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Visiting NYC--need cheap rec's

Hi! I've searched a bit on the board but thought it would help to ask my question directly. I'm a professor coming on a research trip to NYC with a student. We're staying at the Affinia Hotel at 34th and Lexington. We'll be doing most of our research at the New York Public Library and a little at Columbia (for one day).

I'd like recommendations of relatively cheap places to eat since we will be using our travel budget, which is deflating rapidly due to cost of airline tix and lodging. I don't think she's been to NYC before so anything you would consider "quintessential" would be great. I'd love to take her for good bagels, cheap Asian food (like dumplings), decent Italian, but I'm also open to suggestion. We're certainly not opposed to subway rides and adventure, but I'm a bit nervous since this is the first time I've been responsible for a younger person in New York. Also, we're coming from Austin, if that helps give a sense of what kind of cuisine she's had (good south of the border and 'que).

I have to admit that I'd love to go to Perilla but am worried about our ability to get in and the expense.

Thanks for any help!
Hermance

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  1. Szechuan Gourmet is very close to the 5th Ave. library. (39th St. between 5th and 6th Aves.) It's highly regarded by me and a number of others on the boards. Not everything on the menu is blazing hot - in fact about half of the dishes are mild. Very good food that's relatively cheap by NY standards.

    A recent thread -
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/399517

    1. I'd definitely try and make it to Katz's Deli on Houston & Ludlow (Lower East Side).

      You can split a pastrami on rye, french fries or a knish and some Dr. Browns. Don't forget the pickles and NO mayo!

      http://www.katzdeli.com/

      1. for lunch go to grand central and sit at THE OYSTER BAR and share some oysters. by myself i get half a dozen, a bowl of manhattan clam chowder and a glass of wine or a draft beer and its about $25. a very ny experience. if you don't like oysters, for less money there is also a food court in grand central with lots of options -- i am thinking this is a good excuse to see grand central along with you lunch.

        just below your hotel on lex is the curry hill nabe. lots of inexpensive indian food options. i have not eaten around there in awhile, last time was the little deli upstairs in KALYUSTIANS grocery and another place was CHINESE MIRCH, an chinese-indian hybrid resturant. both were great. i am sure others will have curry hill recs.

        for bagels i know there is an ESS-A-BAGEL on 3rd ave in the 40's-50's somewhere, i dk what else good is any closer. my fav manhattan bagels are MURRAYS.

        even tho you are working i hope you find some time to enjoy your visit!

        1. I'm going to try and keep you in the same vicinity of the city so you can browse each of these places perhaps in one visit. You'll be mostly right along 1st Avenue, the East Village, with these recommendations. They are all very good, and best of all, you won't break the bank.

          Bagels: http://www.ess-a-bagel.com/

          Pizza: http://www.vinnyvincenz.com/

          Sweets: http://www.venierospastry.com/Merchan...

          Deli: http://www.katzdeli.com/

          1. On the block of 41st St. just in front of the library (41st St. between 5th Ave. and Madison Ave.) are a number of cheap Japanese places. The Yagura grocery store has a low cost lunch counter at the front of the store offering noodles and rice dishes.

            Pretty close to where you'll be staying is Manhattan's Koreatown. The main street of this area is 32nd St. Between 5th & 6th Aves., with other places scattered on the nearby blocks. Look around here for inexpensive lunch or dinner options. Many of the places here are open very late or even 24 hours.

            As someone above mentioned, you'll be staying just north of the so-called "Curry Hill" area of South Asian restaurants. There are a number of really cheap places aimed at cab drivers (many of whom come from that part of the world) that will give you a lot of steam table food cheap. Better are the area's many South Indian places, serving dosas, etc.. The best of these is Saravanna's on Lexington & 26th. A good northern Indian lunch place is Minar on 31st St. just west of 5th Ave.

            A block east on Third Ave. you' ll find some coffee shops and other places to have a decent breakfast. Also over there just north of 34th St. is the best Philly-style cheesteak place in NYC, Carl's (carryout only). On 34th St. just east of 3rd Ave. is one of NYC's best Turkish restaurants, Ali Baba. Not everything there is super cheap, but they do make some good mezze (appetizers, often combined to make a meal) and pide (Turkish style pizzas) at affordable prices. Right near where you'll be staying is the Lemongrass Grill Thai restaurant on 34th St., which looks good from the outside. It isn't - avoid it.

            Up by Columbia, the strip of Broadway between 110th St. and campus has a number of restaurants catering to students and other college types. There really isn't anything great here, but you should be able to find something inexpensive. For something a little more exotic there is an Ethiopian place on Amsterdam & 1221st that is OK.

            A great resource for scoping out places ahead of time, and getting some notion of prices (although not every place keeps their entries fully updated) is menupages.com.