In a perfect world, we’d all eat for free. But the next best thing to free food is food for less than what you’d probably find digging in the pockets of your old jeans. The Bronx might have a rich history as the last home of Edgar Allan Poe, the birthplace of hip-hop, and the home of NYC’s better Little Italy, but the borough is also a cheap-eats haven. Regardless what part you find yourself in, these are the best places to eat for under $5 in the borough — from easy to-go snacks to full-fledged meals.
BRIOCHE DIPLOMATE, $3.50
You’ll find the obligatory croissant and macaron offerings at the French-themed cafe, but the hidden cheap-eats gem is its version of the classic bread pudding, the $3.50 brioche diplomate, which is guaranteed to be more filling than the aforementioned options. Delivered fresh daily, the bread pudding is actually made with croissants, and often comes with a little-added surprise, be it chocolate or raisins. It’s usually served toasted, and they’ll happily top it with powdered sugar or caramel upon request.
FRIED DUMPLINGS AND FRIED SALT FISH, $3.50
The Dumpling Shop
On East 222nd in Baychester, you’ll find a totally unassuming, authentic Jamaican spot doing Caribbean favorites like ackee & saltfish and ripe plantains. Though dumplings are in the restaurant name, you’ll find the the crispy, fried numbers (which come without fillings and are really more like fried dough balls) under “sides” on the menu. Still, at just $0.50 a pop, they’re more than enough reason to make a visit. An order of two dumplings with a huge chunk of fried saltfish for $2.50 is one of the most popular budget-friendly buys, not to mention a seriously filling meal. Be sure to opt for the raw pickled-peppered onions on top to cut through the saltiness and add an extra kick.
MINI MAC & CHEESE, $2.25-2.75
Landin Mac & Cheese
Landin is the Bronx’s answer to the East Village/Murray Hill favorite S’MAC — except way cheaper. The savory baked mac & cheese dishes here come in mini sizes, so you can sample a recipe or two (or three or four or five) for just $2.25-$2.75, before you decide to opt for the bigger version, which is still crazy-affordable at around $6.00. The hot chicken with buffalo sauce, Mexican (with pepper jack, Muenster, chicken, pepper, and jalapeño) and bacon (mozzarella, Muenster, and bacon) are the running favorites for Melrose residents.
Since the Bronx has a huge Latino population, there are plenty of great places to get your hands on empanadas — but the restaurant that Colombians in particular call home is the ultra-authentic La Masa, which offers traditional dishes like bandeja paisa — a combination platter with everything from pork to chicharron to black pudding — and over two dozen types of empanada, including both salty and sweet options, like chicharron or dulce de leche. Be sure to come back often, as it’s always adding new varieties.
For the complete list of the cheap eats in The Bronx visit Thrilist.