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moving to 5th & A...neighborhood recs?

ciao hounders!
moving to 5th St. b/w Ave A & B, and wanted to know where are people's favorite places to eat around there.
i have a few places i already frequent when i head to the hood: minca ramen, caracas arepa bar, awash ethiopian, kate's joint, esperanto; just wanted to know what are ppl who live there's favorite places to return to again and again. casual atmosphere, good simple food, entrees under $15 (and preferably under $10...rent's killing me), preferably within a 5 block radius.

this goes for both eat in and delivery.

thanks!!

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  1. you've got a great list. i would add gruppo (thin, almost cracker -like crust pizza; the mushroom with truffle oil is fantastic), zaragoza grocery (ave a btwn 12th and 13th st--really really warm staff, and pretty good prepared mexican food; nowhere to sit, but that doesn't stop it from having a very social feel), and moustache (my favorite hummous in manhattan--the puddle of olive oil and lemon juice on top is divine).

    one place that never gets mentioned here, but that's great, is bagel zone (or some such thing) on avenue a (btwn 3rd and 4th? that, or 4th and 5th). their oatmeal is served with steamed milk, blueberries, cranberries, and walnuts, and is really great.

    whatever you do, don't do what i did when i lived in the neighborhood. eating portabello mushroom banh mi at nicky's may be cheap, convenient and delicious. but three times a week is a bad, bad, bad idea.

    7 Replies
    1. re: rose water

      ha! thanks rose water. i've always wondered about nicky's, but never tried it.
      was also wondering about the groceries in the area...i heard the C-Town on 4th and A is horrendous. Any good places for produce? is zaragoza grocery a grocery store as well as serving mex?

      1. re: emilia

        Head towards Houston on Ave A. If you continue on the same side of the street as the Key Food there's a gourmet shop about a block or so away that has some nice (and somewhat expensive) produce in the back portion of their store. The name of the store escapes me right now. Hounds, please chime in if you know it. Essex street market is also an option for you. http://www.essexstreetmarket.com/esmE...

        1. re: Cheese Boy

          Gracefully. It's crazy expensive, though. You're better off taking the M14 to Union Square & shopping at the greenmarket & Whole Foods & Trader Joe's. Essex Market has good prices, generally, but selection is hit or miss.

          1. re: small h

            Yup, that's the place. Gracefully. Expensive, right?

          2. re: Cheese Boy

            Zaragoza grocery is primarily a small Mexican grocery store, with shelves stocked with jarred/canned goods. They also sell beer, and there are invariably some older guys sitting around the shop chatting with the proprietors. They have a limited amount of fresh fruit, cactus leaf, and the like. And they have prepared foods, including (the name escapes me) thin rolled up fried with meat or potato filling inside, tacos, and tamales. they slather on lettuce, cream, and white cheese, and great spicy green salsa. i say this every time i post about this place, but the people who work there are really warm.

            Just to clarify, Key Foods is at 4th and A, not C town (though I think there's a C town on Ave C or thereabouts). And yes, it's a nightmare. Lines that are way too long and way too slow. But they have liberte yogurt, and I used to go there regularly for that. They also have organic eggs/milk. Produce is generally crappy.

            Gracefully is very expensive. The one thing that wasn't was their ciabatta bread, which I'd get there regularly. Actually, that's really the only nearby decent bread source that I can think of.

            I agree with those who recommended Essex St Market--If you don't go there regularly, you do need to just stop by once in a while for the experience. It doesn't feel like you're in the US at all. In my experience, the produce was generally fresh, and inexpensive, and far better quality than Key Foods (though less fancy than the much more expensive Gracefully). Beyond produce, Goya products, and Latin American foods, the selection is pretty limited there.

            But hey, if you're going to walk down there, then that opens the doors to an awesome chow shopping extravaganza--Kossar's Bialies, The Pickle Guys, Il Laboratorio di Gelato, and The Doughnut Plant are all a quick walk from there.

            Russ and Daughters, beyond their incredible smoked fish, also has fantastic cream cheese. They have one with cinammon and toasted walnuts that I loved, but warning, it will smell like smoked fish.

            1. re: Cheese Boy

              not exactly close to you, though on the way back from the subway at astor place, but i find st. marks market (st. marks between 2nd and 3rd) to have decent produce - and not all that expensive

              1. re: EVchickadee

                I'll add to that Sunrise Mart, right above St. Mark's Books on 9th Street, for Japanese food products. There's also the
                downstairs section of Italian Tomato, which is actually a
                Japanese food store chain, on St. Marks.

        2. we went to Perbacco 2 nights ago -- it's on 4th between A and B. if you get there early and avoid the crowds, it can be a very nice spot for an Italian dinner. we found the waitstaff very energetic and helpful and the food delicious. not remarkable, but tasty enough. homemade pastas are in the low 'teens, entrees in the high 'teens.

          1. One example: Fage Yogurt is $4.69 at Whole Foods & FreshDirect, $5.99 at Gracefully.

            There's also a pretty big Chinese supermarket on the east side of Clinton, above Delancey.

            1. I know people have mixed feelings about it, but I always enjoyed Mama's on 3rd between A and B - especially the fried chicken and some of the veggie sides, like the turnips. You can eat in or take out and stay below 10 dollars.

              1. I love Mama's, too. The portions are always very generous. You can also get a plate of three veg (good quality and deliciously prepared) for $9--which is worth it to me when you consider the cost of the ingredients and the time and trouble it would take to make it yourself. It's frequently enough to make 2-3 meals out of one plate.

                I like Zum Schneider on Avenue C at E. 7th. They are a German Bar with Bavarian food on the menu. It can get very loud in there, but the weekend Brunch is one of my favs.

                There are some corner stores on 1st Avenue that have decent produce, but I admit I go up to TJ's or Whole Foods if I have the time and want really good produce.