Cheap and Chic NYC
If you are looking for a great deal (wonderful food and a chic atmosphere) check out the $24 lunch or brunch 3 course menu at Perry Street in the West Vilalge. They also offer a selection of $5 glasses of wine or $20 bottle.Thanks to Brian S' in depth review and the chowhound comments I found out about this great bargain. See comments:http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339446
Thankfully, New York is full of good food by great chefs!! Aside from the usual Katz's Deli, Shake Shake, Gray's Papaya, and Lombardi's/Grimaldi's pizza, I'd recommend:
Caracas Arepa bar - great Venezuelan tapas in the East Village.
Momofuku Noodle Bar - fantastic pork buns and noodles, also in the East Village, and a star chef to boot
Sugar Sweet Sunshine in the Lower East Side has great pistachio cupcakes. Skip Magnolia Bakery, unless you just want to say you were there.
Bouchon Bakery - great casual lunch place in the Time Warner Center, and you can tell your friends you ate at a Thomas Keller restaurant.
If you'll be in the SoHo/Greenwich Village area, go for dosas from the dosa man - he's got a cart in Washington Square Park and he's won awards for his food. Later, instead of going to Pinkberry, get some rice pudding for dessert from Rice to Riches.
You can check out menus and prices in advance at www.menupages.com. In general, East Village and the Lower East Side have a great concentration of inventive, cheap food. There's a cute place up at Columbia called Max Cafe, and to die for Spicy Special sandwiches for $5 from a random deli at 109th and Amsterdam (it's got its own Facebook following), but they are not worth a separate trip all the way uptown.
Have a great time in New York! You're visiting during the perfect time - warm enough for outdoor happy hours, but not hot enough to be gross and sticky.
P.S. If you're going to the Met museum, go up to the rooftop bar for a drink and a nice breeze.
i second caracas.
plus speaking for the broke student chowhound population: go to their "take out" store front, closer to first ave, and sit at one of the few tables. same great food - but you don't have to pay for table service. a buck or two in the can, and you're done. it can get a bit crowded, but they have about six tables and a few stools.
not sure yr style but if i was broke, id be eating all the time at:
'ino - west village location only...cheese plate $10, truffled egg toast $10, quattro panini $10, bottle of dolcetto d'alba $28.
freemans for brunch...cheddar and watercress sandwich $9-10.
da andrea...amazing italian...$8 for warm octopus salad with roasted olives and potatoes, $10-11 for paparadelle with sweet sausage ragu and truffle oil, carafe of excellent house red (montepulciano) for like $15-18.