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?

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There are 55 reader comments

vix45 21 2006 9:45AM

In Manhattan, Stroko's in Hell's Kitchen (58th and 10th) was one of my favourite haunts during grad school, not in the least because it was right across the street. But they have a great selection, delicious food, and decent prices for a struggling grad student. On 59th between 9th and 10th from like 8am-10am or so, there is/was a breakfast sandwich cart with the most delicious sandwiches I've ever had, cheap! For upscale, the Turkish restaurant Zeytin on the Upper West Side was fairly ritzy and absolutely scrumptious.

vix46 21 2006 9:46AM

Ooh, also, right outside of John Jay on 10th Avenue (at 59th Street) there was a cart guy who made awesome middle eastern fare. You could get a tinfoil bowl of it with a pita for $5 and it was filling as hell.

sgazzetti51 21 2006 9:51AM

Around the foot of the Cloisters there used to be great and very cheap Dominican restaurants in abundance. That extreme upper part of Manhattan is an interesting part of the city that often gets overlooked. A-train to Dyckman/207th Street.

But I second the street food angle. The part of the former Yugoslavia I live in suffers from a serious lack in that department, so Darko may not be able to believe the scale and variety available on the street in NYC.

Jake54 21 2006 9:54AM

Gray's Papaya is good and cheap.

I sure hope the guy isn't looking to eat healthy, though--cheap and healthy are pretty much mutually exclusive in terms of prepared/restaurant food in most of America.

Rachel55 21 2006 9:55AM

There was a pretty good thread about this on ask metafilter a few months ago: http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/40628

Doug06 21 200610:06AM

Without wine - or perhaps with just one glass each - it's possible to dine at The Grocery in Brooklyn for far less than $100 per person. The only obstacle would be a reservation, but it's worth a call and probably one of the best splurges in all of New York City.

Tiny's Giant Sandwich shop (129 Rivington) is yummy and cheap; a meal there can cost less than $12.

Most of the Indian restaurants on 6th Street are very cheap. Plus, most are BYOB. Buy a cheap bottle of wine or a good beer and enjoy it with your meal.

46th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, or "Little Brazil" is a great place for cheap eats. A heaping plate of beans, rice, and plantains can be found for $5 or less. Hot sauce is free.

a06 21 200610:06AM

Bouley for lunch is about $50 a person with no alcohol.

jp10 21 200610:10AM

Walker's at Varick & North Moore in Tribeca. Everything under $20. Fairly large number of daily specials.

janelle22 21 200610:22AM

for a splurge, you can get terribly delicious, finely-crafted meals at the grocery in brooklyn (smith street) for far less than you could/should be paying for its equivalent in the city. definitely call ahead for a reservation.

megnut43 21 200610:43AM

The Big Enchilada on E. 12th St between University and Fifth Avenue has very cheap, yummy Mexican food. Two stewed chicken tacos with cheese, lettuce, and tomato can be had for $4. Top generously with the free salsa, chopped onions and cilantro, and green hot sauce, and you've got a great lunch. And fairly healthy too.

Adam43 21 200610:43AM

Jason, I think your tips are right on. On the same line as Gotham and 11 Madison Park is--believe it or not--a wildly reasonable $25 lunch at Jean-Georges. I was there this week with an editor and the place was half-full. It's a great kept secret: you eat 4-star quality food, three courses, for $25. It's a steal.

matthew brogan46 21 200610:46AM

Aligator Lounge (williamsburg) or Crocodile Lounge (14th btwn 1st and 2nd)... BUY 1 BEER GET 1 FREE PIZZA! Not just a slice, but a full ~6" brick over pizza. You think they'll skimp when you go for pint 2? oh no, keep those free pizzas coming with every drink! (toppings or take-home boxes are extra)

spinachdip47 21 200610:47AM

Ditto on Tiny's - you can get full there on less than $5.

La Conquita on Lafayette at Spring is my go to place when I'm in SoHo - the most one person can spend is $7 on rice, beans and chicken, and that's enough to feed two.

busybee23 21 200611:23AM

Kati Roll - "indian burrito"!
http://midtownlunch.wordpress.com/2006/06/29/kati-roll/
http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/kati-roll-company01/

gabby24 21 200611:24AM

Splurge in Brooklyn Heights: Jack the Horse Tavern on Cranberry is fantastic.

Pedro Rebelo41 21 200611:41AM

Thank you, thank you, thank you...
I'll be in NYC with my wife and a couple of friends next December and one of the big questions was: where to eat cheap and where to go for a romantic dinner... I'll check out every link on this topic. Once again, just in case, thank you.

note: Here in Portugal I think you dont find a place to eat for less than 5 euros (+- the same in USD)

Kate58 21 200611:58AM

Mama's Food Shop on 3rd and Ave. B will offer you a heaping plate of delicious Southern fare that could comfortably feed two very hungry people; there are good deals to be found at any of the Indian places on 6th Street and 1st Ave; falafel anywhere, particularly if you ask for it without the pita/trappings/etc., is a real bargain. For the absolute best in cheap Chinese, Fei Ma on Ave. A between 6th and 7th has a great lunch special for less than five dollars!

dobsohn00 21 200612:00PM

Chickpea has home made pitas and tasty falafel and schwarma (cheap). I just had an excellent dinner at Little Owl. Apps, Entrees and 3 glasses of wine for about $120 including tip. Can definitely get that down under $100 with just two glasses of wine.

Kate00 21 200612:00PM

Oh, and I forgot - $1.50 cupcakes that will make you cry with joy at Sugar Sweet Sunshine on Rivington between Essex and Ludlow...puts Magnolia cupcakes to shame.

dobsohn01 21 200612:01PM

Cheap:
Chickpea (3rd ave and St. Mark's place) has home made pitas and tasty falafel and schwarma (cheap). Pio Maya on 8th street has excellent, affordable Mexican food.

Nice:
I just had an excellent dinner at Little Owl in the West Village. Apps, Entrees and 3 glasses of wine for about $120 including tip. Can definitely get that down under $100 with just two glasses of wine.

Stephen34 21 200612:34PM

For cheap eats, you can also try Burritoville, which is all over the city.

Kat45 21 200612:45PM

For a fine dining experience on a budget, I would recommend L'ecole, the restaurant run by the French Culinary Institute. The $39.95, four-course Prix Fixe dinner menu provides one appetizer, salad, one entrée, pre-dessert, and one dessert. The menu also includes a green salad course.
Or, you can have lunch instead. A three-course Prix Fixe lunch consists of choice of one appetizer, entrée and dessert, all for $26.50 per person. Here's a link to this week's menu:
http://www.frenchculinary.com/lecole_menus.htm

I enjoyed dinner as part of a party of four at L'ecole about eighteen months ago. The food was excellent and the bill was less than $200.

yp03 21 2006 1:03PM

Chestnut on Smith St. in Brooklyn has a fabulous tues/wednesday night prix fixe including appetizer, entree, and dessert for $25 per person. Add a full bottle of wine (lots of choices in the $25-35 range) and it's still
You can also get good falafel, bagels, pizza all over... banh mi, dumplings on eldridge, sandwiches at tiny's on rivington, arepas at caracas arepas bar, great roast chicken and rice and beans for $5 at pio mayo, etc etc etc...

Emily Jean19 21 2006 1:19PM

Tehuitzingo tacos on 10th avenue between 47th and 48th are amazing and addictive. $2 each and served in the back of a bodega by a sweet woman who mostly speaks spanish and grills some mean meat. The goat tacos are my favorite.

colene42 21 2006 1:42PM

Splurge meal in Brooklyn, Dumont. . . http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/dumont/. . . or Dressler. . . http://newyorkmetro.com/listings/restaurant/dressler/. Both from the same owner. Wonderful.

artless42 21 2006 1:42PM

Cheap eats in general
Great Jones Cafe in NoLita has good burgers, po' boys, chili and jambalaya. Good beer prices too.

Can't believe no one's mentioned Corner Bistro.

In the Village I'm also fond of V Bar; good selection of moderately priced wines (all available by the glass too) and some café snacks: pressed sandwiches, cheese plate, olives, etc.

Since it's getting to be fall, I also recommend Cafe Steinof in Brooklyn's South Slope. Monday nights they have $5 goulash (in fact it's all they have) but it's a hearty meal.

Splurge meal
Ditto the recommendation for Chestnut above. I love the Grocery, too, but prices have definitely gotten Manhattanesque there. Some other Brooklyn contenders:

Stone Park in Park Slope. Great brunch in particular, but there are excellent meals to be hand in a range of prices. The wine list is moderately priced as well. Reservations required on weekends, but I've walked in on weeknights with no trouble.

Al di Là, also on Fifth Ave. in Park Slope has outstanding Venetian food and it's also moderately priced. They don't take reservations, but they have a wine bar around the corner where you can wait. Hint: the wine bar's connected to the kitchen, and they offer many of the same dishes in (more affordable) bar portions.



Melanie46 21 2006 2:46PM

I was stunned that no one mentioned Corner Bistro (W. 4th & Jane) until that far down in the strain, too. Great recommendation. It's so simple and delicious--the only things they have are burgers, grilled cheeses, blt's, and french fries. That's it. Some of the best burgers in the city, with hand-ground meat that's never frozen. Plus, they have an amazing jukebox and $2.50 beers.

Here's an idea for a splurge meal that will only set you back $28 for two. Chola (58th between 3rd & 2nd) is the best Indian restaurant I've ever been to, and at night, it's very expensive (but still well worth it). However, on Saturdays and Sundays, they have a drop-dead delicious brunch. Not only do you get the highest-quality standard Indian buffet fare (saag paneer, chicken tikka masala, rice pudding, etc.) but they bring hot fresh bread and chaats (and sometimes tandoori chicken) to your table while you're eating. That one meal keeps you full all day long, and it's an unbelievable steal--only $13.95!

diego56 21 2006 2:56PM

Right on with Corner Bistro. Great place.

For street meat, I highly recommend the stand on 53rd and 6th, lovingly known as "Chicken 'n' Rice" to the hundreds (thousands?) of people who line up there every night.

You can't miss it--they'll have a huge line and velvet rope to keep people cordoned off. Go for the mixed plate (both lamb & chicken) with extra white sauce and a dash of hot ;-)

damon02 21 2006 3:02PM

yes corner bistro...
one of manhattans great yummy bargains!

and there's a great noodle shop on the corner of bowery and grand where you will have to point at what you want, but two can eat there for about $3. And it's goooood!

lucia04 21 2006 3:04PM

northwest corner of Spring and Lafayette in Soho has the most amazing rice and beans hole in the wall (bright green), with or without meat or plantains. any combination of red/black beans and white/yellow rice with plantains is $4. and it's enough for two meals.

Richard22 21 2006 3:22PM

Zucco: Le French Diner
188 Orchard St (Cross Street: Houston Street)
New York, NY 10002View Map
212.677.5200

This place is great for weekend breakfasts - very good food, not very expensive, very small. Half way between splurge and economical. Bacon and eggs are less than $8.00, omelets similarly priced.

Jamie56 21 2006 3:56PM

>>Around the foot of the Cloisters there used to be great and very cheap Dominican restaurants in abundance.

El Malecon at 176th and Broadway is outstanding.

>>46th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, or "Little Brazil" is a great place for cheap eats.

Via Brazil is great.

I'd also throw in for Grand Sichuan (50th & 9th) for some seriously good inexpensive Chinese in Midtown; the Hallo Berlin cart (54th & 5th); and the halal cart at 53rd and 6th.

Pap57 21 2006 4:57PM

If we're going for the real American experience here, you gotta hit some cheap international spots:

dahlia00 21 2006 6:00PM

another good splurge place is Henry's End in Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO, in perfect location to precede or follow a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Can spend less than $100 for a great meal for sure. d

Kim24 21 2006 6:24PM

Veselka has fantastic blintzes, mushroom soup, and other delicious Russian foods. And, they're reasonable. 144 2ND Ave (Cross Street: 9th Street.)

I also love love love Bendix Diner on First Avenue (think they cross around Tenth St.) Great Thai food, as well as vegetarian selections at a bargain.

Finally, in Spanish Harlem there's a great little place called Dinerbar. They serve American comfort food in a nice atmosphere, for a great price. 1569 Lexington Ave.

Elliot Essman46 21 2006 7:46PM

I agree about Jack the Horse Tavern, if you want basic, what-more-do-I need-please-don't-try-too-hard food that they don't mess around with. Brooklyn nearly always pleases.

Scott03 21 2006 8:03PM

Cheap:
• the bings at Roll and Dough on West 3rd, right off 6th avenue.
• Empanada Mama on 9th avenue, near 52nd street
• Momofuku Noodle Bar is amazing (1st avenue, near 10th street)
• S'mac on 12th Street, near 1st ave.
• Fatty Crab's pretty reasonable, too

More ideas at scoboco.blogspot.com

Splurge:
You'll spend more than $100 per person, but the tasting menu at WD-50 was probably the best meal I've ever had in New York City.

k817 21 200611:17PM

You can FEAST on great sushi at East on 3rd Ave near 27th St. for $15-20 bucks a person (not including drinks). It's kaiten-zushi, so it's cheaper:

"Kaiten-zushi are sushi restaurants, where the sushi dishes are presented to the customers on a conveyor belt. Customers can then freely pick the dishes that they like or order dishes which are not available on the belt. In the end, the number of plates is counted to determine the cost. There are usually a few kinds of plates (differing in color or pattern), each being associated with a certain price. Kaiten-zushi tend to be less expensive than usual sushi-ya."

The conveyer makes it fun, and the chefs are right there in the middle preparing it before your eyes, so you have some visual assurance of freshness and quality. The plates start at $1.00, and the place is always packed! It's awesome.

loops18 22 2006 9:18AM

Dojo has some lovely food for a pretty decent price.
14 W 4th St (Between Broadway & Mercer Street)

Omar48 22 200612:48PM

Bread (20 Spring St.) is excellent, comfortably-priced, and has the best tomato soup I've ever had. The sandwiches are stellar, if a little trendy.

Grimaldi's (19 Old Fulton St., Brooklyn) Some people will point you to Patsy's but read this and know why you should go to the original Brooklyn location.

Duggan57 22 200612:57PM

Buddy's Burrito Bar in Brooklyn is one of the burritos I have ever had. HIGHLY recommend!!!

rjt11 22 2006 1:11PM

Ditto on Steinhof in Park Slope (7th Ave./14th Street) for Monday Goulash night. Get there before 7pm for happy hour drinks, too. They actually have a 3 item menu on Mondays: Goulash for $5, Trout filet on potatoes for $6, and an applesauce bread pudding for $4.

Midtown/Hell's Kitchen, Pluck U Chicken (9th bet 51/52) makes a wicked chicken breast sandwich for under $4.

Jeremy Brown27 22 2006 4:27PM

Zip Burger (300 E 52nd Street) is great if you're a fan of hamburgers. They're also open late which is a big plus. If you have time, check out Cafe La Palette (50 Macdougal Street). They have amazing French and Brazilian dishes at reasonable prices. The only drawback is it takes a little while to get your food. It's a good place to kick back with friends but not a good place to eat if you're pressed for time.

Ed Levine27 22 200611:27PM

The wonton soup at New Chow Chao, 111 Mott St. (bet. Canal and Hester) is perhaps NY's best bargain meal. $3.00 for a quart of the most delicious wonton soup imaginable, with deep-flavored broth, delicate wontons, and plenty of fresh coriander. Open from 11:30 on. Probably feeds two easily.

A close second are the sandwiches at Margon, 136 W. 46th (between 6th and 7th). Good Cuban sandwich and even better roast chicken or pork sandwich.. Under five bucks. Can't beat it.

Finally, on one of these glorious fall days, go to the Kwik Meal cart at 45th and 6th(SW corner). Have either the lamb sandwich or the falafel sandwich. You will be so happy you did.

Olaf Kreitz50 23 200611:50AM

My favourite "cheap" sandwich is banh mi (Vietnamese baguette) and there a 3 great places:

Saigon Bakery on Mott & Grand
Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches on E 2nd & Ave A
There is another on on Bowery, betw. Canal and Bayard (next to Duane Reade), their banh mis are very crisp and rich and only $3

Then there is a small $1 per 5 piece dumpling place on Mosco St at Mulberry, makes kind of a real meal for less than a hot dog.

A delicious proper meal can be found at The Island (Jamaican) on Washington and Eastern Pky in Prospect Heights/ Crown Heights. Their jerk lamb is fantastic. Meals can be ordered in regular and large, latter feed 2.

john37 23 2006 6:37PM

I think most of the comments tended to be more for the hipsters than for those truly interested in cheap inexpensive eating.

If you really want to eat cheap in manhattan, you should go to the super A or gristedes supermarkets and buy portuguese rolls and cheese, and eat that. You can get three fresh portuguese rolls or kaiser rolls for a dollar and then buy yourself some cheese or peanut butter. they have deals where they offer cheese for 3 dollars a pound, if you get enough on a day when they are on sale you can supply yourself for two weeks.

most of the other supermarkets in manhattan are posh and overpriced places which you should avoid. but, you may consider going to trader joes on 14th street near union square, where you can get excellent food at a reasonable price. my favorite there is frozen tamales which can be heated up with a microwave.

the bagel and coffee donut stands on the street are sometimes ok, but usually that stuff is stale. if you want you can go to the factories in brooklyn, there is one in greenpoint which has a bin in the back where they throw out the bagels every day from those carts on the street, you can have the bagels for FREEEEE if you are willing to dumpster dive.

as far as inexpensive daily fare for middle class males who want more substantial food, i would recommend trying subway. quiznos is more expensive but slightly upscale.

subway right now has a promotion where you can get the sandwich of the day for 2.99, it is healthy food, good sized portions with fresh vegetables.

I eat subway every day and you can get a deal if you buy 2 sandwiches after 4 pm for like 7 dollars, it is enough for an entire day if you save one for the next day's lunch...

here are the other rules for new york....

pizza should not cost you more than 1.75. do not ask for toppings. say you want a cheese slice, and if they say it is more than 1.75 or 2.00 for a slice, dont eat there. there are a lot of tourist traps which charge more.

bagels. do not pay more than 2 dollars for a bagel and cream cheese.
there is a place on 14th street and 1st avenue which is a filipino family run place, they are REALLY good and fresh, a bagel with cream cheese costs 1.78 and a bagel with butter costs 1.00. I eat there most mornings.

if you want a super meal, i would recommend SUPPER on the lower east side. it is SUPERB but sure it will cost $$$$ but it is friendly, very well informed wait staff and a nice little bar next door to chill in.

john37 23 2006 6:37PM

I think most of the comments tended to be more for the hipsters than for those truly interested in cheap inexpensive eating.

If you really want to eat cheap in manhattan, you should go to the super A or gristedes supermarkets and buy portuguese rolls and cheese, and eat that. You can get three fresh portuguese rolls or kaiser rolls for a dollar and then buy yourself some cheese or peanut butter. they have deals where they offer cheese for 3 dollars a pound, if you get enough on a day when they are on sale you can supply yourself for two weeks.

most of the other supermarkets in manhattan are posh and overpriced places which you should avoid. but, you may consider going to trader joes on 14th street near union square, where you can get excellent food at a reasonable price. my favorite there is frozen tamales which can be heated up with a microwave.

the bagel and coffee donut stands on the street are sometimes ok, but usually that stuff is stale. if you want you can go to the factories in brooklyn, there is one in greenpoint which has a bin in the back where they throw out the bagels every day from those carts on the street, you can have the bagels for FREEEEE if you are willing to dumpster dive.

as far as inexpensive daily fare for middle class males who want more substantial food, i would recommend trying subway. quiznos is more expensive but slightly upscale.

subway right now has a promotion where you can get the sandwich of the day for 2.99, it is healthy food, good sized portions with fresh vegetables.

I eat subway every day and you can get a deal if you buy 2 sandwiches after 4 pm for like 7 dollars, it is enough for an entire day if you save one for the next day's lunch...

here are the other rules for new york....

pizza should not cost you more than 1.75. do not ask for toppings. say you want a cheese slice, and if they say it is more than 1.75 or 2.00 for a slice, dont eat there. there are a lot of tourist traps which charge more.

bagels. do not pay more than 2 dollars for a bagel and cream cheese.
there is a place on 14th street and 1st avenue which is a filipino family run place, they are REALLY good and fresh, a bagel with cream cheese costs 1.78 and a bagel with butter costs 1.00. I eat there most mornings.

if you want a super meal, i would recommend SUPPER on the lower east side. it is SUPERB but sure it will cost $$$$ but it is friendly, very well informed wait staff and a nice little bar next door to chill in.

Matt12 23 2006 9:12PM

For a great cheap deli, check out 'Farmer in the Deli' (clever, eh?) on Myrtle Ave. in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It's amazing what kind of freshly made sandwiches you can get for about $3. Tuna salad gets the 'chop it up' treatment, which means all of the add-ons are chopped into the tuna itself.

Trust me, this place is worth a trip to the 'hood!

Lysiane18 24 2006 9:18AM

If it's close to where you're staying, you can visit the deli section of a Fairway Market (W 74th and Broadway or on 12th avenue in Harlem) and have a serving of their delicious Israeli Couscous for a welcome change from hot dogs and pizza (the one on Broadway even has a cafe upstairs).

Dan55 24 200611:55PM

I strongly second Lysiane's suggestion to go to Fairway Market. If you're going to follow the Portuguese-Roll-and-Cheese suggestion from John above, don't bother with Gristedes - that store has the same low quality garbage as any supermarket in any US suburb. Instead, go to Fairway and get a baguette from their bakery and any kind of cheese you like from their unbelievable selection. Cost about the same (maybe less?) and the quality is far better.

While you're there, Fairway Cafe - upstairs, in the store - is terrific, and reasonably priced. Go for brunch or lunch.

Sonny36 25 2006 4:36AM

L'ecole in Soho serves an excellent prix fixe ($39) dinner that costs much more in other places (particularly French restaurants) given the food quality, ambience and service.

Somebody also mentioned Momofuku -- love this place, except that it's been crowded lately, not least because it figured in New York magazine's top cheap eats list. Ditto for Franny's in Brooklyn (and somebody should tell them to bring back bottarga crumpled egg crostini back on their menu!!!).

Kuma Inn in LES is another good one. It's a Thai-Filipino tapas restaurant that serves very flavorful plates (it's a crime to go there and not order their chinese sausage). The chef trained at Boulud and Bouley, and it shows on the quality of the food (and even their sake). File under "affordable" although that might only be because it's a tapas place -- i.e., not a good idea if you're starving.

double mint twin28 25 200610:28AM

I second DoJo. You can get a hijiki tofu burger dinner with extra sauce for under $5.

Stinky Pete02 25 2006 3:02PM

I'll add another vote for Chestnut in Brooklyn, and also say more generally that for the splurge meal, $25 is the right price. There's a weird lumpiness to the price-quality curve in New York restaurants. You can spend a little money and get a reliably great meal, and you can spend a lot of money and get a reliably great meal. In between, much danger lies. The best bet is the tested neighborhood joint, and so much the better if it offers a reasonable prix fixe.

Chestnut on Smith St. definitely qualifies. Chestnut also has a great Sunday brunch. Someone mentioned Al di la in Park Slope, which is definitely deserving of a visit.

One of my personal fovorites is 360 in Red Hook. Harder to get to, but worth the effort. 360 also offers a $25 prix fixe, and if you go on a Wednesday, you can head to Sunny's Bar afterward.

In Manhattan, Prune is still very affordable, and so damned good.

(I'll also toss in yet another vote for banh mi on the cheap end...)

Mary39 25 2006 3:39PM

a great "feels like a splurge" but is pretty good on the wallet is at Alias (corner of rivington & clinton) on sunday nights. $25 prix fixe includes 1 app, 1 entree and 1 dessert. You have a large choice, with almost the entire regular menu to choose from. The food is always fresh and innovative and delicious. The decor is great and mellow and they play great music. The word is getting out now, so you may want to make reservations if you plan to go...last time we went, we had to wait an hour for a table for 4 whereas just a few months ago my party could get seated as soon as we walked in.

mattl05 26 200610:05AM

Veggie Castle in Brooklyn - old White City converted to vegetarian place. Decent wholesome veggies for a few bucks with a juice.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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