Photo: Kelsey McNeal
If food critic Gail Simmons, a judge on Bravo's reality competition Top Chef and special projects manager for Food & Wine magazine, only had $15 in her wallet, she says she'd head to a farmer's market for seasonal produce and whip up a meal at home.
When she's traveling, Gail stays under budget by eating at affordable gems across America. Find out where to get a meal for less than $25 in these foodie destinations.
New York City: Gail says the best thing about New York City is its diversity. "My favorite cheap meals are ethnic. Koreatown, Chinatown, out to Queens for Thai food, Astoria for Greek food, empanadas on the Lower East Side…even Japanese," she says. "One of my favorite is this little place [near] Avenue C called Kasadela . You don't need to limit yourself. … You can eat well for $25 on every block in New York City. It's part of the reason I live here."
When Gail craves a slice of classic, New York–style pizza, she says she heads to Joe's in the West Village. "If I'm going for a whole pie, I would probably say Franny's out in Brooklyn or Di Fara's ."
Las Vegas: For a taste of Thailand in Sin City, Gail suggests heading off the beaten track to Lotus of Siam . "It's a dive in a strip mall, 10 to 15 [minutes] outside the strip," Gail says. "It's a locals' hangout, and it's some of the best Thai food I've ever eaten in this country."
On The Strip, Gail says there are a lot of affordable burgers to sample, but her favorite is served at The Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay , chef Huber Keller's restaurant.