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Jul 29, 2008 06:19 PM

$10 and under, family friendly, Fresh, Good, Clean, and worth leaving the Outer Boroughs for?

Okay, yeah, I know no one wants to leave Manhattan to go to Brooklyn or Queens, well, there are some of us in Queens, that just love the food here, and don't want to be bothered with the hassles and expense of Manhattan. It's gotten really really expensive in Manhattan, parking, traveling, food, etc...everything has gone way up. But, we come in to do lots of cultural fun stuff, and love Central Park, so, where besides Whole Foods Takeout at Time Warner can you either sit down and have a nice meal, or get really great takeout?

Open to all cuisines, except, Japanese, which doesn't really fit the budget anyway. Used to great Chinese in Flushing, so, unless it can stack up to that, we won't bother. Used to Srip for Thai in Woodside, so can't imagine anything this good in Manhatta, so why bother. So, barring, Japanese, Thai, and CHinese.........we are open to other stuff.

Any good Indian (we've got a new really great place in Astoria, Seva,), used to go to Banjara and then felt it declined, portions got smaller, prices went up, and quality got worse, so haven't been back in the last year. Maybe it's gotten better???
Read about Sevannas? I think, seems like a dosa place, and prices seem real high for that kind of stuff, much higher than Jackson Heights. Curry Leaf place seems good with prices, is it great there?

Italian?? Any great pasta spots that fit this price range. Is Lamarca still around? What about Via Emilia?? Is this place pricier? Anything in the village or the Upper west side that is affordable?

Middle Eastern? What about the place on west 49? I think..the guy everyone says is nasty but makes great stuff? What's the name of that place? Is their falafel green or yellow inside?

American? Is Walkers any good still, in Tribeca, it was reasonably priced and portions decent?
French? Well, I doubt that would fit the $10 limit
Spanish? Even Sevilla used to be decent years ago, but prices went up, portions down, and quality plummeted.
Cuban? Never had it good anywhere in NY, I'm a Miami girl, not easy to please, get my fix down there.
Turkish? Ali Baba, on 34th, good fair lunch special, good food, prices for dinner too high.
Afghani? Any good ones still? Is Pamir still around?

Okay, I'm pessimistic to say the least, please tell me if there are any deals left in Manhattan? Even Noodles on 28th raised their prices by a bunch, and I used to grab stuff to go there when I was around that area (very good scallion pancakes)

Thanks for the help!

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    1. re: MichaelG

      You're kidding, right? French fries? And not exactly, comfortable or baby friendly. Yeah, maybe if I want to stand there and eat something, or grab a snack. But, I'm looking for real food. We don't help people out like this on the outer boroughs board, c'mon folks, there must be something out there? Rack your brains a little?? Besides french fries, and food off of a cart??? Seems like I touched a sensitive nerve. Maybe some outer borough folks can help me out, maybe they will understand what I'm looking for and if it actually exists anymore in Manhattan.

      And I already did an exhaustive search, and got frustrated, so that is why I posted the question. Long time Poster here, not a newbie, so please help me.

      1. re: janie

        Is under $10 per person, with tax and tip? It's just really hard to think of sit down places that work at that price point, particularly around Central Park, that are "worth leaving the Outer Boroughs" for (or even not worth leaving it for). Shake Shack comes to mind, but may not be what your are looking for. Certainly Chinatown, but Chinese food is off limits per your post.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Thanks MMRuth,
          NY Noodletown, is good and still on my list. Haven't been there in awhile is it still good and cheap? Not the cleanest place, but food was real good. Chinatown is okay if we're downtown already, but a pain to go out of the way for. We take my son to the Park, and museums and such, so upper west side, east side would be good. Anywhere where there's some metered parking we could ditch the car.

          Shake shack is okay if there's no line around off times, but it's hard to park around there, very little metered parking.

          $10 entrees or less, not tax and tip included. Basically a meal for 2 (kid sort of eats his own stuff or eats some of ours mostly but sometimes not), that comes to under $25 with tax and tip. Can be up to $30 though. Something that would work for lunch or dinner. It doesn't have to be near Central Park, but it would be great if we had some go to places in all neighborhoods in the city, because we have a car, so getting anywhere isn't a problem.

          1. re: janie

            One place on the UES that you could do for that price, as long as you order carefully, is a favorite of mine - Via Quadronno - great panini and certainly large enough to be a filling lunch.


            If you do go, just be very careful about drinks etc., b/c I'm sure they are on the more expensive side. Excellent coffee, too, and they have a little gelato stand outside in the summer.

            1. re: janie

              Another suggestion - Ottomanelli at 93rd and Lex has great hamburgers ($5.95) and waffle fries.

        1. Uptown (Harlem/African etc. and Latino) Midtown, far west side: do a search for Mexican Midtown, 30s: Korean bbq Ctown: Maybe not as good as Flushing, but some of the best (and only!) cheap food on the island Food carts I was always 'picnic" (w/food from elsewhere) in Midtown.

          7 Replies
          1. re: fredid

            So, basically 3 posters confirming there are no affordable meals anywhere in Manhattan anymore, unless you eat from a food cart or go to a chain, or go to a neighborhood that is clearly out of the way. As far as Korean, it tends to be quite pricey, and too meat oriented. Please please, there must be something out there????

            1. re: janie

              Hi Janie, if you don't mind coming to Hells Kitchen, there are a lot of places with good food and very affordable menus. Saigon 48 for Vietnamese/Chinese/Asian (48th St. between Broadway and 8th Avenues) has lunch specials that start at 7.00. The portions are big, service is fast (not always friendly). These places are small but the prices are worth it if you go a little before or after lunch hour: Q2 Thai (7.00 lunch special) or Chili Thai (6.95 lunch special). I prefer Chili Thai but it is really, really tiny. Chili is between 48th and 49th on 9th Avenue, Q2 is I think on 52nd and 9th Avenue. Even though the lunch specials are 15.00, Dervish is a very nice Turkish place on 46th between 6th and 7th Avenues, I usually order appetizers to keep the bill around 10.00 and never leave hungry. Bali Nusah Indah has lunch specials at 7.00 also, they are between 45th and 46th streets on 9th Avenue (Indonesian). Hope this helps!

              1. re: rutgers2

                Thank you, thank you!! Sounds great, will check them out...I don't mind traveling anywhere, however, really far uptown, and really far downtown are usually out of the way.

                1. re: janie

                  You are welcome, Janie. I think Pamir is still open. There are 2 Afghan places on 9th Avenue (Ariana and Afghan Kebab House) but I haven't tried them. Pamir had 2 locations, one in NJ. I ate at both but heard one of them closed but can't recall which one. You may also like Persepolis but it is on 32nd and 2nd (I think, I'll check their site).

                  1. re: rutgers2

                    Pamir on the UES unfortunately closed a few years ago. Afghan Kebab House still open and very good and reasonable. 2nd Ave b/t 70 and 71, west side of street.

                2. re: rutgers2

                  Another Hell's Kitchen recommendation from this gal in Queens is Tulcingo del Valle on 10th Avenue between 46th & 47th. The tortas, tacos & burritos are fairly inexpensive & extremely delicious. There's a park/playground across the street. Although it is different than De Mole, it gives off a similar small place, tasty food vibe. Here is their website:

                3. re: janie

                  I think $10 is a really tough price point if you want to avoid carts and super casual places. And it's not clear whether that has to include tax and tip and drinks. If it does, then that's really challenging to get at a regular sit down place. You've already basically nixed any Chinese or Thai because of Flushing and Srip. And while the Chipotle rec above is not good at all, you already said that if you want Mexican you're gonna stay in Queens. Plus you don't want to bother with a lot of other types of foods either because you can get it better elsewhere or neighborhoods. So really, it's not the easiest set of parameters to work with.

                  I have a French recommendation that you will probably shoot down - it's Le Pere Pinard on the LES. They do a price fix dinner during the week for $15 for three courses. Even if you don't drink but add tax and tip that's a good deal. And I know from living in Queens that the French options are pretty much nil. Tournesol seems to be one of the few options but it's pretty standard and nothing exciting.

              2. You posted your question barely 12 hours ago. I think you're giving us a pretty hard time. Those that have replied are rewarded with you bashing their choices (what's wrong with mac & cheese?!) and complaining about parking. Please understand that you're restrictions are pretty tight... you want near the park but you could drive, but the food had better be worth it to go out of the way and it must be family-friendly. It's okay to be pessimistic, but just take each suggestion for what it is. Your tone is not going to encourage many more suggestions.

                Now to add some substance to my post: Since there's parking around here, I'll start a list of my favorite cheap spots in the far east village. Maybe some others could add some LES spots. The trouble I'm having is that the true deals and real treasures generally don't have good seating.

                Veselka - food gets mixed reviews, but I've found it consistent. Pierogies and blintzes are cheap and tasty. Nice variety of pastries - I like to pick up a sticky bun to take home :)

                Curly's Vegetarian Lunch - fun tiny spot on 14th st. Has tables; not air conditioned.

                Snack Dragon - no real seating but worth mentioning because it is a true neighborhood gem. It's a taco stand on e 3rd. Some counter seating inside. Eat for $6 each. Note: not usually open until 5 or 6pm on weekdays.

                Il Bagato - tasty, consistent pasta & italian. I believe pastas are $9 - $12.

                Sidewalk - sit outside. Good variety of sandwiches, salads, burgers, and good drinks. Family & dog friendly.

                Esperanto - nice, kitchy place for brunch; also has cheap dinner specials. Food stood out as tasting very natural and not at all greasy (potatoes w/ breakfast were boiled, not fried).

                Also wanted to note that Tomkins Square Park has 2 fun-looking play grounds.

                8 Replies
                1. re: erin07nyc

                  Thank you, and I'm sorry for the tone, but I felt like the suggestions were pretty absurd, french fries and mac and cheese??? And Chipotle?? That place is a joke. I like my food prepared fresh.

                  Just because it's family friendly doesn't mean french fries, and comfort foods. Anyway, I do appreciate your suggestions quite alot, and have notated them.

                  To clarify the price, $10 for entrees prices and under. So, not including drinks, or any other apps, or tip. Open to chinese if it's really good. Open to Mexican if it's really good. Hamburgers are good, so is salad places, and the French Prix fixe sounds interesting. What's best there? Any good Middle Eastern Israeli anymore?

                  Thank you all, please keep them coming, promise I will report back.

                  1. re: janie

                    El Paso Taqueria is also pretty good - 97th between Madison and Park.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Might be hard to adhere to price guidelines, though unless you restrict yourself to a sandwich or enchiladas. Their prices have climbed, alas.

                      1. re: City Kid

                        Or the tacos - they are cheap, if I recall correctly. Since each one is served with two tortillas, I end up making "two" out of each one.

                    2. re: janie

                      Gazala Place received mixed reviews (between 48th and 49th on 9th Avenue) but I found the food excellent--bread is baked right there. The owner, Gazala, is Druze and from Israel. Sorry, I keep giving you Midtown/Hell's Kitchen but I work in the area. I heard good things about Azuri but haven't been there. I like the food better at Ellyssa which is Middle Eastern but there are only 2 tables and it gets so packed--best for take out. Ellyssa is also on 48th and 49th on 9th Avenue.

                      1. re: rutgers2

                        I don't think Azuri is going to be comfortable enough for her family. However, I love the food.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          True, I was thinking w/my stomach, not my eyes Miss Needle. Thanks!

                      2. re: janie

                        If you're not going on Friday night or Saturday, you've got Olympic Pita in Midtown for Israeli. There are many items under $10 and you've got an AYCE salad bar there as well. They also give you fire-baked laffa bread which is really delicious.

                        I think you're mistaken when you say that Korean food is meat oriented. There's more to Korean than BBQ. There's a lot of vegetables and seafood in Korean cuisine. A couple of restaurants where there are many entrees under $10 are Han Bat and Seoul Garden. As you're from Queens, I probably wouldn't go to Manhattan for Korean though.

                        And in defense of carfreeinla, I don't think S'Mac is a bad choice at all. It's not your typical mac and cheese that you make at home. There are 10 different types of mac and cheese, ranging from your typical mac to those served with brie, roasted figs, roasted shitakes and rosemary.

                    3. For tasty family style Italian, most pizzas and pastas at Otto (NYU area) are $10 or less.

                      Corner Bistro (Soho) makes terrific burgers in a cozy, Catcher-in-the Rye type atmosphere

                      Ino (West Village) is a laid-back, friendly cafe/wine bar with great $10 paninis and appetizers and small plates that are even cheaper

                      Cafe Habana (SoHo) for awesome Cuban platters and burritos

                      Caracas Arepas in East Village for awesome Venezuelan fare

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: skooldya1

                        Corner Bistro is a bar (very close to a dive bar) in the west village.

                        2nd Caracas - delicious every time.