TODAY'S PAPER

Cheap new eats NYC: Randall's Barbecue, Panorama Middle Eastern Grill and more

Randall's Barbecue is now open on the Lower East Side, plus other cheap eating options in NYC. / Randall's Barbecue

Whether you're bored with all your favorite dining spots, looking for a new neighborhood standby or plotting to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the next big dining trend, the city will always meet your needs with new restaurants.

We know from experience it’s hard to keep track of them all — and sort out the affordable options from the splurge-y ones.

Here's our guide to recent openings by borough, bound to mix up your diet and expand your palate without maxing out your wallet.

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Manhattan

Randall’s Barbecue 

Panorama Middle Eastern Grill is now open in Union Square, plus other cheap eating options in NYC.

Barbecue veteran Jared Male of Hill Country Barbecue is taking a community minded approach with his new spot Randall’s. Named after his late grandfather, shareable plates can come loaded with items such as ribs, slaw, buns and more.

The food: Male kept his grandfather’s favorites in mind when crafting the all-American menu, but it also follows another theme: New York classics. Those eats hoping to appeal to New Yorkers include the house-cured and smoked pastrami, Chinese-style five-spice smoked duck and classic buffalo wings. Main menu barbecue eats range from brisket to pulled pork, turkey and spiced duck. Sides such as French fries, corn bread, green beans, mac and cheese and baked beans give off a southern vibe.
The vibe: The wood-walled and brick interior is mirrored off Male’s grandparents’ home in Connecticut. You’ll be able to spot a few homey keepsakes from the ‘70s and family photos scattered around the bar. If you opt to dine in the sit-down restaurant, you’ll share a wooden table with your pals and sit on dark wooden chairs that, you guessed it, look like they’ve come from grandma’s house.
The details: Sides will run you $5 each (baked beans and mac and cheese are $6) and barbecue meats are served by the pound. Turkey is priced at $5, brisket at $7 and pork spare ribs at $9. 359 Grand St., randallsbarbecueny.com

Panorama Middle Eastern Grill 

If 2017 was all about poke, then 2018 is all about Middle Eastern bowls. Among a trend of fast-casual healthy eats — and build-your-own lunch options — comes Panorama Middle Eastern Grill in Union Square. The menu will appeal to trendy eaters and those trying to limit their meat intake; cauliflower substitutes are a must-try. 

The food: Everything’s available stuffable, from a box (like a bowl) to a pita and a pocket. Start by choosing your base, grains, lettuce or rice, mix in some toppings, like black olives, feta cheese or a chickpea mix, and top it all off with chicken or falafel. Aside from the cauliflower pita option, meal sides include Shawarma fries with garlic tahini sauce, a Doner burger, bread filled with pickled veggies and beef. 
The vibe: Bring a book or your laptop and kick back for a while. There’s enough seating at Panorama to last the afternoon and a relaxed vibe with neon mantras, like “love for others what you love for yourself,” on the walls. 
The details: The fill-your-own-box menu option runs the highest price tag at Panorama ($11), while the pita and pocket options are each $9. Toppings, proteins and sauces are included. Sides range from $7 to $9. 820 Broadway, pnanyc.com

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Maui Onion

Keep the vacation vibes strong at this Hawaiian restaurant that just opened a new location (its second) in the Garment District. To celebrate the opening, “Poke Hour” will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. through August offering 50 percent off select dishes. 

The food: If you’ve been to the NoMad location, you know what to expect: a build-your-own poke bowl or burrito menu with shrimp, tuna, unagi, chicken, salmon, tofu and veggie options. Maui in the Garment District will offer an expanded menu, with items like Nori Poke Tacos and Poked Toast, what you’d get if you decided to mix a poke bowl and a traditional avocado toast. 
The vibe: The fast-casual spot is perfect for a midday lunch bite. Plants, shells and colorful starfish decorations help you mentally escape the city, at least temporarily. Wooden family style tables are available for group seating. 
The details: Regularly priced menu items (bowls, burritos) vary from $10 to $15.99. The infused tea ($3 per glass) is not to be missed. Offerings include grapefruit and mint, lemon, ginger and dried date, lime and mint, and lemon. Small bites and sides ($2 each) include edamame, miso soup and pickled cucumber. 135 W. 37th St., mauionion.com 

Viên

The Southeast Asian eatery is moving to midtown with the opening of its second NYC location.

The food: Viên is all about the bowls, whether it be rice, noodle or salad. The build-your-own menu lets you choose a base, add in protein (or roasted vegetables) and top it off with fruits, peanuts, slaws and sauces. Founder Mark Sy looks to re-create Asian street fare with this fast-casual model of eats spiced up with sweet chili, ginger-herb, Vietnamese lime or peanut flavorings. Vegan options include seared turmeric tofu, tofu summer rolls and pandan basil-seed tapioca.
The vibe: Though built for you to easily take your bowl to go, Viên has a casual dining area if you choose to stick around.
The details: A popular make-your-own dish menu option, priced at $10.50, includes your choice of a base, main topping, fruit, sauce and garnishes. Sides, like the tofu summer roll, go for $4.35 and sweet treats start at $3.85. Viên will be open, at 555 Fifth Ave., weekdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., more at vienrestaurant.com.

Junzi Kitchen

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This northern Chinese eatery is the brainchild of three Yale grad students who missed everyday foods from the culinary traditions they grew up with — chun bing wraps, noodles tossed in sauce, braised meats, veggie stir-fries and more. They launched the first two Junzi locations after meeting chef Lucas Sin, who is in charge of creating the contemporary Chinese cuisine they're so well known for in Yale and Cambridge.

The food: Using seasonal vegetables like summer squash, blanched celery and garlic chive, Junzi lets you build your own bing or noodle bowl (the base, the sauce, the main protein, the vegetables and a garnish) but also has chef recommendations, including a pork and garlic chives bing and a jaja beef noodle bowl. If you are adventurous, Junzi hosts a monthly event called The Chef's Table, which offers only 18 participants a five to seven-course tasting menu ($68) that is crafted around cultural or historic themes. In the past, menus have revolved around Chinese-Dominican cuisine, Shanghai comic book illustrations and 14th century imperial Chinese food therapy.
The drinks: Choose from the Junzi cold brew (flavors include jasmine, pu'er, hawthorne, oolong, lychee and gunpowder rose), the house tea, a Vitasoy juice box or spring water.
The vibe: The dining space is light and airy with a view of the open kitchen, which is surrounded by wood-framed windows. Natural wood, painted brick and brass fixtures add to the casual experience. When the weather is nice, its bi-folding French doors are open for sidewalk seating. 
The details:  Depending on your choices, the bing is priced between $6.99 and $8.49 and the noodles range from $10.49 to $12.49; drinks are $2.29 to $5.29 and tiny salads are $2.79 and $3.29. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 170 Bleecker St. Its after-hours (which offers small plates and cocktails) are from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. year-round except in the summer; more at junzi.kitchen

Brooklyn

RFTP

Williamsburg's newest rooftop bar and eatery keeps the focus on summer sips with a menu highlighting $14 "froze," rum punch and other specialty cocktails. But small bites, like meat and cheese plates, and unique eats, like literal garden veggie platters make it worth the stop. 

The food: Talk about healthy eating: RFTP offers a "Vegetable Garden" dish that comes with fresh raw vegetables served in a bucket of edible soil (made from quinoa and black olive powder) mixed with buttermilk ranch. Other healthy options include artichoke and hummus dips served with pita and chips, a meat and cheese board and select meat pies.
The drinks: Canned drinks start at $6, while red or white sangria go for $9. A wine list includes summer favorites, like rosé, Prosecco and sauvignon blanc, each $12 a glass. Summer cocktails dominate, with options like the RFTPunch (rum and citrus juice) and Brooklyn's Cooler (gin, lemonade, cucumber, mint and soda).
The vibe: The outdoor eatery is lined with booths to seat four, and greenery. An overhead awning covers the bar area for those cloudy days when a drink is a necessity. 
The details: Plates average $13; located above Pod Brooklyn Hotel at 247 Metropolitan Ave.; open 3 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 3 to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, 3 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays.; more at thepodhotel.com.

Tacocina

Danny Meyer heads south of the border with his first taco stand. The laid-back counter-service joint offers grub and outdoor seating for folks checking out Williamsburg’s new waterfront park on the grounds of the historic Domino Sugar Refinery.

The food: The Tacocina team is pressing its own tortillas to order, so you can count on your taco being fresh. Get yours with a classic filling like chicken adobo or something a little more traditional, like shrimp with a chayote tartar sauce. An order of tortilla chips with salsa and/or guac is a good idea for big groups. The drinks: Cool down with a Mexican beer or a michelada. For nondrinkers, refreshments include Mexican sodas.
The vibe: Half the reason to visit is the view overlooking the East River. White picnic tables and colorful chairs and tables provide seating and red-and-white umbrellas offer shade on sunny days.
The details: Snacks average $6, tacos $4.25, alcoholic drinks $6; open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday at 25 River St. since late June; more at heytacocina.com

Millie’s Cuban Cafe

Brooklyn restaurateur Danny Teran’s five-month-old pop-up has a new brick-and-mortar home, serving up the same kind of eats as the Cuban food truck that launched his hospitality company in Manhattan years ago. Teran family recipes dominate the menu at this all-day cafe named after the owner’s mother.

The food: Highlights here include the Cubano sandwich (roasted pork, ham, Swiss and pickles with mustard, served on pressed Cuban bread with a side of shoestring potato sticks), the ropa vieja (braised shredded beef in a Creole tomato sauce) and the Impossible picadillo, made with the meat-substitute burger patties. For sides, it wouldn’t be a Cuban place without rice and beans, and all kinds of plantains. Wrap up your meal with an order of flan or tres leches.
The drinks: Go the authentic route and get yourself an espresso prepared with Cafe Bustelo. If you’re looking for something more refreshing, choose a can of Jupina, a Cuban pineapple soda.
The vibe: A palm tree and wicker chairs greet you at the door, sending you straight to the Caribbean. Inside, yellow walls set a sunny mood, as do the red metal chairs and old-school photos of Cuba.
The details: Main courses average $12, dessert $4, coffee drinks $3.50; open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 151 Wilson Ave. since late June; more at milliescubancafe.com

Staten Island 

Millie’s

Staten Island natives, brothers and business partners Vince and Brandon Carrabba return to their original stomping grounds with a second location of their New Jersey pizzeria, named for their grandmother Millie. You know the pies must be good because the Carrabbas won third place at the International Pizza Expo in 2011.

The food: You’ll find both coal-fired and Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza on the menu here, because apparently the brothers prefer different crusts. Try the meatballs made from Millie’s family recipe, with the house-made mozzarella.
The drinks: Craft cocktails like the Fresh Kill (a tequila drink with cassis and ginger beer) and the SI Ferry (coconut rum, pineapple and lime juice) add some pizzazz to a list of 20 beers and five wines on tap.
The vibe: Don’t let the strip-mall exterior scare you away. Our favorite feature of the 4,000-square-foot space is the custom-created bar made of blackened steel and illuminated glass stone resembling coal embers. You can also watch your pizza being made at a 45-foot pizza bar with a built-in wine fridge.
The details: Meatballs average $12, coal-fired pies start at $13; open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 185 Bricktown Way since June 25; more at milliesoldworld.com.