By: Michael Engle
Today is Tax Day for Americans! While local and state governments collect their revenues incrementally, thanks to sales taxes on most transactions, Uncle Sam gets paid in one lump sum. Whether or not you vow to be more thrifty this year, it is always advantageous to know where the local "cheap eats" can be found. Because let's face it: even though some people insist on cooking every meal of every day and night, this is not a realistic option for others. So resist the urge for cheap "extra value meals" at fast food places, because their long-term effects may be incredibly "taxing." Instead, take a look at some of the best values in NYC!
Sal, Kris, and Charlie's Deli: If you're looking for a great sandwich and a good way to stretch your money, this is your place. Featuring the store's famous little-more-than-a-footlong sesame hero rolls (don't ask what bakery supplies the bread, because the owners won't tell), this deli has an extensive list of cold cuts and cheeses. The two most popular options here, however, are the Italian Combo (pepperoni, salami, mortadella, ham, choice of cheese, lettuce, and tomato) and The Bomb (literally, everything). Customers say that one $7.75 sandwich is actually two meals in one, so have it cut in four, enjoy what you can at nearby Astoria Park, and enjoy your "free meal" later in the day! 33-12 23rd Ave., Astoria, NY 11102, tel. (718) 278-9240
Lomzynianka: You'll need the G train to get here, but this Polish spot epitomizes "comfort food." Every main dish is accompanied with mashed potatoes and a vegetable; they range from $5.50 (roast chicken, meatloaf, or bigos--hunter's stew) to $9.00 (mushroom-stuffed chicken cutlet or the signature Polish Platter, which includes three pierogies, kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, bigos, and potatoes). No, there is not a single item that costs more than $10, but yes, you are allowed to bring your own beer or wine and drink it there! With enough meat and potatoes to satisfy even the most scrutinizing Slavic, your wallet will have plenty of room left over for a sweet blintz, but your stomach may beg to differ! 646 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11222, tel. (718) 389-9439
Joy Burger Bar: We've covered it before, so let's just state the obvious: It's a good burger for every size appetite and budget (3 oz. = $3.75; 5 oz. = $4.75; 8 oz. = $5.95) with mostly free toppings (only sun-dried tomatoes, avocados, and fried eggs carry a 75-cent surcharge). Two locations.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the poor man's ethos, New York City, obviously, has street food on almost every corner. The Halal cart on 6th Ave. and 53rd St. is probably the most famous. For $6, you can order the "mixed grill," which includes both lamb and chicken so you won't have to choose. Meanwhile, if you're looking for slightly more exotic curbside grub, we've got you covered once again!
What's your favorite local bargain meal?
Photo:Edgar Zuniga Jr.
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