Eating cheaply in NYC SEP 21 2006
A reader dropped an interesting question into my inbox yesterday, and I thought I would open it up to the group. Darko writes that he's in NYC for the next two weeks but doesn't have a lot of money to spend because he lives and works in Serbia. So, he's wondering a) what to eat on a daily basis that doesn't cost a whole lot, and b) where to go for a splurge meal, a place with "really glorious food" that's $80-100 for two.
Cheap everyday food has been the subject of many pieces online, including this kottke.org thread from Feb 2003, New York magazine's Cheap Eats 2004, New York magazine's Cheap Eats 2005, New York magazine's Cheap Eats 2006, Eating Pleasure. Price: $2, and Delicious for a Dollar?
My recommendations would be: bagels, Chinatown (the five-for-a-buck dumpling places as well as some other restaurants), pizza ($2/slice anywhere in the city), street carts (particularly the hot dogs and pretzels, check out the best street food in NYC), sandwiches from a deli (although some delis can be expensive, particularly in Manhattan...anyone know of any cheap places?), Curry Hill (Indian food around Lexington and & 28th), getting out of the touristy places in Manhattan (head for the East Village or the Lower East Side), or getting out of Manhattan entirely (cheaper eats in Brooklyn, etc.). And to drink, New York City tap water is free and better than Evian.
The splurge meal is a bit tougher, although if you forsake having wine, you can eat pretty well for $50/person. It might be best to seek out this meal in Brooklyn...there are some great places there and you don't have to pay the Manhattan premium. Going at lunchtime is another good option...you often get the same calibre of food at a lower price than dinner. Gotham Bar and Grill near Union Square has a prix fixe lunch for $25 (or used to...you should call ahead). I think Eleven Madison Park also has a similarly priced prix fixe at lunch (prix fixe = fixed price). Anyone have any other suggestions, particularly about good places in Brooklyn?