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Apr 3, 2011 09:31 AM

Young couple looking for good, cheap eats in/around Manhattan

Hey all, longtime Chowhound reader, first-time poster. My girlfriend and I have planned a trip to New York, we are staying at the Gershwin April 7-10. I have compiled a pretty comprehensive list and mapped it (yeah, I have a lot of time on my hands currently), see links below. If I have missed something that we absolutely MUST eat while in NYC please enlighten me! Also enlighten if anything on the list you think would be a dud...


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  1. Please don't waste one of your meals at Shake Shack. It's a fast food burger chain. At least go somewhere and have a good burger at somewhere New York-y. Like at the bar at Wolfgang's.

    Shake Shack
    Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

    5 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      any particular location? looks pretty expensive, is the bar pretty reasonable?

      1. re: adamlwinner

        I like to eat a burger at the bar at lunchtime at the Park Ave/ low 30w Wolfgang's. I only get a burger and sides and salad and beer. I have no idea if you'd consider the burger reasonably priced or not - I don't even remember what I paid for it the last time I was there, which was a couple of months ago.

        As for the rest of the menu....prices are line with the other top steakhouses in the city, and Wolfgang's is certainly among them.

        4 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

      2. re: gutsofsteel

        I will differ and say go ahead and waste your time at Shake Shack. It's a "fast food style" burger (as opposed to a pub or diner burger) but an excellent example of such. It's kind of like the burger you'd get at a beach shack in New England - only the best of its kind. Some just don't like that style to begin with, is all.

        1. re: sgordon

          I like the style just fine. I think however that if somebody has limited time in NYC, Shake Shack is an utter waste of time and stomach space.

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            I agree with guts, the shake shack burger is fine but it really is just a fast food burger and not really much different from other versions of the style.

            Wolfgang's burger is excellent as are the house made potato chips they have their. It is not too expensive.

            I also really like Molly's Shabeen on Third ave as well. Very well made burger.

            287 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

      3. A couple notes on your list, going in order...

        Burgers: Minetta Tavern doesn't draw raves from absolutely everyone. Or, I should say while most everyone agrees the burger is very tasty, you'll find a great number of people who don't think it's $26 tasty. I did a cost analysis here some time ago (here - - about 4/5 down the page) and they're actually charging you more per ounce for the meat than they do for their Cote de Boeuf - and the burger is made (partially, no one knows the exact percentage) from leftover scraps from said Cote, with lower cost cuts as filler. And I like McNally's restos, mind you. I just thing the BLB is a rip-off.

        Asian: don't let David Chang hear you call his restaurants "Asian" now. If you were to go to Noodle Bar and just get the Ramen and Pork Buns, sure, you'd be having a spin on Asian food - but nearly everything else will be seasonal American. Ssam Bar is a New American restaurant through and through with touches of many different cuisines - I've had single meals that touched on Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese. Both great, though. I'd do Noodle Bar for lunch some day (less busy) to try the Ramen and Pork Buns, and Ssam for dinner for the more fancy stuff.

        Banh Mi: I shouldn't even get into this, since it seems any mention of eithe Banh Mi or Pho sends the Chowverse into a war over who's the "best" or "most authentic" - but I'll just note my faves: I like Zon, Nicky's, and Sau Voi Corp. The last one mainly because you a.) get your BM from an old lady behind a counter in a store that sells Vietnamese CDs, lotto tix, and women's underwear, and b.) because you can take it Columbus Park a block away and eat while watching local Chinese musicians play.

        Bagels & Lox: No need to hit them all. Most people will probably agree that Russ & Daughters has the best lox by a mile, though I'm sure that will trigger contrary opinions. Barney Greengrass has their fans as well, and they're certainly good. Depends what part of town you're in, I suppose.

        Deli: I like Katz's. They've got some haters, sure, but they tend to be the sorts who hate on any institutions.

        Mexican: for a town not known for it's Mexican food, you've got quite a number of places listed. Most are just okay. Tehuitzingo is very solid, and moreso just a great experience. Probably the best tacos in Manhattan right now, though, are at the new (24/7!) Tacos Morelos street cart parked on Ave A & 2nd Street. They're a branch of a place in Queens that Robert Sietsema (from the Village Voice) considers the best Mexican restaurant in the entire city. The tacos are fantastic - the lengua and barbacoa especially good, I think. The sopes are also solid. I'd skip the burritos - they're merely average, and no sense getting a big thing full of one meat and fillers when you could get an assortment of tacos for the same price.

        French: Porchetta isn't French, they're Italian. But while speaking of them, I'm not the biggest fan. I found the famed sandwich overly greasy (and I like greasy, within reason) and surprisingly underseasoned. That said, I understand others will differ. For a mass of pork between bread I much prefer a good Cubano - and for my money, the best Cubanos are currently at Cibao on the corner of Clinton & Rivington.

        Bargain: you've got a couple more Mexican places here. Other than the fish tacos (which neither Tehitzingo nor Morelos have) there's no need to visit either Esquina or Pinche for tacos, for my money. That aside, La Esquina has great sit-down food. They're a great brunch option on the weekends in the cafe (entrance around the corner from the taqueria) as well - the Pozole is spot-on, and the Huevos A La Esquina with chicken-poblano hash is fantastic and filling.

        And Xi'an is a must, yes. I don't anyone will disagree with that. The only thing we might disagree on is what to order if you're only going there once. (For me: the Mt Qi Pork Noodles, Cumin Lamb Noodles. EIther of the burgers are good, too, if you just want something hand-held and smaller. Skip the "lamb face" salad - I found it less than exciting. Also, go to the Chinatown location and skip the crowds on St. Mark's


        Barney Greengrass
        541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

        Russ & Daughters
        179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

        Katz's Delicatessen
        205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

        695 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

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

        Minetta Tavern
        113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

        Sau Voi
        101 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10013

        La Esquina
        106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

        Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches
        150 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10009

        Momofuku Noodle Bar
        171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        Pinche Taqueria
        227 Mott St, New York, NY 10012

        72 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

        Pinche Taqueria
        333 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

        110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

        Banh Mi Zon
        443 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

        Xi'an Famous Foods
        88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

        Tacos Morelos
        2nd Street and Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

        2 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          Russ and Daughters and Barney Greengrass both have excellent, excellent appetizing. Russ and Daughters however is a takeout counter, while Barney Greengrass has tables and waiter service as well as takeout.

          Barney Greengrass
          541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

          1. re: sgordon

            What sgordon said.

            BTW, I find that the porchetta sandwiches at Maialino and Locanda Verde both very tasty and flavorful. But different from Porchetta's style.

            110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

            Locanda Verde
            377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

            2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

          2. thanks for the suggestions... much appreciated!

            1. If you want ramen, go to Ippudo.

              Not sure why you have 2nd Ave Deli and Katz's and Sarge's on your list. What are you looking for? I think Katz's pastrami is tops for example but 2nd Avenue Deli has better chicken soup and matzoh balls.

              If you're into espresso and coffee, add on Cafe Grumpy, 9th St Espresso, Joe the Art of Coffee, and probably a bunch more. You should also note that Abraco is closed Mondays and doesn't stay open very late.

              Also know that the Greenmarket is only Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sat, form 8am-6pm.

              If you're looking for a lobster roll, I'd head to Pearl Oyster Bar, not Lobster Place.

              I don't see any NYC brunch places on your list like Clinton St Baking Company, Prune, Locanda Verde, Five Points, Blue Ribbon Bakery, etc.

              Joe the Art of Coffee
              141 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014

              Pearl Oyster Bar
              18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

              Union Square Greenmarket
              Broadway and E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

              Five Points
              31 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

              Sarge's Delicatessen
              548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

              Blue Ribbon Bakery
              33 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

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

              Cafe Grumpy
              224 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011

              Ninth Street Espresso
              700 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009

              86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

              The Lobster Place
              75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

              54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

              65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Locanda Verde
              377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

              Clinton Street Baking Co.
              4 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

              3 Replies
              1. re: kathryn

                Brunch... good call. =)

                thanks for the other suggestions too, much appreciated

                1. re: adamlwinner

                  BTW Minetta Tavern is not really cheap...

                  Minetta Tavern
                  113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                  1. re: kathryn

                    yeah solid point... a NYC friend of mine was raving about it, probably won't go there though.

              2. I don't live in NYC, but, like you, I have accumulated a list of cheap eats (which is below). I've had about 95% of the stuff on the list on my assorted visits to New york so I can definitely recommend pretty much everything on here. And, yes, there is a lot of overlap with your list...

                And I definitely recommend you do "waste" time at Shack Shack. Yes, it's a straight classic burger, but it is good (and make sure to get a concrete...)

                EAST VILLAGE

                Artichoke Basille (pizza slices, Sicilian in particular)
                328 East 14th (between 1st and 2nd avenue)
                Also 114 10th Avenue (at 18th street)—sit down
                Also 111 MacDougal (just south of 3rd street, 1 block east of Avenue of the Americas)

                This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef (Pastrami Sandwich and “That Way” on Roll)
                149 1st Ave (between 9th St & St Marks Pl)

                Momofuku Milk Bar
                (get pork buns—chocolate chip cookie, blueberry cookie, free ice cream sample)
                207 2nd avenue NYC 10003 (13th street and 2nd ave)

                Xi’an Famous Foods (Savory Cumin Lamb Hand-Pulled Noodles)
                81 St. Mark's Place (1st avenue)

                Caracas Arepas Bar (Arepa de Pabellon)
                93 1/2 E 7th St. (just east of 1st avenue)

                Dumpling Man (mango shaved ice)
                100 St. Mark’s Place (AKA 8th street just east of 1st avenue)

                Mamoun (falafel)
                22 Saint Marks Place (AKA 8th street between 2nd and 3rd avenue)

                Porchetta (sandwich)
                110 E 7th St (between 1st Ave & Avenue A)

                Motorino (Neopolitan-style pizza)
                $12 Price Fixe Lunch 212-777-2644
                349 East 12th Street (and 1st avenue)

                Pizza Gruppo (super-thin New York style pizza)
                186 Avenue B (between 11th street and 12th street)

                The Stand (toasted marshmallow milkshake)
                24 E 12th St (between 5th Avenue and University Place)

                DessertTruck (bread pudding or donut holes)
                3rd Ave & Astor Place or St Marks Place, Tues-Sun 6 pm - 12 am

                Pommes Frites (Belgian fries with dips)
                123 2nd Avenue (and 7th Street)

                Ippudo (Akamura Modern Ramen)
                65 4th Avenue (10th Street and Park Avenue)

                200 5th Avenue (23rd and 5th/Broadway)

                Shake Shack (burger and concrete—vanilla with caramel and chocolate-covered toffee)
                Bottom of Madison Square Park (23rd between 5th and Madison)

                - - - - - - - - - -

                LOWER EAST SIDE

                Katz’s (just get a 1/4 pound pastrami)
                205 East Houston Street at Ludlow (just east of 1st ave)

                Russ and Daughters (lox, herring, etc.—Super Heebster)
                179 East Houston Street at Allen (just east of 1st ave)

                Schiller’s Liquor Bar (Sticky Toffee Pudding)
                131 Rivington Street (1 block north of Delancy, 2 blocks west of Clinton)

                DessertTruck Works (Chocolate Bread Pudding)
                6 Clinton Street (between Avenue B & Houston St)—3am-11pm (midnight on weekends)

                Rice to Riches (Rice Pudding)
                37 Spring Street (between Mott and Mulberry St)

                The Meatball Shop (meatballs and ice cream sandwiches)
                84 Stanton St (between Allen St & Orchard St)

                Baohaus (Chairman bao bun)
                137 Rivington Street (between Norfolk and Suffolk)

                Vanessa’s Dumplings (sesame pancake with beef or dumplings)
                118 Eldridge St (between Grand St & Broome St)

                Prosperity Dumplings (pork and chive dumplings)
                46 Eldridge St. (between Canal & Hester)

                Mac Bar
                54 Prince Street, New York, New York 10012 (Lafayette—1 block S. of Houston)

                - - - - - - - - - -


                Banh Mi So 1 (Vietnamese sandwich)
                369 Broome St (1 block south of Delancey, between Center and Bowery)

                Xi’an Famous Foods (Savory Cumin Lamb Hand-Pulled Noodles)
                88 E. Broadway, near Forsyth St.

                Sau Voi Corporation (Vietnamese sandwich—back of record store)
                101 Lafayette St # 3 (just south of Canal)

                Yao’s Dragon Beard Candy Cart
                Canal between Elizabeth and Mott
                Near Bowery, Mott, and Canal--11am to 7pm

                Doughnut Plant (cake donuts--tres leches & blackout)
                379 Grand Street (south of Delancey, west of Clinton)

                - - - - - - - - - - -


                Gray’s Papaya
                539 Eighth Avenue at 37th street

                Shake Shack (burger and concrete—vanilla with caramel and chocolate-covered toffee)
                44th street and 8th avenue

                Virgil’s BBQ (good BBQ, but expensive)
                152 West 44th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenue)

                Burger Joint (burger)
                119 W 56th St (Between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue)

                Momofuku Milk Bar—2nd location in Ma Peche
                (chocolate chip cookie, blueberry cookie)
                15 West 56th Street (between 5th avenue and 6th avenue)

                The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English
                One West 59th Street (11am to 10pm) (just west of 5th Avenue)

                - - - - - - - - -

                UPPER WEST SIDE

                Levain Bakery (chocolate chip cookie)
                167 W 74th Street (and Amsterdam) 8am-7pm

                Jacques Torres (Hot Chocolate and chocolate chip cookie)
                285 Amsterdam Avenue (at 74th Street)
                Also 350 Hudson at King Street (1 block South of Houston)
                10am – 8pm

                Zabar’s (market)
                81st & Broadway

                Barney Greenglass (Lox & Bagel)
                541 Amsterdam (between 86th and 87th)

                Gray’s Papaya
                2090 Broadway at 72nd street

                Shake Shack (burger and concrete—vanilla with caramel and chocolate-covered toffee
                366 West Columbus Avenue (between 77th and 78th)—near Museum Natural History
                Also, bottom of Madison Square Park and 44th street and 8th avenue
                Also, 691 8th Avenue (44th street)
                Also, 154 East 86th (Lexington)

                - - - - - - - - -

                WEST VILLAGE/CHELSEA

                Doughnut Plant Chelsea (cake donuts--tres leches & blackout)
                220 West 23rd Street (between 7th and 8th in Hotel Chelsea)

                Taim Falafel
                222 Waverly Place (11th Street and 7th Avenue)

                Gray’s Papaya
                402 Sixth Avenue at 8th Street

                Bleecker Street Pizza (Nonna Maria slice)
                69 7th Avenue South (at Bleecker)

                John’s Pizzeria of Bleecker Street (no slices—can get small pizza)
                278 Bleeker St (just East of 7th avenue at Jones)

                Artichoke Basille (pizza slices, Sicilian in particular)
                111 MacDougal (just south of 3rd street, 1 block east of Avenue of the Americas)

                Mamoun’s (falafel)
                119 MacDougal St (just south of 3rd street, 1 block east of Avenue of the Americas)

                Ali Baba (lamb schwarma and falafel)
                126 MacDougal St (just south of 3rd street, 1 block east of Avenue of the Americas)

                Yatagan Kebab House (doner kebab and $2.50 falafel)
                104 MacDougal St (just south of 3rd street, 1 block east of Avenue of the Americas)

                - - - - - - - - - -

                UPPER EAST SIDE

                William Greenberg Bakery (Black & White Cookie)
                1100 Madison Avenue (between 82nd and 83rd)

                Two Little Red Hens (classic cheesecake)
                1652 2 Avenue (between 85th and 86th)
                (212) 452-0476

                Shake Shack (burger and concrete)
                154 East 86th (Lexington)

                Papaya King (hot dogs)
                179 East 86th Street (at 3rd Avenue)

                OTHER PLACES IN THE CITY

                Wafels and Dinges (Waffle Truck)
                get speculoos spread—which is gingerbread cookie spread
                the Liege waffle is not as crispy as the regular…
                check schedule online for time and places which vary by day

                Dylan’s Candy Bar
                1011 Third Ave (at 60th street)

                Times Square Hot Bagels
                200 W. 44th (between 7th and 8th avenues)

                359 1 Avenue (21st and 22nd)
                831 3 Avenue (51st)

                - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


                Mile End Delicatessen (smoked meat sandwich and Ruth Wilensky sandwich)
                97A Hoyt Street (Atlantic Avenue, 1 block E of Smith)
                New York, NY 11217

                Pies n Thighs (chicken biscuit—8am to 11am)
                166 S. 4th Street (just E of Bedford, just N of Williamsburg bridge, at Driggs)

                Peter Luger (burger)
                178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY (718) 387-7400


                BZ Grill (Pork Gyro)
                27-02 Astoria Blvd. (28th St.) [Astoria (Hoyt) Subway Stop]

                Point Brazil (Acaraje—Blackeyed Pea Fritters)
                38-01 31st Avenue (38th Street & Steinway)

                LUNCH PRIX FIXE

                Jean-Georges (2-course $32 prix-fixe + assorted items, $16 for additional course)
                1 Central Park West (60th street) (212) 299-3900

                Bouley (5-course $36 prix fixe lunch)
                163 Duane St (Hudson, 2 blocks above Chamber) (212) 964-2525

                Gotham Bar & Grill (2-course $24 prix fixe lunch, + $7 for dessert)
                12 East 12th Street (east of 5th ave) (212) 620-4020

                Picholine (2-course $28 prix fixe lunch, $12 for additional course)
                35 W. 64th St. (just west Central Park West, east of Broadway) (212) 724-8585

                Convivio (2-course $32 prix fixe lunch, $12 for additional course)
                45 Tudor City Place (1st ave & 42nd street) (212) 599-5045

                L’Ecole at French Culinary Institute (3-course $28 prix fixe lunch)
                462 Broadway (south of Broome, north of Grand) (212) 219-3300

                8 Replies
                1. re: film_score

                  wow... comprehensive. if you had to name, say, five, which would they be? We're only there for three days.

                  1. re: adamlwinner

                    Well, the way I do it is to generally not eat an actual meal anywhere. Just nosh as you go. You have two people so just share everything and definitely get small portions and just eat throughout the day.

                    The things I highly recommend are the Sicilian slice at Artichoke (although I will confess, the last time I had it something was off, but normally it is very good), the pastrami sandwich at This Little PIggy was really good, the Savory Cumin Lamb Noodles at Xian was the favorite of everybody I was with and was probably the best thing we had, a cookie or slice of candy bar or crack pie at Momofuku. And all of this is literally all around the corner from each other so you can do it all in one stop. And of course some pastrami at Katz's (you can always just get a quarter pound of pastrami and ask for some mustard if you wanna save room for other stuff--and try to go at off-hours or early in the morning).

                    Definitely a Gray's Papaya hot dog with everything, the pabellon arepa at Caracas was really good, Motorino pizza is very good, definitely get yourself a Shake Shack concrete (shake) for sure, and I recommend a burger although you might say it's nothing special. It's just a very classic hamburger done perfectly. A bahn mi sandwich from anywhere if you haven't had it. And Levain bakery chocolate chip cookie is pretty darn good. And, hey, I also like the roasted nut guys on the streets, too.

                    Those would pretty much be my must-haves from the quick, cheap eats department.

                    I also really recommend going for a lunch at Jean Georges, a 4-star restaurant which for $32 you get two courses (plus bread, 3 amuse bouche, about 1-2 small little desserts as well all included). Add another course for 3 courses total and it comes out to $48. And definitely tell them in advance if you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary and sometimes they will throw in another dessert. Without a doubt, it is the best deal for a totally high quality place (make sure to sit in the main dining room--although you shouldn't wear jeans and should dress reasonably nice). But call now to see if you can get a reservation...

                    Have fun!!

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

                    Caracas Arepa Bar
                    93 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                    Levain Bakery
                    167 W 74th St, New York, NY 10023

                    Gray's Papaya
                    402 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

                    328 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Xi'an Famous Foods
                    81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                    Momofuku Milk Bar
                    251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

                    349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                    This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
                    149 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    1. re: film_score

                      is gray's papaya different than papaya king? if so, what's the difference?

                      1. re: adamlwinner

                        i think they're basically the same (I think papaya king was first) but in my opinion Gray's Papaya is slightly better. Also you don't need to waste your time getting the papaya drink or whatever. It is not good. Just get a dog...

                        Gray's Papaya
                        2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                        1. re: film_score

                          Note that a couple of places on your list are now closed:

                          Gray's Papaya 37th and 8th
                          Convivio in Tudor City

                          Gray's Papaya
                          2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                          1. re: film_score

                            that advice is insane. Papaya drink + hot dog =awesome.

                    2. re: film_score

                      Good list...but there's much better BBQ than Virgil's.

                      Virgil's Real Barbecue
                      152 W 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

                      1. re: film_score

                        Mostly a very good list.
                        But, Convivio closed.
                        Shakeshack had just barely good burgers and mediocre fries. Five Guys is a national chain but their burgers are much better and their fries are amazing.