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Please Help - Anniversary Dinner Recommendations On A College Student Budget

My boyfriend and I's anniversary is coming up soon and I want to take him out for a really special, romantic dinner. I enjoy researching restaurants and trying new types of food, but we're both college students and my budget is not quite expendable enough for any of the bigger, fancier places that are suggested in many annivesary threads. I'd love to try to keep it to $70-80 in total with tax and tip, but I don't know if this is particularly feasible. It seems like a bit of a stretch, and if so I could probably expand that range a bit more (I don't think I can go past $100). We wouldn't be getting any alcohol with our meal, so I assume that this will help somewhat. Of course, if there's anywhere that I could scoot out under that that would be great (in a perfect world!). The more inexpensive the better, but of course I would rather spend more money and get an amazing meal than pay less for a substandard one.

Both of us are fairly adventurous with what we eat, so there's no particular type of food that we're looking for. We both go to NYU, but the restaurant doesn't have to be in Lower Manhattan or even Manhattan at all. Ideally, it would also be LGBT friendly but this obviously isn't a huge issue in New York City. I'm just looking for a quiet and romantic yet inexpensive place to have a great meal.

I've been looking on Yelp and I've found some places that seem really great (Frankies 457 in Brooklyn, Apizz in the LES, La Lanterna di Vittorio in the Village, Paprika in the East Village...) but, as I said before, I really don't know what I can get away with due to my budget constraints. If you could comment on any of those or provide any suggestions of your own that would be much appreciated!

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  1. I would get a bottle of cold champagne and some paninis from 'Ino on Bedford Street and a cake or cookies from Amy's Bread on Bleeker/Leroy Street and grab a blanket and then have a nice picnic on the piers overlooking the Hudson River...

    1. I would check out this handy "Autumn Prix-Fixe Specials" guide, as you can eat in restaurants that would normally be much more expensive for dinner: http://www.winedanddined.com/autumn-p...

      Of the restaurants on that list, I think the standouts are Perry St (Sun-Fri 5:30-6:30 and after 9:30), Allegretti, Apiary, and Momofuku Noodle Bar. Perry St seems the best overall when considering food, decor, and location (overlooking the Hudson river).

      1 Reply
      1. re: hcbk0702

        Also consider Jojo, Jean George's more casual outpost on East 64th Street, which has a $38 autumn promotion that includes dessert.

        I've celebrated a few anniversaries there myself. It's a cozy, romantic venue that's definitely LGBT friendly.

      2. I have to say, I love the idea of champagne and blankets. Very romantic. But if you're looking for table service, Perry St would be an excellent choice. My partner and I have had many very good meals there.

        Congratulations on your anniversary! Wishing you many more.

        1. If you head somewhere with a $35 prix fixe and don't have any alcohol, then you can get out for $90. for both of you including tax and tip. Many of the restaurants have gone up to $38. for the prix fixe, and you could just squeak in at the $100 for the 2 of you.

          1. One other option: Jean-Georges at lunch. They have fantastic food, and at lunch they serve 2 courses for $28 pp. You can add additional courses for $14 per course, if you wan a larger meal.

            It's not dinner, but it IS the same 4-star food they serve at dinner, with the same dining room, same service and same portions. It's a great way to experience wonderful food on a budget.

            1 Reply
            1. re: edwardspk

              If you're able to do lunch instead of dinner, I would agree that Jean Georges would be the first choice. There's been a very slight price hike though: two courses is $29, each additional course is $14.50, while desserts have stayed at $8. The tasting menu at dinner is about $200 per person after tax and tip, so the lunch deal is an amazing bargain. However, you may need three courses to have a filling meal depending on your appetite, so this would push your $50 per person budget.

              A very close second to JG is the $28 two course lunch at Eleven Madison Park. If you're looking for a slightly less formal vibe, this is the better choice. Both dining rooms have large windows and views of parks (Central Park for JG, Madison Square Park for EMP), but EMP has the additional benefit of soaring 30 ft ceilings in a classic art deco setting. JG has a much more sleek, contemporary look.

            2. I was looking into this last week and found a great solution - Nook on 9th Ave b.w 50th and 51st. It's BYOB, so stop at a liquor store on your way and pick up a bottle of bubbly.

              We split the mushroom cigar for app, he had the steak frit, I had the chicken, and we split peanut butter pie for dessert. All were delicious and it all came to $60.

              Be sure to make a reservation!

              1. Apizz is great and with no alcohol you'd def be able to hit your price point.

                1. You're on a budget. You're both college students - and you want a place that's LBGT friendly.

                  When *I* was a starving college student in NYC -- in the late '70s -- a gay friend of mine took me to Fedora restaurant, on West 4th Street in the Village. Back then we could eat there - three courses and drinks - for very, very little money.

                  Although certainly not a gourmand's paradise - c'mon, it's simple Italian specialties and American comfort food - the food is fresh and attentively prepared (I'm personally crazy about their chopped liver appetizer). You'll get out of Fedora for under $20 per person the way they're priced today. Your post said you're not getting alcohol with your meal. Too bad. Fedora's drinks are generous and the cheapest in the Village!

                  So, what I propose is that instead of finding a place that's LBGT "friendly," go to the place that was one of the first where, way back before Stonewall, Fedora was charming gay couples and groups with her delightful personality and home cooking.

                  239 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014