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Feb 27, 2008 05:46 PM

Cheap Eats for visiting College students

my daughte3r and two friends are visiting NYC during their spring break. They are on a budget. Would love recommendations of good food and atmosphere and low costs. Any kind of food is fine- including Kosher. They are staying in Soho/Lower East Side area but can get around via subway.

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  1. Please explain what "good atmosphere" means, and how much they're willing to pay for it.

    As far as cheap, good food is concerned, if they're already downtown, there's plenty of it in Chinatown, so just do a search for threads with "Chinatown" in the name. There's at least one big Chinatown thread I can think of. One quick point is that they should make sure to go to Banh Mi Saigon Bakery (138 Mott St., between Hester and Grand) to get delicious, cheap Vietnamese sandwiches (no place to sit down there, though).

    By the way, kosher food is usually more expensive than treyf food, but the least expensive kosher food tends to be vegetarian, and the best place I can think of in that category is Saravanaas (thanks for the recommendations, hounds!), a fantastic South Indian vegetarian restaurant that is a terrific value (81 Lexington Av., corner of 26th St.)! If they want something more traditionally Jewish, Azuri Cafe is a great kosher falafel place (465 W. 51 St., just east of 10th Av.).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      Is B and H Dairy still open on 2nd Ave? That is the best cheap eats Kosher I know of. The mushroom barley soup with side of buttered Chala bread is awesome. I think it's 2nd and 10th ish??


      1. re: girlhungry1

        2nd between 7th and St. Marks. Yes, it's still there. I have to say, the couple of times I went there, I was very unimpressed. I may have ordered wrong. I've been vaguely thinking about going there again.

        1. re: Pan

          Good for pirogies and blintzes. Certain soups are great. I've always had great luck with their egg dishes, and this is a strange suggestion but the egg and cheese on toasted (has to be toasted) challah is excellent. They bake their own challah, and slice it thick. Really any sandwich made on the challah might be good....grilled cheese maybe?

          They don't know how to cook half the things on their menu though.

        2. re: girlhungry1

          Veselka is in the neighborhood too, and quite good. Open 24 hours (or maybe just late night?

          Good pizza at Arturos on Houston at Thompson.

          Katz's and Russ & Daughters are good too, right on Houston at Ludlow (?)

          1. re: gsw

            Veselka is open 24 hours.

            I don't buy stuff at Russ & Daughter's, because it's expensive. Not sure college students on a budget will feel differently.

          2. re: girlhungry1

            Avoid avoid avoid bad bad bad. These guys haven't had contact with the motherland in ages and its very apparent. Go to Greenpoint for this stuff.

            I love Russ and Daughters too, but not on a student budget.

        3. Bar 89 on Mercer Street in Soho is the perfect choice. Its a restaurant and the menu is upscale diner food - burgers, sandwiches, salads in a very cool trendy atmosphere but without the price tag. Pricing ranges from $9-13 dollars for most dishes. Reasonably priced and perfect for a spring break visit. If you go, make sure you visit the bathrooms - they are high tech. Your daughter and her friends will be raving about it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: skepner169

            I would second Bar 89! One of my favorite places for lunch. The grilled veggie appetizer is good, and big enough to share. Also the Country Cousin sandwich is great!


            Alos, when in SoHo, the Calexico Cart! Great street food!


          2. Katz's Deli, The Nolita House, Peep, Tai Thai, Kitchen Commune, Grand Sichuan St. Mark's, The Smith, 7A Cafe, Schiller's Liquor Bar, Lil Frankies


            5 Replies
            1. re: LeahBaila

              Grand Sichuan pales in comparison to other Chinatown palces to offer. It's downright bad when compared to Flushing's Szechuan joints.

              1. re: JFores

                I'm sure you're right...I've not been fortunate enough to try any of Flushing's jewels


                1. re: JFores

                  I think you're exaggerating. Anyway, it's gotta be by far the best Sichuan-style restaurant south of 24th St. Spicy & Tasty is certainly way better, and my impression so far is that Szechuan Gourmet is quite a bit better, too.

                  1. re: Pan

                    I like Chengdu Heaven worlds more than both of the above and Little Pepper more than both as well.

                    1. re: JFores

                      I'll have to have a look at the Outer Boroughs board.

              2. What range are you talking? I could give you a guide to eat on 40 dollars for a week which includes Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, but I'm not going to type the whole thing out if they're doing the trip on loads of money. If it is on a tight budget and Manhattan only then Chinatown and Katz's deli in themselves can keep you busy for ages. Great cheap eats in Washington Heights too. Their location makes it ridiculously easy to go anywhere in Queens or Brooklyn too. Jackson Heights, Flushing, Di Fara's Pizzeria, etc are all life changing food experiences. What kind of budget are we talking if you want "good atmosphere"? What does that mean? I consider any place that I personally enjoy to have good atmosphere and some of my favorite restaurants (for atmosphere and otherwise) would probably scare many less adventurous eaters (not to mention the language barriers.)

                6 Replies
                1. re: JFores

                  they will be staying in Manhattan and not venturing to other boroughs. I'm thinking they'll spend about $25 - $30 a day on food.
                  lots of great suggestions here. thanks to all.

                  1. re: startsev

                    Then it ends at Chinatown, Katz's, and a few other Lower East Side eateries unless they venture up to Washington Heights and Harlem. There's nothing worth seeing in the city so I don't know why you'd spend all your time there. 25$-30$ a day per person is still a huge amount of money though. You can absolutely feast in Chinatown or at El Malecon for that much. I ate out in Chinatown daily after high school and never ever spent over $10 for myself with tip.

                    Go to Rai Rai Ken for a good bowl of ramen. In Chinatown I rec Amazing 66, New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, Moon House for even cheaper Shanghai food, Nha Trang for cheap Vietnamese, the 1 dollar for 5 dumpling place on Mosco St next to Trinity Church, Eastern Noodle & Sheng Wang & a few other Fujianese places for hand pulled noodles and Fujianese specialties. I ate most of my lunches during HS at those. Big Wing Wong for BBQ and many standard Canto dishes. Happy Noodle on Bowery for clay pot "casseroles" and congee. In Washington Heights, my main rec is El Malecon if they don't want to venture a bit further up to the Bronx for La Economica. Katz's is essential, but not cheap. Max for decently priced pasta (pretty much red sauce/Southern Italian) in the LES but it's not THAT cheap. Barney Greengrass does a wonderful breakfast that should be part of any trip to NYC, but it's not cheap. Cones for amazing icecream, but pricey. Mamoun's Falafel provides a decent fast snack for cheap as does the dosa cart. Look up the dosa guy. Kossar's Bialy's for its name sake. Breakfast? Jing Fong in Chinatown does decent dim sum for very cheap too. That's always fun. Pommes Frites on 2nd Ave near St Marks does pretty good fries with 4,000 or so sauces. A bit pricey for fries, but they're pretty good fries.

                    1. re: JFores

                      "There's nothing worth seeing in the city so I don't know why you'd spend all your time there."


                      I agree with most of your recommendations, though.

                      1. re: Pan

                        The city does nothing for me beyond Chinatown, Washington Heights, Harlem and the LES. The tourist sites are also pretty awful (I've never been inside the Empire State Building or a taxi despite living my entire life in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.)

                        Another good place is Papaya King is they find themselves up that far on the East Side. Or Patys's in East Harlem for one of the only decent pizzas left in the city (Lombardi's is inedible, UPN is OK but a personal pie and very expensive, etc) but it is VERY inconsistent and is bordering on irrelevance. If they're up extremely late then a trip to the (EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE) reoepened 2nd Avenue Deli might be called for.

                        1. re: JFores

                          Whatever your views on dining, I just think it's laugh-out-loud funny to claim there's nothing worth seeing in Manhattan. And for the record, I could hardly disagree more with your views on food in this borough. There are plenty of worthwhile places to eat in other parts of Manhattan. I do agree that Lombardi's is mostly hype, though.

                          And for God's sake, see the view from the Empire State Building some day. [shaking my head] :-P

                      2. re: JFores

                        I pretty much agree with everything you say with a few exceptions...

                        It's fun to sit at the ramen counter but Rai Rai Ken's ramen is pretty much tasteless. Sapporo Ramen in mid-town is surprisingly superior to a lot of the ramen places around the East Village (I've tried all but Ramen Setagaya, and respectfully think that Santoka in Mitsuwa is the holy grail). For cheap Japanese food with a lot of atmosphere, try any of the yakitori joints in St Marks, like Oh! Taisho and Kenka. The food ain't fabulous but it's cheap and fun, and stays open late.

                        I wouldn't spend much time in Washington Heights - El Malecon is definitely not destination dining - it's cheap and very good roast chicken, but not worth the 45-60min trek from LES (more on weekends). For good fried chicken, I would go the absolutely scrumptious Korean fried chicken route by way of Baaden Baaden in Koreatown.

                        I would also add Ethiopian to the list - Queen of Sheba in Hell's Kitchen does consistently good Ethiopian, with a pretty decently priced veggie platter. It's always fun to eat with your hands (and only the right!).

                  2. 'ino in the WV for panini and bruschetta, The Dumpling Man, Fatty Crab is fun for groups and not too pricy when split up, Gnocco Cucina, and they shouldn't miss brunch in the city-always fun. Essex, Mercadito Grove, The Sunburnt Cow are cheap and they offer unlimited drinks-usually a very enticing deal for college kids.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: petitechoux

                      Seconding 'ino in the West Village. They have another restaurant on the LES called 'inoteca - can't remember exactly where now, but it is larger than the little one on Bedford St in the village, and thus easier to get a table.

                      My kid, who is a college student at the New School, likes to go to a Venzuelan place in the East Village for arepas - it's on E 7th at First (?) and its called Caracas.

                      And definately (see below) Gray's Papaya for a hot dog! Best hot dog you'll ever eat!

                      1. re: gsw

                        Caracas is viciously expensive. 5.50 or so for an arepa? Come on, it's a corn cake! They're good, but not 5 times the price of an arepa cart in Jackson Heights good. Their fruit juices are awesome, though. Seeing as I'd need about 4 of their arepas to fill me up, I don't see how that place fits a student budget. It's also the size of a small closet.

                        I second Gray's Papaya even after they raised their prices. Still dirt cheap, thankfully.