Best Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in New York

Robert C. Williams
Retro sign from an old diner is photographed against a blue sky.

JTGrafix/istockphoto

New York — both the city and the state at large — is often touted as a popular destination for food lovers thanks to its range of culinary offerings. Besides its hidden restaurants, New York is also brimming with hole-in-the-wall eateries that offer mouthwatering meals at budget prices (yes, even in New York City). We’ve rounded up just some of the many prime hole-in-the-wall eateries you’ll want to explore throughout the state, and the meals you won’t want to miss.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Burger Joint in Every State

La Bonbonniere  New York City

Telly L./Yelp

New York City

Options are endless when it comes to where to brunch, but those in search of a traditional greasy spoon diner meal won’t be disappointed at La Bonbonniere in the West Village. The cash-only location is beloved for its breakfast staples that include fluffy pancakes, French toast, and heaping plates of bacon.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diner in Every State

Rocky’s Rochester

Eileen S./Yelp

Rochester

The Mastrella family has been serving its homemade Italian dishes the same way for over 60 years, which is why their restaurant is a favorite for traditional Italian meals. Dining here feels like being at home with the family, with generous portions of bread and sauce served with Rocky’s meals, which include stuffed shells in a classic red sauce, gnocchi that is crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and tripe that travelers come from around the world to taste.

Related: Where to Find Good, Cheap Pasta in Every State

Shu Jiao Fu Zhou New York City

Kim Y./Yelp

New York City

This small café specializes in noodles and handmade dumplings, which diners can see workers preparing right when walking in. The pork and chive dumplings are a popular choice, while the noodles in a signature peanut sauce are another must-try. The restaurant even selsl frozen versions of the dumplings at just $9 for a bag of 50 pieces.

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Dan’s Place Two Albany

Maestro L./Yelp

Albany

This old-fashioned stop is popular for its Emmy-Bull burgers, a half-pound of ground beef served with bacon, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and a fried egg. Breakfast here is just as delicious, with bacon that arrives crispy in thick slabs and pancakes cooked on a griddle that are fluffy, crisp, and airy.

Related: Where to Find a Good, Cheap Burger in Every State

Bedouin Tent New York City

Joey R./Yelp

New York City

This low-key, casual stop for Middle Eastern cuisine in Brooklyn is a neighborhood favorite thanks to its light and warm pita breads that are baked fresh and served alongside creamy hummus and crispy falafels. For a Middle Eastern twist on a pizza, try the version made with lamb, onion, tomato, parsley, and spices.

Reben Luncheonette Morir Sonañd New York City

Nigina B./Yelp

New York City

The specialty at this historic location, known for its Dominican-American cuisine, is the Morir Sonañdo drink. The concoction, resembling an orange Dreamsicle, is made from fresh orange juice, milk, and sweets, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to the simple but delicious breakfast bites.

Famous Lunch Troy

Peter G./Yelp

Troy

This luncheonette has been slinging its famous hot dogs for decades. Its miniature hot dogs come topped in a combination of a tangy meat sauce, onions, and mustard are now shipped around the world. Opened in 1930, the space also provides what customers say is a delicious egg and cheese sandwich, but a hot dog is the one item you can’t miss here.

Related: Famous Franks: 29 Best Hot Dog Stands Across America

Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos  New York City

Sandra D./Yelp

New York City

This cash-only Mexican eatery is a tortilla factory as well, which is why you’ll be treated to delicate, soft tortillas that come topped with succulent steaks and al pastor. Skip the chicken and go straight for the popular chorizo for a delectable bite, and keep in mind that this location is B.Y.O.B so you can enjoy a cold refreshment with your meal.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Mexican Restaurant in Every State

Adrian’s Custard and Beef  Grand Island

Joshua L./Yelp

Grand Island

This local favorite is popular both for its creamy custards and for its beef on weck sandwiches — roast beef sandwiches served on kummelweck rolls that come topped with kosher salt and seeds. Adrian’s has been cooking up its daily beef selections, which are always known to be tender, since 1989. Stop in for lunch and be sure to save room for desserts that include ice cream cupcakes, homemade lemon ices, custard selections, and ice cream.

Banh Mi Zon New York City

Banh Mi Zon/Yelp

New York City

Banh Mi Zon is a small eatery offering a selection of Vietnamese sandwiches and appetizers like fresh papaya salads that come topped with heaping portions of shrimp. The sandwiches vary from a lemongrass-marinated catfish bahn mi to the Zon, which comes with pâté, Vietnamese ham and salami, and shredded pork jerky. Make sure to try the coconut curry beef banh mi, which also includes fried shallots and flank steak marinated in a coconut curry.

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Pisillo Italian Panini New York City

Brian G./Yelp

New York City

This hole-in-the-wall in the Financial District is the place to stop in for a giant Italian deli sandwich that’s large enough to feed two to three people. The small location has more than 30 different sandwich selections to choose from, each of which come with bread baked fresh daily and prime Italian cold cuts, cheeses, and condiments that come straight from the country.

BoBo’s Chicken Shack  Rochester

Simon C./Yelp

Rochester

BoBo’s Chicken Shack is known for its crispy fried chicken and fried ribs. The chicken wings come big and meaty, fried to crispy perfection and served with BoBo’s sweet and savory signature sauce. Make sure to try the candied yams as a side dish before digging into the sweet bread that accompanies each meal.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Spots for Fried Chicken in Every State

Lillo Cucina Italiana  New York City

Kimsa M./Yelp

New York City

This no-frills location has only a few tables available and doesn’t take reservations, but it’s worth the wait to dig into Italian delicacies that include perfectly al dente pasta dishes. Save room to top off your meal with a freshly baked pastry.

Eva’s European Sweets  Syracuse

Jacob C./Yelp

Syracuse

Eva’s has offered traditional Polish cuisine and European-style baked treats for over 20 years. The location is home to pierogis ranging from blueberry and sweet cheese to bacon, as well as hearty stews like bigos. Don’t miss the dessert case filled with a rotating selection of everything from cheesecakes and cherry crumble pies to orange and chocolate ganache cakes. Finish off your meal with one of Eva’s wide selection of European and Polish beers.

Minca  New York City

Rachel K./Yelp

New York City

At this cash-only East Village ramen restaurant, diners can enjoy bowls of hot ramen served in Minca’s signature broth, which is a combination of pork bones and chicken bones, seaweed, dried bonito, and shitake mushrooms brought in from Japan to pack a flavorful punch. The tender pork here is a must to top your ramen.

Village Diner, Johnson City, New York

Damian D./Yelp

Johnson City

This small diner serves up a delicious meal for both breakfast and lunch. Its well-known burgers are freshly ground and come stacked or stuffed with oozing cheese. When it comes to breakfast, the homemade corned beef hash is a signature item with a hefty mix of corned beef and potatoes, while those with a sweet tooth can enjoy a plate of hot pumpkin pancakes or waffles.

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, 1 Doyers St.

Aysia M./Yelp

New York City

This no-frills noodle shop’s specialty is in the name, with diners heading here to enjoy heaping plates of its hand-pulled noodles. You can enjoy the noodles both in soup form, served piled up and springy in a light broth with proteins of your choice, or pan fried with toppings like crispy duck.

Penn Yan Diner Penn Yan

Debby M./Yelp

Penn Yan

This diner, located inside a wooden rail car, has been open since 1925. The local gem not only houses historic trinkets and memorabilia, it also serves up favorite dishes like sausage gravy made from a family recipe, corned beef hash, and both sweet cream and buckwheat pancakes.

El Sabroso New York City

Chun M./Yelp

New York City

This tucked-away lunch counter is hidden in Midtown’s Garment District, located inside a loading dock behind the freight entrance of a building. The Latin American lunch spot offers a hot and affordable lunch that’s also delicious, with some of its most popular dishes including its pernil, succulent roasted pork that comes with crispy bits. Meals here typically include a protein, ranging from pork, oxtail, and goat, and a side of rice and beans.

Mally’s Deli  New York City

Arriana B./Yelp

New York City

Mally’s has been serving its authentic Mexican dishes in Bushwick for decades, with locals loving the filled tacos that come with freshly-pressed tortillas and tender meat. Besides its tacos, Mally’s is also popular for its cemita sandwiches, with some of the most delicious including its Milanese version with breaded chicken.

Levantine’s Café and Bakery Rochester

Zana A./Yelp

Rochester

If you’re craving Middle Eastern cuisine in Rochester, head to this family-owned restaurant where chefs prepare authentic dishes from their hometowns in Damascus and Syria. Portions are large, with kabobs and dishes coming with a range of delectable dips from creamy labneh to smoky baba ganoush. Make sure to sample one of the many handmade desserts ranging from baklava and milk pudding with rose water to pistachio and date cookies.

Sunny and Annie’s  New York City

Huy H./Yelp

New York City

Bodegas are a staple in New York, including Sunny and Annie’s in the East Village, where customers can grab a range of creative sandwich selections like the Joe-Bana — a combination of lemon chicken, pepperoni, melted mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, walnuts, basil, tomatoes, and a sausage stuffed into a hero bun. While you won’t have a sit down experience here, don’t miss the chance to grab a sandwich and enjoy it as you walk along the city’s streets.

Kay’s Burden Lake Restaurant  Averill Park

Franklin H./Yelp

Averill Park

Kay’s Pizza, situated on Burden Lake, has been open since 1958 and is a popular local stop for its piping hot pizza pies. Soft and chewy crusts combine with oozing cheese and just the right amount of sauce to make for an unforgettable pizza, with diners often recommending you go with the red sauce. The wings here are also a preferred appetizer, pairing divinely with a hot slice and cold pitcher beers.

One Eyed Jacks

Phil F./Yelp

Lockport

This Lockport neighborhood stop, which claims to be “one of only a few true BBQ joints in all of WNY,” cooks up selections of pulled pork, Texas-style beef brisket, pork ribs, and barbeque chicken sauce-free, using only dry-rub seasonings and smoke to create a rich barbeque flavor. Try the fall-off-the-bone ribs, creamy mac and cheese, and the “pigken” — a mix of smoked chicken breast and pulled pork held together in a honey garlic sauce.

Related: The Best Hole-in-the-Wall Barbecue Joints in America

Taqueria Los Mayas

Arthur H./Yelp

Cheektowaga

Though small in size, Taqueria Los Mayas is big in flavor, offering authentic Mexican staples and drinks. Tortillas are handmade for each order and can be enjoyed surrounding succulently seasoned carne asada or al pastor tacos. As soon as you’re seated, you’ll be treated to a large plate of fresh tortilla chips and house made salsa, while a salsa bar also provides unconventional pickled vegetables and toppings to add to your dish.

Doug’s Fish Fry  Cortland and Skaneateles

Amy K./Yelp

Cortland and Skaneateles

Doug’s Fish Fry has been serving top quality seafood since 1982, and both its locations in Cortland and Skaneateles are a local favorite for fish. Enjoy prime seafood selections like a fried fish sandwich, served with a large piece of tender and crisped fish over homemade tartar sauce.

Cheeky Sandwiches  New York City

Jes D./Yelp

New York City

If you’re after a superb sandwich for under $10, head to Cheeky Sandwiches and grab one of the hearty options. Popular sandwiches include the fried chicken, served over a crumbly buttermilk biscuit with coleslaw and gravy and the braised short rib sandwich, which comes stuffed in challah bread with horseradish, arugula, and tomatoes. Grab one of the Ben Yay’s, a version of a fluffy beignet, to finish off your meal.

Chao Thai  New York City

WEnDaLicious W./Yelp

New York City
Queens has a range of offerings for foodies, one of which is this tiny, cash-only spot. Warm up with a bowl of one of its rich curries, or start your meal with a cold and crunch papaya salad or the crispy duck salad before sampling one of its many fried rice varieties.

Fat Bob’s  Buffalo

Tanvier P./Yelp

Buffalo

If you’re craving barbecue in Buffalo, head to Fat Bob’s, where everything from smoked meats to sides and barbecue sauces are made from scratch. The collard greens here come with thick chunks of pork, while wings are tossed in mild, medium, or hot sauces. The mac and cheese and crispy onion rings and hush puppies are some of the top sides to try with your meal.

Blarney Stone  Syracuse

Aaron C./Yelp

Syracuse

This Irish tavern is a hole-in-the-wall bar that’s known for having some great food, including what locals say just might be Syracuse’s best burger. The Blarney Burger includes a half-pound of ground beef on a grilled Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayonnaise, and it’s cooked just how you like. The wings are also a popular choice here, while fries are decadently crispy.

Wah Fung No 1, 79 Chrystie St.

Cassie Z./Yelp

New York City

The roast pork is what this casual Chinese fast-food stop is known for. It’s made to be tender in the middle with a crispy skin on the outside and is served over rice with cabbage. The generously-sized portions come in at only around $5, but you’ll want to note this establishment has no seating area so you won’t be able to dine in.

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