48 Hour Cheap Eats Bender!

Since the birth of our little Tater Tot, it has been more difficult for Spud and I to scour the city to bring you the best in cheap eats. But, don’t give up on us quite yet, we still love devouring great grub for tiny sums. Recently we went on an all out Cheap Eats Bender. In one weekend we munched our way from Alphabet City, to Chinatown, the Lower East Side and Union Square, with a baby in tow. It was fan-eating-tastic! Nearly everything was under $10. Here’s the run-down, in chronological order:

  • Insane bacon wrapped dog with peanut butter, pickles and potato chips from Crif Dog
  • Excellent grilled Shrimp Tacos from La Lucha
  • Rich babka-like Chocolate Shoshanim from Zucker bakery
  • Down-home awesomeness of wings, incredible fried fish and ‘nana pudding from Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter
  • Bacon waffle breakfast from new brick n’ mortar Wafels n Dinges
  • Tres Leches and Coffee Cake Donuts from the best, Doughnut Plant
  • Traditional garlic bialys from Kossar’s Bialys
  • Crunchy new pickles from The Pickle Guys
  • Super cheap pork dumplings and sesame pancakes from Vanessa Dumplings
  • Phat Thai from Pok Pok Phat Thai (lives up to the hype!)
  • Schmaple and Chocolate Puddings from Sugar Sweet Sunshine (Possibly our favorite thing on the planet).
  • Smokey Burnt Ends from Mighty Quinn’s
  • Peanut Butter Pie and The Nog Pudding from Sugar Sweet Sunshine (yes, again!)
  • Chicken Churri from one of NYC’s most creative sandwich shops, Num Pang
  • Zero hype, just good fried cauliflower from Rainbow Falafel
  • Crispy Eggplant Torta from Tortaria (because tortas rule!)

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Crispy Eggplant Torta

Satisfied Completo

I posted this review 2 years ago, but I am still a big fan of the Completo. This bakery is one of the best hidden gems in Astoria. Check it out!

FYI, the beef churrasco is really good too.

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San Antonio Bakery #2
36-20 Astoria Blvd, Astoria

It took me 6 years to finally eat this magical, ethereal hot dog. It’s 4 blocks from my subway station and it took 6 years. Yup, I should have listened to my friends, this is one awesome dog. San Antonio is a Chilean bakery and while they have some tasty looking pastries and full mains on weekends, which I want to try, their completo ($3.50) is the star here. It is a regular dog with sauerkraut, tomatoes, guacamole, and mayo. It’s so creamy and delicious, but what really sets it apart is the bun. Think about the last time you got a hot dog on a freshly baked bun…yeah, it doesn’t happen. Well it makes a HUGE difference. In case you were wondering: #1 is in Valley Stream, LI. I have no idea why. But I do know I am craving the completo. 6 years…

*Best Chocolate Cake in NYC*

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Chocolate Room
86 5th Ave, Park Slope

If more places could pay the bills by offering only desserts, NYC would be a much happier place.  Of course most restaurants offer arrays of decent desserts, but there is a giddy, child-like feeling in visiting a decadent dessert destination. Our hands-down favorite is The Chocolate Room in Park Slope (another location in Cobble Hill).

The Chocolate Layer Cake is OUR FAVORITE in NYC! It is a 3 layer blackout cake ($6.50) that is just perfection. It is perfectly moist and has just the right balance between cake and frosting. Go for the cake, but stay for The Brownie Sundae ($8.95). A warm, fresh brownie with your choice of homemade ice cream, hot fudge, fresh whipped cream and a brandied cherry. It is amazing!

The Chocolate Room is classic perfection. There are more cutting edge desserts shops, but go here for the desserts you really want. Be a kid again and give in to your chocolate cravings.

Pork Slope Nachos

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Pork Slope
247 5th Ave, Park Slope

I entered Pork Slope carrying lots of assumptions. This place is owned by celebrity chef Dale Talde, in the middle of Park Slope, and gets a huge amount of press, which means it will probably be pretentious, filled with skinny jeans and offer measly portions. Luckily I was dead wrong on all accounts, and exited extremely satisfied.

On my Saturday afternoon visit, Pork Slope was a quiet dive bar, with almost as many babies and little kids as adults hanging out. With non-ironic classic rock on the speakers and a pool table, it is a very chill setting.

The nachos are pure genius. It’s obvious that each ingredient is carefully planned out and is more than the sum of its parts. The chips are delicate and not at all greasy, the chili and the cheese are top quality, and the jalapeños are obviously pickled in house. But the real genius is that these nachos are evenly spread on a huge tray so the chips and toppings are evenly dispersed and not soggy. This is important, because if you are two people eating this huge tray, it takes awhile. Go for the large for $14, it serves 2 if you are not eating anything else, or 4 if you are wearing skinny jeans.

**Cheap tip** Drinking sodas in bars is incredibly cheap. Most bars only charge $1 and give free refills. Of course, beer in bars is usually pretty good. =)

Real Deal Italian Institution Since 1938

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L & B Spumoni Gardens
Gravesend, Brooklyn

This family-owned institution started by selling spumoni all the way out in Gravesend and is still going strong 75 years later! If you want to travel back in time with classic dishes, clientele out of central casting, and a fun all around experience, check this place out.

The menu at L & B Spumoni Gardens is huge with all the traditional favorites, so we tried a few: square slices, with excellent sauce, massive rice balls filled with meat ($5.95), and a chicken francese hero topped with broccoli rabe ($7.50). I had low expectations about the spumoni, which I assumed is just ices, but a word to the wise, get the signature dish of a joint that has been successful for 3/4 of a century! The spumoni is wonderfully smooth, creamy and flavorful. Who know that spumoni is the ideal summer treat?

New Astoria Sandwich Destination

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The Sandwich Bar
33-01 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria

Sit-down sandwich spots are definitely a rarity these days. Why pay rent for a whole seating area, when a counter or even window are enough to satisfy the lunch crowd? In Manhattan, gourmet spots like No. 7 Sub and Nam Pang have had huge success with take out only. Rents in Astoria are cheaper and the brand new Sandwich Bar, across from the brand new glitzy MP Taverna, is trying to make their sandwiches into a destination for a full lunch, dinner, or late night jaunt (open daily 10am-2am). This small corner space has been an unsuccessful home to a gyro joint and, most recently, Just Burgers, but after just one visit, I have a hunch that The Sandwich Bar will be around for much longer.

The owners have made the most of the small space with an actual sandwich bar, high and low top tables, an attractive mix of wood and metal, and even a few outside tables. The service was friendly, and seems willing to try to satisfy the local clientele. Most of all, the sandwiches, at least the ones we had, were delicious and reasonably priced. WeCouldEat is happy to report everything on the menu is under $10! I had a hot hero with deliciously tender and meaty brisket, chili mayo, roasted peppers, onions, and corn ($9.50). It was excellent, especially the brisket, as this place is known for their slow roasted hand-carved meats. Spud had a grilled cheese with brisket, spicy mayo, cheddar and provolone ($8.50), which she enjoyed very much, although she thought my hero was a much more filling option for $1 more. The only minor downside was the unremarkable coleslaw that accompanies every sandwich.

Besides meat and vegetarian sandwiches, other menu highlights include salads, stuffed roasted potatoes, and burgers. But enjoy the slow roasted meats here, I have had much worse at highly-acclaimed barbecue palaces. I like this little sandwich shop that fits so nicely in the Ditmars neighborhood of Astoria.

Our Top 12 of 2012: Sandwich Edition

Yes, I am aware that I am posting a Best of 2012 list in February, but so what? You are still going to drool over these fantastic cheap eats. As I was going through the many tasty choices from this past year, I realized that they are almost all some sort of sandwich. Maybe it’s a coincidence, or just maybe sandwiches are the king of all cheap eats comfort foods. Plus, Spud has a little tot in the oven, and her cravings seem to fit between two pieces of bread. Without further ado…WeCouldEat’s Best Eats of 2012:

(In no particular order. Click on the links to read WeCouldEat’s reviews)

The Elvis

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And for dessert…

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The best BBQ in Queens may be the best in NYC

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John Brown Smokehouse started as a little hole-in-the-wall in an industrial area of LIC about one year ago. Since then it has moved a few avenues over to a big lot on a main street in LIC with a large patio with live music, a real staff, and a kick-ass menu with some of the best BBQ in NYC. When I wrote about JBS a year ago, this place was a secret, but now it’s a real destination.

John Brown Smokehouse
10-43 44th Drive, Long Island City

Most of the BBQ meat sandwiches, pulled pork, brisket, pork belly, and rib tips, are $10 or less, with hunks of tender meat between slabs of thick white bread. The amazing burnt ends are $12. But my favorite is  the Reuben ($12.50) house cured pastrami, swiss cheese, coleslaw topped with Russian dressing on a roll. It’s flavored meat, it’s cheesy and creamy, and it’s crunchy. It is unbelievably good. Plus it combines classic NYC deli with really great Southern BBQ. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

John Brown Smokehouse also offers traditional platters of Kansas City barbecue, meat by the pound, and solid sides. They have a full bar, music, and a great private outdoor patio.

Now I regret sharing one of my favorite places with you. Just don’t come here too much. I don’t want it to be ruined. It’s just perfect now.

The Most Bestest Taco Joint

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La Superior
295 Berry St, Williamsburg

La Superior is a great taco joint because it is in Williamsburg, but is not too hipster, is pretty inexpensive, and serves the food you really want to eat. This is not the most authentic, but is one of the most delicious Mexican joints I have found. We enjoyed very good fresh guacamole with homemade chips ($5) and excellent ezquites, corn kernels with fresh cheese, lime and Mexican mayo ($4) to start. Spud loved her Torta de Conchinita, a sourdough baguette with refried black beans, pulled pork, avocado, pickled onions, and habanero pico de gallo ($8). I had a few tacos ($2.50), which were small, but had great flavors. The decent veggie option has roasted poblano peppers and sauteed mushrooms, and the non-fried fish was still crispy and great. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but La Superior is packed with style and flavor. If it was in my hood, Spud and I would be regulars.

 

Eddie’s Sweet Shop: Nostalgia in a Sundae

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Eddie’s Sweet Shop
105-29 Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills

I am really shocked by both how much I love Eddie’s Sweet Shop and by the fact that I have never been here before. This could be the last authentic 1950’s style malt shop in all of NYC. Nothing appears to have been changed in 60 years, including the little metal stools, the marble countertops, and the classic ceiling and floor. In addition to serving excellent homemade ice cream, they also sell lots of candy as well. But the sundaes are really the stars here. I had one of the best sundaes I have ever had here with cherry vanilla ice cream topped with gooey marshmallow fluff and finely chopped wet walnuts.  I would never have thought it, but this is the best topping combo. Served in a little metal dish with thick schlag and a cherry on top, this is the perfect treat. Much like my last post on Peanut Butter & Co., Eddie’s Sweet Shop is a great treat for both kids and adults. It is definitely worth a trip out to Forest Hills for nostalgia and a sundae.

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