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Jan 21, 2008 02:39 PM

Suggestions for a tourist please!!

I will be in New York for a week in Feb., and would like some suggestions on where to eat cheaply. This is my first time in the area, so of course I will be doing all of the things tourist do...Rockefeller Centre, Empire State Building, paying my respects at Ground Zero, Canal St shopping, Late Night with Conan, Sex and the City tour, Amateur Night at the Apollo, Nets game, Bloomingdales, Central Park etc. I would like suggestions for places to eat that are authentic to New York (I'm from Toronto), but please keep in mind I am a student on a budget! Also, if there any sights that you recommend I see, please advise. Thank you all sooo much!

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  1. If you want I could give you a budget meal arrangement that would allow you to eat for under 15 dollars a day. Interested? It requires lots of travelling, but would involve amazing meals in Queens and Brooklyn.

    11 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Sounds great! Although I'm not sure I will be able to do it, as you can see I have a busy schedule. But I would love to see it, and if any places are along my routes then I will definitley visit. Can you provide me with a link? Thank you!

      1. re: jen2202

        You absolutely have to eat at Di Fara pizzeria first of all. Don't go to Grimaldi's. It's awful. It's a ride on the Q to Avenue J. It's also in an enormous Orthodox Jewish community (not as big as Borough Park, but big.) Some good bakeries nearby.

        Around Canal St, eat at Amazing 66 on Mott or New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe. If you're pressed for cash, the dumpling place on Mosco is 1 dollar for 5. Chinese food is even better in Flushing, Queens if you want to make the trip. You can have amazing meals in amazing locations there. Note the various mall threads and the Chengdu Heaven thread. Jackson Heights is another incredible stand out area with solid Bengali food at Deshi Biryani and the largest concentration of street food in New York from roughly 82nd to Junction on Roosevelt. Also, there's very good Cuban on Junction if you order the specials (Rincon Criollo.) If you're at the top of Central Park Taqueria y Fonda is not too far, though Hispanic food is better in Jackson Heights.

        If you're willing to pay a bit more, there is a very interesting French restaurant near Bloomingdales called Le Veau D'Or. This place is straight out of 1950 and quite a cast of characters used to frequent it when it was a top tier restaurant. Not cheap though. It still amazes me that 2nd and 3rd Avs used to be covered by elevated trains.

        If you do the Coney Island thing then go to Brighton Beach next door for Russian food at Cafe Glechik. Solid food, but it can be expensive and the service is the worst I have had at any restaurant anywhere in the entire world. Pass on Nathan's. It's pretty awful.

        Get to Katz's Deli in the Lower East Side by the way. Where will you be in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx so I can give better Outer Boroughs suggestions instead of lumping it into one post?

        1. re: JFores


          You have a wonderful lay of the NY chowland from JFores. If you follow, you will have an authentic NY experience (culinary and otherwise) more enriching then the "sightseeing" itinerary you mentioned.

          Have fun!

          1. re: JFores

            I am as big a supporter/defender (and certainly eater) or DiFara's, but I disagree that jen2202 should go there on this trip. It's a long way to go for just a slice or two at 3 PM. And for a pie at lunch or dinner time you could be talking about 4 hours or so with the travel and wait with little else to do around there (Midwood is hardly the most interesting Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in NYC, Borough Park, for example has much more specialty shops and street life). Not a place for someone's first short visit to New York City.

            1. re: bobjbkln

              As much as I like Di Fara's, I'll have to agree with you. For a first time trip to NYC there are decent pizza places to be had that are more central.

              I like Grimaldis for tourists because it combines decent pizza and the tourist experience in one. Walk across the historic Brooklyn Bridge where you'll get awesome views of the city, go have decent pizza (much better than John's) at Grimaldis, stop by Jacques Torres for some chocolates and catch the views of lower Manhattan by the park at Dumbo.

              And I agree that Midwood is not that interesting. I used to live there when I was younger.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Let's be honest, the touristy stuff to do in New York is awful. A trip down Roosevelt Avenue is much more fulfilling, filling, cheap and FASTER MOVING than the line at the Empire State building. The funny thing about the Empire State is that I lived in Brooklyn my entire life and my first time ever going inside of it was when I gave two London tourists a food tour over winter break. We did all of JH, Bed Stuy, Elmhurst, Flushing, Chinatown, LES, Washington Heights and more in two days with lots of travel, early starts and unlimited metrocards.

                Di Fara is always worth it. No matter what.

                And yeah, Toronto's Korean food is better. We're catching up though. We officially own Toronto as far as Chinese goes, though. Flushing is second to none on the East Coast (or for that matter, anything east until you hit China from there.)

                I dislike Grimaldi's even more than I otherwise might because the pizza is only decent and anyone who has had good pizza before can immediately conjure up some very negative judgements of NY pizza as a result. Oh well, the couple that I brought there liked it so much that they insisted we went from Flushing to Di Fara just to have second dinner there before there flight.

                1. re: JFores

                  > Toronto's Korean food is better. We're catching up though.

                  But perhaps not in Manhattan. Try Flushing or northern NJ ...


                  1. re: squid kun

                    Yep. Deeeefinitely not in Manhattan. All that Koreatown stuff is a myth and I have no idea how it stays open. Bay Side has some good looking spots popping up too.

            2. re: jen2202

              OH YEAH! Bagels in Brooklyn! Search for any of the million or so bagel threads on here! Go now!

              They're different from the Montreal variety you might be more familiar with, but I prefer them (in my biased Brooklynite opinion.)

            3. re: JFores

              even as a local I would be interested in the under $15 a day line up? always looking for something new, tasty and affordable. thanks!

            4. I find that Toronto has some really good ethnic restaurants, probably better than New York's for some ethnicities. However, I do think New York pizza is in order as well as a pastrami sandwich and a NY bagel. Katz is the place for pastrami and Ess-A-Bagel for bagels. Don't miss Donut Plant for the cake donuts (dulce de leche is awesome) -- I really dislike the yeast ones. I think Momofuku Ssam is also a type of place you won't find in Toronto -- fusion Korean. If you stick with the ssam (essentially a burrito), it will only set you back nine backs. It's so huge that one ssam can make a meal for two! Filled with Berkshire pork, kimchee puree, edamame and roasted vegetables, it is the best nine bucks you'll ever spend.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Miss Needle

                I've never been a Momofuku fan and its expensive. If she goes for ethnic food, she eat can for a day on 9 dollars and be full.

                Even Korean which Toronto would seem to have a clear advantage in is not so apparent, because Queens is filled with excellent Korean places that are under visited on here.

                1. re: JFores

                  Expensive is relative. Momofuku's got its haters. However, I do like it overall and think it's a very unique restaurant to New York. I actually have had really good Korean food in Toronto -- in fact, if you check out both K-towns in Toronto I think they surpass Flushing for variety of Korean food.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    BTW, there are a lot of places popping up in Bay Side and a few other areas that are just as good as the ones in Flushing.

              2. a fun japanese food experience thats cheap in manhattan is Village Yokocho, 8 Stuyvesant St at 3rd Avenue, just N. of St. Marks. Love this place. Cheers!

                1. Thank you for your great advice and suggestions!! Keep 'em coming!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jen2202

                    Honestly, if time is limited, you will probably want more suggestions in Manhattan. Katz's can't be beat for atmosphere: pastrami, corned beef, and even hot dogs are all great. Walk a few blocks over to Russ and Daughters 179 E. Houston. It's the best smoked fish around but too bad there is no place to sit and eat. It's even fun to look around and inhale. (Other good bagel-and-lox places are Ess-A-Bagel, as mentioned, and Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side.) Chinatown is always fun and pretty cheap: I like New York Noodletown. It is a challenge to find cheap food near the tourist sites, especially Times Square and the Upper East Side. Anyone have suggestions for that??? I've lived here all my life and that's a hard one.

                  2. Wow, you have a lot on your itinerary! I would suggest researching places to eat near the sites you want to see and keeping a little list handy to maximize your time. Unfortunately, a lot of these attractions are in midtown which has a pretty crappy food scene and an even crappier nightlife scene. If I were you, I'd try to cram as much midtown stuff as I could into a day or two (not on the weekend!) and then avoid that area for the rest of your trip. Almost all of New York city is more interesting and appealing than midtown and I really feel bad when I see tourists wandering around there looking cold and hungry. The blocks are ridiculously long, the tall buildings make it really windy and most of the food is for harried office workers with no other options.

                    For midtown suggestions, take a look at the midtown lunch blog; and eat either before or after the noon to 1:45 lunch rush when it can be ridiculously crowded at the better restaurants.

                    Otherwise, spend your time in the interesting walkable neighborhoods of New York, like the village, lower east side, soho, the part of chinatown that's under the manhattan bridge, harlem around the apollo, chelsea, etc. If you want to go to the outer boroughs, consider somewhere unusual, vibrant and interesting, take the D to 39th street and 9th ave in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and walk down 8th avenue until you reach the N train at 63rd street and 8th ave. Along the way you will see Chinese, Arabic, Polish, Vietnamese, Latin-American and Malaysian businesses. Or else hop on LIRR to Flushing, Queens. It's about a 20 minute ride. Or go to Jackson Heights in Queens for South Asian. You can search these different areas on this board to see what popular places to eat you can find there.

                    For cheap eats, search this board for "cheap eats" and then refine your search by date to get recent info. I also recommend this newish blog and check out as well. has menus online for thousands of nyc restaurants so you can get a sense of prices.

                    Good luck and let us know if there's a particular cuisine you were looking for.

                    Also, if you can make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art then you are in for a treat. It's an amazing place! Near there, my favorite lunch is an egg salad and bacon sandwich on rye with a black and white milkshake at the extremely old school Lexington Candy Shop: