Guide Offers Summer Tour of New York Ethnic Foods, All on a Budget

To help New Yorkers survive the blistering summer heat, Real Cheap Eats has just released its second annual guide to affordable New York cuisine. It’s not surprising that this “eatwave radiates an international sensibility, highlighting foods from both familiar and less-well-known immigrant communities across the city.

The guide, featuring 50 delectable dishes all costing $10 or less, points readers to cuisine from Bangladesh, South Africa, and Georgia, as well as dishes you probably haven’t tried before from Thailand, El Salvador, Malaysia, Mexico, and Italy.

As usual, Queens represents as the borough with the most eclectic variety of international flavors. But the guide also points to unexpected dishes in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Among the featured dishes is ceviche, a particularly refreshing summer meal. This Latin American classic is made by marinating seafood in fresh lime juice and spices. Real Cheap Eats food connoisseurs found ceviche served – where else – from the back of a van! You can get lobster, crab, or the “famous 7 Fishes Ceviche” from Bobby Fish, Rey Del Ceviche’s roadside van on 207th St. and 10th Ave. in the Bronx.

One of the most exotic treats recommended is a Malaysian shaved iced dish called Air Batu Campur, a “medley of grass jelly, agar jelly, red beans, sweet corn kernels, lightly salted peanuts and attap fruit (the chewy, bean-shaped fruit of the nipa palm tree)—all nestled beneath a heap of shaved ice” that is then “topped off with evaporated milk, red rose syrup and coconut palm syrup.” This decadent dessert is available at Malay Restaurant in Queens.

A frothy featured beverage is Morir Soñando (or ‘to die dreaming’ in Spanish) from Reben Luncheonette in Brooklyn. This Orange Julius-like beverage is made from fresh orange juice, condensed milk, and ice and is described as being like a “liquid creamsicle.”

Not quite refreshing, but certainly mouthwatering, the guide recommends perfect crepes and escargot, which are served in a buttery sauce with bacon and herbs, at the French Café Triskell in Queens. Equally rich and almost certainly filling is the famous Baygul – a cheese bagel filled with swiss cheese, grilled ham, and a fried chicken cutlet, available at the Bay Gull Store in Queens.

If you’ve ever wanted to try Bangladeshi puffed rice, Bosnian lamb burgers, Italian avocado sorbet, Albanian veal jerky, Mexican candied sweet potatoes, creamy Salvadorean horchata, Greek pomegranate tabouleh, or Georgian brick-oven cheese bread, Cheap Eats international guide has it all, and runs the gamut from savory to spicy, and from rich to refreshing.

Did you know Feet in 2 Worlds hosts food tours of immigrant neighborhoods in New York City? Click here to learn more.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation and the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation.

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AboutVon Diaz
Von Diaz is a writer and radio producer based in New York City. She is a self-taught cook who explores Puerto Rican food, culture, and identity through memoir and multimedia. Her work has been featured on NPR, American Public Media, StoryCorps, WNYC, PRI’s The World, BuzzFeed, Colorlines, and Feet in 2 Worlds. Von has an M.A. in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies from New York University. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, she earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies and focused her research on women in Latin America. She is a currently a producer at StoryCorps, and previously worked in community advocacy and communications for nonprofits focused on women, children, art, and Latino culture.