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FREE Food in Manhattan and Outer Boroughs

Talk about an attention-getter.

We all here share a passion for eating. I saw a similar thread on another board and it piqued my interest. Has anyone ever gotten FREE food in any way, shape, or form in Manhattan or the Outer Boroughs? I'd love to hear about it. It could be samples, a comped meal, eating and forgetting to pay the check, walking out with someone elses groceries, five-finger-discount ... you name it...let's hear it. Also, while we're on the subject, let us know where we can sample some good eats (period) w/o spending a dime.

Our 2008 resolution -- spend LESS -- but still eat well. ; )

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  1. I sneak into certe every once and a while to get their free samples of pastries. I love them. Partially about not spending the money, I have to admit, the only part is about not eating a whole one because they are way too good to be low fat.

    1. Cheese Boy,
      Not entirely free, but for practically nothing, a local, community group used to hold an annual, "Taste of Bay Ridge" evening at TJ Bentley's. The food was donated by numerous well known Bay Ridge eateries as a way for them to support the community, gain exposure and showcase some of their 'signature' dishes. For a very nominal fee, diners could try one or all of the dishes bieng offered by these restaurants. Offerings included small plates of appetizers, pastas entrees and dessserts and there was no limit on how many 'tastings' a diner could have. I don't know if it's still being done, but it's as close to free food as one is likely to get... At least in Bay Ridge! :-}

      2 Replies
      1. re: Tay

        Tay, this also shares a common thread with what you mentioned (ptp) ...

        $25, $15, or $10 ---> http://www.boedc.com/press_release/?id=8

        1. re: Cheese Boy

          cheese boy
          They do , or used to do, a "Taste of Staten Island" as well.

      2. well, im not sure if it qualifys for good eats exactly, but crocodile lounge on 14th st gives you a personal pan pizza with every drink. and theyre not awful....

        3 Replies
        1. re: bastet212

          I went to Suibi, the only Okinawan restaurant in town with my wife who's from Okinawa and a few friends who taught English with me in Okinawa. We got a free bottle of awamori, which is Okinawan sake. We ended up drinking it along with the owner. Not quite top shelf stuff, but at least a $30 value I'd guess.

          1. re: JSHAFT78

            And there's a sushi place, the one next to Sushi Samba but not Sushi Samba, that gives free sake with sushi when you dine in. Not the same $30 value, but a great treat.

            1. re: doona

              Azuki. $15 of sushi for free wine/house sake. Unsure about the quality of either drinks though since the wine is poured out from a pitcher - questionable but pretty fresh sushi! I think the deal is only after a certain time... Make reservations or it's a long wait.

        2. Either last year or a couple of years ago, I attended the Pakistani(?) parade/festival where they were giving out tons of free food -- samosas, soda, water, chana dal, pulao, etc.

          My mom used to tell me that when I was a baby, I imitated my mother shopping by taking food from the shelves and stuffing it in my baby carriage underneath the blankets. She wouldn't discover this until we got home.

          1. When I was in school and really had no money I would go to the food court at Manhattan Mall and make a meal out of samples. Yes I was "that" guy.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JungMann

              I did that at the Bowery Whole Foods on Saturdays. I guess that makes me the yuppie version of "that girl".

              1. re: piccola

                Now that I've realized that you can get free samples of food at Russ & Daughters, Katz's and the other old delis in the LES, I may become "that hipster."

            2. Reflecting the ambivalence noted elsewhere about "good food", I would mention that Benson's (123 W 52) puts out some serious potato skins at 1730 followed by fried chicken at 1800. Drinks are certainly not cheap, but big. Naples 45 (Met Life Bldg) follows a similar schedule with pizza. The wine there is interesting, but, once again, not cheap. If you watch your liquid intake, both can be v inexpensive.

              1. I haven't been to either of these weekday happy hours in a while, but Rodeo Bar used to - and maybe still does - put out nachos and chicken wings. And Pravda used to - and maybe still does - bring over a tray of tiny fancy snacks. At the Union Square Greenmarket, Rick's Picks offers samples, as do many of the fruit vendors. I also used to be "that pseudo-cultured girl" who went to gallery openings for the free wine.

                1. Do the Hare Krishnas still serve dal or curry or whatever they serve at Tompkins Square? I promise to investigate if I see their big vat anytime soon.

                  And my free food involves the fact that my partner and I have sublet our apartment for three six-month stretches while living in India. The second stint some French guys sublet the place, and when they moved out they left duck confit, Champagne, and chocolate in the fridge. The potatoes we fried in the duck fat were arguably even better than the confit itself . . ..

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Wisco

                    I know that the Krishas serve a free meal at their downtown Brooklyn temple on Sundays. I always meant to stop by, but never made it. :(

                    Back when I was poor, a $6 pitcher of Miller Lite and 2 free hot dogs @ Rudy's was my typical dinner.

                  2. Okay I have made a meal before on the free samples at Whole Foods Bowery & Union Square. Sometimes I swing over to Trader Joes after and sample whatever they have from their sample station as well! If it's a Tuesday or Thursday their wine store has free wine tastings also! Total score :)

                    Despana has little samples of cheese, meat, and olive oils at all times that are heavenly.

                    Lindt on 5th Avenue gives away free chocolate during the holiday season as does Max Brennar (maybe all year long but I'm only by there at this time).

                    The newly opened Bocca on 19th street gves you free snacks like olives, brushetta and croquettes at the bar from 5-7 and Tracy J's Watering Hole gives you free chicken wings and fries at the same time.

                    One time I got free strawberries dipped in chocolate at the bar at Hallo Berlin (weird but they were fantastic).

                    Rolf' has little sandwiches 4-6 at the bar everyday which are great (too bad their food is horrible besides that)

                    And garden of Eden in Brooklyn Heights cotinues to give those free wrap samples and other things during lunchtime but they are gobbled up so quickly you really need to be there at the right time or you'll miss out.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: roze

                      Most ice cream places will give you samples, too. I've had them at Cones and at Mary's Dairy (did that close, or am I getting confused?).

                    2. Since many of you are speaking about samples, Gourmet Garage in the village has a good selection to explore. Cheeses, olives, etc, and sometimes even some stuffed thingys.
                      Best of all is, you can do it all guilt free. They're samples. Don't reach into the barrels or bins.

                      I had some of Garrett's samples the other day while I was near MSG ... pretty good and didn't cost a dime. Garrett's ... http://www.garrettpopcorn.com/store/s...

                      1. would you consider this free?
                        99c gets you a big steam bun-pork, veg or sweet red bean.
                        Vanessa's Dumplings
                        220 E 14st
                        2/3 Ave