HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


72 hours in NYC. What (cheapeats) NOT to miss?

Hey guys,
I'll be flying up to NYC during the start of March and I'll only have less than 3 days to spend there. Its a really short trip and I want to get the best FOOD experience possible!

My budget isn't very big, cos I'm still a money-scrimping student. But I might put aside money for one GREAT meal.

I basically have 8 meals to think about:
2 Breakfasts;
3 Lunches;
3 Dinners.

No Asian suggestions please, cos I'm Chinese and I'm already stuffed with chinese food on a daily basis! Haha.

Feel free to spring any other suggestions about places to go too! Probably not the touristy sights, cos I've been to them before.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If one of your breakfast would fall on a weekday (M-F). I would highly recommend checking-out Clinton St. Baking Co. for their Blueberry pancakes and any other breakfast/lunch dish with bacon. It's a very popular weekend brunch place with long lines on the weekend but, easy to get too within the week.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nyufoodie

      Clinton Street Bakery has absolutely insane pancakes- but dude, not even close to cheap eats (relatively speaking for pancakes). In fact, they are the highest priced pancakes I've seen. For a better deal with truly insanely delicious pancakes as well is Pink Teacup on Grove in the West Village. It's a freakin' awesome soul food place serving the best fresh strawberry pancakes anywhere in Manhattan. Get the fried pork chop on the side (yes, it's a standard side order for the pancakes). Enjoy the hell out of it.

    2. Best burgers in the city are found at Corner Bistro -- corner of West 4th and Jane in Greenwich Village. Burgers are about $6, fries are $2. No frills, 7-items menu. M

      1 Reply
      1. re: cubangirl

        If the Op has time for another burger...check-out the burger at the burger joint of le parker meridien hotel on west 56th bet. 6th and 7th ave....it's located behind velvet curtains off the lobby of the hotel...a burger, fries will be less than 10 bucks as well...which i find way better than the old favorite corner bistro. You may opt to try the higher end restos during lunch where some offer good deals for a 3 course pre-fix around the 24 to 30 bucks range vs x3 of that for dinner. Some of the places that have good lunch deals that I would recommend would be Telepan (New American) on W69th ($28 3 course lunch) and Columbus and Devi (Indian) - $24++ for a 3 course prefix. I just went to both places for Restaurant week recently and had good experiences there. If, you haven't been to Katz for a pastrami, I would definitely suggest that you go there too and maybe walk to the nearby appetizing store Russ and Daughters to peruse there smoked fish, etc.

      2. Velselka on lower 2nd Ave. Good breakfast or lunch spot.....diner fare with an eastern european concentration. Excellent soups.

        Otto for great wine, cheese, gelato and "OK" pizza/pasta.

        Taksim for turkish.

        1. A pretzel croissant and hot chocolate from City Bakery (3 W 18th bet 5th and 6th) for a very filling breakfast

          Potato pizza from Sullivan Street Bakery (73 Sullivan St between Spring and Broome) for a light lunch

          For your splurge, consider doing a tasting menu for lunch - a lot of top restaurants have lunch prix fixe menus (although not necessarily every day), and they're a great value - my favorites were Le Bernardin and Bouley ($58 and $38/48 respectively). Then get pizza for dinner. Or eat at the bar at Lupa - if you get a pasta and contorno, and don't drink, you could get out for under $30.

          1 Reply
          1. re: daveena

            All good suggestions. But remember that the original Sullivan Street Bakery (on Sullivan Street) is now called Grandaisy. The Hell's Kitchen branch is still called Sullivan Street Bakery.

          2. Good call on Lupa - we got out of there Friday night for $110 (including tax but not tip, as I don't know what my Customary Dining Conpanion left - he picked up the check, the little dear), including a big salume starter that we shared, an excellent pasta each, and dessert - plus a good bottle of Dolce di Alba. Fabulous service - like, 10 out of 10. Go!

            Also, we had an after-theatre late nightcap and yet another dessert at Gordon Ramsay's London Bar. CDC had, as he said, not only the best rice pudding he's ever had, but the best dessert he's ever had in a resto. It was accompanied by a scoop of mascarpone/pecan ice cream that was so good I didn't even get a taste, dammit, plus a small pitcher of a mango sauce for the pudding. Cost? A measly eight bucks. The taste? Priceless.

            1. eat from the basic food groups: knish, egg roll, hot dog--sabrett's with onions or kosher, pizza.

              1. For a great wallet friendly brunch (sat and sun i think between 12 and 4) try l'orange bleu in soho (broome and crosby streets) its 13 bucks, includes coffee, a mimosa or sangreia, and everything on the menu that i've had was wonderful. The eggs benedict with crabcakes is killer and don't miss their amazing fries. Service is kinda boheimian laid back but damn well worth it. Try Olives, Les Halles (steak frites the way to go), Gotham, or any of the other great Union Square/Gramercy area places for lunch. Alot of them have a good lunch menu on the cheap (i'd go for Olives, a pasta and maybe a flatbread, but i'm partial as I've worked there). Also for a great lunch spot (a little more casual quick bite place) check out Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner center.

                1. cube 63 - amazing sushi and BYOB
                  nyonya - excellent authentic malaysian food
                  two boots - awesome pizza
                  blockheads - fresh, tasty burritos
                  lamarca - unbelievable pasta
                  crif dogs - hot dog joint with a ms. pacman machine
                  crosby connection - streetside sandwich vendor
                  yuca bar - latin food


                  1. Have a karisik (mixed) pide at Ali Baba.


                    You'll be hard pressed to spend more than $12 for a big meal at Florence's


                    1. 1. Diamond Dairy or Taim Tov-both inexpensive and historic (both on 47th Street)
                      2. The overnight (8 PM - 4 AM) meat and rice vendor at 53rd and 6th Avenue-famous, delicious, and cheap (the combo is $5)

                      Make any meal inexpensive by avoiding liquor, bottled watter, dessert, and coffee. When the waiter asks "still or bubbly water?" you respond firmly with the third option..."TAP WATER, PLEASE."

                      Then have coffee and dessert at an authentic Italian bakery like Rocco's.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                        The NYTimes just gave Taim Tov a great review. Lunch only M-F.

                      2. Gotta have a great bagel with veggie cream cheese (H & H is great)
                        Gotta have a good Black and White cookie
                        New York pizza is a must...I like John's, but there are many good ones
                        Falafel is another favorite..good vendors on street, and I hear that Taboon is good
                        Cheesecake, if you are a fan, is the best in NY
                        Go to Stage Deli or Katz (there are other good ones) and split a fabulous sandwich
                        These are all affordable and very yummy!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: jinet12

                          Ess-A-Bagel on 3rd Ave and 50th for New York's best bagel.
                          Hot and Crusty in Grand Central for a great Black and White cookie

                            1. re: Dianora

                              Another for Essa-A-Bagel. Also try the bialies at Kossar's on the Lower East Side.

                          1. re: jinet12

                            I would avoid the Stage Deli. In my view, the food is poor.

                            Definitely Katz's, where it's all about the pastrami.

                            1. re: jinet12

                              Our favorite B/W cookie is from Junior's, you can get them in Grand Central location or go to Brooklyn. Their cheesecake is also great.

                            2. Wow! So many great suggestions!
                              ARGH its looks like I'm spoilt for choice then!
                              Thanks, keep em coming! Love to hear more!

                              1. A good way to experience some of NY's better restaurants without totally flattening your wallet is to go for the well-priced 3-course lunch prix-fixes they offer. Here are a few:

                                Eleven Madison Park - $36 http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com

                                Gramercy Tavern - $36 http://www.gramercytavern.com/_media/...

                                Fleur de Sel - $25 http://www.fleurdeselnyc.com

                                Gotham Bar and Grill - $27 http://www.gothambarandgrill.com

                                Devi - $24.07 htttp://www.devinyc.com

                                Pampano - $25 http://www.modernmexican.com/pampano

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: RGR

                                  to the above list I would also add Del Posto's Enoteca tasting menu (not their dinning room) which I think is $46, You can get this deal at dinner as well...

                                  1. re: Cpalms

                                    I haven't been to Del Posto, but I've read that because business was slow, to entice diners, they had been offering an early dinner deal in the main restaurant. However, now that things have picked up substantially, they've discontinued it.

                                  2. re: RGR

                                    for someone from outside nyc (unless ur from san fran or a few other expensive US cities) those prices are very steep...

                                    If you want the whole celebrity chef thing without the pricetag (and albeit less creativity and not as tasty) try bouchon bakery in Time Warner center. It is pretty good but nothing spectacular.

                                  3. I love Bite for a quick bite (no pun intended). You can get sandwiches on Balthazar bread with fancy mozarella and fresh veggies for $6-7 with a drink. They also have a Nutella-banana panini. I had their middle eastern vegan sandwich (kind of like a middle eastern banh mi) and lentil soup. One of the best things I've ever eaten. Service is friendly too. One location is at Bleecker and Lafayette (by the 6 train) and the other is on 14 St. between 3 and 2 Ave.

                                    A little pricier is the new Cafe Falai on Lafayette/Prince St. Hip Soho atmosphere with carefully prepared Italian/French food. I had stewed figs with fresh ricotta and almond brittle for $9.

                                    Another cheap spot is Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop on the LES. You can easily eave with tax and tip for under $10. Around the corner is il Laboratorio del Gelato, one of my favorite gelato spots in the city.

                                    Taim's falafel in the West Village is super fresh.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: thesu

                                      I second Bite and Tiny's. And if Cafe Falai is as good as the other Falais, then it'll probably be very good as well. I'm a big fan of the Falai Panetteria's pastries.

                                      If you end up at Tiny's, you can easily make that sandwich last two meals. Just eat half. Then go next door to Dash Dogs and order a slider. Then a cupcake across the street from Sugar Sweet Sunshine, if it's too cold for gelato. Or a slice at Rosario's. Or something else at Zozo's. You can get a whole lot of cheap fooding done in that neighborhood!

                                    2. i'm not sure yet what day of the season it reopens, but shake shack will be reopening for the season in march sometime, and has, hands down, the best burgers i've ever tasted. http://shakeshacknyc.com/index.html
                                      get shack burgers and fries and a milkshake or one of their frozen custards if its not toooo cold out (yes, its all outside in madison square park.) and you'll be in heaven.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: vatl619

                                        March 21st, so probably too late for the original poster.

                                      2. When it comes to cheap eats, there are a few places that come to mind. Definitely you have to do the Halal cart on the southwest corner of 53rd and 6th. There are insane hour long lines for this guy at 3am. He's that good. His fans even made him a website. It's 5 bucks for a very filling portion of halal chicken/lamb with rice, pita, and salad.

                                        Also Pomme Frites in the village is a great snack place. Dallas BBQ is great and filling. And if you're willing, there's no place like Chinatown and Flushing for great cheap chinese food. Big Wong and Joe's Shanghai come to mind. Seoul Garden in Koreatown is also great for high quality, cheap ethnic fare.


                                        1. For bagel and Lox or Smoked Salmon Russ and Daughters is a mind blowing experiance
                                          For Falafel Chickpea is cheap and good
                                          For Humus go to the Hummus Place
                                          Katzes for a nice pastrami sandwich
                                          I like the muffins and cupcakes at Cupcake Cafe


                                          1. The burgers at J.G.Melon are the best and second to those would be Rare...if you want a great lobster for cheap, head to Francisco's Centro Vasco....best lobsters around...the sangria isn't bad either!!

                                            1. For one great meal, I agree w/the people who say to do a Prix-Fixe lunch at Gotham, Gramercy Tavern, or 11 Madison Park.

                                              For "must go" NY places: I'd say Katz's if you're a meat eater, and same w/Corner Bistro. Russ and Daughters is also great. A slice at Two Boots, while not classic NY pizza, is pretty good. B&H dairy (now named vegetarian) for breakfast/lunch is also an NY classic. I would skip Veselka and go there instead.

                                              Other places to consider that are reasonable (not dirt cheap) and special in one way or another: Lavagna and Le Tableau, owned by the same company, do consistently good food (Italian and French respectively) for reasonable prices. http://www.lavagnanyc.com/
                                              Although I haven't been there in a couple of years, 'Ino is good food, good wine. Another nice spot for a panino and great wine is Bar Veloce, which is really pleasant when it's not too crowded. You might also want to check out the Spotted Pig. If you're into cheese, go to Artisanal for a cheese plate.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: redbecca

                                                Eisenberg's is a lunch counter on 5th Ave and 22nd Street. It's no frills, but they have arguably the best corned beef sandwich in the city. Cheap, too.

                                                For something a little different and a little more upscale, Sala is right around the corner from there. Great tapas.

                                                1. re: redbecca

                                                  Lavagna is NOT cheap! I haven't been there recently, but when I've gone for dinner, I've usually paid about $110-120 for two people (including tip)! I also have eaten very well there but don't consider it a "can't-miss" place on a 3-day trip, by any stretch of the imagination.

                                                  1. re: redbecca

                                                    Just went to Le Tableau for the first time. Was a bit disappointed with the duck. Polenta side and escargot with spinach & cream was delicious. I love Lavagna. Lavagna also has a prix fixe dinner. For brunch you may want to consider I Coppi (lovely year round indoor garden) or Cornelia Street Cafe (their back DR has a fireplace). Both have pretty good brunch deals that include a cocktail. Read the comments on menupages.com

                                                  2. If you're focusing on tasty, *inexpensive* eats that aren't also Chinese, I'd make a special effort to look up certain street carts, vendors, and hole in the wall kinds of places, and eat snacks or small meals more than full-blow multi-course offerings. Walk a lot and you'll hopefully keep yourself hungry enough to enjoy all that food!

                                                    If you like other, non-Chinese Asian cuisines, have at least one meal at Chennai Garden for the dosai, or if you find yourself in the West Village M-Sat at lunch time, check out Thiru's dosai cart on Washington Square South. (other option: Pongol; more fusiony approach: Hampton Chutney Co.).

                                                    If you lunch with Thiru, either save room in your lunch tummy for the falafel on MacDougal St., right around the corne, or stick around long enough for one, for dinner or an afternoon snack. A lot of people swear by the $2 falafels at Mamoun's, but the one across the street is good, too. Same price. Great baklava for $1 at Mamoun's too. There's a fusiony Indian place called Kati Roll that's not too shabby.

                                                    Tomoe is close to the dosai cart and Mamoun's, too (and incidentally right next door to Lupa, mentioned above). It has been one of the best sushi places in the city and is much less expensive than other sushi joints of comparable quality. (I do hear reports it's gone downhill recently, but lines are as long as ever.)

                                                    For empanadas, check out either Flor's Kitchen or Empanada Mama's.

                                                    For bakeries (pastries, breads, gelatos), try Bruno's Bakery on Bleeker or the place right next door to it. Or try Veniero's if you're further north, Le Pain Quotidien if you're even further north. For desserts only, Cafe Mozart and Cafe Lallo aren't bad. Not sure if I'd personally make a special trip for them, though.

                                                    Pizza: John's Pizza or Joe's Pizza, both good.

                                                    Thai: Wondee Siam

                                                    For self catering, check out Zabar's on the UWS (also have a "cafe").

                                                    For that one blow-out meal, I'd look into Cafe Gray or Tabla for dinner or maybe Sushi Samba or Blue Ribbon Bakery for brunch. Possibly the Modern's Bar Room for lunch, though you won't get a lot of bang for your buck there. Trendy places that might be slightly less expensive include Eatery (hell's kitchen),

                                                    For good knish in Manhattan, head to the LES--hopefully someone can step up with a specific suggestion for where to go.

                                                    And yes, do have at least one cup of coffee, one shish kebab, one soft pretzel, and one bag of roasted nuts from those ubiquitous sidewalk vendors. They are quintessentially NYC.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                      A knish is a must (and inexpensive, filling and non-Chinese!). There is only one knish place left on the LES (something that starts with a Y?). Mrs Stahl's in Brooklyn is a must for knishes (but you can always have them shipped later if you can't make it to Brooklyn this time!).

                                                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                        You refer to Yonah Shimmel's. And they are amazing.

                                                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                          Didn't Mrs Stahl's close? Ah, how I miss their onion boards!

                                                      2. Oh, almost forgot: Ivo and Lulu has a good bang for the buck dinner (classic "european" cuisine, pretty well prepared) and is BYOB. It's a pain in the ars to get a seat at this teeny tiny place, though, so if you plan on going, go early.

                                                        1. Caracas Arepa Bar on 7th St. near 1st Ave., East Village for cheap Venezuelan arepas that are delicious!

                                                          1. I second both Caracas Arepa Bar and Ivo and Lulu (carribean french fusiony but well done). They arent dirt cheap but are top quality, great bang for the buck (ivo and lul u can easily eat for less than 15 and byob and caracas i think its 3-4 dollars per arepa and u eat 2-3). I imagine you are just looking for places in manhattan or else this would be a completely different response/post.

                                                            If you are into burgers tryburger joint at le parker-meridien. I also hear that up in the Upper west side the restaurant that was formerly onera (very good but pricy greek) has changed to less expensive more down to earth greek authentic cooking for much lower prices and has been renamed kefi? (not sure but i know it was renamed).

                                                            Pizza-go for patsy's in east harlem (not other ones) or john's pizzeria or Lombardi's...all depends what style you like.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Sambossanova

                                                              Press Toast. great, cheap israeli sandwiches on macdougal street.