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Eat and Drink

Cheap new eats NYC: Maui Onion, Viên and more

Explore the city and eat out — without breaking the bank.

Midtown has a new spot for an affordable

Midtown has a new spot for an affordable lunch: Maui Onion. Photo Credit: Maui Onion

Whether you're bored with all your favorite dining spots, looking for a new neighborhood standby, or plotting to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the next big dining trend, the city will always meet your needs with new restaurants.

We know from experience it’s hard to keep track of them all — and sort out the affordable options from the splurge-y ones.

Here's our guide to recent openings by borough, bound to mix up your diet and expand your palate without maxing out your wallet.


Maui Onion

Keep the vacation vibes strong at this Hawaiian restaurant, opening a new location (its second) in the Garment District on Thursday. To celebrate the opening, Maui Onion will be offering 50 percent off its entire menu. After that, “Poke Hour” will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. through August offering 50 percent off select dishes. 

The food: If you’ve been to the NoMad location, you know what to expect: a build-your-own poke bowl or burrito menu with shrimp, tuna, unagi, chicken, salmon, tofu and veggie options. Maui in the Garment District will offer an expanded menu, with items like Nori Poke Tacos and Poked Toast, what you’d get if you decided to mix a poke bowl and a traditional avocado toast. 
The vibe: The fast-casual spot is perfect for a midday lunch bite. Plants, shells and colorful starfish decorations help you mentally escape the city, at least temporarily. Wooden family style tables are available for group seating. 
The details: Regularly priced menu items (bowls, burritos) vary from $10 to $15.99. The infused tea ($3 per glass) is not to be missed. Offerings include grapefruit and mint, lemon, ginger and dried date, lime and mint, and lemon. Small bites and sides ($2 each) include edamame, miso soup and pickled cucumber. 135 W. 37th St., 


The Southeast Asian eatery is moving to midtown with the opening of its second NYC location, coming Aug. 21.

The food: Viên is all about the bowls, whether it be rice, noodle or salad. The build-your-own menu lets you choose a base, add in protein (or roasted vegetables) and top it off with fruits, peanuts, slaws and sauces. Founder Mark Sy looks to re-create Asian street fare with this fast-casual model of eats spiced up with sweet chili, ginger-herb, Vietnamese lime or peanut flavorings. Vegan options include Seared Turmeric Tofu, Tofu Summer Rolls and Pandan Basil-Seed Tapioca.
The vibe: Though built for you to easily take your bowl to go, Viên has a casual dining area if you choose to stick around.
The details: A popular make-your-own dish menu option, priced at $10.50, includes your choice of a base, main topping, fruit, sauce and garnishes. Sides, like the Tofu Summer Roll, go for $4.35 and sweet treats start at $3.85. Viên will be open, at 555 Fifth Ave., weekdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., more at

Junzi Kitchen

This northern Chinese eatery is the brainchild of three Yale grad students who missed everyday foods from the culinary traditions they grew up with — chun bing wraps, noodles tossed in sauce, braised meats, veggie stir-fries and more. They launched the first two Junzi locations after meeting chef Lucas Sin, who is in charge of creating the contemporary Chinese cuisine they're so well known for in Yale and Cambridge.

The food: Using seasonal vegetables like summer squash, blanched celery and garlic chive, Junzi lets you build your own bing or noodle bowl (the base, the sauce, the main protein, the vegetables and a garnish) but also has chef recommendations, including a pork and garlic chives bing and a jaja beef noodle bowl. If you are adventurous, Junzi hosts a monthly event called The Chef's Table, which offers only 18 participants a five to seven-course tasting menu ($68) that is crafted around cultural or historic themes. In the past, menus have revolved around Chinese-Dominican cuisine, Shanghai comic book illustrations and 14th century imperial Chinese food therapy.
The drinks: Choose from the Junzi cold brew (flavors include jasmine, pu'er, hawthorne, oolong, lychee and gunpowder rose), the house tea, a Vitasoy juice box or spring water.
The vibe: The dining space is light and airy with a view of the open kitchen, which is surrounded by wood-framed windows. Natural wood, painted brick and brass fixtures add to the casual experience. When the weather is nice, its bi-folding French doors are open for sidewalk seating. 
The details:  Depending on your choices, the bing is priced between $6.99 and $8.49 and the noodles range from $10.49 to $12.49; drinks are $2.29 to $5.29 and tiny salads are $2.79 and $3.29. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 170 Bleecker St. Its after-hours (which offers small plates and cocktails) are from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. year-round except in the summer; more at


The classic hits of Taiwanese cuisine and street food get a modern, New York makeover at this 42-seat East Village restaurant from the founder of Chinese noodle bar The Tang and its general manager. They've named their new spot after Taiwan's telephone country code.

The food: Beyond the stir-fry classics, you'll find small bites like “Three Cup” glazed chicken wings, a Taiwanese interpretation of Buffalo wings, and house-made pork sausages served in a sticky rice bun with peanuts and cured duck yolk, aka the "Sausage Party." Rice and noodle dishes round out the menu.
The drinks: Wash it all down with beer, wine or sake, including picks from New York's first sake brewery, Brooklyn Kura.
The vibe: Purple neon light washes over the moodily-lit space with violet-colored walls. Wooden tables seat couples and groups of four.
The details: Appetizers average $10, main plates $14; open 5:30 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Sunday at 26 St. Marks Place starting July 11; more at




Williamsburg's newest rooftop bar and eatery keeps the focus on summer sips with a menu highlighting $14 "froze," rum punch and other specialty cocktails. But small bites, like meat and cheese plates, and unique eats, like literal garden veggie platters make it worth the stop. 

The food: Talk about healthy eating: RFTP offers a "Vegetable Garden" dish that comes with fresh raw vegetables served in a bucket of edible soil (made from quinoa and black olive powder) mixed with buttermilk ranch. Other healthy options include artichoke and hummus dips served with pita and chips, a meat and cheese board and select meat pies.
The drinks: Canned drinks start at $6, while red or white sangria go for $9. A wine list includes summer favorites, like rosé, Prosecco and sauvignon blanc, each $12 a glass. Summer cocktails dominate, with options like the RFTPunch (rum and citrus juice) and Brooklyn's Cooler (gin, lemonade, cucumber, mint and soda).
The vibe: The outdoor eatery is lined with booths to seat four, and greenery. An overhead awning covers the bar area for those cloudy days when a drink is a necessity. 
The details: Plates average $13; located above Pod Brooklyn Hotel at 247 Metropolitan Ave.; open 3 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 3 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, 3 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.; more at


Danny Meyer heads south of the border with his first taco stand. The laid-back counter-service joint offers grub and outdoor seating for folks checking out Williamsburg’s new waterfront park on the grounds of the historic Domino Sugar Refinery.

The food: The Tacocina team is pressing its own tortillas to order, so you can count on your taco being fresh. Get yours with a classic filling like chicken adobo or something a little more traditional, like shrimp with a chayote tartar sauce. An order of tortilla chips with salsa and/or guac is a good idea for big groups. The drinks: Cool down with a Mexican beer or a michelada. For nondrinkers, refreshments include Mexican sodas.
The vibe: Half the reason to visit is the view overlooking the East River. White picnic tables and colorful chairs and tables provide seating and red-and-white umbrellas offer shade on sunny days.
The details: Snacks average $6, tacos $4.25, alcoholic drinks $6; open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday at 25 River St. since late June; more at

Millie’s Cuban Cafe

Brooklyn restaurateur Danny Teran’s five-month-old pop-up has a new brick-and-mortar home, serving up the same kind of eats as the Cuban food truck that launched his hospitality company in Manhattan years ago. Teran family recipes dominate the menu at this all-day cafe named after the owner’s mother.

The food: Highlights here include the Cubano sandwich (roasted pork, ham, Swiss and pickles with mustard, served on pressed Cuban bread with a side of shoestring potato sticks), the ropa vieja (braised shredded beef in a Creole tomato sauce) and the Impossible picadillo, made with the meat-substitute burger patties. For sides, it wouldn’t be a Cuban place without rice and beans, and all kinds of plantains. Wrap up your meal with an order of flan or tres leches.
The drinks: Go the authentic route and get yourself an espresso prepared with Cafe Bustelo. If you’re looking for something more refreshing, choose a can of Jupina, a Cuban pineapple soda.
The vibe: A palm tree and wicker chairs greet you at the door, sending you straight to the Caribbean. Inside, yellow walls set a sunny mood, as do the red metal chairs and old-school photos of Cuba.
The details: Main courses average $12, dessert $4, coffee drinks $3.50; open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 151 Wilson Ave. since late June; more at

Staten Island 


Staten Island natives, brothers and business partners Vince and Brandon Carrabba return to their original stomping grounds with a second location of their New Jersey pizzeria, named for their grandmother Millie. You know the pies must be good because the Carrabbas won third place at the International Pizza Expo in 2011.

The food: You’ll find both coal-fired and Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza on the menu here, because apparently the brothers prefer different crusts. Try the meatballs made from Millie’s family recipe, with the house-made mozzarella.
The drinks: Craft cocktails like the Fresh Kill (a tequila drink with cassis and ginger beer) and the SI Ferry (coconut rum, pineapple and lime juice) add some pizzazz to a list of 20 beers and five wines on tap.
The vibe: Don’t let the strip-mall exterior scare you away. Our favorite feature of the 4,000-square-foot space is the custom-created bar made of blackened steel and illuminated glass stone resembling coal embers. You can also watch your pizza being made at a 45-foot pizza bar with a built-in wine fridge.
The details: Meatballs average $12, coal-fired pies start at $13; open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 185 Bricktown Way since June 25; more at

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