thingsiate posted a link to the Time Out cheap eats list. Since I actually spend a fair amount of time in Murray Hill, a neighborhood maligned for many reasons, I thought I’d offer my 2 cents on foods both cheap and not so cheap.
1) The weekend brunch at Dhaba is a great option for the very hungry bargain-hunter. $12.95 gets you an AYCE buffet that features 8 or so items (a mixture of veg/meat options, including a few more unusual dishes like their achari lamb), rice (regular basmati and a biryani) and dessert (golub jamun and excellent kheer). Plus, you get tandoori chicken, poori/naan, and some snacky chaat-type stuff brought to your table (the last item is an especially nice treat).
2) Don’t neglect the French Dip at the Waterfront Ale House. It may be $2 more than the pulled pork or chicken sandwiches, but you get a behemoth that will provide you with lunch for the next day. However, if you want your bill to stay reasonable, you need to neglect the beer list. Pints start at $6, so if you decide that you’d like to have a couple with your meal (a not-unreasonable thought since you’re at an ale house, after all), you veer out of the cheap eats category very quickly. Kind of a bummer (also a bummer is their really stingy excuse for a happy hour: $1 off drafts from 5pm-7pm, if you’re seated at the bar. Whoop-de-damn doo. I think they get away with it because it’s one of the only tolerable bars in the area).
3) People line up outside Penelope for their shabby-chic “homestyle” menu (a wait of 2 hours is not uncommon), but it’s really not that great (it’s basically a less-good version of Kitchenette). It’s just better than many similarly priced but awful, anonymous joints in the area that get by catering to the needs of the popped-collar demographic (hard-drinking, tacky nightlife and unchallenging, Bloody Mary/Mimosa-heavy brunches). If you’re in the mood to spend $15-$20 on a Saturday afternoon, go to Resto instead and load up on chicken and waffles or boudin with scrambled eggs.
4) Grandma pie from Rosa’s Pizza. Order it well done. Proceed with caution with the rest of the menu, but the GP is a real winner.
5) Tandoori fish from Haandi: highly spiced, golden brown, and tender. It’s well worth putting up with the frequently rude service and chaotic atmosphere.