The 10 best Cheap Eats restaurants on Long Island: Eat here now
Some of the best places to eat on Long Island are also some of the least expensive. While the ambience at these top spots ranges widely — from quiet grocery cafe to bustling diner to pulsating bar and grill — they share, at heart, a commitment to flavor and quality.
Here are our Top 10 picks, listed alphabetically.
Ahuva's Grill(Credit: Johnny Simon)
Ahuva's Grill, Hewlett: Bold, clean flavors characterize the Yemenite-Israeli dishes coming out of chef-owner Ahuva Tsadok's kitchen. Your meal starts with a gratis dip assortment. Tsadok's first-rate hummus is great to slather onto lafah, a warm, flaky, house-made bread. Other standouts: kibbe, or fried ground beef balls, baby chicken shish kebab, made with boneless marinated dark meat, and also kaufta kebab, juicy spiced ground beef sausages. (Pictured, an appetizer platter with falafel, tabouli, Turkish salad, hummus, babaganoush and lafah bread.)
Ahuva's Grill in Hewlett serves shakshuka, poached eggs in a spicy-sweet tomato sauce.
Cook's Scratch Kitchen & Bakery(Credit: Yana Paskova)
Cook's Scratch Kitchen & Bakery, Northport: Skillful from-scratch cooking is the rule at this casual counter-service cafe, where co-owner brothers Josh and Dave Cook and chef Stacey McDevitt say they source ingredients carefully and, often, locally. For breakfast, there are airy pancakes and waffles, as well as a knockout ham-and-egg sandwich on a house-baked English muffin. At lunch, try the "hipster" Reuben sandwich (pictured), done with house-cured smoked pork. Or an unconventional BLT made with smoked salmon. Conclude with one of McDevitt's freshly baked doughnut muffins or cookies.
Cook's Scratch Kitchen & Bakery in Northport serves a breakfast sandwich with organic local eggs, country ham, Gruyere cheese, arugula and Dijon mayonnaise on a house-made English muffin.
Ephesus(Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney)
Ephesus, Massapequa Park: Chef-owner Funda Duygun's culinary skill catapults this simply appointed Turkish restaurant into elevated territory. So much comfort and clarity of flavor in her assortment of dips — hummus, ezme (a spicy vegetable salad) and baba ghanoush — to be spread on warm, house-baked bread. Find further gratification in pide, a well-crafted pastry that may be had with any number of fillings, among them cheese, potatoes and Turkish sausage. Kebabs are savory and juicy, whole fish perfectly grilled. Finish with fragrant baked rice pudding.
Turkish desserts — pistachio baklava, custard baklava and fistik sarma, a pistachio roll — are served with Turkish coffee and tea at Ephesus.
Hildebrandt's(Credit: Kirsten Luce)
Hildebrandt's, Williston Park: Hildebrandt's has been serving great homemade ice cream since 1927, but this is the rare ice cream parlor that does an equally parallel job on savories. Hamburgers are juicy and beefy, the coin-shaped French fries are among Long Island's best, the pastas (particularly rigatoni "a la mama with cauliflower, bread crumbs, and pecorino") would do any trattoria proud, and even the quiche is worth it. But still, save room for dessert. Excellent sundaes, sodas and shakes.
French fries are served sliced at Hildebrandt's in Williston Park.
Istanbul Cafe(Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)
Istanbul Cafe, Centereach: At this strip mall Turkish spot, chef-owner Sinan Yagci makes the most of the restaurant's brick oven, which turns out delectable pides (stuffed Turkish pizzas). To spread onto freshly baked bread: a meze assortment featuring three different eggplant salads, hummus and ezme. From the grill come well-marinated lamb chops, chicken Adana kebab, chicken shish kebab, house-made gyro and lamb shish kebab. Yagci's profiteroles are a strong point, as is his kazandibi, a burnt sugar milk custard. (Pictured is a Turkish take on moussaka.)
Istanbul Cafe in Centereach offers a trio of Turkish desserts with sobiyet, baklava and kadayif.
Jackson's(Credit: Jeremy Bales)
Jackson's, Commack: This casual American restaurant offers tremendous value with its $26.95 three-course prix-fixe, available all the time. Choose from almost anything on the menu; only a few items carry a surcharge. You might start with a Thai lettuce wrap, barbecue chicken wings or burnt Brussels sprout leaves, moving on to a fine Southern fried chicken (pictured), pulled pork-topped burger or sole piccata. Among desserts: Merlot-poached pear with ice cream and a chocolate pudding parfait.
Jackson's in Commack serves a Thai chicken lettuce wrap appetizer.
Morning Rose Cafe(Credit: Yana Paskova)
Morning Rose Cafe, Bellmore: A B&B vibe informs this pretty little breakfast and lunch cafe, but it's chef Roberto Baez's inspired cooking that accounts for the long wait for a table. Jump-start your day with hot chilaquiles, a Mexican egg scramble with steak, chicken or pork. Or voodoo berry pancakes (pictured) — tender, fluffy lemon poppy flapjacks with a mixed-berry compote. Great burgers and a knockout Cuban Reuben sandwich, too.
Flavorful hot chilaquiles are a jumpstart to your morning at Morning Rose Cafe in Bellmore.
Relish(Credit: Jeremy Bales)
Relish, Kings Park: At this cool-but-casual American spot, chef-co-owner Steve Cardello sources ingredients with locavore sensibility. He puts much thought into breakfast items like inventive egg scrambles, airy ricotta pancakes and quinoa cereal with fresh berries. For lunch and dinner, there are juicy burgers and hand-cut fries (pictured), an amazing roasted pork, broccoli rabe and provolone sandwich and specials, among them tacos featuring house-made soft corn tortilla. Finish with a fresh fruit cobbler topped with ice cream or a dark chocolate milkshake.
Dinner items at Relish include linguini and clams with homemade sausage.
Thomas's Ham 'N Eggery(Credit: Jeremy Bales)
Thomas's Ham & Eggery, Carle Place: There's always something new and inventive on owner Tom Koukoulas' breakfast menu. Cheese and herb-laced egg scrambles, meltingly good egg sandwich melts, stuffed French toast. No wonder people wait on long lines weekend mornings. Old favorites, like the ambrosial oatmeal, light Belgian waffles, moist muffins and coffee cakes draw crowds, as well.
The Popeye scramble at Thomas's Ham & Eggery in Carle Place includes cheese and spinach
Turkuaz Grill(Credit: Randee Daddona)
Turkuaz Grill, Riverhead: Good looks and charm are only part of the allure of this Turkish restaurant near the Riverhead Aquarium. Eat indoors or on the porch or at a lawn picnic table and you get a view of the Peconic River. But the real draw is the food: a vibrant shepherd's salad, an assortment of lively meze (small plates), as well as fine grilled marinated kebabs (including the beyti lamb kebab, pictured). The house-made gyro, done with marinated lamb, is another standout.
Turkuaz Grill(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
A grilled whole sea bass is served with bulgur rice at Turkuaz Grill in Riverhead.