New York Magazine

CHEAP EATS

DAVELLE’S Spicy Cod Caviar Spaghetti

ONE THING you can say about this cheap-eats town of ours: It never gets old. Statistics show that in New York, a ramen shop, slice joint, food court, pita parlor, clam shack, or kosher vegan taqueria opens every 12 seconds, and that within 15 minutes, 92.67 percent of these eateries declare bankruptcy and shutter. And yet would-be gastropreneurs and passionate mom-and-pops alike keep at it. This makes for a dynamic dining scene, but it also makes it difficult for the average eater to keep up with the latest trends. You never know where things stand. Are burgers over? Are pancakes the new cupcakes? Is toast toast? Can fusilli be cooked in ten seconds? Is fine-casual better than fast-casual? Is Danny Meyer opening a Taiwanese-sausage stand? Is there ever an occasion where you should eat pizza with a knife and fork? Do you have to be high to eat a peanut-butter-and-carrot sandwich? This is where our annual guide to all that is new and cheap and delicious comes in. Think of it as an attempt to answer all your burning budget-gourmet questions. In the pages that follow, we reveal, among other things, the latest places to go for gumbo, Japanese spaghetti, Sinaloan breakfast tacos, and a box of souvlaki. We introduce you to all the new regional-Chinese restaurants that have suddenly appeared in the East Village, a neighborhood we hereby designate Chinatown North. We’ve even drawn you a map. On the pizza-slice front, we tell you why the square is still in and the round out. And as a special bonus, we take a look at the Queens Night Market, a weekly food festival that celebrates, at last count, the thrillingly eclectic cooking of 80 countries as well as the notion that food should be not only affordable and delicious but a way to bring diverse folk together—something worth attempting no matter how hard it is to keep a budget-friendly restaurant open in this city.

THE CHEAP LIST

The city’s best new places to eat without breaking the bank.

MAC AND CHEESE FOR THE MASSES

Madcap Cafe

387 Court St., at 1st Pl., Carroll Gardens; 929-337-6117

New York needs more Heather Fullers, chefs who ascend the fine-dining ladder at places like Per Se and Momofuku Ko, accumulating technique and experience, then harnessing that power to serve humanity via bacon-and-egg sandwiches on housebaked flatbread, cheesy baked pasta, and veggie “nachos” that benefit from topflight knife skills and the deft marriage of pico de gallo and green-goddess dressing. The open kitchen is comically small, and so is the menu, but regulars can expect frequent specials like gringo-but-great ground-beef tacos and a Key-lime pie to rival Steve’s. With its potent cocktails and crowd-pleasing comfort food, Madcap is part bar, part diner, and altogether charming.

MADCAP CAFE’S Veggie Nachos

NEW MEXICAN IN TOWN

Taqueria Sinaloense

40-08 Case St., nr. Elmhurst Ave., Elmhurst; 917-832-7797

This bright, cheerful ambassador of the western-Mexican state of Sinaloa has turned the spotlight on such relative local rarities as chilorio, the chile-infused, lard-fried pulled pork that eats like rillettes on fire, plated with the city’s most sumptuous frijoles, a dense but creamy mass of Peruvian beans studded with chorizo and green olives. Machaca, a sort of pounded beef jerky that is derived from a pre-refrigeration method of preserving meat, is cooked with eggs, onion, and tomato and wrapped in a flour tortilla to make a terrific breakfast-style taco, earning such discriminating fans as Steven Alvarez, a St. John’s University professor who teaches a class called “Taco Literacy.” Equally good if not specifically Sinaloan treasures are unearthed from the steam table up front—pork ribs con verdolagas (melted purslane leaves and stems in an oily, piquant sauce), or glistening barbacoa exuding its concentrated muttony essence. Express interest and owner Elvía Castelán will adopt the demeanor of an irrepressible Baskin-Robbins scooper, converting first-timers

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