I'm having out of towners from Texas and Louisiana in for a wedding and many are turning this in to a vacation. I have a long list of recommendations, but am looking to fill one gap. I think a good recommendation for tourists on a budget is enjoy the prix fix lunches offered at nicer restaurants for a much more affordable price and have pizza or Katz's for dinner. I am not talking about Le Bernardin for $72 dollars, but the three course meal for $25 at Milos or Momofuku Ssam Bar upwards to $40. In terms of location, Manhattan is the only restriction. Also, as it's a recommendation for a large group of people, I'm looking for a variety of cuisines. Thanks!
What days of the week are you here?
As you may know, many of the inexpensive prix fixe lunches at upscale restaurants are Monday through Friday, although there are some who DO serve on the weekend.
Here is a list I compiled in Oct 2012. It may not be 100% accurate still.
Jean Georges: two plates for $38, each additional plate $19, served daily - would be good for a Sunday if you need another choice since many don't do Sunday lunch.
Del Posto: $39 three course lunch with choice of Antipasto, Primo OR Secondo, and Dolce, "Enjoy a taste of pasta for the table at $10 per guest," weekdays only.
Le Bernardin: 3 course City Harvest menu for $45 per person with $5 donated to City Harvest, only in the lounge, only 2 choices per course, weekdays only.
The Modern - Dining Room - 2 courses and dessert for $55, 3 courses and dessert for $70, additional courses $18, weekdays only.
Bouley - $55 five course tasting, Monday through Saturday.
La Grenouille - 2 courses for $49, 3 courses for $65. Tuesday through Saturday.
Marea - "business lunch" on weekdays, 2 courses for $45, Sunday lunch, also 2 courses for $45, closed Saturday lunch
Maialino - $35 for 2 courses with biscotti for dessert, they also have a Sunday pasta tasting for $55.
Babbo - $49 for a four course tasting (BTW the addition of lunch is fairly recent), only Tuesday through Saturday.
Manzo - 3 courses for $29, new Mario Batali inside of Eataly.
Ciano - 3 courses for $20.12, weekdays only.
Aldea - 3 courses for $24.07, weekdays only.
Tocqueville: $29 for 3 courses, Monday through Saturday.
Gotham Bar and Grill - $25 Greenmarket lunch, two courses, add $7 for dessert, weekdays only.
Seasonal - 3 courses for $29, Monday through Saturday.
Aquavit - 3 courses for $35, weekday lunch.
Cafe Boulud - 2 courses for $37, 3 courses for $43, Monday through Saturday they serve lunch, on Sunday they serve brunch, which is 2 courses for $39, 3 courses with dessert for $49.
Riverpark - 3 courses for $28, weekdays only, there is a separate weekend brunch menu.
Tulsi - "Chaat and Choose" lunch for $20, 3 course lunch for a little more, I can't verify as their site is down right now.
Junoon - 3 courses with rice and naan for $24, weekdays.
Ai Fiori - 2 courses for $42, additional course $18, weekdays
Lincoln - 2 courses for $32, daily
Boulud Sud - 2 courses for $29, weekdays; 2 courses for $32, weekends
For less fancy options:
ABC Kitchen - 3 courses for $32, includes their famous sundae, not upscale, more "shabby chic" and "reclaimed furniture," weekdays only.
Momofuku Ssam Bar - 3 courses, weekend lunch only. I think it's still around $25 or so.
Kin Shop - 2 courses and ice cream for $20, daily.
Le Philosophe - $18 prix fixe - Choice of appetizer and entrée / Add dessert $6
I'll second the Bouley rec; the prix fixe may now be $58, but it's a hell of a bargain, even at that price. I've eaten there twice in the last six months, and I thought it was worth every dime (and I'm notoriously cheap!) my just-out-of-college-and-working-in-Jersey son, the Chowpup, thinks it's good enough that he's saved his bucks and eaten there four or five additional times in the same period. Some of the best I've had at any price.