Hi, I'm going to New York in November and would like some recommendations for interesting, unusual places to eat that also aren't too expensive. I guess my budget for meals is about $50 per day. And I'll eat anything, but particularly love Italian and French food. I live in London and eat out loads. Thanks!
Welcome to the US!! Lucky guys that can spend $50 a day which is like $25 a day for you.
What area of town will you be in?
That's a really tight budget for NYC.
'ino...bedford and downing in the west village...tiny, no reservations, cheap, crowded, but fun. get the cheese plate, truffled egg toast, and quattro panini (samples of 4 sandwiches). skip the lower east side branch.
da andrea...bologna-style italian. handmade pasta, relatively inexpensive considering the quality. on hudson near 10th street...west village.
corner bistro...about 2-3 blocks from da andrea on west 4th and jane. old school village pub, great burgers...open very late...til 4am for burgers.
freemans...down an alley on rivington and bowery. brunch on weekends is solid and well priced. get the sourdough and cheddar sandwich...good coffee there too.
katz's deli for pastrami on club bread is a must...ludlow and houston. cash only.
cheap french is a bit hard but la bonne soupe on 55th and 6th ave in midtown is a great little french spot in a sea of expensive places. go there on a friday before you go to the MOMA which is free on friday afternoons.
I think it's hard to do "unusual" but still go with France or Italian, when I think unusual something like Ethopian comes to mind. But, I would suggest you maybe head down to the Meatpacking District and check out Pastis. Or, here's a good one for you, P*Ong. They kind of put the whole savory/sweet thing on it's ear so that may actually fit your unusual criteria.
The East Village has tons of interesting cheap eats. There's Otafuku for Japanese octopus balls, BAMN for automat food (not good, but a novelty), Pomme Frites for Belgian fries, Cacio e Pepe or Cucina di Pesce for inexpensive Italtian meals, Veselka for Ukranian fare, etc.
You can also check out RGR's walking tour of the Lower East Side. Lots of people rave about it.