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Cost Of Eating Out In Manhattan!

I am just curious why people in NYC would pay so much for just a meal? I have talked to friends who went to NYC and also checked out the MenuPages web site. To say I am shocked at what a simple meal of spaghetti and meatballs costs in NYC is putting it mildly.

I would think it is easier to cook your own meals. I am not cheap but I refuse to pay almost $20 for a basic hamburger with nothing else with it when I can make it myself for a lot less.

No wonder people tell me you have to be rich to live in NYC. Your paychecks must all go for rent and food. I applaud anyone who can have a good life in NYC on an average paycheck.

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  1. While some places are definitely overpriced for what you get (you might be paying more for scene, location, etc.), you generally pay for quality. I don't think food prices in Manhattan are that far out of line with the rest of the country. In the vast majority of cases, I believe that if you transplanted a specific restaurant from NYC to another "food city" (i.e., one where people are willing to pay for it) with a cheaper cost of living--Portland OR, for example--prices would likely be very similar.

    Just like any other large city, there's also a range in restaurants, from ultra-fine dining to various "ethnic" holes in the wall where you can fill up for just a couple of dollars. Also bear in mind that the overall cost of living in NYC is very high, and many paychecks reflect that.

    1. 1) Putting aside the high-end restaurants where part of your bill is going towards paying for the large staff that helps ensure an optimal customer experience, you're paying for high quality food that the restaurant cooks with. To use fish as an example, these restaurants are not using farm raised fish sold in the freezer section of the supermarket, but freshly caught wild fish. At the really expensive places they're serving fish that was caught 24 hours ago halfway around the world -- you're paying for the shipping expense.

      2) Every city, no matter it's size (well, maybe 50k is the threshold) has its share of expensive restaurants. New York has more of them because it's the largest city in the United States as well as the top tourist destination.

      3) There are plenty of reasonably priced places in New York.

      4) Restaurants with double digit burgers are likely using high quality meat, grinding it themselves, with their own custom blend beef cuts. While I'm sure there is some NYC markup in there, you still cannot compare it to the ground beef being sold in your supermarket.

      1. I've noticed that many tourists do not venture far from midtown, or other areas in Manhattan popular with visitors, where in my experience, restaurants can be expensive. However, a little off the beaten track, such as further uptown or into the outer boroughs many wonderful, reasonably restaurants can be found.

        2 Replies
        1. re: liblraryld

          In Chinatown, there are loads of inexpensive places.

          1. re: Pan

            Exactly. I was shocked by the quality and cost of food we got at Grand Sichuan this summer. We were so happy with it, we went two days in a row.

        2. First - yes, it is possible to get meals in New York that are very good and not pricey. I have an uncle that lives in lower Manhattan and over the years have been treated to many Chinatown delights that are not terribly expensive.

          That being said, if the overall cost of New York restaurant meals is more compared to other US cities - I wonder how much of that relates to the reality that overhead (aka rent) in New York is going to be more than most other places in the US. Also because cost of living is higher in New York, your average doctor, nurse, teacher, etc. is often paid more than they are in cheaper places. So not commenting on the $20 hamburger - but as people are typically making a bit more - absorbs a degree of the price increase compared to someone visiting New York on a non-New York salary.

          1. Tokyo is another city with incredibly high prices at times, but there are also places in my neighborhood (Shibuya, quite central) where I can get a simple meal for less than $10, there is really no tipping here either.