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Have $50-$75 to spend on dinner for one. Want something fun/interesting, possibly a tasting menu.

Hello all,

I've been searching the board for the "coming to NYC/check my itinerary" posts. While they are very informative, I find the recommendations skewed towards the lower-price range (shake shack, X'Ian, etc) and the upper end (per se, wd-50, emp).

I usually go to Ippudo if it's just for one night. But apparently, we have a few good ramen places opening up in Toronto this year (plus it's getting warmer, so I'm not craving ramen as much).

Places I've considered are:
Sakagura (but izakaya alone seems weird)
Spotted pig (not really able/willing to invest time into a lineup)
Torrisi Italian specialties
Ssam bar (been there for the duck lunch, was good)
and a few others...

So, I've got $50-$75 to spend. Might only have 2 beers (have a 7:30 meeting the next day). Is there a really good tasting menu in that price range that could work?

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

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  1. If your $50 to $75 budget excludes drinks, tax, and tip, then:you might try Lincoln, which has a 4 course menu for $75. Colicchio & Sons and Telepan offer 4 course menus for $69. Also look into the tasting menus at Babbo.

    If not, Torrisi would be a great choice. Tori Shin has a multicourse omakase for $55. You could also do the 3 course pre-theater menu for $55 at Boulud Sud and supplement it with small plates.

    Other ideas: Casa Mono, Boqueria, Txikito.

    If you're dining on Sunday, Maialino is now offering a 5 course pasta tasting menu for $55.

    1. Thanks...I should have been more specific. $75 at the upper end is all-in (tax, tip, drinks).

      Also important, considering it's two days away, I need a place that will actually take my reservation.

      Another few popped up...Lupa and The Dutch.

      I like the yakitori omakase suggestion (although sushi omakase not ideal, since I'm having sushi for lunch the next day).

      2 Replies
      1. re: grandgourmand

        I was thinking of recommending the Dutch, but you said you wanted a tasting menu...

        $50 to $60 there is doable depending on how much alcohol you order.

        Also keep in mind that if you're dining solo, a lot of places will let you order from the dinner menu at the bar -- that gets you around needing a reservation or waiting for a table at non-reservation places.

        1. re: grandgourmand

          I would forgo the tasting menu and try doing a la carte.

          It's going to be difficult to do a tasting menu + 2 beers + tax + tip and stay under $75.

          Especially if you define tasting menu as 4+ courses.

          Some suggestions that are roughly $50 for just food.
          Ssam Bar - dinner is a totally different menu, and you can check out Booker & Dax afterwards
          Prune - it's kind of Spotted Pig/Breslin esque but they have a small bar you can dine at
          L'artusi - you can dine at one of two walk-in counters, and I find the quality high for the value
          Txikito - you can dine at the bar, might go a little over budget if you get wine, though
          WD-50 - at the bar, it's 2 dishes for $25, each additional is $15
          Fatty Cue - you can dine at the bar
          Takashi - there might be a bit of a wait, though, as they would have to put you at a 2-top, but I've seen very happy solo diners there before
          Minetta Tavern - if you get the burger and another item, you can probably stay within your budget, and you can dine at the bar, there will probably be a wait
          Recette - you can dine at the bar, get 2-3 items, but will need to be careful to not go over budget

        2. $75 before tax/tip = about $58.
          Beers - depends what you're drinking. But let's assume around $8 each.

          So... $50 menu price with one beer, $42 with two beers.

          In that range... you're not really going to find a tasting menu. The only one I can think of that's decent and in that range is Public's "Sunday Supper" (five course for $50) is great - but if it's not Sunday... no luck. For a normal dinner, though, Public could be a good option - you could do a standard three courses (or skip dessert and double up on apps, if you don't have a sweet tooth) for your range - skipping outliers like the foie gras app and whatnot. The food is fun and creative, and not quite as pricey as some of their contemporaries.

          If you'd be willing to do late lunch rather and just do something cheap for dinner later, you could do Del Posto's lunch - $39 for three courses, or $49 for four courses. The wine there is fairly pricey, though. Not sure what kind of a beer list they have.

          For something less fancy, more striaght-forward, Lupa as suggested above is always a good option. Would it be on my "I only have one meal in NYC" list? No, but you sure wouldn't have a bad meal there.

          A few other thoughts, looking over open tables for Wednesday night on Opentable -

          JoeDoe - always solid "Aggressive American" food, unprenetious neighborhoody vibe, good beer list and beer cocktails.

          Empellon Taqueria - the Cocina might break your budget, but a meal of fancified tacos at the Taqueria wouldn't be bad

          Colicchio & Sons Tap Room - cheaper than the main dining room, seats at the bar for solo diners. Solid New American.

          ...and, with the new menu format, you actually COULD do WD-50 if you're cool with bar seating. Regular diners have to choose between one of two tasting menus, but at the bar you can do any two courses for $25, + $15 per extra course - you could do four courses and stay within your budget. Just ask which the four biggest ones are, so you don't wind up with four amuse-bouche sized ones.

          1 Reply
          1. I like Lupa a lot but its hard to get a reservation at a decent hour. Try Lavagna for quality and a sweet casual place. No tasting menu but the food is predictably excellent.

            1. Thanks all...just to clarify, my tasting menu comment was more wishful thinking. I know there are a lot of good lunch deals around, and wishfully thought there could be similar dinner deals.

              A la carte is perfectly. fine.

              wd-50 is intriguing. with the new menu (and decor?) will it be tough to get a reso this late? also, if I do three, maybe four, dishes, will I be full? seems very interesting.

              oh, and this is for Wednesday night. upcoming.

              1 Reply
              1. re: grandgourmand

                They don't take rezzies at the bar at WD-50, only walk-ins. That said, there probably won't be a wait for a walk-in on a Wednesday night. I live right around the corner - I can say from much experience, weeknights are fairly slow there.

              2. Thanks for all the info...If I may ask you for a bit more help, as I may be able to squeeze in another nice dinner before heading back to Toronto.

                My last meeting is at 200 West St and it ends at 4:30. Hoping I can get to Txikito for 5, have a quick meal then to Penn Station to grab a train to Newark in time for an 8pm flight.

                3 Replies
                1. re: grandgourmand

                  I think that's cutting it very close. It might be OK if the security line isn't long & you're not checking bags & you check in online ahead of time. If you finish up at Txikito at 5:45, it's about a 15 min walk to Penn Station. You can then catch the 6:11 train to Newark Airport Airtrain station, arrives at 6:47 according to the schedule then the Airtrain (every 3 ninutes, 7 minutes to the first terminal) to your terminal. That gets you to the terminal by 7pm. I personally wouldn't want to do this but it might be ok for you.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    yeah, you're probably right. and it turns out my flight is leaving at 7:30, so definitely a no-go.

                    I was actually looking into Fatty Cue a bit last night (based on your board posts you seem to be a fan). Menu looks good. So I was hoping to either hit that or wd-50 on the Wednesday night and cram in txikito on the Thursday, but it looks impossible.

                  2. re: grandgourmand

                    Agree with Kathryn... you might be cutting it a wee bit close, and you never know what security lines will be like. I'd say your best bet would be, if you REALLY need more NYC eats, grab some Korean take-out. If you have time you could go to one of the proper restaurants on the main K-Town block (32nd btw Broadway & 5th) and get something to-go but made-to-order to eat on the train or the airport lobby. Kang Suh is on Seamless - you could order in advance, say, when you leave West St. - and have it ready for pick-up when you get to Midtown. They're decent, but remember that many dishes are "family-size" - and some items will be listed twice on the menu, one a family portion, the other a single entree. Just avoid the soups (difficult to eat on a bumpy train) and stick with stews and casseroles over rice and such - they make decent Kalbi (short rib) with chestnuts and their Heukyomso Tang (goat with sesame leaves) is pretty solid. Their Jeon (pancakes) are also good, though you do want to eat them while they're still hot and have a bit of crisp.

                    If you're more pressed for time, at Woorijip down the same block everything's pre-made and packed so it's quick, just grab & go from the refrigerated cases and steamer tables, and pretty decent for what it is. Yes, that kind of food is best at 3AM when you're drunk - but it's not bad for a train ride, either, and it's definitely the kind of food that travels well.

                    Also, a couple blocks North of PS, there's always Shachi's Arepas on 35th (btw 8th & 9th, IIRC) - decent enough grub to go, certainly filling and cheap - and they also do online pre-orders.

                  3. I love the tasting menu at Hecho en Dumbo, but at $55, it will be above your budget with two beers.

                    1. Casa Mono might be a good choice.

                      1. Thanks again for all the responses everyone.

                        I ended up going to Fatty Cue. I was meeting a client for a drink in the West Village and it was a convenient option (plus, the menu looked good to me).

                        I had:

                        The shaved raw vegetables. This might sound bad, but it was my favourite dish. I love crisp veggies and a spicy dip. What else is there to say?

                        Half a dozen oysters. Fresh tasting east coast oysters. The fatty cue version of mignonette (a chili-fied vinegar concoction) was delicious.

                        Heritage pork ribs. Has an interesting fish sauce tone to it. Ribs were not fall off the bone (which is good) and they were side ribs, so more flavourful.

                        Isaan style duck laab. A miss dish for me. Way too salty and it could have been beef for all I know. You didn't get any duck-iness out of it. I guess the spicing of the dish might be the cause for that, but still...

                        Buttermilk fried rabbitt. One one hand, it was nice and crispy and well seasoned. On the other hand, the rabbit i had might have been on a diet or something, as it was a little scrawny (to be fair the one fleshy piece I had was tender, moist and flavourful). $38 for half a fried rabbit also seems a tad pricy.

                        If I was dining alone, I probably would have gone for some of the more adventurous dishes (e.g tripe).

                        In any case, it was a good meal. Service was efficient and attentive. We ate at the bar. The bartender was kind of spacy, but super nice.

                        I should be back in NY in a few months to check out some of the other suggestions.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: grandgourmand

                          The rabbit is CRAZY overpriced, yeah. But it's probably not FC's fault - There's been a little push for "heritage rabbits" at ludicrous prices of late, I've noticed - my local butcher had whole bunnies for $25/lb - insane! The price of dry-aged steak, for something that's a.) not a dry-aged steak and b.) half the weight is bones. And rabbits are insanely cheap to raise - I mean, they breed like rabbits and all... and the feed cost is next-to-nothing.

                          So my suspicion is FC is probably overpaying for the bunnies to begin with, and passing the cost on to us... Truth is, I doubt (given the heavy seasoning they use, especially) if even a seasoned rabbit-eater could tell the difference if they used a normal $4/lb rabbit. Maybe they should run some double-blind tastings to find out...

                          1. re: grandgourmand

                            Interesting that you thought the duck laab salty. It's typically very, very spicy (so much so that my boyfriend won't order it), so it sounds like it was different than it usually is. You likely would've enjoyed it, considering that you liked the vegetables so much. Agreed that the rabbit is expensive, but we've liked it every time.