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Delicious, Interesting, Inexpensive - any ideas?

  • d

I have friends visiting from out of town this weekend, and I'm looking for ideas for where to take them, especially for Saturday night dinner. I want to find someplace fun and interesting, that they can't easily get at home (Boston). We're all students so don't have a ton of money, so nothing too expensive. Also trying to stay downtown - below 23rd st.

In terms of what I'm thinking - last time we went to Caracas Arepas and that was great - good food, sort of different but still very accessible, and price was amazing (I think we spent like $20pp). Right now I'm thinking maybe Ivan Ramen, but open to other ideas. Thanks!

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  1. $20pp including tax, tip, and any alcohol?

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      I think if it could be about $20-30pp for main dish + one or two shared apps, including tax/tip (no alcohol), that would be ideal. Or something in that ballpark.

        1. Also check out RealCheapEats.com.

          1. Ivan's not a bad choice. Zabb Elee (suggested above) is great if they like spicy, and I don't think there's much in the way of that Northern-style Thai in Boston, or at least nothing notable. And the prices are great, good sized plates suitable for sharing and everything under $12.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sgordon

              Zabb Elee is Isan food, from Northeastern Thailand. Pok Pok in Brooklyn does Northern Thai food.

              Just because atmosphere is more convivial and dishes are a little easier to share, I would suggest Somtum Der on Ave. A between 5th and 6th for a group wanting Northeastern Thai. I think Zabb Elee is better for just one or two diners.

              1. re: Silverjay

                Interesting. I have been to both now and I am curious as to why you say this. We have always shared at Zabb Elee without problems. Menu at ZE is much bigger, more choices, although I don't necessarily think that is a good thing. Loved Somtum Der and I think the atmosphere is a little nicer.

                1. re: JC2

                  For a group, I prefer SSD.

                  ZE can feel a little cramped and the room isn't as comfy or cheerful. I totally discount the Bangkok dishes at ZE and much of the menu are variations on single theme- som tum, laab, yum salads. I don't find the menu as diverse. And the som tum are large entree sized. It's a great place for solo or couple dining though. IMHO.

              1. Zabb is great. If you think Indian would work, I would also highly recommend Malai Marke.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I'm awful fond of Fung Tu, but I think a single entree (after tax and tip) would hit the OP's budget limit.

                    1. Taim has amazing falafel and hummus etc, would be difficult to spend $20 pp there. The Nolita branch has good seating

                      Ukranian national home for a cup of borscht and share a pile of pierogies....

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        Babaganoush is really good at TAIM, which is strictly vegetarian. They have three flavors of falafel (my preference is harissa).

                      2. Bassanova
                        Lumpia Shack (closed sunday)
                        Mission Cantina
                        Def Ivan Ramen
                        Nish Nush

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Ziggy41

                          nish nush is really great and underrated, but I don't know how comfortable would be for a group to sit down because of the communal table/stool set up. maybe red egg at centre/hester
                          for dim sum/small ish plates emphasis?

                          1. re: debinqueens

                            Nish Nush also has about 3 or 4 tables for 4.

                            1. re: debinqueens

                              If you want to go Chinese, why not GREAT NY NOODLETOWN.

                              Recommend Salt-Baked Shrimp or Salt-Baked Soft-Shell Crabs, if still in season (doesn't taste like salt), pea-shoot greens, etc., etc....

                              The Wonton-Noodle soup w/Roast Pork, or Roast Duck, etc... is a whole meal, about $6. (Their wontons are made with shrimp, rather than pork).

                              Also known for their BBQ Baby Pig, Roast Duck, Ribs...and noodles, of course.

                              This place is good for sharing.

                          2. I like your idea of Ivan Ramen, just go with that, you won't be disappointed.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Spiritchaser

                              The OP may want a plan B- sat pm for a large group not long after it was reviewed by the NYtimes may have some epic wait time...

                              1. re: Spiritchaser

                                is Ivan Ramen a place to linger or is it more in and out?

                                1. re: coasts

                                  I would say somewhere in between. It's table service, and you can come in for a quick ramen or stay longer for more. Similar lingerness level as Mission

                                  1. re: Ziggy41

                                    We managed to linger quite a while without eliciting the dreaded "stink eye" : )

                                    1. re: Ziggy41

                                      If you mean pure etiquette, - for the type of food Ivan serves - how busy the restaurant is should kinda dictate.

                                      I would normally say that ramen isn't the type of food that invites prolong lingering, but can probably linger a little longer at Ivan than most other ramen places.

                                      1. re: villainx

                                        Agreed, I have never lingered at Totto, Ippudo, etc. it just isn't very conducive to that sort of thing. Maybe linger is the wrong way to say what we did at Ivan, we ate leisurely and then had another beer after we finished, no one was lining up for tables so we felt fine with doing this. We actually kind of lingered at Noodle Bar but that was because we finished during the transition from lunch to dinner.

                                        1. re: Spiritchaser

                                          Besides, Michael the manager at Ivan is too nice of a guy to give anyone the stink eye. Also he cant see very well so at most you'll get a lazy eye, if that

                                2. MIGHTY QUINNS, West Village (Greenwich Avenue, between West 11th and Bank Streets, off Seventh Ave., near Two Boots Pizza).

                                  MIGHTY QUINNS, East Village (Second Avenue & 6th Street).

                                  I'm not affiliated with MQ, although some people might think so because I've been raving about their exquisite wood-smoked BBQ. This is high-quality BBQ in your ball park--their prices are really affordable!

                                  Everything here is good. Within the last two weeks, I've enjoyed all their meat offerings and recommend the same.

                                  Their ribs are phenomenal: The pork "Spare Ribs" are the best, most sumptuous ribs I've had; and the humongous Bronto beef rib is enough for three or four people (good w/sweet potato casserole).

                                  If you like spicy wings, or if you didn't know you like spicy wings, these are perfection.

                                  I would order several things and pass it around the table. Don't forget the pommes frites!

                                  There is no table service, so you have direct interaction with really nice people behind the counter. Just get your food, find a table--and enjoy!

                                  Download their menu/google for info--you'll understand what I'm talking about.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ZaZa

                                    Forgot to mention: Their BRISKET is PHENOMENAL !!!

                                    If you don't like BRISKET, you'll dramatically change your mind after you've tried MIGHTY QUINN'S.

                                    1. re: villainx

                                      +1 Ootoya
                                      B&H Dairy
                                      Ukrainian Home
                                      Meatball Shoppe

                                      Not to start a war with Boston ( and yes I'm a Yankee fan) there are not many good restaurants in Boston. There is a small Chinatown and they do have dim sum ( so I didn't recommend),,There is some OK Vietnamese, there is ok old school Italian on the Northend. Seafood is Ok, I like the Clam Chowder at Fenway ( Legal Seafood). Fire and Ice used to be interesting. But in general most foods , including pizza, in NYC is worth going to.

                                    2. I don't think ramen is a good group dining meal. Once you get your bowl, you are meant to basically eat straight through so the noodles don't get soggy and soup doesn't get too tepid. It's not a particularly social dish.

                                      1. deeg...how many people will be dining? (So we can keep in mind the space available, especially on a Saturday night).

                                          1. Maybe Pig & Khao? Plates are interesting and shareable and reasonably affordable.

                                            1. Kenka- pretty good Japanese on Saint Marks (plus cheap pitchers of beer) and the decor is really interesting. Lots of Japanese 1950's posters and opera music. Open kitchen.

                                              Taim- the location in Nolita is much better than the one in WV.

                                              Meatball Shop- simple menu, but very good quality meat and produce.

                                              1. MEW Izakaya @ 53 W 35th St is pretty good.
                                                Food is not great but decent enough for the price range.

                                                Fruit cocktails are around $6.
                                                Assorted sashimi of yellow tail, tuna, salmon, white fish, and octopus is $12. Tempura set of two prawns, shiitake mushroom, pumpkin, lotus root, eggplant, and green pepper is $9.

                                                1. deeg, now that the weekend is over (it's Tuesday), unless it's one of those long slow extended weekends, please let us know the outcome.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: ZaZa

                                                    I was just coming in to post my update :)
                                                    We ended up at Ivan Ramen - the wait wasn't bad at all (around 20 minutes on a saturday night for 4 people, at 8pm). Everyone loved it! We had the meatballs and chinese broccoli to start, two of us had the triple pork mazemen, one had shoyu ramen, and one had the the 4-cheese mazemen. All tasted great, but the 4-cheese mazemen eater had a bit of a stomachache the following day - I think it was a bit too heavy for him (he was supposed to share it with me, but then ate it too fast!). Followed it all up with sugar sweet sunshine for dessert.

                                                    Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions! Even though we went with my original plan, I've added a lot of your recs to my must-try list.

                                                    1. re: deeg

                                                      Thanks for the update! Sounds like your friend may remember to share next time...;) sugar sweet sunshine was a good call!