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Great Affordable eats near 55th St and 5th Ave...HELP!

  • z

I have a relatives coming into town in a couple of weeks from Europe who I have never met before. They are staying at the St. Regis at 55th and 5th Ave. I am trying to find a nice smallish restaurant for food and conversation; great food a must, but it has to be AFFORDABLE...AFFORDABLE. Best if there are at least vegetarian options. Are there any such places in that area.
Hope this is not too big an order... ;-)

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  1. I'm not sure what affordable means to you but here are some suggestions:

    Ma Peche
    The Modern Bar Room
    Katsu Hama
    La Bonne Soupe

    6 Replies
    1. re: MrGrumpy

      i want to be the guy that considers The Modern AFFORDABLE...AFFORDABLE!

      If you do a lunch, look at Seasonal.

      1. re: coasts

        Thanks! But Seasonal and The Modern Bar Room are way pricier than I would call affordable.

        1. re: Zier

          Maybe you missed it on their website, but Seasonal offers a three course lunch for $29.

      2. re: MrGrumpy

        For lunch - and great salads - I've done well at Angelo's Pizza on the north side of 57th between 6th & 7th. Their pizza is also excellent. Out of towners are always pleased. I add my rec for La Bonne Soupe.

        1. re: Jane A.

          I'm adding my votes for Angelo's and La Bonne Soupe.

        2. re: MrGrumpy

          Thirding La Bonne Soupe: tasty, affordable, and could NOT be closer. Fun, too!

        3. Affordable as in $5 lunch special, or affordable for someone who stays at the St. Regis?

          1 Reply
          1. re: iluvcookies

            I m not staying at the St. Regis. So affordable might not have to be as low as a $5 lunch special but certainly closer to that then prices at the St. Regis. Most of the suggestions above are a bit pricier then I was hoping for.

          2. What does affordable mean to you in terms of food cost per person? $15 pp before tax, tip, wine/drinks? $20pp?

            If you give a dollar figure we can help you more. You need to be more specific.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kathryn

              Great question. Let's say more or less between $20-$35 pp for food. Is that possible?

              It is perhaps an unfair standard, but I live in Queens so I am used to eating just incredible food at realistic prices. But I know Manhattan is different. Thanks for any help.

              1. Affordable being relative, and with the relatives from Europe, how about Joe's Shanghai (56th btwn 5/6)?

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  +1, the soup dumplings would be a novelty

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I haven't had the soup dumplings at that Joe's Shanghai but I definitely wouldn't recommend it as a place for "great food" and "conversation," as requested by the OP...in my experience awful food and service. Maybe others have suggestions on some of the more pubby sort of places on Second Ave. in the 50s.

                  2. Cafe Europa (diagonally across the street from Carnegie Hall, at 57th and 7th) is a nice option for lunch or dinner.

                    Also agree with the suggestion of La Bonne Soupe.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Elisa515

                      You mean the deli Europa Cafe? Thanks for the suggestion but not quite the thing.

                      1. re: Zier

                        Not the deli part. There is also a restaurant. Waitress service, wine, good food. We go there often when attending concerts at Carnegie Hall.

                    2. Another idea: there's a really good Thai place on 56th Street just east of the Carnegie Hall stage door (that is, between 6th and 7th, closer to 7th). This is not a block stuffed with restaurants, so you won't have any trouble figuring out which one I mean.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Elisa515

                        Cant locate it on Google maps. Any idea of the name?

                        1. re: Zier

                          I searched "Thai Restaurant w. 56th Street" and found it right away. Name is Topaz.

                      2. Anything in Hells Kitchen? Jeez Manhattan sucks for food.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Zier

                          It's not Manhattan, it's Midtown & the immediate neighborhood that hotel is in.

                          Hell's Kitchen:

                          1. re: Zier

                            You might have better luck heading south (as opposed to west) and check out places in Koreatown or even Flatiron.

                            As an aside, tell your relatives they should set aside some time to linger in the new redesigned bar at the St Regis. Also, their assigned butler can source just about any toiletries they desire, so pack light in that regard.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Koreatown I know. Any suggestion in Flatiron. work there and have not found any good eateries.

                              1. re: Zier

                                In Flatiron, if you want affordable, I would suggest one of the following Indian places -- either Dhaba or Desi Galli.

                                Both are on the northern edge of Flatiron so it's a more convenient to/from the St. Regis.

                            2. re: Zier

                              You are searching for affordable food in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, so, choices are limited.

                              1. re: plf515

                                True. I unfortunately remember what NY used to be when I was younger and there were lots of very classy affordable mom & pop restaurants all over. There was one french restaurant we used to go to on occasion that was fantastic, not cheap but not absurdly expensive, however, hard to find its like today.

                                1. re: Zier

                                  They exist, just not in the mid-50s within a couple blocks of Park/5th Ave. Your choices are ethnic places like Joe Shanghai and Ise (formerly Menkui Tei) or restaurants like Aquavit, Seasonal (what I would recommend) or Del Friscos that have lunch specials. Everything else is sort of a waste (i.e. places like Fresco and Fig & Olive) and will likely be over your budget.

                                  1. re: Zier

                                    Chez Napoleon is mom and pop, not classy, but with a style of their own, in midtown, and not too expensive. haven't been in years, but i remember it well.


                                2. re: Zier

                                  Manhattan sucks for food? Thats painting with a rather broad brush.

                                3. Check out www.savored.com -20% off lots of nice restaurants in 'your' part of Manhattan

                                  1. Menkui Tei on 56/6 is considered a very good ramen place, and its pretty cheap.

                                    Benoit has a lunch deal around 25PP before wine etc. and is a great spot.

                                    Pizza A'rte or whatever on 55/6 is pretty good pizza.

                                    Maybe check Pazza Notte, also Italian on 6th ave.

                                    Dean and Deluca has nice tables and good food to order at the counters.

                                    Chopt has good salads and plenty of tables.

                                    Its an expensive neighborhood, so its tough, but those are my suggestions.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Hey19

                                      agree on ramen. that's the cheap eats i always hit when i'm in that area.

                                    2. Does anyone know a place Uncle Vanya Cafe at 315 W 54th St. I have read many very nice reviews that say it is homey and authentic and ones that say the food is rancid and the service surly. Anyone know the truth about the place.

                                      Also Taksim a Turkish place at 1030 Second Ave. Also have read conflicting reviews. Any experience?

                                      1. Are there any good seafood or vegetarian places anywhere nearby?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Zier

                                          Try the Fig and olive at 52nd and 5th ave. They have some meat free dishes and has a nice atmoshphere.
                                          You are not going to find a seafood restaurant in your price range.

                                          1. re: Zier

                                            Maybe Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar.

                                            Depending on what and how you order, you could describe it as "affordable".

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              "Great question. Let's say more or less between $20-$35 pp for food. Is that possible?"

                                              from post above

                                          2. I used to work in that area so here are some of my lunch go tos
                                            Dishes - Park and about 52nd - salads, sandwiches etc. Avoid between 12 - 2 when the lunch rush is there

                                            Certe - there is actually seating in the back, always great sandwiches and other food

                                            Darbar Grill - Indian with a pretty good lunch buffet, can't remember what the price was exactly but affordable for sure

                                            Beacon used to have lunch specials... check and see

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. La Mangeoire (53rd & 2nd) is a lovely neighborhood spot, smallish and good for food and conversation as requested.


                                              I think it is affordable but that is relative to the person looking at the menu prices. Food is consistently very good although I’m not sure I would say great by NYC standards. However, it will be a challenge to find ‘great' and ‘affordable' and 'nice for conversation' convenient to the St Regis.

                                              1. I think that you could do lunch at Ma Peche in your price range and it is great food - or at least very good.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JC2

                                                  The Ma Peche bar menu is certainly affordable.

                                                2. Well, I have not worked in the area for 3 years now, but based on those old memories you actually have been given decent responses to your request fort hat area. My regular sit down and eat cheap(ish) place was Topaz Thai. Sometimes, I moved up a notch to the $25 lunch menu at Molyvos. La Bonne Soupe, Angelos, Menkui-Tei and a long gone indian buffet were my other semi-regular haunts. Good luck

                                                  1. Are you willing to consider Chinese (Sichuan) restaurants?

                                                    Wu Liang Ye (on W. 48th St) and Szechuan Gourmet (on W. 56th) may be good options.

                                                    Also, how far are you willing to trek out? If you want to head to Hell's Kitchen, you'll find a plethora of restaurants that will fit your budget versus the ones in the Rockefeller Center area.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: kokoro

                                                      I am interested in Hells Kitchen. What places do you know there?

                                                      As for the Sichuan restaurants that you mentioned are they really authentic like the ones we have out in Queens or are they the typical Manhattan fare?

                                                        1. re: Ziggy41

                                                          Do you know this place Uncle Vanya Cafe at 315 W 54th St?? If so is it any good?

                                                          1. re: Zier

                                                            Haven't been to vanya sorry. I get plenty of Russian at my in laws

                                                            1. re: Zier

                                                              In that area gazala's palace is good with reasonable pricing and veg options:

                                                        2. Gotham Bar and Grill, Greenwich Village, 12 E. 12th St., has a $35 prix fixe lunch. I know it's a bit south of your location. We had a reservation there last week but had to cancel due to scheduling. I heard it is one of the best deals in the city. Don't know whether that price includes a drink, but the place might be impressive to your European relatives if you're willing to go to the top of your budget. How many people do you have to feed? What, they don't have any money? You must be very generous, Zier!

                                                          1. JoJo near Lex and 64th may be a little out of the way… but they
                                                            have a great lunch for $28….. plus the place is very conducive
                                                            for conversation, etc.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. More than a few 'hounds have complimented the fare in the downstairs space of the Plaza Hotel. When I expressed doubt about the choices there, a number of those whom I really respect convinced me to reconsider -I still haven't visited, but it sounds as though the choices there meet all of your conditions.

                                                              EDIT: +1 for JoJo.

                                                              1. This is probably lower end than you're thinking but for a real NYC experience I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Halal cart at 53rd and 6th is the most famous in the city and widely considered to be among the best. You can sit on the ledge of the fountain across 6th Ave. Nothing vegetarian though, unless you consider pita and rice with white sauce to be a meal.

                                                                1. I agree with La Bonne Soupe. But 2 more suggestions...

                                                                  For Italian, Basso56. I have had many business lunches here and while it's not "the best", it's very pleasant and the food is always good. They have a prix fixe menu for lunch for 2 or 3 courses.


                                                                  Or Fig & Olive. Not cheap but again, the prix fixe deal is $28. I have not been to the Fifth Avenue location but I have been to the Westchester location several times and I like it.