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Good Cheap Eats in Midtown East

I really didn't mean to rhyme the title, but anyway I'm coming into Newark ( From SF ) on Wednesday in the late afternoon and will be staying in the East 50's on Third Avenue. I'm going out with people who are yes, on a budget and cannot afford Le Bernadin, ect. or any of the well known restaurants near there. I used to live in North NJ, so I know places to eat in Manhattan, but not in Midtown East, let alone midtown. And we'll all be tired, so we'd like a place in the area. I need a place that's cheap, within distance, and of course has great food. Any cuisine.


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  1. In this instance, exactly how cheap is "cheap"? Give us a per person budget, and tell us if that figure includes drinks (wine, liquor), tax & tip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGR

      Not exactly a budget cap., but it would be best to keep the entrees between 10 and 20 bucks, just because I'll be dropping money at Babbo the next night most likely.

    2. Zarela - 2nd Ave btwn 50th and 51st - would probably work for your group...very good mexican and nothing on the menu is over $20

      Divine Bar - 51st St btwn 2nd and 3rd Ave - might also be a good place to meet your friends, relax, drink some wine, and share some tapas

      1. P.J Clarks is an historic spot with good cheeseburgers. Angelo's Pizza on Second Ave is terrific New York (restaurant, not slice) pizza. Ray Bari does a good slice (a whole different animal from Angelo's restaurant pie.

        Houston's (a chain) has good food and low prices. The only cost is a huge wait if you go at peak hours.

        Second Ave has some Middle Eastern/Turkish whose name escapes me but is posted on this board quite often. (Look for "Turkish" with a "grumpy" owner.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

          The Middle Eastern/Turkish is Taksim or Sip Sak...both are good...but I think Native is thinking of Taksim

          1. re: Todd

            grumpy guy is at sip sak now. go to taksim...much better staff and owner!!

        2. I'd also suggest Grand Sichuan on 52ndish and 2nd Avenue.

          1. If it will be an early dinner -- 5 to 6:45 p.m. -- Montparnasse, the French bistro, on 51st St., b/t 2nd & 3rd Avs., offer a 3-course prix-fixe for $22.95.


            3 Replies
            1. re: RGR

              Grand Sichuan looked promising. But is their menu ( the english one) authentic, because I'm reading reviews posted by chinese people who speak the language. In other words, am I getting what the chinese people say they got, or just because we're a larger group and not chinese we'll get something differen? I know it sounds weird, but that's the case in many of the authentic chinese restaurants in SF Bay area.

              1. re: SamuelA.L.

                Forget it, I found the menu at Menupages.

                1. re: SamuelA.L.

                  I'm Chinese but I think their quality went down. I don't like that place anymore.

              2. For a drink , try le bateau ivre in that area. nice charm, and next to montparnasse. also for stylish, and inexpensive yet upscale puerto rican, try sofrito at 57/1st.

                for great panasian fusion, try fusha at 58th and 1st.

                both are good value, and a pleasant scene.

                1. I live in the neigborhood (51st btwn 1st and 2nd), and my best bet is Zarella. The room isn't beautiful, but the food is great. Especially the pork shoulder cooked in banana leaves, the oaxcan (sp?) lamb - it comes on and off the menu, and I love the arroz con crema.

                  Le Bateau is ok, pretty standard french bistro food, but their wine list is good and extensive. It may be a little pricey but Pampano is great - check out their menu to see if they are in your price range.

                  For more pub type food - PJ clarkes is really good, and as a rule I don't like the Press Box, however their steak sandwich is really good.

                  Finally Sip Sak - I have had no problem with the "grumpy owner", and the food is a great value.

                  1. Sip Sak is great, and I've not had issues with the owner either. They might let you BYO for $5 or $10 which is actually worth it at this place.

                    1. Feel like a Salmon Burger with a rice ball bun? Check out this especially affordable onigiri joint:


                      Enjoy. P.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Polecat

                        I'm a big fan of oms/b also (although it's definitely more for a super casual lunch to go)


                      2. Mee Noodle on 49th and 2nd.

                        Good noodle soups, excellent sauteed sliced chicken breast with eggplant. Very cheap, and worth every penny.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RCC

                          I highly recommend Mee's green beans with meat

                        2. Dos Caminos just opened on 50th and Third. Guacamole and margaritas are great....everything else is very average.

                          Burgers at Wollensky Grill are good. 49th and third

                          Pizza at Angelos on 54th and second

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jenniebnyc

                            These places hardly qualify as "cheap eats".

                            Try out Blockheads, its a Mexican place serving inexpensive tacos, burritos, salads, margaritas, etc. Very very good.

                            1. re: onefoodguy

                              When you live in San Fran and only have a couple nights in NYC, you don't really eat mexican. It's just so much better in California why bother. And I actually went to Blockheads with a friend while visiting 2 years ago after I moved out to Sf. Not bad for New York ( deal), but for San Francisco it wouldn't pass ( a huge well-made burrito cost me $4.50 here).

                              1. re: onefoodguy

                                you can get an entree at each of these places for 20 dollars or under, which is what poster asked for..... and imo blockheads is not very very good.

                            2. Not well known fact - afternoons from 11-3 you can get Pompano (Placido Domingo's upscale Mexican on 49th) as takeout from the food court of the Crystal Pavillion (entrance on 50th between 2nd and 3rd). Totally delicious tacos/burritos CHEAP.