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Young Couple Looking for Inexpensive Eats

My wife and I are visiting friends in Manhattan for a long weekend at the end of May. We're trying to put together some places to eat, but it is just overwhelming to say the least. I'm hoping I can get some help here. We're staying at a friend's empty apartment near 55th and 7th Ave, and we would like to walk to most places if possible. Here are some things we're looking for:

Relatively cheap ($10-20 or less pp for lunch)
We're celebrating our first anniversary as well and want to go to a nice place one night, but not top end (<$150 total)
Definitely want to take a trip down to Chinatown (we both love all types of Asian food)
Interested in food trucks, unique eats, etc. Things you can only find in NYC.
Don't really want to venture outside of Manhattan due to time
We don't drink much
We're open to pretty much any type of food
I know we'll be near NYU for one day to visit the MBA school, so anything near there for lunch would be great

Thanks so much for the help. Like I said, it has been overwhelming trying to figure this out on our own. Hopefully there will be many more trips when we're a little older and have more money. Both of us are fresh out of college.

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  1. Motorino has a great lunch deal -- salad and pizza for $12.

    349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

    1. Places I like to eat (all over the city):

      Prune- out of the way but worth it for brunch or dinner. If you don't drink much then you should be fine for a nice dinner.

      Atlantic Grill- again if you don't drink, this should be fine. They have good seafood.

      Hagi- underground and very cool Japanese street style food. Go there when they open, around 5:30-6:00 and you will sit right away. Cheap and you can walk from your apt. It's on 49th Street and 7th.

      Ippudo- good ramen. Cheap.

      Chinatown- try Joe's Shangai. Good dumplings.

      Russ and Daughters for bagels with cream cheese and salmon.

      Degustation- downtown, a Spanish style restaurant with eating only around a big bar, food is really inventive.

      Txikito: a great tapas place in Chelsea. Small dishes and not that expensive (considering the size and quality of food).

      Socarrat: THE place for good paella.

      In your 'hood, you can also try Swizz, which has great fondue. I believe it is on 53rd street. Also cheap if you don't drink much.

      Cheap Lunch: any Gray's Papaya or Papaya King location is going to have damn good NY hot dogs.

      Shake Shack: good burgers and shakes.

      Kefi: excellent Greek food.

      Pylos: also excellent Greek food, but even more authentic.

      Caracas: this place has awesome empanadas and is very cheap.

      Hearth: good for a nice dinner. Italian-style.

      Sushi: Sushi Seki is great, but don't get the omakase menu if you don't want to splurge. But anything on their menu is bound to be good, so you can just do a la carte.

      Lastly, you should know that you are staying within walking distance to the Time Warner Center. That means you have access to Bouchon Cafe, a Thomas Keller place and A Voce, which is super nice and has a great view. Good for an intimate dinner and not that expensive if you don't plan to drink.

      Hope this helps.

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

      Bouchon Bakery
      10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

      152 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

      Joe's Shanghai
      9 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

      403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009

      239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

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

      128 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

      310 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

      505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

      54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

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

      65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

      Papaya King
      179 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028

      259 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

      240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

      A Voce
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      Atlantic Grill
      49 W 64th St, New York, NY 10023

      Shake Shack
      691 8th Ave, New York, NY 10036

      1 Reply
      1. re: citykid426

        Thanks for this list. This is exactly what I was looking for. A Voce looks perfect. You don't see many menus like that down in Orlando, the king of chain restaurants.

      2. $20pp before tax and tip (no drinks/wine) isn't bad. Same price range for dinner?

        You can easily do some of the NYC classics on that price range: Russ & Daughters or Barney Greengrass, Papaya Dog, Katz's Deli, etc. as well as places like Madangsui (Korean BBQ), Xian Famous Foods (Xian food), Shanghai Cafe (soup dumplings), Noodle Village (claypot rice and wonton soup), Great NY Noodletown (Cantonese roast meats), Red Egg (dim sum), Zabb Elee (Issan style Thai), Szechuan Gourmet (Sichuan food).

        You're staying in a not super cheap part of town so I'd encourage you to explore more of NYC. Your dining dollar will go much further especially as you hunt out bargains around town.

        Here is a similar query from about a month ago:

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

        See also:

        Cheap eats itinerary

        These may also help.

        Don't leave NY without eating:

        Best breakfast and brunch:

        Please help me eat during a month in new york

        French person coming to NYC for the first time - I made a list for him

        My thoughts on Pizza in NYC

        Chowhound member RGR's famous self-guided Lower East Side Gustatory Tour, which begins at Katz's (for pastrami, of course) and includes Russ & Daughters, the Doughnut Plant, and several other tasty stops.

        LES Gustatory Tour: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493333

        Note two changes: Guss's Pickles has closed, so substitute The Pickle Guys, on Essex just off Grand. And the correct address for Economy Candy is 108, not 145.

        For non-Western European/American

        Foreign Street Grub

        Barney Greengrass
        541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

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

        Great New York Noodletown
        28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

        Shanghai Cafe
        100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

        Noodle Village
        13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

        35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

        Red Egg
        202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

        Szechuan Gourmet
        244 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

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

        Papaya Dog
        578 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

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

        Zabb Elee
        75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

        1. > We're celebrating our first anniversary as well and want to go to a nice place one night, but not top end (<$150 total)

          $150 / 2 people = $75 per person. Taking out tax (basically 9%) and tip (20%), that's $58 for food only, which isn't too bad, since you don't really drink. However, given that you're coming at the end of May, a lot of places are getting booked up for that weekend. Any cuisine preferences for the anniversary dinner? Are you OK dining a little bit earlier or later (like 6pm or 9pm)?

          5 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            Thanks for the all the links. I'll probably do some in-depth research this weekend when I have more time. The breakfast one looks especially useful.

            As citykid suggested above, A Voce looks perfect for our anniversary dinner. Menu looks really fun, and the price is right. But I'm open to any other suggestions if you have some. Food preference doesn't matter that much, but I'd prefer no seafood. We eat too much of that down in Florida. The time doesn't matter either. Would prefer later at night rather than earlier evening though.

            By the end of May, I mean the week before Memorial weekend. Hopefully, the crowds won't be too rough.

            1. re: fervorking

              That's the graduation weekend, so may be busy.

              1. re: sidd

                My guess is that graduation dinners are usually 6-8 people because of the whole family comes to town, so they could conceivably get lucky.

              2. re: fervorking

                I thought my meals at A Voce were only good, not great, and I'd steer you towards Maialino or Scarpetta instead. They're slightly over your budget but not by much.

                A Voce
                41 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

                355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

              3. re: kathryn

                Blue Ribbon Bakery in Soho has great food. place most likely to be seated next to a famous chef at 2AM

                Blue Ribbon Brasserie
                97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

              4. Not sure if you are use to fine dining and all that. But go to the expensive and fancy places for lunch, and save all your cheap/ethnic places for dinner. Outside of the outrageously high end restaurants in NY, pretty much every high end restaurant has great lunch offerings. I'm not sure if lunch will really do it for you for an anniversary meal. But considering you might even get away with going to both Jean George and Del Posto for lunch on your budget. Or to Bouley, or EMP, or wherever. It's the easy way to splurge.

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

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

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

                163 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

                1. I think that A Voce on Madison Ave is not as good as the one at Columbus Circle. That's why I suggested the Columbus Circle location. I thought the pasta at that location was delicious and they had these little warm puffs with cheese which were accompanied by prosciutto on the side which melted in my mouth. Anyway, to each his own. Yes, Scarpetta and Maialino are also good, but they're certainly pricier. I paid something like $25 for a bowl of pasta at Scarpetta and to be honest, although it was good, I didn't think the $25 was worth it.

                  Fervorking if you are willing to come uptown for a bit I would also suggest you come to Sfoglia, on the Upper East Side, for a special dinner. I go there often and their pastas are amazing. The menu always changes. In terms of the Upper West Side, which is closer to you, the only restaurants I have in my mind are the ones I used to go to when I was in school. The ones that come to mind that are on the cheap side are Max Soha, on Amsterdam and 121st street. They also own a cafe, Max Cafe, on that same block. Actually, if you go anywhere near Columbia U. you will be able to find a bunch of cheap spots. I also liked Panino Sportivo Roma for lunch (Amsterdam and 120th Street). Not sure if this is too far up for you though... good luck!

                  Max Soha
                  1274 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

                  1402 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10128

                  355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                  Max Caffe
                  1262 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

                  Panino Sportivo Roma
                  1231 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027

                  2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                  A Voce
                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: citykid426

                    here is a good spot nearby - and it's byob in case you feel like drinking for a change!

                    nook - it's small so try to make a reservation.

                    also, i was pleasantly suprised at a dinner with friends in that area at trattoria trecolori...is there better italian in nyc? yes. but this is close, the price is right and i was VERY happy with my pasta dish, as well as my guests.

                    Trattoria Trecolori
                    254 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                    746 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                    1. re: citykid426

                      We've decided on A Voce for our anniversary dinner. The one at Columbus Circle is a few blocks from where we're staying. Plus, when I showed my wife the menu, she liked it a lot more than the other places suggested. It's just more our style. Thanks for the suggestion.

                      A Voce
                      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                      1. re: fervorking

                        Be sure to try those puffs with cheese inside and the prosciutto on the side! They are delic!

                    2. Hell's Kitchen is full of walkable options from where you're staying, right along 9th Ave between 55th and 38th street.

                      Also nearby on Columbus Circle, is a Whole Foods, just in case you need to stock up on snacks. It also houses the previously mentioned Bouchon Bakery, and also there's a place called Landmarc.

                      Bouchon Bakery
                      10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                      Whole Foods
                      10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                      1. Just an update to all who helped...

                        We ended up going to a few of the places mentioned here, but most of the time, we just ate what was convenient.

                        Joe's Shanghai was awesome. I really liked that place and the vibe. Not usually a tea drinker, but the tea served with lunch was great. Tried the dumplings and a few other things, and each item was great. The service was better than I'd had at any restaurant in a long time. Very impressed with everything there.

                        A Voce was slightly disappointing. Not the food, but the service. Our entire meal took two hours, and we talked to the server twice in that period. Table was left dirty and wet most of the meal. Considering the price of the food, I expected the service to be great, and I was left disappointed. Typically, I'm lenient on servers being a former waiter myself, but this was really just inexcusable. The food was good though. Don't think I'd go back, but overall it was a good experience.

                        Some of the other places we tried were Sushi A Go-Go (we were hungry and across the street), and it was meh. I think the sushi at Publix (local grocery store in Florida) is better. Shake Shack was awesome though. Reminded me so much of Five Guys. Also, we ended up at a place called Grey Dog near Union Square and had some really good sandwiches there. Very fun place.

                        All in all, we had some really good food while in NYC. Much better than the typical, chain-restaurant food that is so abundant in Orlando. Thanks for the suggestions.

                        Joe's Shanghai
                        24 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

                        Sushi a-Go-Go
                        1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                        Grey Dog Coffee
                        90 University Pl, New York, NY 10003

                        A Voce
                        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: fervorking

                          Glad to hear your trip went well. Too bad about A Voce, their service is usually ok when I go but I could see how waiters might be rather negligent on a Friday or Saturday night... Shake Shack is one of my fave burger places!

                          A Voce
                          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019