New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

A front entrance with the text “Electric Lady Studios” written in a retro white font on two reflective walls.
‘An exploitative environment’: The interns behind Electric Lady Studios
Julia Diorio, Music Editor • Feb 20, 2024
The exterior of the Morton Williams Supermarket, with a prominent red lettering that reads Morton Williams at the top of the building and the phrase The Fresh Marketplace beneath it.
How a supermarket became the center of NYU’s relationship with the Village
Carmo Moniz, Managing Editor • Jan 31, 2024

5 Under 5: Eat for $5 or Less Around Campus

Turns out that you don’t have to starve to save money!
A+sign+outside+of+Matto+Coffee.+The+small+shop+is+featured+on+our+list+of+5+or+Less+Eats+that+aren%E2%80%99t+pizza.+%28Staff+Photo+by+Alex+Tran%29
Alex Tran
A sign outside of Matto Coffee. The small shop is featured on our list of 5 or Less Eats that aren’t pizza. (Staff Photo by Alex Tran)

It’s hard to be a young college student in New York City for a lot of reasons. First on my list though, is the fact that food can be so damn expensive. None of us can afford to consistently drop around $10 per meal, and cooking every meal can be overwhelming while trying to focus on school. Lucky for us, there are a few hidden gems around campus that won’t break our banks or force us to starve. 

Taco Mahal

73 7th Ave. S

tacomahalnyc.com

When you really think about it, a fusion between Indian and Mexican food is bound to be a success. They share many of the same flavors in the vein of coriander and cilantro, and if you look at naan bread long enough, you can imagine it being used much like a tortilla. That’s just what Taco Mahal does. Located just a block and a half behind Lipton Hall, this counter-serve spot exemplifies that successful fusion at a reasonable price point. Its roti tacos range from $4.50 to $5.25 and even include fish, lamb and vegan options. My favorite dish is their masala fries — served with queso fresco and chutney — for just $5.

Mamoun’s Falafel

119 MacDougal St. — 30 St. Marks Pl. 

mamouns.com

We’ve all walked past Mamoun’s at some point in our NYU lives, whether drunk on St. Marks Place or rushing for a quick lunch between classes on MacDougal Street. Next time you walk by, consider walking in. It’s definitely worth the pit stop. With all their vegetarian sandwiches — falafel, hummus, baba ganouj and tabbouleh — priced at $4.50 in the store ($6.35 online) and their pastries all under $3, it’s actually quite the steal. They’re cash only, though, so maybe that crumpled up $5 bill that’s been in your back pocket since October can finally be put to good use. 

Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery 

137 E. Houston St.

knishery.com

If you want a kosher bite of New York history at a price you can actually afford, Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, aka Knishery, is the perfect spot. Whether sweet or savory, all of the Knishery’s knishes are priced at an average of about $4.75. Their sheer variety, from broccoli knishes to blueberry cheese knishes, is astounding. You could also opt for a bagel for $4.95 too, though I’d definitely recommend trying one of the actual knishes. Vegetarian friendly and right by Houston and 2nd, I’d say the walk is worth it. 

Matto Espresso

293 Mercer St.

matto.com

You know that “$2 for everything” sign you pass by on the way to Cantor Film Center? This is it. You know that tiny little store with a line that always wraps around Mercer Street? This is also it. Matto sells literally everything — ice chai lattes, egg sandwiches, alfajores, zucchini bread — for just $2. It’s such a good deal for good quality food and beverages that braving the constantly long line doesn’t seem so bad. I’ve heard their omelet multigrain croissant and hot chocolate, in particular, are life-changing. They don’t have any dairy alternatives though. What you see is what you get. 

Little Atlas Cafe

6 W. 4th St.

(212) 253-5535

Right down West Fourth Street, right past the eyebrow-threading store, lies Little Atlas Cafe — home to some delicious smashed avocado toast. If avocados aren’t your thing, they also have toast topped with banana and honey, salmon and capers or cucumber and hummus for around $5. They also have a selection of omelets, sandwiches and vegan baked goods that end up costing around $5 with their handy 10% student discount.

A version of this article appears in the Monday, March 9, 2020 print edition. Email Ria Mittal at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Alex Tran, Culture Editor
Alex Tran is a senior majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication. She's in love with culinary art, environmental protection and media production, with a life-long dream of driving a food truck across the country. While she's currently on a social hiatus, you will be kindly followed back if you follow her @bullsocool on Instagram.
Leave a comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *