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Who says you must spend a small fortune to get a superior meal in our well-heeled county? Here are some of Westchester’s inexpensive — yet delicious — eats.

By John Bruno Turiano

 

The Holy Grail of Cheap Dining

We’d recommend these seven bargain-meal eateries even at twice the price.

 


Photo courtesy of Brothers Fish & Chips

 

Brothers Fish & Chips

172 N Highland Ave, Ossining
www.brothersfishandchips.com

Owner Elmer Oliveros is a bit “obsessed with food.” The Ossining resident grew up on a Guatemala farm where food was ample and fresh. “We milked cows, raised chickens for meat and eggs, and grew rice, corn, and beans. My mother made from-scratch tortillas on a regular basis. I got used to the freshest food.”

In 2011, when Oliveros took over what had been a Southern-style fish-fry takeout place (in 2015 he opened a pricier, full-service restaurant next door), his credo was to serve food using quality ingredients. He goes to Fulton Fish Market three times a week, mostly for wild-caught fish. He avoids purchasing low-quality commercial products, like the small, thin grains of rice he sees at certain restaurants. “I grew up on big, fat rice,” he explains. There are also no warming stations (where food items tend to get soggy) at Brothers, as everything is cooked-to-order.

The results are splendid at the 500 sq. ft. space with a modest kitchen sporting three fryers and one grill — especially the signature fish ’n’ chips. For $9 to $12, plates of non-greasy, fried-to-a-golden-crisp seafood (black bass, flounder, cod, shrimp, whiting) can be had. Sides include velvety coleslaw, addictive hand-cut fries, and house-made tarter sauce. The key to good fish ’n’ chips is the batter, Oliveros notes. “A pale ale or lager is best, as it’s strong enough to take the heat of the fryer. You want the fish to get steamed inside the batter, not fried,” says Oliveros, who spent two years trying different types of flour and beer to get the flavor right and to not have any of the coating slide off.

And oh those delicious fries. Daily blanching of potatoes in cold water “brings the essence out of the potato,” he says.   


​Photo courtesy of Brothers Fish & Chips

One dilemma Oliveros had when he founded Brothers was whether to continue what had been exclusively a Southern-style fish ’n’ chip menu (where the fish is typically fried without batter) or opt for an English beer batter. He made the switch (“the English way is the original way,” he says) but does serve the whiting exclusively like they do in parts of Dixie: just seasoned flour.

So what’s behind the name? Don’t expect to see his brother anytime behind the counter. “The name is community-based, not familial,” Oliveros explains. “Ninety percent of my customer base is African-American or Latin. We are brothers.”

 

Chef Favorite Cheap Eat


Photo by Rudy Etzel


Billy Etzel

Coals, Port Chester and Bronxville; www.coalspizza.com

“The curried chicken salad sandwich from Port Chester’s Kneaded Bread is the perfect lunch. The chicken is tender, the dressing creamy yet vibrant with spices — but, as expected, the walnut-raisin bread is the real star.”

 

Ramen Musashi at Fuji Mart

816 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale
musashi-ny.com

One thing your mother may disagree with but is nonetheless a fact at any ramen shop worth its noodles: Slurping is a good thing.

At Musashi (previously Ramen Q), you will hear plenty of slurping. They have the top iteration of the classic Japanese soul food in the county — at  $9-$12 BTW — and you will be slurping mightily.


Creamy tonkotsu ramen with a broth made from Berkshire pork bones. Photo by Heather Sommer


First you have to find it, inside a small Japanese market on White Plains Road, not far from Lord & Taylor. There’s no signage other than paper on the door, reading “ramen.” Walk through the market to the right and through a doorway en route to a bare-bones cafeteria dining area with a counter at the rear. It is here where deep, filling bowls of springy noodles in a variety of steaming, delicious broths are born, replete with toppings.

The signature is the creamy tonkotsu ramen with a broth made from boiled Berkshire pork bones, in either the silky shio (salt) or shoyu (soy sauce) varieties, to which fermented bamboo shoots, scallions, kikurage (wood-ear mushrooms), sliced pork, and noodles are added. There is also chicken shio ramen and chicken shoyu ramen, made with chicken and shellfish broth. For the truly voracious, ramen can be ordered as a combo ($12), which gets you sides of gyoza (pan-fried dumplings) and either takikomi rice with vegetables and soy sauce or curry rice. 

Ramen Musashi closes at 6:30/7-ish p.m. — so it’s more of a lunch or early-dinner spot, but well worth skulking out of work a bit early for. Just tell your boss it’s for the ramen!


Related: 7 of the Best Bacon, Egg, and Cheeses Around Westchester


Chef Favorite Cheap Eat


Photo by Doug Schneider


Christina and Matt Safarowic

The Whitlock, Katonah; www.thewhitlockny.com

“Now that we are up north, we’ve discovered Red Rooster in Brewster for afterwork burgers, fries, and shakes. When we were down-county, we would go after work for tacos, enchiladas, and margaritas at Plaza Garibaldi in Yonkers, on Nepperhan Avenue. Cheap and totally authentic! We are also guilty of gluttonous takeout orders from the Mt. Kisco Diner after work. Not much open late up here, but they have everything you could ever crave after a long Saturday night.”

 

Churrasqueira Ribatejo

39 Spring St, Ossining

Approaching its 20th year (it opened in 2000), the fare at this family-run Portuguese restaurant is homey, rustic, and bounteous. Meats are cooked in the churrasco style, which translates roughly from the Portuguese word for “barbecue.” Simply seasoned (sometimes too simply, but the salt and pepper shakers on every table offer an easy remedy) chouriço assado (grilled smoked Portuguese paprika sausage), charred octopus, shell steak, short ribs, and other cuts come off the natural-wood open grill with an amazing smoke.


Photo by John Bruno Turiano


The signature order, however, is any selection with the word frango (Portuguese chicken). You’ll look askew at most any supermarket-roasted chickens after trying Ribatejo’s version. For $20, a whole roasted chicken, plus a choice of two sides,  is more than enough for three people and the right amount for four. The standout sides are the garden salad, dressed in righteous house-made vinaigrette, and fresh-fried Portuguese potato chips, warm and as addictive as puppies, love, or nicotine.

Another delicious deal is the pot of clams, mussels, and shrimp ($17) simmered in a garlicky tomato broth and served in cataplana cookware that looks to belong in the kitchen of a older relative who cooks by memory. Do use the gratis Portuguese rolls to sop up the delectable broth. If you leave too much liquid, you’ll risk getting the disapproving stares rightfully engendered by a green-horn palate.

 

Chef Favorite Cheap Eat


Photo by Stefan Radtke


Mogan Anthony

Village Social, Mount Kisco and Rye; www.villagesocilakb.com
Pubstreet, Pleasantville; www.pubstreet.com
Locali Pizza Bar & Kitchen, New Canaan; www.localipizzabar.com

“For the most part, I eat very simply and clean at home and pack my own food for lunch. But for quick bite, I will go to Cava in Rye Brook for their salad lentil bowls and bartaco in Port Chester for tacos.”

 

Taiim Falafel Shack 

598 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
www.taiimfalafelshack.com

Sure, there’s no curb appeal, and seating is cramped, but for a quick, authentic Israeli meal, this counter-service eatery fits the bill (especially with numerous selections that are less than $12). True to its name, the falafel is done adeptly, fried-to-order, crisp, and relatively greaseless, with a fluffy filling that’s nutty and earthy. It’s cheap, too ($5 side, $7 wrap slathered with house-ground tahini).


Photo by Heather Sommer


If chickpea croquettes are not your thing, the menu is full of yummy items (Taiim means “tasty” in Hebrew). There’s a mean shakshouka (poached eggs in a Middle Eastern-spiced tomato sauce), which has been offered since before the dish became a trendy bistro brunch item; sides of light, slightly tart babaganoush or Israeli salad ($6); meat-based pita wraps with sautéed onions and peppers ($9-$12);  and hummus ($7 with pita) in flavors such as truffle oil, fresh cilantro, preserved lemon, jalapeño, roasted garlic/tomato, and masabacha (a less smooth version of the dip).

Falafel, hummus, and the sort tends to attract vegetarian/vegan diners, so if the hungry, meat-loving friend in your crew scoffs at the idea of dining at Taiim, let them know about the The Masada — a behemoth of a sandwich featuring spit-grilled chicken and lamb shawarma, falafel, rice with lentils, Israeli salad, hummus, pickles, turnips, and tahini ($19). It’s easily shared with another for a cheap meal, but if you finish it solo, the restaurant will post your picture.

 

Chef Favorite Cheap Eat


Photo by Julie Stapen


Constantine Kalandris

273 Kitchen, Harrison; www.273kitchen.com
8 North Broadway, Nyack; www.8northbroadway.com

“La Gladys Peruvian Food in Port Chester is super cheap, fresh, and awesome. You can get your fill of ceviche, yucca, and lomo saltado and still feel like you ate something worth the money and then some. I really respect places that keep the prices down but also have the best interests in mind for the customer, whether it be soul food or fresh cooking.” 

 


Dazzle your Yankee palate with smothered pork chops, mac ’n’ cheese, and collard greens at King’s.

 

King’s Southern Delight

284 E 3rd St, Mount Vernon

A bit away from the more shopper-friendly streets of upper and lower Gramatan Avenue, on an industrial street with businesses such as Metal Man Restoration and multiple auto repair shops, is a modest storefront that belies the serious, soul-satisfying home-cooking within. The cuisine is soul food: unapologetically caloric, pork used in endless ways, slowly cooked greens, and drinks that come sweet and cold. Mother and daughter Emma Jackson and Redina Hembree have owned the restaurant since 2005 and are giving people who get immeasurable joy from feeding others. The menu will bring a smile to any native Southerner’s face: baked turkey wings, fried whiting, smothered pork chops, fried chicken, collard greens, candied yams. Desserts — peach cobbler, banana pudding, sweet-potato pie, coconut-pineapple cake — are all homemade. Anything on the lunch menu is less than $8; dinner items barely crack the $12 mark.


Owners Redina Hembree with her mother Emma Jackson 

 

Chef Favorite Cheap Eat


Photo courtesy of Michael Williams


Michael Williams

Winston, Mount Kisco; www.winstonrestaurant.com

“El Michoacano taqueria in New Rochelle is an unassuming spot, but the tacos they make are incredibly authentic and flavorful. I’m a bit of an adventurous eater, enjoying foods from all cultures. My favorite order is the tripe tacos, which are prepared to perfection. It’s a very unique dish that can’t be found in many places here.”

 

Bibille

14 Main St, Tarrytown
www.bibille.com

Plates are so 2016. It seems every other café, gourmet market, and lunch spot now specializes in grain bowls, açai bowls, smoothie bowls, or poke bowls (if not all of the above). Beyond the obvious — that these type of meals are, yes, served in a bowl — there’s a lot more to the trend (spearheaded by everyone’s favorite generation that starts with an “M”), including a desire for customization, portability, quick-service, healthful-mindedness, and an embrace of global cuisines.


Photo by John Bruno Turiano


These gastronomic cravings come together adeptly and affordably at Bibille, a 700 sq. ft. lunch-and-dinner fast-casual eatery that serves what is (aside from kimchi) the most popular of Korean foods, bibimbap. Bibille’s versions (shredded omelet replaces the traditional sunny-side-up egg), are multihued mini-mountains of flavor and texture. Chef Joanne Moon hand-cuts the vegetables and marinates meats daily. The $9 bowls include patrons’ choice of base (from three types of steamy rice or lettuce), seven kinds of vegetables (carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce, radishes, beets, and red cabbage), and egg. Add proteins like chicken or tofu ($2) or beef, pork, or shrimp ($3). Don’t forget to sauce up — there are two on the sweet side (house specialty Bibille sauce and teriyaki) and two fiery choices (Korean hot sauce and yogurt-wasabi).

 

Chef Favorite Cheap Eat


Photo by Rosemary Mancino


Matt Karp

Plates, Larchmont; www.platesonthepark.com

“El Michoacano on Main Street in New Rochelle is a super-cheap, hole-in-the-wall taqueria. The shrimp tostada could be the best bargain in North America!”

 


Frankie rolls, or grilled-bread wraps, are $6-$7 at Little Kabab Station. Photo by Ken Gabrielsen

 

Little Kabab Station

31 E Main St, Mount Kisco

While any one of owner/chef Bonnie Saran’s “Little” kingdom of eateries could be profiled in a bargain-dining article (she has five county restaurants, with a White Plains addition coming soon), Little Kabab was her first, opening in 2011 to give downtown Mount Kisco a quick, affordable meal with a funky East Village vibe. The menu is Indian street fare, with complex combinations of quality ingredients bursting with color and flavor, including $6-$7 frankie rolls (Indian grilled-bread wraps that put the typical deli sandwich to shame), $12-$16 creamy curries served with basmati rice and naan that’s alternatingly crisp and soft, plus kabab platters, and lots of crispy small bites and snacks that are complemented best by approximately a dozen 16-oz lassis ($5) made using homemade yogurt. Packaging is compostable, and vegetables are from local farmers whenever possible.  


Chef/owner Bonnie Saran, aka the Little Queen; lasooni gobi or cauliflower florets in chili-garlic sauce. Photos by Ken Gabrielsen


And don’t let the restaurant’s minuscule size — 12 seats! — deter you (it didn’t stop Martha Stewart): Find a seat at Saran’s adjacent Little Crêpe Street and Little Spice Market to have your Kabab Street order delivered.

Frankly, We Give a Damn

Hamburger grill-mate, the food most associated with America’s favorite pastime, food-cart fave… however you classify the hot dog, it ranks among the most iconic US foods. Westchester has its share of delicious doggies, from the working man’s classic to those upgraded flights of frankfurter fancy.

By Siena Spitzer |  Hot dog styling by Chef Kersti Bowser/Gourmet Butterfly Media

 


Even after opening new locations in White Plains and Stamford this past summer, Walter’s menu remains simple. Photo by Ken Gabrielsen


Considered by many to be the gold standard in local hot dogs, Walter’s (www.waltershotdogs.com), with its signature mint-green roof, has been a Mamaroneck landmark since its grand opening in 1928. A grand total of five hot-dog options, including the single, double, kid-friendly puppy dog, puffy dog (topped with a single layer of flattened, grilled potato puffs), and double puffy dog, are offered. Other than ketchup (frowned upon by most ardent regulars) and house-made mustard (now we’re talking), there’s an “anti-topping” stance at Walter’s.  The recipe for the famed franks is a high-end mix of beef, pork, and veal, split, griddled, and served on a buttery, toasted bun. Prices range from $1.95 to $6.75, making it a cheap family outing.

 


Dobbs Dawg House offers innovative hot dogs, like the Redneck Caviar, with purple coleslaw and bacon. Photo by Andre Baranowski


Going in the complete opposite direction of Walter’s mentality, Dobbs Dawg House (Dobbs Ferrywww.dobbsdawghouse.com) favors a more experimental approach to hot dogs. Exploring sweet and savory boundaries yields shocking yet delicious options like the PB&J Crunch, Stuffed French Toast, and S’more Dawg. If you want something a little more savory, Dobbs Dawgs provide head-turning options, like the Everything Bagel Dawg, topped with of cream cheese, scallions, and everything-bagel seasoning. The Redneck Caviar’s vibrant purple coleslaw, bacon, chili, and jalapeños gives a brand-new twist to the classic chili dog. With more than 60 choices and a new-dog-of-the-month option, there’s no way to get bored here.

 

At the Dog Den in White Plains,  which opened in June, there is a true call to summer eating. In a former bus depot, the counter-service restaurant has plenty of alfresco seating, plus six stools inside by the wall of famous Franks (Frankie Valli, Frankenstein, and more). The substantial, star-studded menu has options named after Bill Murray, Bob Ross, and even Scooby Doo. Customer favorites include The LeBron, which keeps it simple with coleslaw, hot sauce, and french fries, and The Cobb, a hot dog disguised as a salad, topped with lettuce, tomato, bacon, blue cheese, red onion, and a hard-boiled egg. Try one for $4.25 or both for only $7.50.

 


Tailgate’s $3.79 Chi-Town all-beef dog has pickles, tomato, onion, and sport peppers. Photo by Andre Baranowski


Tailgate Dogs & Sausages *closed* (New Rochelle; www.tgdogs.com) has reinvented this favorite ballpark snack by taking it to the next level. With options like the the Talladega Dog, which garnishes the beef frank with bacon, coleslaw, potato chips, and butter pickles, and The Olympian, consisting of lamb sausage on a baguette with shredded Halloumi and Greek tomato sauce, links are elevated from picnic snacks to proper meals. The store has a neighborhood feel, rolling out Westchester-specific menu items, like the New Ro High School Special, only $3.99, and the Maroon Maniac, a nod to the nearby Iona college.

 

The industrial wood decor at Peekskill’s Buns-N-Bourbon (www.bunsnbourbon.com) is the perfect backdrop to serve the dark liquor it’s named after. This dive bar has a broader menu, with only one hot-dog option, but the “Samurai” Kobe Beef Dog is more than enough for any wiener enthusiast. With its upmarket Kobe beef, this frankfurter takes the “mystery” out of mystery meat, elevating things with a warm cabbage-bacon-and-fennel kraut. At $9, gourmet meal like this one comes with slightly raised price but is worth every penny.

 

Looking at The Cabin Restaurant (www.cabinrestaurantny.com) from the outside, you would guess you were in the woods instead of White Plains — the low-slung structure is true to its name. The cozy atmosphere makes for fun family dining, but kids aren’t the only ones who will want to go for The Cabin’s sole hot-dog option. The massive, half-pound Kobe dog (coming in at more than foot long for $9.95) is a bit more upscale yet maintains its comfort-food status.Understandably, this dog is a bestseller, especially with the addition of toppings like sautéed mushrooms and onions to dress it up.

 

The cash-only hole-in-the-wall that is Tony’s Doghouse in Yonkers might get overlooked if you are quickly driving by, but you’d be missing out. The must-order chili cheese dogs have stood the test of time, and you can walk out with two for less than five bucks. Even though Tony’s is ambience-challenged, its true focus is purely on flavor, leaving customers satisfied, and nary a complaint to be heard.

 

Any late-night cravings can be satisfied with the chili at Port Chester’s Hubba. Luckily for us, this greasy spoon puts its delicious chili on practically everything, including hot dogs. Open 9 a.m. until 5 a.m. daily, it truly is a godsend for any midnight (or beyond) snacker. The walls and ceiling are lined with dollar bills scribbled with notes that scream the approval of many a customer. Adding chopped onions and cheese to your dog adds the perfect crunch and ooze factor to this delicious mess. Just be sure to keep the napkins close by.   

 

Know a place that deserves a mention as a top cheap-eats destination? Contact John at jturiano@westchestermagazine.com.

 

 

 

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