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Jun 27, 2012 08:28 AM

Working in Manhattan for a month

Hi! I've got a friend who is gonna be in manhattan working for a month and needs recommendations on places to eat at on a regular basis.

I'm not sure what prices of everyday food is like in the US, but if possible, he's looking for places to eat on a daily basis under $10 (but if its particularly awesome i'm sure he wouldn't mind shelling out more). His workplace is near grand central station and he will be staying at 330 E 65th Street.

Along with suggestions for affordable daily food, if you have any suggestions for awesome food places he should check out during his stay in NY then by all means just let me know =) he's not into fine dining but anything else shouldn't be a problem.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!

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  1. Have you checked out the Real Cheap Eats site?

    See also where they never really spend more than $10 for a meal in Midtown.

    $10 (including any tax or tip) for all meals is doable but not without some amount of effort. It'll be easier to do if he doesn't stick to the areas around Grand Central and the Upper East Side.

    Try Chinatown or the East Village, to start. Very easy to go there after work on the 6 line.

    I hope he likes Chinese, Indian, Thai, street food, pizza, burgers, hot dogs...

    8 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks kathryn i haven't checked out either of those sites but they sound exactly like what he's looking for.

      We're both from Singapore so all these foods are right up our alley =)

      1. re: amoslin

        Singapore, huh? Your friend is going to have high standards for food. You have much better Chinese and Indian food than we do, so I'm not sure I'd seek out either set of cuisines in NYC. I'm not sure about Thai. We do have better Japanese, though, and he's in a good area of town for Japanese food.

        - Aburiya Kinnosuke has inexpensive set lunches -- not under $10 IIRC, but not much above it.

        - Pampano Taqueria (well made Mexican, including seafood) is also a little more than $10, but might be worth checking into for lunch, as well.

        I unfortunately don't eat in that area of town all that often, but in your friend's shoes, I'd try to hit the following types of places:

        (1) Bakeries for western-style breads, desserts.

        - He should try bagels with cream cheese and lox somewhere -- maybe Ess-a-Bagel on 3rd Ave in the 50s.

        - Macarons are good at Bisous Ciao on the Lower East Side (LES), which is not too difficult to get to by subway.

        (2) As Kathryn suggested, food trucks might be of interest -- especially South American, Latin American, Middle Eastern ones. Korean tacos might be interesting.

        - Taim might be interesting for falafels and date shakes.

        - Papa Perrone's truck (East 55th St. between Madison and Park Ave) sells pretty good arancini at lunchtime and by reputation good Italian sandwiches. I'm not sure I'd recommend eating there every day, personally. It'd give him a heart attack.

        1. re: michelleats

          You're pretty much right on all count there, michelleats. I'd suspect NY does do better thai and japan than Singapore. In Singapore, we're inundated with mediocre thai and japanese food, largely from chain restaurants.

          Awesome thanks for the suggestions! Food trucks should prove especially enticing since we don't have any food trucks here in Singapore. And tacos too.

          1. re: amoslin

            Well, you have hawker stalls which, I think back in the day, were also mobile, right? Food trucks are basically the same idea. There are some locations where trucks regularly congregate, too, like the Red Hook Ballfields (in Red Hook, Brooklyn on Sat Sun) and the Hester Street Fair (Lower East Side on Saturdays), which are pretty much the equivalent of hawker centers... though possibly less regulated / clean.

            A few midtown east truck/cart ideas:

            - Red Hook Lobster Pound truck's lobster or shrimp rolls ($16 or $8.50, respectively; location posted at Lobster rolls are something I associate with New England. I think they're pretty distinctly American. Not sure about shrimp rolls, but they're an enjoyable, less expensive alternative.

            - Korilla Taco might be interesting to try once for Korean tacos, which are distinctly American. (They were made famous on the West Coast in LA before they came to NYC.) Locations here: They're often in Midtown East.

            - A cart called Okadaman just opened, selling okonomiyaki and tako yaki, but I don't know if it's any better than what you have in Singapore.

            - Chicken and rice plates are kind of a NYC street food standard. (I personally don't think they're all that special, but many people adore them.) The most famous cart is probably the one at 53rd Street and 6th Ave. -- on the southeast corner during the day and southwest corner in the evening. It's just called the "53rd & 6th Halal Cart". It's worth a lunch there just so you know what people are talking about. At lunchtime, lines are shorter, sometimes non-existent. In the evening, lines can be very, very long.

            In other parts of town, your friend could try:

            - El Idolo for Mexican-style tamales (which have been compared to zongzi)

            - Sobre Ruedas for tacos (tongue tacos are particularly good


            - Calexico for San Francisco Mission-style burritos

            If you're chasing down a truck in another part of town, though, you might as well find a brick and mortar establishment for the same food with probably better hours for your friend.

            Really, I hope someone with real knowledge of that neighborhood (UES / Midtown East) will join the discussion.... That is probably the part of Manhattan I am least familiar with.

            By the way, have you come across I love Chowhound, but the reviews on here are often of trendier, higher end, better known places. It's sometimes hard to sort through the really junky reviews on Yelp, but if you do, you can often find great coverage of lesser known, but delicious, establishments.

        2. re: amoslin

          Ouch, our street food and Asian food may pale in comparison. We just don't have the same hawker culture.

          I think your friend may have to bump up the price point to $15-20. I would maybe focus on sandwiches, pizza, American food (burgers/fried chicken/etc), and non-Asian street food. Think also about open air markets like Smorgasburg in Brooklyn or Hester St Fair. Or the Red Hook Ball Fields.

        3. re: kathryn

          Interesting link kathryn, in other links on the cheap eats page they had Cheap Sushi ,,but the places they list are pretty expensive Kanoyama, Jewel Baki, Azabu.and more.
          In any case I think the OP should try basic NYC food. Perhaps the Brooklyn Diner for that pea soup with hot dogs, or the mac and cheese., Take a ride down to the East Village and get some Motorino pizza, Some Japanese food at Robataya, Katz's , and maybe try some Polish food.
          Michelle mentioned macaron, I had some good ones at Nespresso in Soho with a great cup of Cappuccino, also a nice atmosphere.

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            Oh food whisperer now that you've mentioned coffee, would you know any other good coffee places that you'd reccomend?

            1. re: amoslin

              Roasting Plant on orchard St. ,
              Laughing Man Coffe ( Hugh Jackman's) on Duane St. Fika on Park Ave South

        4. No better source for cheap lunch info than $10 is actually the limit to be an official midtown lunch

          Plenty of decent everyday food on 2nd ave from 65th and up. prob no need for a Singaporean to head for chinatown, but plenty of other ethnic (cheap) eats on 9th ave from 42. To 52nd