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The best restaurants for cheap eats on Long Island: Our picks for 2018

Top-notch Thai, transportive Jordanian food and an onion rava masala dosa as big as your arm were all highlights of this year's cheap eats on Long Island. Here are the Newsday's food staff’s Top 10.

Rothchilds Coffee & Kitchen

The Shakshuka skillet is made with tomato, pepper,
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Rothchilds Coffee & Kitchen (76 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck): Rothchilds Coffee & Kitchen brightened dining all day along Middle Neck Road with Levantine and Middle Eastern flavors. Executive chef Daniel Nahum and general manager Shir Nahum are brothers, raised in Israel. The restaurant’s name is meant to evoke “children of Roth,” a tribute to their grandparents, former business owners in Great Neck. A shakshuka skillet of poached eggs and crumbled feta arrives in a savory tomato-and-red pepper sauce. Ceviche of tuna with a strained yogurt spread is artful. Refreshing fattoush, a bread salad, and pargiot, grilled chicken thighs finished with date honey, underscore the flavors. Linger with a fine cappuccino, iced tea latte, fresh organic turmeric chai, crushed mint lemonade. More info: 516-482-0434, rothchildskitchen.com

Rice Thai

Massaman curry with chicken, Rice Thai, North Patchogue,
Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Rice Thai (585 Medford Ave., Suite 3, North Patchogue): Rice Thai delivers some of the year's best Thai cuisine in a 16-seat, strip mall storefront that you easily could drive by. Be sure to stop. Chef Keith Wong and Winnie Teng, his mother, make this modest operation a destination restaurant. A sign advises: "Eat well." You will, with tastes of Thailand and Malaysia, countries the family immigrated from. Try soothing tom ka, a lush soup with coconut, lemongrass and tender chicken. Enjoy the jolt of chilies in tom yum, or sample the delectable Siam roti, or Malaysian pancakes, served with massaman curry. Ignite your palate with som tom Thai, an electric-green papaya salad; and the grilled beef salad. Cool off with pad thai, the stir-fried union of rice noodles, egg, scallion, roasted  peanuts, and bean sprouts. Pick any curry: massaman, Panang, green, red, yellow — all excellent. More info: 631-654-2888, ricethaipatchogue.com

Simply Thai

Khao Soi soup is a hearty bowl of
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Simply Thai (852 Montauk Hwy., Copiague): A neighborhood restaurant worth traveling to, Simply Thai provides sophisticated cooking in a warm, friendly setting. Owner Amy Wong, a front-of-the-house alumna of Kotobuki in Hauppauge, is a gracious and knowledgeable host; her partner, chef Nae Wipaporn Sittidej, a native of Thailand, is a master of balancing flavors and textures. Among the standouts on her menu are disarmingly verdant chive pancakes; mellow pork-shrimp-mushroom dumplings; the great Thai dish khao soi featuring boiled noodles in a coconut-based, yellow-curry broth that is topped with a crisp tangle of fried egg noodles; green curry; and a mostly boneless duck tamarind showered with crispy shallots. More info: 631-608-0011, simplythaicopiague.com

Cheng Du

Taiwanese pork buns with cilantro and chopped peanut,
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Cheng Du (947-949 Hempstead Tpke., Franklin Square): Cheng Du is the Chinese restaurant that promotes family unity. The sprawling venue took over the old Jani address and it retains the comfortable, almost opulent décor, solicitous service and full bar. You can still have your egg roll, wonton soup, chicken with broccoli and even sushi. But this is also one of Nassau’s top destinations for regional Chinese specialties, particularly those from Sichuan province, whose capital is Chengdu. Recommended dishes include dan dan noodles, tossed at the table; tea-smoked duck; eggplant in garlic sauce; dry-fried chicken; cumin lamb. From Shanghai come soup dumplings; from Guangzhouo, salt and pepper shrimp. Do not miss the Taiwanese bun, a bouncy half moon of steamed bread cradling a slab of tender roast pork, crushed peanuts, salty-sour pickled mustard greens and fresh cilantro. More info: 516-358-1603, chengduny.com

Petra Grill

Hummus topped with chopped grilled lamb, sliced almonds,
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Petra Grill (373 Old Country Rd., Carle Place): Pride of place is the essence of Petra Grill. Eschewing fuzzy allusions to olive trees or kebabs, the Al-Jihazin family named their restaurant after Petra, the ancient city that is Jordan’s most famous site. Photographs of the rose-stoned ruins and other splendors grace the walls, but they don’t outshine what you’ll find on the tables. Meze (starters) here are transporting: hummus, smooth as room-temperature butter, a tangy, nutty symphony; eggplant salad, translucent citrine with emerald and ruby peppers; fried florets of cauliflower drizzled with sweet-sour pomegranate molasses and yogurt; freekeh soup, a sort of Levantine congee made with toasted young wheat, chicken and a strong backbeat of black pepper. Desserts are homemade and taste it — be adventurous and try something other than baklava. More info: 516-743-9045, mypetragrill.com

Spicy Home Tasty

Beef noodle soup served at Spicy Home Tasty
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Spicy Home Tasty (1087 Jericho Tpke., Commack): Owner Yuling Chou and her partner, chef Xian Chun Du, serve dishes from all over China (as well as some Chinese-American standards), but the focus is on the sophisticated cuisine of Sichuan province, some of which is indeed spicy, but all of which is tasty. The menu is full of the hearty, fiery specialties from that region in China’s southwest, among them: hot and spicy fish fillet, beef tendon with carrot and Chengdu-style roast chicken. Sichuan starters include pork belly with sweet chili oil, wontons in chili oil and spicy, crispy cucumber. From the “authentic noodle” roster: dan dan noodles, crystal noodles with pork intestine and spicy beef noodle soup. More info: 631-543-8880, spicyhometastyny.com

Broadway Market

The Bacon Jam and Egg burger, a grass-fed
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Broadway Market (643 Broadway, Rocky Point): Owners Ann Olenick and Shasho Pole originally met via the Rocky Point Farmers Market, where Pole sold his own organic meat and Olenick peddled her signature cookie pies and puffs. Early this year, they went brick-and-mortar, building a new-wave luncheonette in the heart of town that does triple duty as a market, restaurant and bar. On one side is a counter where you can grab things such as lemon meringue doughnuts, Mornay-drenched egg sandwiches and espresso; on the other, a bright restaurant and bar that is the staging ground for chef Dmytro Guydash’s dishes. At brunch, they might include a Dutch baby with hazelnut crunch and dulce de leche; in the evening, a grass-fed, grass-finished burger topped with bacon jam and cheese fondue or house-made vermicelli tossed with clams, cockles and shrimp. As an added bonus, the bar serves barrel-aged cocktails. More info: 631-849-1729, bmropo.com

Mithaas

A large pillowy dosa served with several chutneys
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

Mithaas (217 Bethpage Rd., Hicksville): This fast-casual but contemporary eatery opened earlier this year in Hicksville’s Kundan Galleria, and with few dishes costing more than $10, it's a place to dive into the unfamiliar — namely, Indian street-food snacks such as chaat, puri, pakoras, dosas and flatbreads. One particular standout is the sev puri dahi puri, filled with a spiced potato mash, slathered in yogurt and tamarind chutney, dotted with mint and pomegranate seeds and showered with the shredded chickpea threads called sev. But don't forego Mithaas' dramatic dosas: A crisp onion masala dosa filled with turmeric-stained potatoes and red onions, or an onion rava masala dosa as big as your arm that collapses into crisp, coriander-tinged sheaths as you rip it apart. Slide into the finish line with one of the exuberantly styled sweets from Mithaas' pastry case. More info: 516-605-1230,  mithaas.com

For Five Coffee

The torrijas served at For Five Coffee in
Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

For Five Coffee (292 Plandome Rd., Manhasset): The first Long Island location for this Queens-based coffee roaster (which has several cafes in New York City) opens at 5:30 a.m., but doesn't coast on the strength of its excellent coffee: The pastries and wildly original breakfast dishes are on point, too, from cinnamon twists to torrijas, a milk-soaked Spanish version of French toast that comes topped with a house tiger-nut ice cream. Lunchtime brings a parade of more savory pleasures, from coffee-rubbed brisket with chimichurri on a baguette to veggie-loaded Korean dolsot bibimbap topped with a fried egg and gochujang. More info: 516-918-9488, forfivecoffee.com

Avli The Little Greek Kitchen

The skirt steak platter with lemon potatoes at
Photo Credit: Raychel Brightman

Avli The Little Greek Kitchen (2449 Jerusalem Ave., North Bellmore): Some takeout makes you want to tear into the bag before you get home. By that measure, Avli the Little Greek Kitchen excels. You probably won’t stay in this tiny spot to eat — but as soon as you load your food into the car, a garlicky aroma rolls from spit-roasted meats and plush tzatziki through layers of foil, paper and plastic. Spit-roasted souvlaki marinated in olive oil, mustard, garlic and herbs comes on Avli's chewy, char-edged pita bread, as does falafel whose crisp edges shatter to herbed-up innards. Also, don't miss seared skirt steak soaked in peppery marinade or kopanisti, a whip of feta with jalapeño peppers that’s thick and smearable, stained bright from roasted red peppers and prickling with heat. More info: 516-409-4976, avlilife.com

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