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Oct 14, 2007 07:57 PM

On a Budget in Astoria/

Drowning in a sea of bills and rent, recent college grad here trying to survive in the city. So now I'm trying to cut back on the expenses of food especially eating out. Where can I find some bargain groceries in or near Astoria? What do you think are the best places to shop as well as take-out and/or dine at. I frequent Costco, Tradefair on 31st/30th st, order at Yaija, Viva El Mariachi, love JJ's, and Sunnyside's Natural Tofu. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! thanks so much

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  1. hi - welcome to the hood.

    I lived there for a bunch of years, and grocery shopping on a budget is pretty difficult in that the only really big super market (with good prices) is the Stop and Shop near Guitar Center off of Northern Blvd on the LIC/Woodside border. Otherwise I used to go to Ctown on Bway between 29th/30th which was okay in price, but not great. For cheap eats, there's Arepa Cafe on 36th Ave, Romano's for Gyros on Bway and 33rd (right near El Mariachi, which I dig). Uncle Georges on Bway for cheap greek eats (though most chowhounders would probably agree it's pretty mediocre, but great after a night of boozin').

    Where in the neighborhood do you live, and what kind of food do you enjoy. Based on that you can get some better recommendations.

    1. Brasilianville Cafe sells food by weight, and last year I had a delicious 13 ounce skirt steak, grilled, for less than $6

      3 Replies
      1. re: Brian S

        thanks for the replies, i moved near steinway between broadway and 31st a couple months ago... i love all food, especially trying new types of food and I love cooking as well. I've tried many of the places around this area such as Sripraphai, Kebab Kafe, JJ's as mentioned, Tournesol, Sac's, as well as many places in the city. My bf and I love good food. But being right out of college I don;t think my budget can take the toll it has on food already. Kebab Kafe was surprisingly expensive, which was not unwarranted because we had the tasting of offals. Surprising because offals are usually cheaper cuts of meat, but not surprising due to the quantity and flavors of food Ali prepared.
        I love to cook, and even that can rack up the dollar amount. I know that I need to be more frugal on the meals I prepare and learn to cook more on a budget. boo
        Anyways any ideas and/or tips would be much appreciated! I've been looking on the home cooking for budget meal ideas but any places to shop around this vicinity are extremely helpful. thanks!

        1. re: liveloveat34

          Someone mentioned Tacos Mexico on 38th just south of Broadway, their carnitas tacos are excellent, and cheap at $2 each. Definitely seconded.

          Also, I like Thai Pavillion for good Thai that is reasonably priced.

          1. re: Astoria Lurker

            tacos mexico has been a much frequented delivery place, and as far as speed it is exceptional. i have noticed that lately the quality hasn't been up to the usual standards. also the lengua taco at el viva mar. is soo much better but for some reason the chips are always stale there.
            thanks for all the suggestions! i'm def going to try these places out

      2. At Latin Cabana 34-44 Steinway St for $5.50 you can get one meat selection such as ground beef, roast pork, beef stew, pot roast, chicken stew, pepper steak, goat stew, pork chops which includes rice (white, yellow or black) and one side order (yuca, beans, maduros or salad). It's quite a hearty meal. Served 7 days. $6.50 after 3PM. Eat in or take out.

        1. The tacos at Tacos Mexico II on 38th just off Broadway are loaded with meat. Two (at $2 each) are a meal, and most days they're pretty good. Even better, and in the same price range but with less of a selection, are the gorditas and tostadas in the back of Cruz Mexican Products on 41st just off Broadway.

          For pizza in what is not a pizza neighborhood, I like the square slices at Rizzo's and the Greek-style pies at the otherwise skippable Pamela on Steinway near 30th.

          The cold cuts and sausages at Muncan on Broadway around 43rd are far better than anything you'll find in a grocery store and generally cheaper. The two produce markets on 30th Ave. betwreen Steinway and 31st have better prices than supermarkets. United Bros. or whatever it is is usually better on quality and Elliniki Gonia is generally cheaper, but they're close enough together that comparison shopping is easy.

          Costco's cheap but bulk shopping is tough if you're cooking for one or two. Those 5-lb. packs of chicken parts and sacks of romaine hearts may be good buys, but if it's just going to languish inthe freezer or go uneaten, you may find yourself eating for less because you'll be keener on cooking and eating in if you shop in small quantities at all the great little ethnic grocers and shops. Make a meal of some peasant bread from Parisi or Gian Piero, a half-pound block of bulgarian feta and some olives and fruit, or fry up a krajinska sausage from Muncan and pair it with whatever vegetable's a good buy that day.. simmer a bag of mussels from a fish market with some wine, garlic and whatever else. Think outside the supermarket.

          Also be sure to print up some South or East Asian recipes and then take the R/G/V line out to Jackson Heights for the Indo-Pak markets on 37th Av. near 74th and to the Elmhurst stop for the big Chinese supermarkets among other things. It's a 10-minute ride or less and the prices are very good.

          6 Replies
          1. re: hatless

            Livelove, Welcome to the neighborhood. There are plenty of good deals at the great food shops. At international meats they offer lamb shoulder for under $3/lb (usually) this is much cheaper than chops. Have the cut steaks from the shoulder and grill or broil them. Or have them cut up the shoulder for stew with lots of veg and then add orzo or potatoes at the end to bulk it it.

            They also offer veal neck meat for $3.99lb. Goes a long way in a slow cook meat ragu. Use cheap red wine, crushed tomatoes and some cheap sausage. Add to pasta. This should last you a few days meals easily.

            Next door at Marino and sons buy some cheap fish for stew and they will give you plenty of free fish heads and parts for your stock.

            Hit the 24hr produce stands on 30th ave by 32nd street for seasonal cheap items for your salads, soups and stews. Its a great season for awesome hearty cheap meals.

            Munkin meats up on Broadway has fantastic cured pork items. That flavor goes a long way for very little money.

            1. re: pulled pork

              Hatless has it pretty well, although I think you have it backwards about the fruit stands. United Bros is cheaper and poorer quality (often inedible) and Elliniki has much much better quality and is more expensive. Personally, I would skip United Brothers.

              1. re: pulled pork

                Are Marino and International Meats the neighboring stores on 30th ave around 36th street? How is the fish quality at Marino? Are there any fantastic seafood stores in Astoria?

                1. re: jdream

                  Yep. Marino and International are neighbors on the south side of 30th Ave between 36th and 37th Streets. Both are excellent; as to your question, I've gotten a number of different items from Marino's and have never been disappointed. I'd be shocked if there were a better fish market in Astoria.

                  1. re: jmat

                    i second jmat. marino's is great. they make me a better cook. they will sell you fresh seafood and give you excellent advice as to how to prepare it. the prices are at market level but the quality is high.

                    1. re: vatcat

                      thanks for the enthusiastic responses. i'm looking forward to trying it soon.

            2. Inexpensive meals and tasty? I'd start off with making a big fresh mozzarella salad that will keep for 2-3 days--keep it simple, can of chick peas rinsed drained, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella about 1.5 lb from Sorriso's (the best ever) and in Astoria, roast your own red peppers very easy, and you should be able to find them at about $2 a lb--roast about 6 of them, peel and add them, get some sicilian olives from Sorriso's or wherever, or whatever olives you prefer, thinly sliced red onion--put fresh parsley, oregano, olive oil, balsamic vinager, some fresh garlic, salt, pepper, etc..let it marinate..some good bread --Parisi it plain or make garlic bread---delicious dinner, lunch, etc...Like Hatless's suggestion of Feta and Olives..why not broil it with olive oil and oregano--and again good bread-----------or make a little salad, serve this warm on top, and then open up a can of grape Leaves from Titan in Astoria, and make sure you get the feta from them, they are the best.........2 easy meals, and inexpensive. Add some Humus to it, and whatever other dips...try to make marinade little salads, canneloni bean salad, etc...that will keep for a couple days, these are great for budget meals and very healthy, too.