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Lunch Break: $7 Or Less

What do the following three places have in common? Lunch specials that will run you around $7 or less, leaving your wallet fat for the weekend ahead! By Yvo Sin.

Cafe Zaiya

Cafe Zaiya

18 E. 41st Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 779-0600

69 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10008
(212) 253-9700

The best way to describe Cafe Zaiya would be 7-11 meets Japanese sensibilities with a dedication to freshly prepared, inexpensive meals for those on the go - back to work, really. Zaiya offers various bento and donburi, or set lunches and rice bowls, with proper portion sizes in mind as they're created. Bentos will typically include a portion of rice, the protein of your choice (chicken, tofu, salmon, beef) in various iterations: fried, teriyaki, grilled, along with vegetables, occasionally Japanese potato salad, and are designed to fill you up with a properly balanced meal - so eat those veggies! Donburi are just as they sound: a bowl filled with rice, then topped with protein, such as chicken and egg cooked together, or beef (pictured) cooked in a light sweet soy sauce. Aside from being healthful, balanced meals, they won't break the bank.

TA Cocina

TA Cocina

714 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
(212) 730-1860

A lot of people know TA Cocina for their great happy hour specials - two for one margaritas, $5 drinks, anyone? - but what they don't realize is that TA Cocina also has a really great lunch menu. For $6.95 plus tax, you get your choice of chile relleno, chimichanga, burrito supremo with chicken, quesadilla (beef or chicken), chicken mole or your choice of taco, burrito, enchilada or tostada, all served with rice and beans. A filling AND delicious lunch special for such a low price, you read that right: hustle on over there before lunch time is over!

Dumpling Cafe

Dumpling House

71-60 Yellowstone Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-2099

While Dumpling Cafe looks like just about any other Chinese take out joint you might find, there are two things that set it apart from the others: first, the lunch special menu, where over fifteen different choices are listed at $4.59, served with vegetable fried rice or plain white rice, along with your choice of hot & sour or wonton soup (they do not have egg drop soup; don't ask) or soda. The choices are your usual suspects at a place like this, but the price really can't be beat. But the other characteristic that sets it apart? The snack section of the menu, where you find scallion pancakes for $1.75, skewers of either beef or chicken for $3.00, wontons with sesame sauce, cold noodles... items that you don't always find at your local Chinese takeout. If you look through the menu carefully, you might find some other items to spark curiosity as well. Oh yeah, the pork dumplings (pictured) are pretty good, too.

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Yvo Sin is the founder and head writer of Feisty Foodie.

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