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6 Tips on Eating Out in NYC on a Student’s Budget

By Natalie Rudakevych

During one of my first weekends living in New York City, I had dinner with a friend who was visiting from out of town. Neither of us knew where to eat, so we went to the first restaurant we saw—a trendy Mexican place in the West Village. We both wound up spending about $30 each on four tiny tacos and an appetizer, and I quickly realized I couldn’t afford to eat like that every weekend.

It’s not a secret that New York is an expensive city to live in, but it’s even less affordable when you’re a full-time student. You have to learn to be thrifty. My semester in the city has definitely taught me some lessons about eating in the city, and I’m happy to share my six top tips for eating out without going completely bankrupt.


1. Lunch specials are key.

Always go for the lunch special. I love Vezzo Thin Crust Pizza (31st and Lexington, near the Fisher Center), where you can split a large pizza and salad for $20 (it’s more than enough for two people). I also frequently order from Absolute Thai (near EHS), where you can get an entrée, salad, and appetizer for around $10.


2. Don’t forget about student discounts.

Being a student has its perks! The EHS website has a list of places where you can get discounts with your EHS ID card (including Dunkin’ Donuts, Famiglia Pizzeria, and Garden of Eden Marketplace). It also never hurts to ask if a restaurant offers student discounts.

3. Subscribe to NYC guides.

Websites like Time Out New York, Thrillist and Pulsd typically feature deals and lists of cheap places to eat. There are almost always deals for bottomless brunch at fancy places. Subscribe to the email newsletters so you never miss a good bargain!

4. Don’t be scared of produce stands.

This isn’t really a tip for eating out, but you can find stands selling fruits and veggies all over NYC. It might seem a little sketchy at first, but the produce really is fine and a lot cheaper than Whole Foods.

5. Food carts are also okay.

Some people are scared to try food carts, but it really is a cheap way to get a meal. The prices are good and the portions are typically huge. Roaming Hunger has a great food truck map that shows you where your favorite food trucks are located at any given moment, so you can always track down something good to eat.

6. Know when to splurge.

If you’re a Newhouse NYC student, you’re only in the city for one semester, so make the most of it! It’s okay to go out to brunch or splurge on an expensive dinner, just don’t do it every day. Make a list of the more expensive restaurants you want to try during your semester in the city and go to one a week, or as often as you can afford.


Now that my semester in the city is over, I’m going to miss having the ability to get any kind of food I want whenever I want. From pizza to soup dumplings to soul food, NYC has everything. While it’s important to spend your money wisely, don’t forget to take advantage of living in one of the food capitals of the world!

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