Our annual survey of the best new places to eat cheaply unearths one-of-a-kind destinations for hyperseasonal Anglo-Indian curry, home-style Vietnamese, new-school empanadas and old-school spinach pies, Japanese curry, and even French-bread pizza. And burgers, too.
  1. Mr. Curry: Rebecca Collerton will be the first to tell you she’s not cooking authentic Indian food. She grew up in England, after all, not Mumbai, and is channeling cherished memories of Manchester’s Anglo-Indian curry houses. But her menu is as refreshingly seasonal as it is vibrantly seasoned.
  2. Superiority Burger: If you were looking for someone to give vegetarian fast food a spectacular high-low makeover, to make it cool and nutritious, you could do worse than Brooks Headley. Everything on his Superiority menu — veggie burger, faux Sloppy Joe, burnt-broccoli salad — is mysteriously satisfying and as good as you’ve heard.
  3. Early Coffee & Sandwich Shop: The star of the show is the open-faced Zappie, the Polish mom-and-pop owners’ take on a popular Warsaw street snack. It consists of sautéed onions and mushrooms spread onto a split baguette, smothered with Fontina, then oven-toasted until the cheese oozes, with DIY packets of Heinz on the side.
  4. Little Saigon Pearl: The No. 3 entrée, the $6.45 Vietnamese-style pork chop, is pounded thin, cooked through to a dull greige, served over broken rice, and (truth be told) kind of chewy. And yet, by some miracle of marination, you swear that this budget-friendly chop is among the most delicious you’ve ever tasted.
  5. Spaghetti Incident: If you wonder why anyone would venture out for what is inarguably the easiest thing to cook at home, here is your answer: a recent fresh whole-wheat-spaghetti special at this new pasta parlor, dressed with pistachio pesto and chunks of summery zucchini
  6. East Wind Snack Shop: Of the many persuasive clues that East Wind isn’t your standard-issue dumpling shack, the dry-aged-beef potstickers rank highest. The innards are rich and funky, and the golden-seared wrapper housemade, like all the rest of chef Chris Cheung’s markedly fresh, springy, and steamy buns and baos.
  7. C&B Cafe: A good cup of joe and a decent BEC is all you ask of an unassuming place whose letters stand for coffee and breakfast. You want the juicy housemade chorizo patty with scrambled eggs on a squishy brioche roll. Or the juicy housemade merguez sausage with Cheddar and egg on a supersize croissant.
  8. Taste of Northern China: Get the thick and chewy “cold skin” wheat noodles mingled with bits of wheat gluten in a vinegary sauce; a Chinese chopped-pork “burger”; and some skewers from a list of 34 — we recommend the lamb, the cauliflower, the hot dog, and especially the rice cakes.
  9. Baba’s Pierogies: Baba’s stuffs its dumplings with everything from a mixture of jalapeño, potato, and Cheddar to mac ’n’ cheese — a soporific combo that picks up where the ziti-topped pizza left off. The best pierogi on the menu is a classic — a surprisingly unstodgy boiled variety filled with a piquant sauerkraut and tossed in butter and chives.
  10. The Food Sermon: Chef-owner Rawlston Williams might not like the comparison, but there is a suggestion of Chipotle in his “island bowl,” a customizable array of starch, sauce, and protein. And yet it’s doubtful that Steve Ells has ever envisioned a combination like panko-dusted lamb shank with coconut-ginger sauce and chickpeas and rice.
  11. Empanadas, Son!: 3 restaurant-industry veterans have opened an Argentine empanaderia in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. We’re partial to the soup-in-hand-pie-form French Onion Fugazetta, the red-wine-braised Beef Burgundy, and the Chicken Curry. For dessert, try the sweet-tart Guava Cheesecake version with Toby’s Estate cold-brewed coffee.
  12. Huertas Window: The hot dogs are made from the restaurant’s own pimentón-spiked chistorra sausage — thinner and smoother than chorizo but just as rich and garlicky. They’re also dressed with aïoli and a housemade piquillo-pepper mostarda that might be the best thing to land on a frankfurter since French’s.
  13. Pi Bakerie: If your knowledge of phyllo dough begins and ends with spanakopita, Pi Bakerie will expand your horizons. The main attraction is the rotating selection of savory pies, stuffed with ingredients like leeks and kale or spiced lamb and best sampled in a lunch combo with a spoonful of Greek salad and a stuffed grape leaf.
  14. Kottu House: A type of griddled roti that’s chopped into almost spaetzlelike pieces and stir-fried with eggs and spices, curry, and vegetables. Think fried rice without the rice and also about 100 times hotter. That’s the Sri Lankan street-food specialty called kottu, and this is its lively, 3-table, 6-barstool Lower East Side house of pain.
  15. LoLo’s Seafood Shack: A colorful, kitschy ode to Caribbean beach vacations, and the kind of food that fuels a hot night in the tropics. The signature dish is a knotted plastic bag swollen with your choice of shellfish and sauce. The shell-on shrimp are fresh and succulent, but anything swimming in Mohan’s coconut curry would probably taste great.
  16. Goa Taco: If the last time you were enjoying a taco, you thought, If only this tortilla were thicker, flakier, and much more buttery, then Goa Taco is the place for you. Chef-owner Duvaldi Marneweck’s contribution to the field: an Indian paratha griddled crisp, then folded around various multi-culti fillings.
  17. Manousheh: Dedicated to the Lebanese flatbread typically eaten at breakfast. The crisp, chewy versions baked here come topped with za’atar, mild cheese, thick labne, ground beef, or vegetables and herbs. Note the daily dessert specials, their honeyed, nutty sweetness cut by the house unfiltered Turkish coffee.
  18. Empellón al Pastor: Is NYC a taco town yet? In spite of what the populace of LA would say, the answer is “yes,” with this combination tequila bar and tortilleria. The headliner taco al pastor is an exemplary study in flavor and texture: crisp and fatty bits of pork neatly juxtaposed with sweet, cooling slivers of pineapple and 3 piquant salsas.
  19. Goemon Curry: In a city enamored with Thai and Indian curries, the Japanese variety gets little love. The good folks at this sister establishment of soba specialist Cocoron next door aim to right this wrong with a menu devoted to Sapporo-style yakusen soup curry, infused with “detoxifying” herbs, and the thicker, roux-style curry with rice.
  20. Raclette: The namesake dish is a glorious mound of melted cheese scraped off the wheel and onto a platter of potatoes, cured meat, and hunk of baguette, and it will gird you against any brisk winter winds gusting off the East River. Even in clement weather.
  21. Arepa Lady: The sweet, pillowy arepa de queso (lush with melted mozzarella) and the intensely corny arepa de choclo are crowd-pleasers, but don’t underestimate the arepa rellena: Stiffer and less sweet, it’s a sturdy vehicle for fillings like chicharrón and chorizo.
  22. Hard Times Sundaes: The 4 oz. smash burgers are hard-seared, crisp-edged, and incredibly cohesive. And while they seem super-simple, each detail and every ingredient has been as carefully considered as a DB Burger. Terrific deep-fried bacon-wrapped chili dogs, too.
  23. Souk & Sandwich: Beyond the familiar falafel and hummus, you’ll find relative rarities, like sandwiches stuffed with veal tongue, liver and onions, and mashed spiced cod. Best of all might be the betenjan mashwi, a streamlined, minimalist construction of marinated eggplant rolled up in thin, chewy flatbread and charred on the grill.
  24. Arcade Bakery: The novelty of the semi-secret location at the end of a formerly closed-off office-building lobby is part of the appeal, as is the nifty renovation of what used to be glass-enclosed ad-display alcoves into mahogany-paneled seating cubbies. But none of that trumps the flaky croissants, pear-vanilla baguettes, and whiskey-pecan babka.
  25. Cabalito: A tiny pupuseria, where toothpick flags inserted into the corn cakes indicate fillings, which include, among other things, chicken; beef; the Central American flower bud named loroco; and revueltas, a traditional mix of mozzarella, refried beans, and chicharrones. Top it with salsa and the fermented-cabbage salad curtido.
  26. Morris Sandwich Shop: The Pollos Hermanos is chicken salad Buffalo’d with Point Reyes blue, slices of celery, and hot-sauce mayo. The gently pressed European Combo is like an outsize Italian hero crossed with a cucumber sandwich: It delivers the salty cured-meat wallop of the former while maintaining the pinky-raising neatness of the latter.
  27. Rose’s Bar & Grill: The burger is made from grass-fed beef and perfumed with smoke from the wood grill, and the sharp and funky cheese on the excellent ham and cheese toast comes from the owners' gourmet grocery, Bklyn Larder, down the street. The ham, by the way, is housemade, and absolutely killer.
  28. Old Tbilisi Garden: You want the imeruli salad (like a feta-less Greek but with a creamy-tangy walnut-purée dressing), the khinkali (a plate of overgrown soup dumplings filled with meat and broth), and the adjaruli khachapuri (essentially a baked-to-order bread canoe overflowing with melted, mildly sour sulguni cheese and a raw egg yolk).