NYC Guide

5 cheap places to eat near Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park and  New York University area is a delight. The park itself is super charming – and is like an oasis during the warm months. The place is crowded with people playing table games, playing music, talking, enjoying, and watching life go by… As this area always ends up in the travel itinerary of those who travel to New York, I invited my friend Juliana Goskes, who studies at NYU and is always in the area, to give some tips of good and cheap places to eat near the park!

“A lot of people walk through Washington Square Park every day without realizing that it’s in the center of the NYU main campus. Then, when Laura invited me to write about places to eat in the area, I decided that I would focus on options that are not in the sights of tourists but that have been a constant in my student life here. So I will not include  Starbucks cafes, Oren, and Joe’s (all duly approved, but with several locations in the city).

Important info here: space is a luxury item in almost all these places. Especially in near-campus cafes, students sometimes occupy a table with their study material and spend seated hours- it is part of the student culture, not only of NYU. And, of course: places tend to get a little more empty during school holidays.

Oatmeals – Oatmeal is something very traditional here. And this is what you will find at Oatmeals: from the base prepared with milk or water, you can make your combination or order one of the combinations suggested by the house. I was there with a friend from a summer course who wanted to have lunch there. Although I think it was weird, I liked the experience and now I also go there not only for breakfast but also for lunch! I have ordered my oatmeals with peanut butter, banana, and honey. If you’re feeling adventurous, try one of the savory combinations of the place! Prices start at $4.25, there are three portion sizes, and they also offer hot and cold drinks, cookies, and cakes.

Address: 120 W 3rd Street.

Third Rail Coffee – Speaking of coffee, this is my favorite in the area. It’s small, tight, it does not have wifi or bathroom and is almost always full – but the huge window and the in and out of well-known clients give extra points to the place. In the morning, it is particularly nice to see how the place gets busy with students, teachers, locals, and their puppies. I know a lot of people don’t like  American coffee, so if you do not want to “get coffee drunk” here, but still want to get around, the hot chocolate ($ 3.25) is delicious. The place also offers donuts from the Donut Plant ($3.50 – $4) and Ovenly ($3.75) scones – currant-rosemary is great for breakfast, and the cheddar with mustard is great with iced tea ($ 3.25).

Address: 240 Sullivan Street.

Mamoun’s – Mamoun’s is the kind of place you probably wouldn’t notice: narrow, dark, and curiously full at lunchtime. Not that a crowded place near NYU at lunchtime is a rarity, but it pays to stand in line (or run to order before the rush) for one reason: the best falafel in the area by far! Here, all the options are served as a sandwich or as a dish (with salad, and a pita). My favorite is the falafel sandwich ($ 3.50) with an extra babaganoush ($0.50) or the plate with salad, pita, and three vegetarian sides. In addition to the vegetarian options, the house also has options with mutton or chicken, but they don’t offer a lot of drinks. There are few places to sit, all on high stools at a counter. They prepare the orders to go. So, if the day is beautiful, take your falafel and sit in Washington Square Park. Ah, cash only!

Address: 119 MacDougal Street.

Fay Da Bakery – Three words describe why this Chinese bakery is on my list: steamed pork bun. This roast pork dumpling cost $1.25 and was my first discovery in the area, at the end of my first New York summer. Do they have other flavors of baked cookies? Yeah: vegetables, chicken, pork with vegetables, not to mention sweet options (the lemon cake is a delight!). Do I keep coming back because of the steam pork bun? Certainly. With ten dollars, you can have a party and taste everything (or at least a lot). Not a cozy place to eat: the store only has about four chains and any table. You can have a quick snack (or, weather permitting, take to Washington Square Park). Like Mamoun’s: Cash only.

Address: 321 W 6th Avenue.

Soho Tiffin Junction – Soho Tiffin Junction’s proposal is to offer Indian food at low prices in a fast-food style similar to Chipotle: you choose the base, the main protein/sides, toppings, and sauces. My favorite base is rice (and a choice of beans), but you can also order it with salad, quinoa, or cauliflower rice. I love Indian vegetarian food and I usually order kale and cauliflower in a coconut milk sauce with curry and saag paneer (a type of Indian cheese cooked with spinach sauce). The toppings are unlimited. On the day of the photo, they were giving a samosa (this fried dumpling). The price of bowls are determined by the protein or vegetables you choose, and there are two size options. The petite starts at $6.89, and the regular (that you can combine two protein choices) starts at $9.64. Curiously, they offer Mexican Coca-Cola here – sweetened with cane sugar.

Address: 42 E 8th Street.

Did you like these tips? Juliana, thank you so much for sharing your tips with us!

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