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

Zier Nov 11, 2013 03:53 PM

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... ;-)

  1. v
    valerie Nov 15, 2013 07:56 PM

    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.


    1. nokitchen Nov 14, 2013 10:41 PM

      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. Phil Ogelos Nov 13, 2013 03:36 PM

        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. g
          Gelaine Nov 13, 2013 03:31 PM

          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. re: Gelaine
            Zier Nov 14, 2013 08:23 AM

            $38 according to the menu

          2. j
            jilkat25 Nov 13, 2013 02:41 PM

            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. kokoro Nov 13, 2013 01:51 PM

              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
                Zier Nov 13, 2013 03:22 PM

                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: Zier
                  Ziggy41 Nov 13, 2013 03:44 PM

                  My Hell's Kitchen faves.. http://wp.me/p2zSmJ-DD

                  1. re: Ziggy41
                    Zier Nov 14, 2013 08:19 AM

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

                    1. re: Zier
                      Ziggy41 Nov 14, 2013 11:16 AM

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

                      1. re: Zier
                        Ttrockwood Nov 14, 2013 02:00 PM

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

                        1. re: Zier
                          coasts Nov 15, 2013 04:33 AM

                          i've been...once.

                  2. b
                    Bloombee Nov 12, 2013 11:16 AM

                    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. j
                      JC2 Nov 12, 2013 10:12 AM

                      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
                        Lacrosse_Gastronomic Nov 12, 2013 10:31 AM

                        The Ma Peche bar menu is certainly affordable.

                      2. d
                        dragonfly Nov 12, 2013 09:43 AM

                        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. d
                          dyrewolf Nov 12, 2013 09:42 AM

                          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. re: dyrewolf
                            Lacrosse_Gastronomic Nov 12, 2013 09:45 AM

                            Beacon closed last year. RIP.

                          2. z
                            Zier Nov 12, 2013 08:08 AM

                            Are there any good seafood or vegetarian places anywhere nearby?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Zier
                              Monica Nov 12, 2013 08:33 AM

                              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
                                ipsedixit Nov 12, 2013 10:31 AM

                                Maybe Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar.

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

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  kathryn Nov 12, 2013 01:49 PM

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

                                  from post above

                              2. z
                                Zier Nov 12, 2013 06:39 AM

                                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. h
                                  Hey19 Nov 12, 2013 05:33 AM

                                  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
                                    pernodoj Nov 12, 2013 06:34 AM

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

                                  2. p
                                    pammi Nov 12, 2013 04:32 AM

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

                                    1. z
                                      Zier Nov 11, 2013 07:58 PM

                                      Anything in Hells Kitchen? Jeez Manhattan sucks for food.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: Zier
                                        kathryn Nov 11, 2013 09:17 PM

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

                                        Hell's Kitchen:

                                        1. re: Zier
                                          ipsedixit Nov 11, 2013 09:40 PM

                                          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
                                            Zier Nov 12, 2013 06:40 AM

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

                                            1. re: Zier
                                              ipsedixit Nov 12, 2013 10:27 AM

                                              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
                                            plf515 Nov 12, 2013 03:43 AM

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

                                            1. re: plf515
                                              Zier Nov 12, 2013 06:50 AM

                                              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
                                                eastofthemississippi Nov 14, 2013 11:22 AM

                                                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
                                                  coasts Nov 15, 2013 04:31 AM

                                                  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
                                                hyde Nov 15, 2013 04:36 AM

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

                                              3. e
                                                Elisa515 Nov 11, 2013 06:54 PM

                                                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
                                                  Zier Nov 11, 2013 07:51 PM

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

                                                  1. re: Zier
                                                    Elisa515 Nov 11, 2013 08:11 PM

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

                                                2. e
                                                  Elisa515 Nov 11, 2013 06:49 PM

                                                  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
                                                    Zier Nov 11, 2013 07:53 PM

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

                                                    1. re: Zier
                                                      Elisa515 Nov 11, 2013 08:10 PM

                                                      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. ipsedixit Nov 11, 2013 06:18 PM

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

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                      Ttrockwood Nov 11, 2013 09:25 PM

                                                      +1, the soup dumplings would be a novelty

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                        City Kid Nov 12, 2013 06:41 AM

                                                        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. t
                                                        Ttrockwood Nov 11, 2013 05:53 PM

                                                        Lunch? Dinner??

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Ttrockwood
                                                          Zier Nov 11, 2013 07:17 PM


                                                        2. k
                                                          kathryn Nov 11, 2013 05:10 PM

                                                          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
                                                            Zier Nov 11, 2013 05:21 PM

                                                            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.

                                                          2. iluvcookies Nov 11, 2013 04:36 PM

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

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: iluvcookies
                                                              Zier Nov 11, 2013 04:53 PM

                                                              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. m
                                                              MrGrumpy Nov 11, 2013 04:22 PM

                                                              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
                                                                coasts Nov 11, 2013 04:28 PM

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

                                                                If you do a lunch, look at Seasonal.

                                                                1. re: coasts
                                                                  Zier Nov 11, 2013 04:55 PM

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

                                                                  1. re: Zier
                                                                    coasts Nov 12, 2013 03:15 AM

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

                                                                2. re: MrGrumpy
                                                                  Jane A. Nov 12, 2013 09:19 AM

                                                                  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.
                                                                    Lacrosse_Gastronomic Nov 12, 2013 09:24 AM

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

                                                                  2. re: MrGrumpy
                                                                    sadie Nov 12, 2013 10:14 AM

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

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