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Dec 1, 2008 12:57 PM

Best Recession Deals?

Anyone offering any great specials in these trying economic times? Lunch or dinner...

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  1. Everyone. Everywhere. Though most of the best deals are being offered during lunch. Jean George, Gotham Bar & Grill, Milos, Oceana, Perry Street , Tabla and Grayz are all offering prix fixe lunch for $35 or less.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Julz124

      Fleur de Sel also has a prix fixe under 35. Convivo's isn't bad either from my memory.

      1. re: silencespeak

        Fleur de Sel offers two lunch prix-fixes: 3 courses @ $29 and 5 courses @ $46.

        Convivio's 4-course prix-fixe is $49 at lunch and $59 at dinner.

        Allegretti, the new French Provencal restaurant, has a 3-course lunch prix-fixe for $28. I believe they will also be offering an early 3-course dinner prix-fixe for $35 (served until 6:30 p.m.).

    2. The $35 prix-fixe dinner at Compass is one of the best deals around.

      1. Rack & Soul on 109th between Bway and Amst has a Recession Special thru Inauguration Day - $15 for lunch, $20 for dinner gets you entree, 2 sides, biscuits, beverage, dessert and tax. Also, they have downsized and are no longer on Bway but are around the corner.

        1. whew, aren't those are 'recession' specials priced for financier's who got out on a golden parachute? ;)

          right now, i feel recessed enough to call upon favorites like noche mexicana, ivo & lulu, the $5 chicken rice plates from halal carts, the ikea cafeteria (not in manhattan, but the bus is free :), any of those hot dog places with the word "papaya" in the name, ruben's empanadas, caracas arepa bar, the soft tofu and zongzi ("chinese tamales") vendors near the grand/chrystie st. subway stop.

          23 Replies
          1. re: cimui

            Could you elaborate on the zongzi? Sounds awesome. Thanks.

            1. re: D...DF

              they sell zongzi everyhwere (in chinatown) with all different fillings. most dimsum places have them as well as most chinese supermarkets. a lot of snacky type restaurants have them too like shanghai café i think.

              1. re: Renguin

                yes, thanks for answering, renguin. D...DF, you can't throw a pebble in Chinatown without hitting a zongzi (or zonghzi) vendor.

                general background: zongzi are made out of glutinous rice, usually formed into triangular or rectangular shapes, generally filled, wrapped and steamed in bamboo leaves, which impart a really nice fragrance, much as corn husks do in the most common tyle of tamale. there's a picture and more information on the wiki entry for zongzi:

                the best ones, IMO, are full of fatty pork belly. like lard in corn tamales, the pork fat melts into the rice for a supremely well flavored, tender, and fragrant dish. they're generally $2 or less, depending on your bargaining abilities. (i generally don't like to bargain down too much.) other fillings include mixtures of boiled peanuts and vegetables.

                btw, profuse apologies for crap editing in my previous post. take out the "are" in the first sentence and the apostrophe in financier's. too much re-writing on the fly, without enough proofreading. glad it was still somewhat comprehensible.

                1. re: cimui

                  Renguin and cimui, thanks for following up. I've eaten hundreds of Zaongzi, just never knew the name (did a lot of pointing instead).

                  1. re: D...DF

                    very cool. i love ppl who eat things when they have no idea what they are. definitely a chowhound after my own heart!

            2. re: cimui

              i actually don't find caracas arepa bar to be in the same league as the others you've mentioned. I easily spend at least 20-25 dollars there, and that's still keeping an eye on prices.

              1. re: Renguin

                oh, wow, I think my meals are usually to the tune of $6 to $8. i don't get the more expensive plates; one arepa is enough to fill me up or, if i'm very hungry, two empanadas.

                i also don't tend to go there for meals with friends, for some reason, in the same way we'd go to flor's kitchen (now deceased -- RIP!). there, the addition of sides and the inevitable pitcher of sangria jacked up prices by a lot.

                either way, hungry, recession-clobbered hounds should know that it's possible to eat at caracas for not too much $$. (but it's still cheaper to eat at home. i just can't make arepas nearly as well as they can!)

                1. re: cimui

                  Well if people are in LES they could go to Dumpling House, and get fried dumplings and a wonton soup for $2.50 or so.

                  1. re: Wpark01

                    yes, great suggestion! it's shocking, but the dumplings are *still* 5 for $1 after all these years. even mamoun's upped their prices a bit in the past year.

                    1. re: cimui

                      "it's shocking, but the dumplings are *still* 5 for $1 after all these years. "

                      No they're not. The prices went up to 4 for $1 in January of 2008 after they renovated.


                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        ok, i'll think about rescinding my shock. but really, 4 dumplings / $1 is still not too shabby.

                        1. re: cimui

                          I haven't been back since they raised their prices. In part that was because of a number of recommendations to try out Prosperity Dumpling, also on Eldridge a couple of blocks south. They're still holding the line at 5 for $1.

                          The ambiance is nicer at Vanessa's (the original Dumpling House.) There's now more seating and the surroundings are more polished in a fast food kind of way. (In this case that's a good thing.) Unfortunately the expanded seating has resulted in larger crowds so the net effect is a wash.

                          Prosperity follows the old Dumpling House formula. There's rudimentary counter seating for 6 and it's marginally cleaner than the old DH. When it's full the place is pretty uncomfortable.

                          For the life of me I can't distinguish between the dumplings at the 2 venues. They're standard issue but with the twin virtues of being fresh and dirt cheap. I've had equivalent dumplings all around the city but at 4 times the price.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            goodness. it may be a 25% increase in price, but that translates into 25 cents. in absolute terms, it's not very much.

                            i always had to fight the urge to give them more money than they were charging, anyway. i do quite enjoy being a cheapskate, but it actually embarrasses me to pay so little when i easily blow many, many times that amount on far less delicious meals -- say for a mediocre lunchtime salad in midtown.

                            thanks for the great tips, though. it reminds me of how much i need and want to reacquaint myself with that area!

                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                              While we're on $1 dumpling places, I found ones I like more than Prosperity this past weekend. It's located on Mosco St (tiny little street between Mulberry and Mott way down South, just before both streets end).

                              The sign only says "Fried Dumpling", so I don't know the name, but man were they good. They kept the fried dumplings on a warmer that crisps them as they sit. I felt that the pork inside was better than other $1 dumpling's I've had, and I believe they were 5 for $1, not 4 for $1.

                              Here's a link to the Street View of the place:

                              1. re: heWho

                                very nice! this deserves its own thread! would you do us the honor?

                                1. re: heWho

                                  Bingo. Mosco St. is the best. No tables, a "bar" along the back wall with 5 or 6 stools. Usually we stand on the street and scarf them down in 2 minutes, really fun in winter when you're freezing and they're blisteringly hot. I'm not a fan of styrofoam and plastic forks but I make the exception here. You can also take them home uncooked. Still 5 for a buck last I saw which I think was a few weekends ago.

                                  1. re: heWho

                                    Mosco street is a little haven of unusual food delight. I just went there for the Thai grocery store yesterday and was tempted by the same dumpling place. I'm sorry now that I didn't pop in.

                                    1. re: heWho

                                      As I understand, it's in fact called "Fried Dumpling," or at least that's the English name of the little chain.

                            2. re: Wpark01

                              The lower parts of the Lower East Side are full of cheap treats like the siu mei takeaway on Chrystie that offers sells generous portions of rice with the finest char siu I've tasted for only $2.50. There's at least a pound of meat per order. Or the vast selection of banh mi under $4 throughout the area. Pho can provide a sustaining meal for most of the day for only $5. But none of these are new deals for the current economic climate. They're just the meals the rest of us have been eating while saving ourselves a few bucks in the old economy!

                              1. re: JungMann

                                oops, you're right. the Rack & Soup recession special that opera 88 id's is probably the only one that really counts. it's just that i'm starting to forget that there was a time when we weren't in a recession. (that gray's papaya special has been around a long time!)

                                1. re: cimui

                                  Oddly enough, I had dumplings from there while on Jury duty in early November. Found them to be pretty good.

                                  For me, my favorite Dumpling are at the moment still Dumpling House. Prosperity was also good, but I preferred the stuff at Dumpling house due to the expanded menu.

                                  1. re: Wpark01

                                    i have to confess that one of the reasons why i like jury duty (really and truly i do!) is because of all the great lunch options in that part of town. if every court house in the country had a dumpling house or great pho place next to it, i'm convinced that jury duty would be something that everyone looked forward to. =)

                                    1. re: cimui

                                      Cimui, not only do i like jury duty because it's near Chinatown, I also rate my jobs largely by how good the neighborhood is for lunch.

                                      Anyhow, am I alone in liking those Chinatown lunches of rice with 1-3 toppings that cost about $4.50? It's been awhile, but the one I liked was beef with pickled vegetables.

                      2. Vietnamese places in chinatown. $5.95 for a noodle bowl with everything, throw some sriracha (or i like the chili paste) and most of the time i end up eating a late dinner because i'm not hungry when i get home.