Every New Yorker knows what it’s like to live on a tight budget in a city that’s notorious for being uber expensive. But surprisingly, by the same token it’s the best place to live when you’re just scraping by. Every borough has its bargain ethnic eats, and Queens is no different. Jump on the 7 line train to get the best barato Latin food when you’re digging for dimes in your pocket. If you are wondering how to satiate your stomach on a cultural coin, try these diverse spots that span Latin America sans the plane ticket.
104-05 47th Avenue
Corona, NY 11368
This place pays homage to corn – most notably in the form of a tamal. The namesake hearkens to the Aztec word for this sweet yellow kernel, which they coarse grind to produce steamy leaf-wrapped treats that have been splayed across the pages of just about every New York publication. While they do boast a hearty selection of homemade tortilla tacos, their winning tamales are only $2.50 a piece packed with lickings like mole chicken, spicy chipotle pork and even “dulce” pineapple and raisins. Finish with a fresh fruit Mexican paleta popsicle for $2 and your $5 bill pays the bill.
94-20 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, NY
If you love citrus-soaked ceviche, Peru is for you. Lima Limon offers this filling marinated fish dish half a dozen ways. Try the fierce “Leche de Tigre” ($10.95), with heaps of baby octopus, squid rings, ground shrimp, and beloved corvina swimming in a milky sea. Other dishes like aji panca pepper-marinated grilled tripe called rachi ($7.95) and the lomo saltado ($11) sirloin strips sauteed with onions and peppers, and served with French fries, won’t break the bank either. Bask in the delicacies de Peru, which are anything but dainty.
82 St-Jackson Hts
Roosevelt Ave and 79th St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
The famed Arepa Lady buzz bears a food mystique that creates coiling lines around her modest food cart. If that doesn’t signal her locale, let the wafting fragrance of fresh cheese melting on a sweet corn patty clue you in. Maria Piedad Cano has a cult following for her two types of Colombian arepas: queso (corn patties stuffed with melted cheese) and choclo (a differnt corn meal flatly folded over salty grated cheese). And at $3.50 a pop, you don’t have choose. This is street food at its finest – if you can find her. She is usually at the same location but updates her status on twitter. If you don’t have an account already, this lady is reason enough to create a @username.