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Penny Pinching Foodies ISO Dinner

My husband & I will be staying @ Hotel 17 (on 17th between 2nd & 3rd). We are foodies on a tight budget. We'll be exploring in Greenwich Village, Chelsea, & the East Village. Sharing a pastrami sandwich @ Katz's is on our must-have list. What are some restaurants we can enjoy a good, casual dinner (& a drink) @ but won't break the bank? How about places open after midnite? Thanks.

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  1. even on a tight budget, you shouldn't have any trouble noshing through a few days while concentrating on cheap (but tasty) eats. since you didn't offer any criteria about what cuisines you'd like to eat (or avoid), i'll toss out a few ideas, and i am sure others will follow suit. not suggesting these are 'best of the best' places, just that they're very good, inexpensive and a bit out of the ordinary,

    Congee Village (Allen and Delancey, just off the F train). the specialty is congee (rice porridge) with mix-ins ranging from the super adventurous to the straightahead. get one of those, a main dish and a couple of cheap appetizers, wash down with a beer. dizzying decor as well, if that's your thing.

    (a side note re: chinatown....i'd recommend spending part of an afternoon wandering the streets and trying street/stall food. there are a number of five-for-a-buck dumpling places discussed here in earnest, and a great variety of vendors under the manhattan bridge selling goodies like a famed greens sandwich)

    Zum Schneider (Ave C at 7th street). Beer garden that offers great brews and pretty decent German snacks (i'd avoid the heavy main courses and order from the 'snacks' part of the menu) in a fun room.

    Chennai Garden (27th at lexington). Vegetarian South Indian that's my favorite in that neighborhood. there are about 15-20 Indian/Bangladeshi places in a few block radius. quality varies, but otherr than Chennai, i'd say the rule of thumb is to downgrade the 'fancy' places and pay attention to the dives. for food, that is. if the whole dining experience is your goal, this is the place to go.

    and under no circumstances should you allow yourself to be talked into eating on manhattan's "other" indian row on 6th street -- which is the closest thing to a midwestern food court (with a surfeit of christmas lights and tabla music) you'll find in nyc.

    Molly's (3rd between 22nd and 23rd) makes a terrific, huge, juicy burger until the wee hours. also a swell shepherd's pie, for what it's worth. bar setting, usually mellow, other than during sporting events.

    Otto, the cheapest of the Mario Batali outposts, serves up inexpensive and tasty appetizers -- especially the vegetables -- and very good pizzas, along with a good wine selection. It's at One Fifth Avenue and stays open late . the west village is peppered with cute little winebars...for my $, the best value is 'ino on Bedford st. not spectacular, but the bruschetta make a nice accompaniment to the wine list.

    that's probably enough rambling, but am sure someone else will pick up the thread

    1. For a snack after midnight L'Express is right near your hotel on 20th and Park Avenue. It stays open 24 hours and makes an awesome Croque Monsieur Sandwich.


      1. Thank you. We are up for anything. Except the midwest food court.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Agent No. 9

          I have to disagree about Curry Hill vs. Curry Row. The Indian food in the village is cheaper and better than in Murray Hill. I've eaten a lot of both, and I found that the places in Murray Hill are consistently blander and less fresh. I still like them, but I would choose Curry Row hands down.

          Agent No. 9 - Since you're already going to be near the village, I would recommend checking out a place on E. 6th street between 1st and 2nd. Raj Mahal is very good - they will make the food as spicy as you want (but if you don't ask, they will make it mild). I've heard Haveli is good (a little more pricey). For dosas in that area, Madras Cafe on 2nd ave. is also good.

          1. re: ChiquitaBanana

            Wow, unless Curry Row has changed a LOT in two years...

            I'd love to give it another go, though. Can you recommend any specific places?

            1. re: ChiquitaBanana

              Saravanaas - that's blander and less fresh than 6th St. places? Are you kidding?

              1. re: ChiquitaBanana

                I think you may be comparing apples to oranges. A lot of the restaurants in Curry Hill specialize in S. Indian food which is lighter and very different than N. Indian (which Curry Row tends to be known for). If your preference is for N. Indian food, you probably would rather eat in Curry Row.

            2. Veselka is cheap and wonderful and open 24 hours. So is Florent!

              1. David Sprague's suggestions are all excellent. I'd also add:

                Corner Bistro (W. Village) is good for late-night burger cravings

                Flor's Kitchen (W. Village) is excellent for arepas and empanadas (don't order the mains; the arepas and empanadas are better and as filling)

                Green Table (Chelsea Market) is great for comfort food / greenmarket cuisine (though they close at 6 or 7 p.m., so it'd have to be an early dinner)

                'Ino and 'Inoteca (W. Village) are good for a glass of wine and small plates or a panini sandwich.

                La Lanterna di Vittorio (W. Village) is great (and romantic) for a cup of joe, wines and spirits by the glass, dessert, and wood-fired oven pizza.

                Galanga (W. Village) is good for inexpensive Thai.

                Mamoun's Falafel (W. Village) is something of a NYC institution for takeout falafel sandwiches, now $2.50. There are a few cramped tables, but the constant flow of customers inches from your table discourages lingering. They are open until something like 4 a.m.

                It's been a long while since I've been, but Ivo and Lulu's in SoHo is probably still open for an inexpensive (though small by US standards) "gourmet" European-style meal. They don't take reservations and they are BYOB, so go early or expect a wait.

                1. The best value in town, as far as I know, is Puebla on 1st Ave near 3rd St. A true hole in the wall with like four counter stools and a table with two chairs, but you can stuff yourself silly with bonafide Mexican food for under $10 a person. I'm not sure if they serve alcohol, and if they do, it will certainly only be beer.

                  1. There's some great advice on this thread. I'd like to try a bunch of the places I haven't been to yet. The only ones I have eaten at are Veselka and Florent, and I agree that they're both very good value in totally different ways.

                    1. I wouldn't miss Caracas Arepa Bar -- one $7 arepa will stuff you and the drinks are awesome. I haven't been to Flor's but haven't heard great things about it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: maharani

                        I think Caracas is kind of pricey. I never pay less than $19 for a meal there - which is at least 2 arepas, salad, and juice (OK, I don't have to buy the fresh juice, but I like it) - including lunch. If you do go, though, get the arepa jardinera - it's great - and the papelon (very well-balanced sweet/sour lemonade made with reduced fresh sugar cane juice).

                        I didn't find Flor's that impressive when there was an East Village branch.

                        Agent No. 9, I think you should try Little Poland on 2nd between 13th and 14th. It's a cheap Polish place that's closer to where you're staying than Veselka and I think it's better, although it isn't open 24 hours. See what kind of lunch specials there are at the Pongsri Thai on 2nd between 18th and 19th; it's decent. In Little India, my favorite place is Saravanaas, on the corner of 26th and Lexington. Their brunch was a great bargain and wonderful! Another good value in breakfast/brunch - not dirt cheap but certainly not expensive - is Cafe Mogador, on St. Marks between 1st and A. I recommend the Moroccan Eggs, the Middle Eastern Eggs, and the Haloumi Eggs, as well as the platters of hummus and such-like - also the tagines, but those are more expensive lunch/dinner items.

                        I have to say that when you mention "open after midnight," I think of either Great New York Noodletown on the corner of Bayard and Bowery in Chinatown - an excellent value anytime, by the way - or otherwise, Koreatown. You didn't mention Koreatown as a part of your search area, but it's near Chelsea. Most of the restaurants there are open 24 hours, and Han Bat is an excellent value. Get the hyamul dolsot bibimbap (mixed seafood mixed-rice dish which you stir in a hot stone bowl) and some kind of jigae (stewy soup) or whatever, and share a good selection of 6 banchan (complimentary side dishes) which you can have free refills to, and it'll cost you around $13 apiece. I think that's a great value!

                        If you're gonna be hanging out in Chinatown, there are other threads that offer loads of suggestions. I'll agree with the suggestions of Congee Village but make the point that their seafood and some of their other items are more spectacular than their congee, which IS reliably good - also, don't try to walk in there at peak hours on a weekend. In the East Village, Grand Sichuan St. Marks (between 3rd and 2nd) is reliable as long as you stick to Sichuan and Hunan food and avoid most of the lunch specials. It's not dirt cheap but is a good value. I think that the Chelsea branch on the corner of 24th and 9th is probably more delicious, overall, however.

                        1. re: maharani

                          really? i find that i need 2 or 3 arepas to feel full... (and i'm not a big eater) they are delish but the service is super slow, and the arepas pricey for the size.

                        2. Thanks everyone for the good tips.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Agent No. 9

                            Agent No. 9, I'm sorry: Flor's Kitchen (even the survivor in the W. Village) has CLOSED, sadly.

                          2. I love Xunta for tapas on 1st ave b/t 10th and 11th st. Inexpensive, and you can linger there...some nights have free performers/belly dancer types. Very delicious tapas...

                            1. You should try some of the Japanese joints in the East Village, there are too many to mention (most are around St Marks Place and 9th st), but many are cheap and unique and tasty. There are ramen places, izakaya joints, etc. Takahachi on Ave A is a good bet for an authentic but all purpose and reasonably priced Japanese meal as well. I'm also partial to Fatty Crab in the Meatpacking District which is moderate, not cheap, but tasty take on Malaysian.