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Fun Manhattan challange

So, one of my best friends from home (Oregon) is visiting me. She's been under a lot of stress lately, so I want to show her an amazing time in Manhattan. Because we are getting a hotel, our budget is stretched a bit thin. I'm looking for fun, funky places to take her that are pretty inexpensive. She is very easy to please, but she's not into sushi. Hole-in-the-wall places are a bonus! I also want to treat her to food that she cant get in Oregon. After looking at the "poor student" post, I got a few ideas. Comments and suggestions are much appreciated!

3 or 4 lunches
3 dinners

Here are my ideas so far:

-Le Tableau or Ivo & Lulu for dinner (I really want to take her to a French or French fusion place)
-Mamoun's for lunch
-Caracas Arepa Bar for lunch
-I definity want to take her to a nice place for a prix fixe lunch... maybe Tabla?
-My favorite dumping place in Chinatown

Thats all I have! Also, any suggestions for a place with great late-night cocktails and a good scene would be great!

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  1. Gotham's lunch prix fixe is quite nice, as is the lovely room.
    I used to be an Ivo and Lulu fan, but it's just not worth it anymore, especially with the headache of waiting for a table and schlepping wine. If you want to do a byob I recommend Nook (although not french) on 9th avenue, if you end up going get the mushroom cigar appetizer.
    For something she definitely can't get in Oregon, go to Room 4 Dessert later on in the evening, toward closing (1am), there won't be a wait and you can get a cocktail and a dessert in a glass. Don't know what your idea of a good scene is, but a cocktail-centric bar like Employees Only (do a search here and you'll get plenty of alternative ideas) would be a good bet.

    1. For the prix fixe take her to Gotham Bar and Grill (it's $20 each!) or La Palapa in the West Village ($10ish?)

      Holes-in-walls are difficult to come by in Manhattan, you typically get what you pay for. In Flushing (Queens) I would highly recommend Gu-Shine (cheap and perhaps on the best chinese restaurants east of the Mississippi!). Back in Manhattan I would try Itzocan for Mexican in the East Village (my favorite Mexican restaurant in NY). Finally, Meskel (Ethiopian) in the East Village.

      3 Replies
      1. re: finisterra

        I second Meskel. Also, it's BYOB so definitely pick up a bottle of wine down the street!

        1. re: finisterra

          I'm confused... I just checked the Gotham Bar and Grill menu online, and it says the pri fixe lunch is $27. Am I looking in the wrong place?

          1. re: thunderbug84

            Last year it was less than $24! My bad.

        2. how about a burger and shake at shake shack for lunch?

          2 Replies
          1. re: noot

            Or a lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar?

            1. re: MellieMac

              That wouldn't be cheap (just the sandwich is ~$25 - for that they could go to the Jean Georges prix fixe)

          2. Caracas has great food (and the sardine-like seating is certainly an NYC thing she won't get in Oregon!); ditto Shake Shack (and the lines are another distinctly NYC thing).
            Also cheap and great is banh mi at Saigon Banh Mi (tucked behind a jade jewelry store)

            I loved the lovely prix fixe lunch at Perry St (check out Brian S's great post on the Perry St lunch from last November or so for details/temptation)

            1. Don't forget the NY classics: pizza, bagels, smoked salmon, Jewish deli (Katz's!), etc.

              I second the recommendations of Shake Shack and Caracas, as well as looking up the prix fixe lunch deals at Perry St, Jean Georges, Fleur de Sel, etc.

              For something she definitely can't get in Oregon, take the train up to East Harlem and go to Patsy's for wonderful thin-crust pizza.

              Going to the Outer Boroughs is definitely a great idea -- things will probably be cheaper, too.

              And don't forget street food! New York Magazine has a whole feature about the various carts around town this week.
              http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...

              Oh, and do a search of RGR's LES walking tour, too.

              3 Replies
              1. re: kathryn

                Right! I forgot to mention that I'm going to take her to Ess-A-Bagel. Thanks for the pizza suggestions... I still have never had a New York slice!

                What do you think about taking her to Perilla? It would be on the nicer end, but I think she'd really like the simple flavors. Also, how hard is it to get reservations there?

                1. re: thunderbug84

                  IMO, Perilla is not worth the price. Concepts are good and well thought out, but execution leaves something to be desire--I think in part b/c the kitchen does not use top notch ingredients.

                2. re: kathryn

                  shake shack is a great idea - and i agree with what rose water said about the line.

                  when my cousin and her husband came in from texas earlier this year we went on a pizza tour. they went to coney island while i was at work and went to totonno's and nathan's at 11. then they met me uptown at patsy's. we wanted to go to una pizza naepolatana but they were on vacation for a week, oddly. so we ended at grimaldi's and had dessert at jacques torres and a beer at superfine afterward. i ALMOST didn't want to eat pizza for a few days. my cousin loves di fara the best (but that was just way too far out for this tour) and her husband is a grimaldi's fan. i think i like totonno's and di fara the best.

                  i really like itzocan cafe also, its tiny and funky and fun on a summer night.

                  question: is NYC the only place that has these restaurants devoted to one specific food? like s'mac, rice to riches, the pb and j place and the grilled cheese sandwich place?