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Looking for great hole-in-the-wall places while on honeymoon in Manhattan

My finacee and I will be traveling from Oklahoma toManhattan in early January and we both love trying out casual ($25-60 for two people) hole-in-the-wall type places and can't wait to search these out while there. Every type of food is game for us, but we really want to experience some great places that only New Yorker's will know about. We're staying near Grand Central. Thanks for your advice!

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  1. That's a pretty broad question, actually. Can you give a little more information, like what areas you want to check out, where you're staying, how much you want to spend, what you consider "casual?" Another thing that may help people narrow down their suggestions a little bit is where you're visiting from. For instance, if you're visiting from Texas, we're not going to suggest barbecue. If you're visiting from London, we're not going to suggest a gastropub, Tokyo- no sushi, etc.

    Your initial question will probably yield thousands of possibilities...

    3 Replies
    1. re: egit


      If you re-read dondmon's post, you will see he and his fiancee are from Oklahoma, they are staying near Grand Central, and his budget is $25-$60 for two -- though he doesn't say if that has to cover drinks, tax & tip as well as food.


      I'm going to take it as a given that they you are willing to eat in neighborhoods other than near your hotel. But it would be helpful if you would clarify your budgetary paremeters, keeping in mind NYC tax @ nearly 9% and a 15-20% tip. If you also want to include alcoholic beverages, that would not leave much left over to cover food costs. That said, here are a couple of suggestions:

      Limon, on 24th St., b/t 2nd & 3rd Avs., is a teensy Turkish restaurant with very good food, friendly service and plain but pleasant decor.



      Cosette, on 33rd St., b/ Lex & 3rd Av., is a tiny, cozy French bistro with solidly prepared and generous portions of traditional fare


      1. re: RGR

        Oops... how did I not see that?! Every question I asked was actually in the posting. Apologies.

        I agree with Shopsin's, 100%. And yes, the OP should also do the famous RGR walking tour (listed below as well).

        I guess the most important thing would be to get away from Grand Central, Times Square, Central Park if you're looking for holes in the walls. There are a ton of fun and interesting and inexpensive places in the East Village. You may want to go have a bowl of "proper" ramen for lunch at Setagaya or Ippudo. Pretty good cheap italian at Frank or L'il Frankies.

        1. re: egit

          My thanks to you, egit, and bobjbkln below, for mentioning my tour. To make it easy for the honeymooners, here's the link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493333

    2. OMG....Please go here. I went the other night and it was amazing. It's called Aroma Kitchen and Wine Bar. It's seriously tiny but they take reservations. It's owned by a husband-wife and on Sundays they have a prix-fixe an live music and the food is out of this world!!

      1. For the ultimate hole-in-the-wall/"only in New York" dining experience, get your asses down to Shopsin's in the Essex St. Market to experience the mad brlliance that is Kenny Shopsin. The menu alone can keep you entertained and bewildered for hours. Be ready to witness flying expletives from the family staff and daring culinary genius like "Blisters on My Sister," and "Slutty Pancakes." There are many postings on this board that can tell you more, but just get yourselves there! And enjoy!

        1 Reply
        1. re: billyeats

          It's definitely a hole in the wall. Kenny is...eccentric to say the least. Cranky. Outspoken. Also a great cook. They are only open 9am-3pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, BTW. Double check those hours. And don't be surprised if Kenny drops a few f-bombs or argues with the staff (his kids).

        2. PIO PIO-91st and 1st ave-the best Peruvian Chicken!!!! u will loooooove!

          1. Your price range is hardly what I would associate with "hole-in-the-wall" prices.

            At my number one "hole-in-the-wall" spot, the newly renovated Mei Li Wah Bakery (formerly Mei Lei Wah Coffee Shop), located on Bayard Street in Chinatown, between Mott and Elizabeth streets, 25 bucks will get you enough food for four or five people, and 60 will get you enough buns and rolls to last you weeks, months even. Mei Li Wah, which has been around for decades, is patterned after a Hong Kong tea house, and specializes in cheap and delicious dim sum specialties like roast pork buns, coconut buns, rice rolls and the type of charred, bitter coffee that is unique to Chinatown. I used to subsist on their Special Combination bun, a steamed, softball-sized wonder, consisting of pork, egg, chicken, and, more recently, mushrooms. One is enough for a meal, and big enough to walk on a leash. Chinatown, in general, is a good place for cheap eats and true blue holes-in-the-wall; between the myriad hand-pulled noodle joints, wonton and bbq houses, dumpling stalls and dim sum houses, you can probably eat three square there for far less than your stated budget. But Mei Li Wah remains my standard whenever someone brings up the term "hole-in-the-wall", renovations be damned.

            Here's a recent link to MLW: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/546227

            Now, if we're talking about eateries that are closer to Grand Central, you might very well enjoy Sapporo, on West 49th, which is the equivalent of a Japanese, old-school diner, specializing in ramen (although I go for their japanese fried rice or their over-rice dishes), or Margon, on West 46th, a cuban diner-steam table place that makes a respectable cuban sandwich as well as an excellent octopus salad. I've also heard wonderful things about the vintage atmosphere - albeit mixed reviews on the chow - at Prime Burger, but have never been there. Given my low-rent tastes, however, a stopover is imminent. Anyhow, here's their site: http://www.primeburger.com/

            Enjoy your honeymoon stay, and please report back.

            1. An above-poster mentioned Shopsin's, which, given its' new location, is, quite literally, a "hole-in-the-wall." It is now a stall in the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, in and of itself a worthy destination. The owner/chef, Kenny Shopsin, has added to his notorietty with his new book, entitled "Eat Me", and his subsequent appearance on Conan O' Brien's show. I've enjoyed his myriad breakfast burritos amongst other things. Shopsin's warrants some preparation; the menu items number in the hundreds - so you might want to get a gander at the online menu.

              Here's the site: http://www.shopsins.com/


              1. I would go to cafe habana in soho
                I would also try pio pio on the upper east side.

                1. Lots of places on RGR's Lower East Side tour http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493333 are holes in the wall. Katz's is a rather large "hole", but otherwise meets your criteria, although it will fall on the upper end (but not over) your price range, if you each get a Pastrami sandwich.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bobjbkln

                    If they each get a Pastrami sandwich, there's a good chance they won't be able to eat anything else for the rest of the day!

                  2. Here are some general suggestions:

                    First, if you're staying for more than 3-4 days and want to explore New York while eating well, get yourself a pair of 7-day unlimited Metrocards. Then think about what neighborhoods you might want to see. You might want to post on the Outer Borough board also.

                    One obvious neighborhood for good cheap food is Chinatown. For lunch, there are lots of great food carts with all types of food. You can search Chowhound for discussions about any of this.

                    There is a lot of good food uptown. I know the Upper West Side. You could combine that with a trip to the Museum of Natural History and Central Park.

                    Outside of Manhattan, there are great food neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Brooklyn suggestions: the neighborhoods of 1) Williamsburg and Greenpoint 2) Park Slope or 3) Sunset Park and Bay Ridge. Queens: 1) Jackson Heights or 2) Sunnyside.

                    good luck. Ask us for more specific suggestions.

                    1. These places all sound amazing! Thank you all so much for your help - I hope to get even more before we head up there on Jan 1st! Just wanted to thank everyone for their help so far!