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
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".
Perhaps I'm a cynic but I think it's going to be hard to find "great, not good" food at your price point. I think Jimmy's is quite a good value.
If you're willing to forgo the American/European requirement, you could do something like the cafe at La Esquina, Hecho En Dumbo, or Cafe Habana.
Back to American recs: you could do Westville easily (although I don't know if you consider that great food, since Jimmy's isn't up to snuff) or maybe Northern Spy if you order carefully. Emporio in Nolita is pretty good Italian, as is Supper.
229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012
210 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014
231 Mott Street, New York, NY 10012
BTW, has anyone here been to Edi & the Wolf (Austrian cuisine) on Avenue C in the East Village? The place has only been open two weeks, but it has gotten great reviews so far. Also, it's related to Seasonal Restaurant in Midtown, which is generally very well-regarded.
Edi & the Wolf seems like it might meet my criteria, so I'd like to hear from anyone who's been there.
Thanks again for everyone's contributions thus far.
Edi & the Wolf
102 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009
First choice would be Frankie's 17. They fit the "great food" mold. You probably won't be able to do apps / entrees AND drinks for 35, but you could split an app or something and be fine.
Second choice I'd go with Schiller's - as long as it's a weeknight. Weekends it gets scenester / trendy. It's good, not great, but for the price they're pretty solid.
Frankies 17 Spuntino
17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Schiller's Liquor Bar
131 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002
Great compared to any Italian restaurant at the same price point. Obviously, it's not like dining at Babbo or Scarpetta or Falai - or even "casual" places like Osteria Morini. It's a much lower price point than any of them. The food is rustic, hearty, flavorful - it's a classic neighborhood joint. The seasonal salads and antipasti are all good, the pastas are solid (the cavatelli exceptional), the specials - like pork braciola - are just good Italian(-American) comfort food. And pretty much everything on the menu is under $20 - cheap these days. It's all relative to the price point, and dollar for dollar Frankie's 17 is one of the best, IMHO.
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011
68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014
218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012