Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
May 21, 2012 10:05 PM

Advice - Mains under $30

Hi, everyone. I'd like to try to get reservations for, I believe, 5 (finding out shortly whether it's 4 or 5) on short notice for this Thursday, May 24. What are your favorite restaurants in Manhattan (below 42 St. preferred, but we'll consider places north of there) with entrees mostly in the mid-20s? We'd consider various cuisines, but Italian, French, American, or perhaps Japanese may be best. We all love Ai Fiori but would like something very good - preferably of comparable quality in deliciousness, ingredients, and service, though it's fine if the place doesn't have equally great cocktails but a good wine list, and it's also fine if it's more informal in atmosphere. I considered Osteria Morini, but with secondi clustering in the upper 20s, that was deemed a bit expensive for the occasion, so someplace a bit less expensive than that but comparable in quality would be ideal.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For Italian, Mailiano or Locanda Verde..most of their entrees are in 20s.

    For French, I like Millsime. Their entrees are in 20s.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Monica

      There are many restaurants that have mains in the 20's. But Pan has stated that he wants mains no higher than the mid-20's.

      There are seven mains on Maialino's menu. Only three of them are in the low to mid-20's. The rest are in the low to high 30's. (Two of those are dishes served for two.)

      As for Locanda Verde, four of the seven mains are $28 or $29 and one (the pork chop) is $32.

      1. re: RGR

        well, he did say mains under $30 plus at these italian places, you can order pasta as main.
        People are allow to give him advices and it's up to Pan to decide at the end.

        1. re: Monica

          Millesime is good.

          I'd also recommend Cercle Rouge and La Promenade des Anglais where most entrees are under $30.

          1. re: RGR

            That's useful info, RGR. So let me rephrase: What would you consider the least expensive restaurant that's comparable to Ai Fiori?

            1. re: Pan

              I'm going to recommend one with the caveat that I have never been to Ai Fiori. Mains under $20 (which sounds scary now that I see it). We just went to Antibes Bistro last weekend (LES). Loved it. Where else can you find a $12 foie gras appetizer in Manhattan? No gristle, decent size, perfectly cooked, tasty.

              Oh, and they had good cocktails as well (I got one with beet juice, Lillet & Grand Marnier called a Red Rivington - nice, earthy flavor). Added bonus was a stop at Schiller's Liquor Bar around the corner beforehand.

              Service was good, but we were kind of difficult (friends who haven't seen each other in awhile, gabbing for a LONG time before looking at the menu) so it may well have been stellar had we been normal customers. ;-) Great bartender, too. Cute space.

              1. re: VaPaula

                Thanks a lot. I think I'll take my girlfriend there.

              2. re: Pan


                I think s.gordon (below) makes a very good point about the issue of comparable quality at a much lower price point. But that said....

                Vitae is a new restaurant on 46th St., just east of 5th Ave. We had dinner there a few weeks ago and were very impressed. The contemporary American cuisine was very well-prepared, beautifully presented, and delicious. The apple tarte tatin was amazing, the best rendition I've had of that classic dessert, including in various French restaurants.

                Service was cordial, accommodating, and attentive. The decor is a bit unususal, but I found the overall ambiance very comfortable and pleasant.

                A quick check of the menu again on their website shows that mains run from from $22 to $28 (with one exception, a major steak in the $40's).

                Vitae is traveling under the culinary radar right now, so I don't think you'll have any difficulty securing a reservation for Thursday.

                Vitae photos:


        2. Italian
          Take a look at these menus:
          dell 'anima

          1 Reply
          1. re: thegforceny

            All of Ciano's main courses are in the mid- to high-30's.

            Most of L'Artusi's mains fit the budget, but good luck getting a table for four/five this Thursday.


          2. Is Da Andrea a viable option? we had a really pretty great meal there last week (friday even, without a reservation) and their mains seem pretty close to 20 in almost all cases - we actually didnt order mains, but if the pastas and antipasti are a guide to the mains, they'd be well worth ordering.

            1. Getting "comparable" quality to an $89 prix fixe for under-$30 mains isn't really that easy. I mean, it's a cliche, but you get what you pay for. But you can find something equally delicious, if not as refined.

              Looking over the openings on, I see a few decent options:

              The "Tap Room" at Colicchio & Sons has entrees that max out around $23, and I personally prefer the food there to the more expensive main dining room.

              Smorgas Chef - it ain't Aquavit or Acme (which might have been perfect for you, but sadly no openings that night), but SC puts out pretty solid seasonally-inspired Scandinavian fare.

              In a similar vein, but a bit more creative, Vandaag has been good lately - I had some worries when the new chef took over, but he's proven to be pretty decent.

              Apiary is great, does a three-course prix fixe for $35 on Thursdays, and a la carte options are right on point with your price range.

              JoeDoe - underrated cozy neighborhood joint, entrees $20 - $28, "Aggressive American" cuisine - playful takes on comfort food.

              If you want to go waaaaay downtown, The Bridge Cafe is an out-of-the-way nook in a historic location right under the Brooklyn Bridge with pretty solid food.

              At a smidge higher price point than the above (but well worth it) Public could be a good option. The MOST expensive mains are $30 (2 of them) but the rest are all under. That's probably the only place I saw listed that's of "comparable" quality, food-wise, to something like Ai Fiori but at a lower price point.

              3 Replies
              1. re: sgordon

                Apiary is a great suggestion. Have had consistently good meals there. Giorgio's of Gramercy is another but not as refined as Ai Fiori.

                1. re: Sugar

                  I loved the meal I had at Apiary a year or so ago.

                  Thanks for all the great suggestions, everyone!

                2. re: sgordon

                  I've gotta try Public. I've read so many good reports here. That's high praise indeed that it's of comparable deliciousness to Ai Fiori. Thanks for all your ideas!

                3. Major change in plans: The couple we're dining out with preferred to go to Legend. However, I'll file away all your suggestions, which will definitely come in handy in the future. Thanks, everyone!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Pan

                    Another one nobody mentioned, which you should keep filed away for future use, is Jeanne et Gaston.

                    1. re: rrems

                      A bistro? I'll check into it.