New York City has always been my home base. I’ve always lived within 30 minutes of Manhattan and after college, I lived in Harlem (way uptown) and the Financial District (way downtown).
If you’ve ever spent any amount of time there, you know it would be damn near impossible to try all the best restaurants within one lifetime.
There are an estimated 24,000 restaurants in Manhattan alone and apparently, it would take someone almost 23 years to eat at all of them.
That’s amazing, right? But it makes choosing where to eat in Manhattan extremely difficult. You have every option in the world… so where do you go?
And if you’re only visiting for a few days… how do you eat at all the places you want to try?
Today, I’m going to share my FAVORITE places to eat along the TopView Sightseeing bus downtown route.
TopView Sightseeing is an NYC-based tour bus company that sponsored this post! They offer several different routes and trips in and around Manhattan for people who want to see as much as possible, or NYC locals that just want to experience something different.
I had a BLAST on the bus, hopping on and hopping off to check out my favorite places to grab a cheap bite while enjoying the amazing views in different neighborhoods.
I started my trip near where I was staying in the Financial District.
1. Pisillo Italian Panini – Financial District
The TopView bus stops conveniently near City Hall Park, and right across, you’ll find this hole-in-the-wall Italian place that usually has a line out the door for the lunch rush. Their menu is extensive and you can easily share one massive sandwich between two or three people.
My favorite Pisillo sandwich is the Napoli, which has prosciutto di parma, bufala mozzarella and arugula. But you honestly can’t go wrong here!
There’s very little seating here, so grab a sandwich, take it to City Hall Park and enjoy the quality people watching while chowing down on authentic Italian grub.
2. Hudson Eats – Battery Park
Right after the City Hall stop, we stopped right in front of one of my favorite Battery Park bars, Pier A Harbor House. But that’s definitely more of an evening hang if you like good brews.
The main food event in Battery Park? Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place. Brookfield Place is a huge mall (it’s new) right across from the World Trade Center. The stores in the mall are high end, but when it comes to the food, there’s something for everyone.
Hudson Eats is home to fast casual places like Chop’t, Dig Inn, Skinny Pizza and Unami Burger. You can get bagels, sushi, tacos, cupcakes and Cambodian food… all in the same place.
But my favorite place in Hudson Eats is Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque. This isn’t the only location for Mighty Quinns, but it’s definitely the most convenient. I usually get the chicken wings, sweet potato and mac and cheese. It’s all incredible and you won’t regret trying it!
3. Chelsea Market – Meat Packing District
Like Hudson Eats, Chelsea Market is home to lots and lots of different food options. Some are fancy and expensive, but most are cheap fast-casual places where you can grab your food, head up to the Highline and enjoy the views.
My favorite places in Chelsea Market? Los Tacos No. 1, Beyond Sushi (it’s vegan sushi!), Dizengoff (Israeli food) and The Doughnuttery. I also love The Tippler, it’s a bar below Chelsea Market with amazing cocktails.
Chelsea Market is super overwhelming, especially if you go in the afternoon on a weekend. Try to go during the week if you want to experience it with fewer crowds. While I prefer to always go in with a plan, there are enough food options there to satisfy any craving.
4. Non Solo Piada – Garment District
This is another amazing hole-in-the-wall Italian place near Penn Station. It can be really hard to find good food spots in this area, where it’s mostly fast-casual chains like Subway, Panera Bread, Papa Johns and Chipotle.
Non Solo Piada specializes in calzones and homemade traditional piadina (like a flatbread, but better). The staff is super friendly and can totally help you make a decision if you’re overwhelmed by all the delicious choices (me, always). I’d recommend the romagnola or contandina piadinas (sandwiches).
Like Pisollo, there’s very little seating here aside from a few benches outside.
Taste Italy with every bite. Tag a friend who needs to try our Traviata Piadina made with bresaola, baby arugula, brie cheese. #NonSoloPiada Did you know we offer a catering service? Check the #LinkInBio #NYC #nycdining #nyceats#eatingnyc #delivery #eeeeeats #nycfood #newforkcity #foodbeast #foodcoma#food #foodaddicts #foodbaby #foodiegram #foodlove #foodoftheday #foodporn #foodpornshare #foodlovers #foodpost #foodislife #dinner #hangry #hungry #delicious
5. Eataly and Shake Shack – Flatiron District
Two of my favorite places are right across the street from each other. Sure there are other Eataly locations in Manhattan (downtown by the World Trade Center) and Shake Shack has several locations throughout Manhattan and other boroughs.
The TopView bus stops conveniently two blocks away from Eataly, which is a huuuuuuge eatery for all things Italian. In Eataly, there are several different small restaurants where you can try small specialty Italian dishes. My favorite Eataly restaurant is the pizzeria, located in the back. The gelato is also amazing if you’re in the mood for something sweet!
Also, if you’re there in the summer, check out the rooftop bar and garden. There’s no view, but you feel like you’re not in New York City anymore when you’re sitting there enjoying a glass of wine and bowl of house-made pasta.
If Italian isn’t your jam, head over to Shake Shack across the street. If you’re there during peak hours, expect to wait on a long line, but it moves fast. I highly recommend the ‘shroom stack (cheese-stuffed portabella mushroom burger) to vegetarians. You can’t go wrong with one of the special shakes of the month. Last time I was there, I got a mocha cookies-and-cream shake.
The best part of this Shake Shack location? Plenty of space to sit and enjoy the fabulous people watching in Madison Square Park.
6. Pommes Frites and Mamoun’s Falafel – Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC. It’s PACKED with amazing restaurants, boutiques and some of the most well-known spots for entertainment in the city, like The Comedy Cellar.
But if you’re only there for a hot second, here are my two cheap recommendations:
At Mamoun’s Falafel, you can sample some of the best falafel NYC has to offer for under $10. A sandwich costs around $4 and you can grab a platter for $7. Take your flavorful Mediterranian meal just a few blocks over to Washington Square Park and enjoy.
Not a falafel fan? Directly across the street, you’ll spot Pommes Frites, a small restaurant serving authentic Belgian fries. If you see a line out the door, don’t worry, it moves fast and it’s so worth it.
One regular size of fries costs less than $6 and can easily be shared between two or three people. You can’t go wrong with any of the sauces, but my favorite is the rosemary garlic mayo.
I took this photo at 11 am, right when it opened! Otherwise, it’s packed.
7. Jack’s Wife Freda – Soho
The TopView bus stops conveniently on Spring St and Broome St, less than two blocks from Jacks’ Wife Freda on Lafayette. (There are two locations of this restaurant downtown). This isn’t necessarily a “cheap eats” place. It’s more of a reasonably-priced spot for delicious, healthy food for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I’ve been here many times — sometimes it’s packed and sometimes it’s not! I recommend the beet dip, fish a la pancha and the shakshuka (breakfast/lunch only).
This post barely scratched the surface, but thanks to TopView Sightseeing, I was able to hit them all in one day.
It would be really hard to try all of these places in a short amount of time, and being able to hop on and hop off the TopView bus made it so easy.
Whether you’re visiting or an NYC resident that just wants to be a tourist for a day, I highly recommend TopView Sightseeing to anyone that wants to get a good taste of what NYC has to offer in a short amount of time.
What are your favorite NYC cheap eats? Tell me below in the comments!