Restaurants on St. Marks Place come and go, but most share one thing in common: they're all about affordable eating. From Japanese hot dogs to chocolate pudding to great sliders, there's no shortage of cheap eats on this one street alone. To help you get the best bang for your buck, here's our guide to the best eating on (or just off) St. Marks between Cooper Square and Tompkins Square Park. Of course there's plenty more good food nearby—this is the East Village after all—but we're keeping tight on the geography for this post. You can find more East Village eating right this way.
Astute St. Marks-ers will notice some omissions from this guide: a certain popular falafel stand, ramen shop, and Chinese restaurant, for starters. That's because with such a wealth of good, cheap options on this one street, we think you can do better. Still feel we left something out? Let us know in the comments.
Quick Bites on the Go
Xe Máy Sandwich Shop: This small sandwich counter does unconventional banh mi right. Their baguettes are firm and crisp, great support for fillings like curry lamb.
Pommes Frites: Legendary late night hole-in-the-wall that sells thick-cut Belgian fries with dozens of dipping sauces ranging from simple ketchup and mayonnaise to stranger dips like wasabi mayo and "Irish Curry."
Papaya King: Classic, natural casing hot dogs cooked on a griddle—this is the New York hot dog experience done right.
Japadog: For a less traditional hot dog, Japadog's Japanese-stylized dogs come with toppings like nori, tonkotsu sauce, and croquettes. The fries come spiced with ingredients like wasabi and shichimi.
Crif Dogs: More hot dogs, but these are wrapped in bacon and topped with everything from eggs and cheese to avocado.
Xi'an Famous Foods: You don't need to trek to Flushing to try Xi'an's famous lamb burger and hand-pulled noodles, this slim shop is here for you. Compared to the other Xi'an locations, we think this one is a little tame on the spice, but it's still a very good thing.
Stage Restaurant: Before choosing Veslka as your go-to spot to taste Eastern European fare, visit Stage Restaurant for old school no-frills potato pancakes and pierogi. Pastrami or open-face turkey sandwiches are also well worth an order if they're available that day.
B & H Dairy: Another Eastern European lunch counter with great vegetarian soups and a simple-but-satisfying egg and cheese on homemade challah.
Mark: The griddled sliders here—topped with American cheese and grilled onions and served in a steamed potato roll—are among our favorites in the city.
Natori: The sushi restaurant equivalent of a dive bar with affordable, tasty sushi and sashimi combos under $20. The rest of the menu is also worth a look, such as okonomi yaki served in a sizzling hot plate or wings.
Cafe Orlin: Middle Eastern restaurant especially popular for brunch. We're fans of the creamy hummus and thick, slightly doughy pumpkin pancakes.
Cafe Mogador: Moroccan and Middle Eastern with good hummus and pita (and a nice open air patio). But the gorgeously spiced, tender tagines are the must-order.
Hanjoo: Korean barbecue is pricier than most of the restaurants listed here, but the house specialty of crystal-grilled pork—served with kimchi flavored by the pork's rendered fat—is worth the relative splurge. We don't love the rest of the menu as much, so stick to that pork barbecue and complimentary banchan for best results.
Desserts and Drinks
Spot Dessert Bar: A more refined but approachable dessert spot with innovative sweets and a classic, simple condensed milk-topped Golden Toast that's slathered in butter and baked until golden brown.
TKettle: TKettle is best known for their bubble drinks; for the classic milk tea, stick with Saint's Alp nearby. Here, you should aim for the more fun drinks, like yogurt shakes, slushes, and milkshakes in flavors like avocado.
CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice: An international tea chain with a few outposts in New York. Things to try: Three Guys (milk tea with tapioca, grass jelly, and pudding), Jasmine Milk Tea, and Cream Black Tea (brewed ice tea with a thick layer of salted whipped cream). The dairy-free grapefruit green tea is a pleasantly tart, refreshing alternative to all the sweetness.
Macaron Parlour: We dig the offbeat macarons here, but we like other pastries like the kouign amann, cinnamon bun, and cookies even more.
Puddin' by Clio: The specialty is, surprise surprise, pudding—chocolate is our favorite. But moist cakes and pies like the key lime cheesecake are also good dessert options.
PDT: You can expect great drinks at this cocktail destination, but don't be surprised if there's a multi-hour wait when you go.