310 Bedford Ave, New York, NY (and two other locations)
Price range: $1.50-$6
One step into the bustling brick-and-mortar that is Vanessa's Williamsburg outpost and it's easy to see how a place like this can turn into a habit. There is a certain romance to the open air facade, the clanging kitchen, the regulars forking down one, three, six dollars — chump change around here — for plates piled with sustenance. Grab and go fridges along the wall opposite the register are filled with glimmering plastic clamshells designed to satisfy cravings and encourage impulse purchases of kimchi, seaweed salad, and Snapples. If you find yourself in the neighborhood of Vanessa's (and this is no imposition — there are branches in Chinatown, Union Square, and Williamsburg), I hope you're in the mood for dumplings. Theirs are downright magical, from classic variety like chive and pork to the more unconventional whole wheat mushroom flavor. They're even available frozen in bulk, for those who just can't get enough. If, for some bizarre reason, you are not in the mood for dumplings, the menu also boasts noodle and rice dishes galore, as well as soups, sushi, and bubble tea. One of the best non-dumpling items on the menu has to be the sesame pancake sandwich. The pancake, for which the sandwich is named, deftly toes the line between fluffy and crispy. The toppings don't matter quite so much when tucked inside such a luscious bread, but rest assured there is an option for every diet, and even the priciest variety barely breaks the three dollar mark. Oh, yeah, and they deliver.
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