Looking for casual restaurant with hearty fare (under $30 pp)
Looking for a casual restaurant (bistro, brasserie, trattoria) in Manhattan - preferably below 14th Street, but anything below 96th St is fine - with great food and no more than $30-$35 per person including tax and tip.
I'd prefer an American or European eatery (French, Italian, whatever), and am ok with either traditional comfort food or nouveau/creative preparations. The important thing is that the food is hearty and served in reasonable portions for a grown man. Not concerned about the beer/wine list; just want a place that has terrific food quality at a moderate price point.
Because I'll be dining with an old friend whom I haven't seen in a while, I want to avoid any loud, trendy, or scenester restaurants. The place doesn't have to be super quiet or anything, but it shouldn't resemble a frathouse or Sex & the City casting call, either. Doesn't have to be romantic, but would prefer a place with a little bit of character (divey with character is ok; divey like a check cashing store is not).
The dinner isn't until next week, so I have time to make a decision (and a reservation, if necessary). Thanks in advance.
For the sake of reference, one place which caught my eye is Vinegar Hill House in Brooklyn - but we don't want to travel to Brooklyn on this particular occasion, otherwise I'd probably check it out.
Other places I thought of but decided against are Blue Ribbon Bakery (kind of expensive and loud), Morandi (vibe is ok, but I don't really love their food), Tartine (used to love this place, but now I think the food is so-so), and Piccolo Angolo (pretty good food, but such a hassle; also, it's kind of at the upper limit of my price range).
621 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
211 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014
Blue Ribbon Bakery
33 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014
253 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014
Focacceria on bleecker and macdougal is a great low key Italian restaurant. Has a create your own pasta section and you can sit there and have a conversation for a while without getting kicked out. Great wine list, small quaint place. Perfect to talk an old friend to.
87 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
Paris Commune - has some great prix fixe daily specials
Good - on Greenwich Ave
Corsino - Hudson and Horatio
99 Bank St, New York, NY 10014
637 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
I appreciate everyone's input so far. Just to clarify, I am definitely not interested in any chain or theme restaurants even if the food is better than expected.
What I'm searching for is a local neighborhood eatery, preferably with a little bit of character. I am definitely not a "quantity over quality" type of guy, yet at the same time I don't want to go to a place with miniscule portions, either.
The absolute top priority for me is to find standout dining options at a moderate price point ($30-$35 or less per person including tax and tip). There are tons of casual mom-and-pop eateries of varying quality all over the city, but I'm hoping that you guys can clue me in to the places that are truly head-and-shoulders above the rest (foodwise) rather than "good but not great".