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Best inexpensive restaurants in Manhattan

I have relatives who will be in Manhattan for a week, and are looking for the best possible places to eat where the food isn't too expensive. Very casual is fine, but not required. Neighborhood favorites, or ethnetic cuisine might be fun. Thank you for your help,

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  1. What does "inexpensive" mean to them?

    1. Expensive / Inexpensive mean very different things to different people. If you suggest about how much per person (and whether that would include drinks or not) I'm sure many of us would have suggestions.

      1. I think I finally got at least a bit of clarification about the "expensive vs enexpensive" question. They're primarily looking for great food. They're not looking for Per Se type prices................. their ideas would perhaps range from very inexpensive "finds" to fun places to eat or have drinks, to a few that just offer something else that is special. Pricing (other than any less expensive neighborhood or ethnic places) might be more along the lines of Red Cat........somewhere in between those two price points, or a bit higher if totally worth it. They pretty much love all types of food and would like to have different kinds of experiences. They don't mind some noise if it fits the setting. Ideas for all 3 meals as well as fun places for drinks would surely be appreciated.

        Per Se
        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

        1. It would be helpful if you clarified your definition of 'inexpensive' or 'reasonable' by giving a dollar range.

          1. -I second Le Da Nang - delicious food and very friendly, caring service.
            - I think the Momofukus are within what you consider inexpensive, and are generally considered worth a visit.
            - Sigiri (Sri Lankan) is one of my favorites - really delicious and different, though the interior is not fancy.
            - Locanda Verde Brunch - not too pricey, the food is very filling so you needn't order too much (and even if it is, it is completely worth it)
            - Ramen houses - I don't know what the best places are, but look through past postings for good places to get ramen. Also, an izakaya-style place might be fun.
            - Prix-fixe lunches e.g. at SHO, at Del Posto, at EMP - they run 25-35 dollars. Searching past posts should turn up good choices.

            91 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

            Locanda Verde
            377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

            Le Da Nang
            75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

            3 Replies
            1. re: firni

              I'll third Le Da Nang and toss in Pho Bang on Mott Street.

              Pho Bang
              157 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

              Le Da Nang
              75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: southernitalian

                I was in the neighborhood last night and ate at Le Da Nang after reading this thread and I certainly wouldn't recommend it over any of the more interesting, authentic Vietnamese restaurants in the city. It's a nice space and the staff are friendly, but the food was nothing special. The entree I had (seafood hot pot / combo) was hideously sweet and the shrimp in it and the appetizer were clearly frozen, not fresh. There were a lot of Thai dishes on the menu and the Vietnamese dishes didn't have the particular flavors I expect from that cuisine. Maybe the pho or the bao are better?

                Le Da Nang
                75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                1. re: versicle

                  I only had the pho and thought it was great but not nearly as good as what we had at Pho Bang.

                  Pho Bang
                  157 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

            2. Assuming you mean mid-priced, good, neighborhood places - not "big name" spots:

              Mexican: Suenos in Chelsea
              Italian: Le Zie or Crispo in Chelsea or Fig & Olive in the Meatpacking
              French: Jules in East Village or Gascogne in Chelsea
              Tapas: Boqueria on Spring Street
              Chinese: Szechuan Gourmet on 39th Street in Midtown

              240 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

              Fig & Olive
              420 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10014

              Szechuan Gourmet
              21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

              158 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

              Le Zie
              172 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

              311 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

              171 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

              1. I'm not sure I have a good sense of where you want to bring your relatives, but if cost is a real factor (as it is with most of us), here are some New York suggestions that don't break the bank (at least my bank). I don't know your age or your relatives' age, so some of these may or may not be appropriate.

                Pastrami sandwich and a soda/beer at Katz's, then a few days later another pastrami and soda/beer at the Second Avenue Deli, this to compare the two.

                A couple of hot dogs from Nathan's at Conely Island. Take the subway, have a hot dog or two, walk on the boardwalk, let them take in the local color, so to speak. Another New York day, not very expensive.

                A trip to downtown Brooklyn for a visit to the Brooklyn Promenade, which will give you the best views of downtown NYC you can possibly get, other than a helicopter. Then you can all walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to Chinatown in Manhattan to wander around, then stop in one of the better Chinese restaurants (N.Y. Noodletown, Peking Duck House, anywhere else that appeals). Do a search here on Chowhound for lots and lots of opinions.

                An Irish pub in the Financial District. Take the subway to Wall Street, wander around for a while, and when you spot an Irish pub, stop in and have a pint and maybe a burger. Be advised, though, that the Irish pubs (and other food establishments) in the Wall Street area get mobbed at lunch. If you google Murphguide, you can quickly get a list of most of the Irish bars in the city, including the Financial District.

                Final suggestion: take them to Keen's on West 36th for the fabulous mutton chops (or a steak if you can't hack the mutton). Enjoy the wine and perhaps a single malt Scotch (Keen's has an extensive collection). You'll easily cover the cost with the money you saved on the other meals.

                If you have something else entirely in mind, please post in more detail.

                Either way, enjoy...

                Second Avenue Deli
                162 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016

                Peking Duck House
                236 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022

                1. A lot of great suggestions here. I'll just throw in a couple of my low-cost faves in the East Village and LES.

                  Motorino for very good neapolitan pizza. Not a slice shop! This is a sit down place
                  The Redhead for upscale southern comfort food.
                  Northern Spy for very simple, local cuisine.
                  Shanghai Cafe -- just as good as Joe's and the like (IMHO), but not as touristy.
                  Back Forty -- A tick or two above Redhead in price point, but still around 16-23 entrees.
                  Haskai for good sushi and reasonable prices.
                  Antibes Bistro -- ridiculously inexpensive french (provencal) bistro on Suffolk Street.
                  Salt Bar -- Small bites, flat breads, beer and wine. Careful, can get pricey.

                  So many options...

                  Back Forty
                  190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                  Antibes Bistro
                  112 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002

                  349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                  1. In order to expense (lowest to highest)
                    Xi'an Famous Foods
                    Go Go Curry
                    Szechuan Gourmet (also has a nice dining room, unlike the others)
                    The Redhead (probably comparable to Red Cat)

                    There... is that so hard? Do you really need a dollar range to offer inexpensive suggestions?

                    Go Go Curry
                    273 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018

                    Szechuan Gourmet
                    21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                    Red Cat
                    227 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: heWho

                      I don't know if The Redhead is really that inexpensive when some of the entrees are more expensive than $20. It's a great value but can be hard to do unless you stick with the burger, no appetizers, no sides. Saying it's comparable to Red Cat works for us because we live here, but not so much for a visitor.

                      > Do you really need a dollar range to offer inexpensive suggestions?

                      No but it helps a lot, especially if you're visiting from out of town (a few years back I recall someone saying they wanted to stay in Times Square and not spend more than $12 per person including tax at a sit down restaurant). It's better to manage your expectations accordingly before you get here than suffer sticker shock the moment you get into Manhattan.

                      The word "inexpensive" is relative as well as one's tolerance for going over a certain dollar figure. I've seen people request to stay under $20pp including tax and tip at a sit down restaurant and a meal closer to $25 would not have worked.

                      This thread may also help:

                      1. re: kathryn

                        The Redhead is less expensive than The Red Cat, so I used that as my gauge in suggesting it. The OP gave a very vague guideline in his/her second post.

                        I understand about the $12 Times Square meal restriction. But I also think that many people visiting New York for the first time think dinner is going to cost is what dinner costs at Eleven Madison Park or Jean Georges-- that a sandwich at a deli costs $23 (Carnegie Deli) or that breakfast at Norma's is what one pays for breakfast every day.

                        So.... yeah. Finding out what one's expectations are is as important as a hard and fast $ amount per person for a meal.

                        And with that, I will also add Frankies 17 to my list of recs. (Not to be confused with Frank or Little Frankies).

                        Eleven Madison Park
                        11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                        Jean Georges
                        1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                        Red Cat
                        227 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                    2. Try Motorino in the East Village for great pizza (actually expensive for pizza, but still in the realm of cheap eats). 'inoteca on Rivington on the LES is a total neighborhood favorite, seasonal Italian panino and wine bar, gently priced and great vibe. Mercadito (on Avenue B in the East Village), for great Mexican (they have a West Village location too but I prefer the East Village spot). Casellula is a jewel in midtown, lovely little wine and cheese bar with affordable, thoughtful, delicious food. Corner Bistro on West 4th St in the West Village for great burgers. Always my favorite: Sakagura, really cool Japanese spot in the basement of an office building, serves up Japanese small plates (not sushi) and has an amazing sake list. Ippudo on 4th Ave is great for ramen if you're into that sort of thing, but quite hard to get into, always a long wait. Tons of great cheap and legit dim sum places in Chinatown, I'm no expert on that as I rarely go out for dim sum but do a Chowhound search and you'll get a lot of solid recommendations.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: picklesister

                        Considerably less expensive than dinner (and even lunch) at many far less distinguished places - is lunch at Jean-Georges, a real steal - and no pressure at all to order wine. No one will think twice if you stick with their (brewed) ice tea or simply Perrier, as many executives do in these censorious days!!

                        In this vein, Egit''s reminder of the cost of a sandwich alone at Carnegie Deli ($23) is instructive. Add a starter or a few sides, a soda and a slice of cheesecake to your CD visit and I bet you have spent more or less the same as you would for a three course lunch at JG which you will never forget.

                        Carnegie Deli
                        854 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019