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Best Value in Manhattan

My wife and I are coming to NYC for our anniversary in October. Food is going to be a big part of the trip. We've been prowling the board, but are overwhelmed by all the choices. We are still trying to set our budget. So we are looking for the best values in Manhattan.

We are looking for lunch and dinner recs. Anything from super casual to tasting menus. We'll probably do one tasting menu for our actual anniversary dinner. After that we are open to just about anything. Two exceptions though: we don't do Indian food (bad experience in the past) and while we're not opposed to seafood, it's not very high on the list.

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  1. Jean Georges has a lunch deal Monday through Saturday which includes two courses for $29. I think it is the best fine dining lunch bargain in the city.

    1. As you've "prowled the boards", surely you have noticed some places that look appealing to you? Why not start by inquiring about those, and we can fill in with other, and possibly better, suggestions.

      1. EMP also has a very good lunch deal. As well as SHO and Del Posto though I never tried them. I personally would do higher end places for lunch. Then maybe asian food and pizza for dinner. Some places I like are Viet-Pho Bang, Bahn mi-Baoguette, Chinese-Great Noodletown, Pizza-Keste, Japenese-15 East. 15 East is a higher end place but it is not too expensive if you don't do a tasting menu.
        BTW I would trek to Flushing if you are interested in more asian food especially different regional chinese foods.

        15 East
        15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

        Del Posto
        85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

        1. Value in Manhattan is a hard thing to get :P. What is your price range?

          For a brunch served until 4:00, I like Cafe Orlin on St. Marks. Here is the menu: http://www.cafeorlin.com/docs/brunch.pdf

          Not dirt cheap, but does this seem reasonable?

          Cafe Orlin
          41 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

          1. I would also like to throw Convivio out there. They have a lunch prixe fixe for 2 courses $28 or 3 courses $40. Their dinner prixe fixe is fantastic and a bargain as it is 4 courses for $62. You'd be very hard pressed to find another restaurant offering that quality at that price in my opinion.

            45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

            1. Highly highly recommend Eleven Madison Park for lunch. Not only is it a bargain at lunchtime, but at lunchtime the room is just beautiful, with the sun coming in from the big windows. In fact I prefer to eat there at lunchtime.

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

              4 Replies
              1. re: gutsofsteel

                I would also recommend the Washington Heights location of El Malecon. They serve a nice, cheap Dominican menu with an excellent rotisserie chicken.

                There is a UWS location as well.

                El Malecon
                4141 Broadway, New York, NY 10033

                1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                  Two totally different restaurants, but I do love both lunch at EMP and chicken, rice, beans, and plantains at Malecon.

                2. re: gutsofsteel

                  Rumor has it that EMP may be doing away with their weekday lunch deal.

                  1. re: kathryn


                    Must. Go. Again. Soon.

                3. degustation for the tasting menu - you cannot go wrong, delicious and not expensive for what you get

                  naruto ramen - 850 for ramen - 650 on mondays

                  caracas arepas


                  cascabel taqueria

                  there are plenty options other than the top end places others are suggesting

                  can i ask what was the bad experience w/ indian? if you dont like the flavors that's one thing, but it would be a shame to blow off a rich a varied cuisine totally just because one place did you wrong

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: thew

                    I am happy to have Naruto Ramen in the neighborhood, but it is not very good.

                    Naruto Ramen
                    1596 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      I've only had Naruto Ramen once for lunch and it wasn't very good. Overly salty broth and the fattiest piece of pork I've ever seen and not fatty in a good way.

                      Naruto Ramen
                      1596 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                      1. re: gutsofsteel

                        i disagree. but that's ok.
                        i like their stuff - i think the miso ramen is better than the eponymous soy based one, and this summer they did some lovely cold ramens as specials

                        1. re: thew

                          The noodles are always the wrong texture, either overdone or underdone. The broths are too salty. I go there because it's convenient, but there are so many other better options in Manhattan. I have had the cold ramen specials several times and I found them pretty dull. And the noodles were a bad texture.

                          1. re: gutsofsteel

                            I agree with this assessment. I go because I can walk there but would not recommend it to anyone out of the neighbourhood. Their Hiyashi Chuka is as dull as I have had it.

                            Cascabel I will second though. Their tacos are very good and not too pricey given the location. Try the lengua if you like tongue.

                    2. I would also suggest posting this thread on the Outer Boroughs walls. Great (and ethnic) cheap eats are MUCH more widely available in Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn than Manhattan and many in easily accessible neighborhoods with many things to offer.

                      1. Might I point you to the last article Frank Bruni wrote as the Restaurant Critic of the New York times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/din...

                        Of particular note, and I quote:

                        WHERE CAN I FIND GREAT VALUE?

                        At some of the more expensive, extravagant restaurants in New York, that’s where. Value doesn’t mean a low price: it means you’re getting a lot for what you’re paying.

                        At Eleven Madison Park, for example, the $88 prix fixe includes five one-bite amuse-bouches per person, terrific gougères, unlimited bread with both goat’s milk and cow’s milk butter, an appetizer, an entree, a dessert amuse-bouche, dessert and petit fours. Plus you’re sitting in comfort in one of the city’s most beautiful dining rooms, with many polished servers attending to you.

                        At Momofuku Ssam Bar, where you’re encouraged to build a meal from a sequence of small, medium and large plates, you’d probably need five selections, including dessert, to match that amount of food, and you could easily spend $68 in the process. And what you’ve given up, for a $20 savings, is the ability to make a reservation, a real chair (the restaurant is all backless stools), comparably pampering service, etc.

                        I’m not denigrating Ssam Bar: I love both of these restaurants. But you could argue that Eleven Madison is the better value — and there’s a larger point here to keep in mind before dismissing expensive restaurants.

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

                        Momofuku Ssam Bar
                        207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: songexe

                          I don't know how ANYONE can dispute that EMP is a better value than Momofuku. No comparison at all.

                          1. re: steakrules85

                            Agreed Steak. And while I love Ssam for a few dishes, and still go often, I don't think of it as a bargain.

                            1. re: seal

                              I agree - I like Ssam too but it's never cheap for dinner. Things pile up pretty quickly. Maybe their lunch prix-fixe, which I haven't done.

                          2. re: songexe

                            For most of us, $88 is not "affordable" or "value". Sure you get a swanky experience and some bang for your buck, but I don't believe this is what the OP is looking for. I believe, like others, he's asking how to save money on food while still eating well and getting something tasty.

                            1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                              In general, I agree. But value is defined as (Amount of Enjoyment) / (Price), and that is exactly what OP asked for.

                              Plus, while I agree that many of the restaurants the NYTimes reviews are beyond the reach for most, their opinion is still highly valuable. I'll trust Frank Bruni's palette over most people on Chowhound, including my own.

                              1. re: songexe

                                Oh, of course. Bruni makes his point and he makes it well. I definitely agree with you about trusting an authority with training over some anonymous board poster... But, then, Bruni has the fortune of his meals being paid for... ;)

                                1. re: songexe

                                  you would trust someone else's tastebuds over your own?

                                  so if you disliked something but bruni says it tastes good you would eat it anyway?

                                  i don't get it

                                  1. re: thew

                                    Who knows more about music, you(r average fan) or Lou Reed?

                                    1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                                      who knows what music you enjoy listening to better, you or lou reed?

                                      1. re: thew

                                        Exactly; I'm pretty sure Frank Bruni (I'd hope so) would agree with you, thew.
                                        His job is not to tell us where to eat and where not to eat, but to enlighten us and share experiences.
                                        According to my taste buds, I really enjoed Abraco for their 3 course lunch; it's really a great value.

                                        86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

                                2. re: songexe

                                  I'm a little frightened that Bruni orders the same number of dishes for himself (5) that my husband and I share typically at Ssam (oysters, buns, Benton's, a side, a main/protein).

                                3. Get thee to Brooklyn! The neighborhods near Manhattan are now populated by smaller restaurants opened by younger chefs who are not backed by outside investors. You'll find incredible diversity and great quality. The Good Fork in Red Hook is a new favorite of mine, if you are willing to trek a bit. Do check out the Outer Boroughs board, then you'll really be overwhelmed by choices!

                                  1. For lunch I suggest the Bhatti Indian Grill at 100 Lexington Ave. For $10 you get a salad, a small chicken plate, several pieces of Naan bread, chicken tikka masala, spinach, beans, curry potatoes, eggplant, and rice pudding! I could not finish it all! The food is tasty and the decor nice.

                                    100 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                    1. I had a great lunch at Bouley for $36 last month, with amuse bouche, three desserts and petit fours.. I don't know if this is a special summer price as I believe it is usually $48, but still a good deal.
                                      Also The Post House maybe old fashioned steak house but the $24.07 Restaurant week special is going on until the end of 2010 - superb ingredients but not the most imaginative cooking I will agree but hard to see how they make any profit.

                                      Post House
                                      28 E 63rd St, New York, NY 10021

                                      1. A-Wah 5 Catherine St. Bo Zai Fan, get the house special and don't forget to use plenty of soy sauce - it will not make it too salty.

                                        5 Catherine St, New York, NY 10038

                                        1. Bar Boulud offers a nice prix fixe lunch for about $30, and Telepan is even cheaper. As for bang for the buck, at Annisa dinners run about $75 with many "gifts" thrown in and several wine choices under $50/bottle, which is not true of EMP. Plus an intimate experience with great people-watching.

                                          72 W. 69th Street, New York, NY 10023

                                          13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

                                          Bar Boulud
                                          1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                                          1. I'm not opining as to quality for all of them, but these are all restaurants that have lunch deals that are considerably less costly than the dinner prices.

                                            Jean Georges $28 2 Course
                                            Nougatine (Jean Georges) $24 3 Course
                                            Alto $36 2 Course
                                            Gotham $31 3 Course
                                            Feledia $30 3 Course
                                            Aquavit $24 3 Course
                                            David Burke Townhouse $24 3 Course (don't know if this is stil the case)
                                            Bar Boloud $24 3 Course
                                            Chanterelle $42 3 Course
                                            Del Posto Enoteca $32 3 Course

                                            Also, Devi, Cafe Boulud, Petrossian and L'ecole all have lunch deals,but I don't have the prices handy.

                                            Cafe Boulud
                                            20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

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

                                            Del Posto
                                            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                            182 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

                                            1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: demo5

                                              Chanterelle sadly closed a year or so ago

                                            2. Rai Rai Ken can be a nice place to get a good sized bowl of ramen at a decent price. Its quite the experience, as the environment is very different than your everyday nyc resturant.

                                              Rai Rai Ken
                                              214 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003