Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Best $10 Meal Deliveries in the East Village

A shish kebob feast from Cafe Rakka

Memo to my East Village Neighbors:

Feeling the autumn night blues yet? It's colder and darker. You're suddenly hungrier and just want to stay in for the evening.

While there's no lack of places that deliver in the East Village, it's easy to fall into two traps: draining the food budget or delivery burnout from the same place.

Last fall New York magazine ran an article on the best food deliveries in each neighborhood and the EV was woefully underrepresented. Mom + pop shops are everywhere and some offer outstanding value and deliciousness (that's a real word) at under $10 a pop.

Here are some worth dialing up:

Pernil asado complete with crackling from Gena's Grill
Gena's Grill - I overlooked tiny Gena's for an entire year before stepping inside. Now I go weekly. It's Latin home cooking, and the ladies at Gena's serve it up with a big smile. I recommend take out as they show you the daily specials. Sizes come in small (plenty for one) or large. The pernil asado (roast pork; $6.45) is a favorite. Tender, flavorful hunks and a portion of crackling. Meals include beans of the day and rice.The seasoned roast chicken with sides is a mere $5. A small counter seats five if you can't wait to take dinner home. 210 First Ave.

Cafe Rakka - With two EV locations, it's an authentic standby when craving Middle Eastern. The Egyptian team turns out top-notch shish kebabs grilled to order. The smokey babaganoush is luscious. And the mujadarra (lentils and rice) is better than my mom's. Platters - meat or vegetarian - are generous and come with warm pita. Even the falafel ($3.50) and chicken kebob ($5.50) sandwiches are deliciously filling. Make sure you ask for hot sauce and white sauce on any meal. A feast. 81 St Marks Pl, and 38 Ave B

Oink if you love pastrami from This Little Piggy
This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef - The roast beef is delicious but the pastrami sandwich ($9.50) is the bomb. Sandwiches are piled with soft, juicy slices of beef, coated in a thick spice rub, and topped with creamy slaw and spicy brown mustard. Might as well go whole hog and add a chocolate suicide ($4.50) to the order. 149 First Ave.

Peruvian chicken from Senor Pollo
Senor Pollo - It looks like a very clean fast food joint but tastes so much better. If you're a fan of crispy skinned Peruvian rotisserie chicken (the bird is all natural and hormone and steroid-free), you'll be satisfied diving into the quarter chicken with two sides ($7.50; half chicken at $9.50). Thirteen side options include creamy mashed potatoes with spinach, quinoa, and fried yuca. Orders come with two homemade sauces on the side including a garlicky chimichurri and Peruvian hot sauce. 221 First Ave.

Tallgrass Burger - Organic, hand-pressed and grass-fed burgers for under $8. A burger you can feel good about eating. Burgers come with all the fixin's. I'm partial to the Classic with cheddar and horseradish-mustard sauce, but the Fire Rock adds some pow from jalapenos, blue cheese and chipotle BBQ sauce. Plain or sweet potato fries, buffalo wings, chicken sandwiches and big salads round out the menu. There's even a seasonal pumpkin spice shake for $4.50. And beer. 214 First Ave.

Burger + fries from Tallgrass
There's more if you're looking for variety. The EV outpost of Xi'an Famous Foods offers hearty, hand-pulled noodles with robust, chili spiked sauces, and everything is under $10. Tiny Minca offers some of the finest Japanese ramen in the hood, with most at $10.50. And Mama's Food Shop, well, nothing beats Mama's hearty selection of comfort food in the winter. Plates start at $12.50 but portions are supersized. The new menu kicks off today, so look for bacon-wrapped meatloaf and seasonal sides such as Brussels sprouts, and roasted root veggies. The new Williamsburg location has a soft opening starting Thursday.


  1. Solid post. As an East Village resident and lover of cheap eats (as you can see from my food blog - NYCFoodGuy.com) I can definitely vouch for the Gena's Grill and Senor Pollo recommendations but I haven't tried Rakka's kebab or Piggy's pastrami so those will be next. Question though, is Tallgrass burger actually any good? I wonder how that place stays in business, I never see anyone in there. If you want to see some more cheap East Village eats, check this out:http://nycfoodguy.com/2008/03/11/east-village-food-tour-part-i-crif-dogs-thai-me-up-vinny-vincenz-zaragoza-vanessas-dumplings-cecel-cafe-crepe/

  2. Work it Lawrence!

  3. Three words: East Village Thai.

  4. Thanks, NYC Food Guy, Stinky Cheese Man and Jen G. To answer Food Guy's question, Tallgrass isn't often full of people because most of their business is delivery or carry out. I asked the same question. But if you're in a hurry, the burger satisfies and is grassfed, and free of hormones + antibiotics. We are lucky to have so many amazing burgers in the EV.

    The places I picked are ones not instantly on people's radar. We love our hood because there are so many great options. Thanks for the suggestions. Keep em coming.