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Generous portions, cheap prices, good food--is it possible in NYC anymore?

I pretty much stopped eating out in NYC because of the number of times I left good, well-reviewed restaurants hungry. I'm not a large person; rather I'm a skinny marathoner but I have the metabolism of the hummingbird. Last time I checked, one pursues a sit-down meal in a restaurant to be fed. Call me crazy but this is still my goal. I've decided to try again. I feel like such a failure when friends come to town ready to eat, and I can't suggest anything.

My requirements:

Budget $10-$15

Type of cuisine: Any except vegetarian.

Portions: I want to eat a lot over a long period of time. Dinner should last 45 min at least. No one should be hurrying me out. This is offensive. I should have the option of taking home a doggy bag.

Neighborhoods: Lower Manhattan, brownstone Brooklyn, Queens close to transit

I know I can find various buffets in this price range (Jackson Heights comes to mind) but I'm kind of over them. I want made-to-order meals from actual restaurants. Nothing has to be fancy, just solid good eating.

Any ideas or should I give up on eating out in this city?

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  1. Have you tried the food courts in Flushing? You can chow mighty fine within your tight budget.
    http://www.newworldmallny.com/food-court
    Regards, JK

    1. At that price range, I wouldn't expect much other than buffet/fast food/cheap ethnic stuff. Sitting down and getting made to ordered food while taking a table for an hour+ for $10? Not likely. I'd say almost impossible. Its a business. They have to make money. With the neighborhoods you have described, I think it would be a challenge for any restaurant to stay in business doing what you want. Your choice is to either pay more or cook in.

      1. Maybe Karczma or other Polish places in Greenpoint. But for pie plate eaters at that price point, prolly moving to the Midwest is best.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Silverjay

          i'd second the greenpoint notion. most of the polish places there offer large platters with a main, two sides and usually a big bread basket, for under $12. enough left over for a glass of zywiec :)

          there are still one or two similar places in the east village, which used to have at least a dozen. sigh.

          1. re: Silverjay

            Karczma has large portions, that are well-prepared and the pricing meets the budget requirements.

          2. In lower Manhattan most of the Indian restaurants on Sixth St and many of the Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai restaurants in Chinatown could meet these criteria. And Veselka and Odessa for Polish, I guess. But lower Manhattan hasn't been a low-income neighborhood for quite a while, so most newer restaurants there won't meet your needs. There are quite a lot of good cheaper places in Brooklyn and Queens - I'm not sure what you're looking for in the way of type of food. The Flushing food courts recommended by johnk above would be good, unless you're looking for actual table service. Silverjay's recommendation of the Polish places in Greenpoint would be better is you're looking for table service.

            ETA: You surely realize that if you're talking about "good, well-reviewed restaurants" in lower Manhattan and "brownstone" Brooklkyn you are going to have a hard time getting a meal for ten to fifteen dollars even during Restaurant Week.

            1. I haven't had a meal out anywhere in New York City in over 10 years. I grew up in The Bronx, lived and worked in Manhattan until 1989, and continued working there until mid-2003.

              Even that far back, finding all three of your requirements would have been difficult in lower Manhattan. I cannot speak to the outer boroughs at all. However, you might want to try the following links because even two out of three in this market is going to be difficult. Consider the increasing number of restaurants either closing due to lease denials or exorbitant lease increases or, in the best case scenario, closing temporarily to move elsewhere within the city where they can afford to continue doing business.

              http://www.realcheapeats.com

              http://gothamist.com/2014/05/21/best_...

              http://www.grubstreet.com/2014/07/101...

              http://nymag.com/restaurants/cheapeat...