Where To Get A Meal In Soho For Around $20

Our favorite Soho spots that won't cause you too much pain when you pay.
Where To Get A Meal In Soho For Around $20 image

photo credit: Craig Nisperos

An appetizer at a Soho restaurant for $20 or less is hard enough to track down. So what are the chances of finding a place where you can get a whole meal for around that much? The odds are, surprisingly, good. In fact, they’re 100% if you go to any of the spots on this list. From a slice shop and Italian bakery to a couple of vendors in the Canal Street Market, here’s where to go for a great meal in Soho when all you’re willing to spend is a bill with a picture of Andrew Jackson on it.


photo credit: Emily Schindler



$$$$Perfect For:LunchVegetariansSerious Take-Out OperationQuick Eats
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Yubu does one thing, and they do it really well. They offer 12 kinds of rice-stuffed, sweet tofu pockets (around $4 each) topped with Korean ingredients. The creamy crab salad one is our favorite, but the bulgogi is a close second. Get a couple pockets for a quick snack, or four to five for a full meal. (They’re deceptively filling.) Be sure to add a refreshing “sparkling ade” like the one with slivers of fermented Asian green plum. This fast-casual place has a good amount of seating in their bright dining room—unlike their original East Village location, which is takeout-only.

Ba’al is your best option in Soho for a quick Middle Eastern meal that’s relatively affordable. For a variety of things, go for a combo platter with your choice of items like super crispy and moist falafel, creamy hummus, or some next-level charred cauliflower. The overstuffed kofta kebab pita sandwich and the lentil soup are great too. This tiny spot only has two tables and a small counter, so there’s a good chance you’ll have to wait for a seat to open up. That’s okay—you can try to identify all the NYC landmarks painted on the colorful wall while you wait.

It’s legit hard to decide what to get at the Canal Street Market. Our advice is to make a beeline for this Thai-style chicken spot, where nothing costs more than $14. Your only real decision here is: steamed or grilled chicken. You can’t go wrong with either, but we always lean towards the sliced steamed version with fatty skin over garlic rice and a tangy sauce loaded with grated ginger. If you’re eating in, head to the communal seating area with a bunch of high-tops, a big skylight, and a colorful mural that looks like a Miró painting. 

If you’re not in the mood for chicken at Betong, Mucho Sarap (right next to it) is another great choice. Dishes here have a blend of Mexican and Filipino ingredients, and the combinations work really well. Try the veggie lumpia with incredibly delicate and crispy skin over a pool of enchilada sauce, or get three tacos for $15. The best two are the ones with crumbly longanisa and fatty tocino. Eat them at the counter in front of the open kitchen, or head to the communal area under the big skylight.

Chicago deep-dish is as beloved in these parts as the Bulls and Bears. But when the urge hits, Emmett’s is where you should go. A plain deep-dish pie starts at $22, but it feeds two, so you do the math. There are also other worthwhile Chicago-style things on the menu like the Italian beef ($16) with a spicy giardiniera that you’ll want to dip in the residual beef drippings and a Chicago dog ($12). Both come with chips, fries, or a salad. The space is pretty small, so don’t come for a big group dinner, but do bring someone else to split one of those thick gooey pies.

Champion Pizza is mostly about thin square slices that are available in over 20 varieties. Some—like the mac and cheese—are a bit much, so we gravitate towards simpler ones like the margherita pesto. Unexpectedly, the best thing here is the round plain pie. The crust is light and flaky, and the sauce-to-cheese ratio is just right. Like most slice shops, this spot does a lot of takeout, but you might want to grab a seat in the long narrow room just so you can stare at the wall that’s completely covered with celebrity photos.

The people who used to run Artopolis (now closed) in Astoria also operate this highly-useful Greek spot. (There’s also another location in FiDi.) Order some spanakopita and some grape leaves, or get the moussaka lunch special that comes with a side salad. If you want to eat in, there are a few copper-top tables and mismatched chairs next to floor-to-ceiling windows facing Broome Street. You can usually get in and out of here very quickly—unlike the situation at Dominique Ansel nearby, which always draws long lines of tourists.

photo credit: Alidoro



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When it opened, Alidoro was everyone’s new favorite underground Italian sandwich spot. Now they’re in underground malls, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they start setting up kiosks in Whole Foods soon. For the most part, Alidoro sticks to the basics: prosciutto, sopressata, fresh mozzarella, etc. Sandwiches top out at $15, and they come in all sorts of combinations. Somewhere on the menu you’ll find your sandwich-equivalent of Cinderella’s glass slipper. Most people do takeout at this location, but they do have a few small tables.

photo credit: Shannon Sturgis Photography for Vesuvio Bakery

Ownership has changed hands a few times since this Italian bakery and cafe opened in 1920, but this place still has its signature green and white awning. The current iteration of Vesuvio is known for its whole loaves, which sell out pretty quickly. For a meal, get one of their focaccia sandwiches. The breakfast version ($12.50) is served all day, and they also have a great veggie one ($12.25) with razor-thin slices of mushroom, zucchini, and roasted red peppers. You can technically eat at the white marble counters while standing, but there’s limited space, so plan on taking your food to go.

Among the spontaneous photoshoots for Cadillac or Harper’s Bazaar, there’s a spot where you can hide and pretend that you live in a simpler town in simpler times. It’s called Landmark Diner, and it’s a very normal place with terse service. That’s exactly what makes this diner so exceptional (in the context of Soho). It feels like it hasn’t been renovated in about half a century, and the food is exactly what you want it to be. Order some eggs with a side of corned beef hash or the buttery chocolate chip pancakes.

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