Thursday, April 06, 2006


One of the misconceptions about New York that bothers me the most is that eating out is too expensive. Granted, there are plenty of places where two people can easily spend $450 on a single dinner with minimal alcoholic beverages, but this is FAR from the norm.

Much more common are small, delicious ethnic restaurants. Many of them are mom-and-pop operations with a friendly atmosphere and serious food.

I recall a memorable Brazilian/South American meal in one such restaurant, on a Saturday night, where Ty and I spent less than $25. At a different establishment, we've had our fill of huge, spicy Jamaican beef patties for less than $10 for two people. A local restaurant offers a lunch menu consisting of an appetizer, entree, (homemade) pasta, and wine, for less than $10 per person. C.S. and Mrs. Harridan and I had a really fun dim sum meal in Chinatown; I think it wound up costing $12 per person. I've lost count of the number of times Ty and I have brought home glorious take-out Italian heroes for which we paid less than the wine we drank with them.

Based on sheer volume, it's probably easier to get great, inexpensive ethnic food in New York than in certain other parts of the country, but I'll bet there are a lot of local gems out there. Anybody have any stories?


Blogger Mignon said...

In Missoula there is one really good ethnic restaurant: Vgetarian Indian food at Tipu's. We've only been twice because they don't serve alcohol. Isn't that terrible? Of us, I mean?

All the places you describe make me so homesick for Portland. It had amazing restaurants. Nicholas' for Lebanese, Legin for dim sum, Clay's for bbq, Cup'n'Saucer for brekkie, Syun for sushi, Leipzig for Italian. Boohoo.

I hope we can get some good food at Blogfest, cause there's such a dirth here.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

In Columbus, OH the gateway to the midwest, it is VERY difficult to find good ethnic food. Everything here is pretty white bread.

But we have managed to find a great little Indian restaurant and an awesome Ethiopian place. There are a few sushi places that are just okay.

No good Thai, which makes me very sad, and no really good Mexican or Italian - it's all very sanitized and the folks around here think Buca De Beppo is the best Italian food ever. No good bagels, nope, not much in way of small family owned authentic anything. Everything is a chain restaurant. Ugh.

We have a short list of favorites and that's about it. Sad. New York is really the best city in the world to eat in and every time I visit, I leave five pounds heavier than when I came.

12:24 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Junior's (in Brooklyn) and Joe's Shanghai (scallion pancakes!) in Chinatown. Mmmmm.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Hi! I really enjoy your blog and I will be in New York next week. Any restaurant suggestions?

6:00 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Thanks, Sarah! Sure, I could offer suggestions. What kind of food do you like?

7:09 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

My hubby and I found a little diner near the Diamond District that we went to every morning. Egg, bagel, and coffee was like $3. It was great.

Of course, being as cheap and easy as we are, we consider a slice of pizza a meal. What do they cost, $2?? And are incredibly delicious!

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Thanks for the offer of suggestions! I am not a picky eater at all when it comes to types of food or flavors, but I want to make sure I eat food that I wouldn't be able to get in Michigan (where I live). Anything original, or places that may not catch my eyes as I walk by them would be great!

9:49 AM  
Blogger IzzyMom said...

We ate the best Indian food I've ever had when we were in NYC and it really wasn't expensive at all. About the same as what you'd pay here. And there were so many of them, we ate in different places every night. Sweet! I love me some NY ;)

3:39 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Sarah, here are a few suggestions:

West 32nd Street, from around Broadway to around 6th Avenue, is filled with Korean restaurants. If you've never had Korean barbecue before, this is a good place to try it. Try Won Jo, between Broadway and 5th Avenue on West 32nd, and head to the upper level. You order meat and/or fish and it's grilled on hot coals in the center of your table and enjoyed with rice and all kinds of tasty, veggie-based side dishes. Great for groups.

If you like Italian food, try Max in the East Village at Avenue B between 3rd and 4th Streets. It's young and fun and inexpensive, and the food's great. It's often crowded, but in nice weather, you can sit outside in their backyard, which is a rarity in this city.

Also in the East Village: Suba on Ludlow Street, for Spanish food. It's in a former tenement building that has been turned into a very unique and sexy setting; one of the rooms is surrounded by a water moat. The cocktails are great.

In midtown, near the Theater District, try Victor's Cafe on West 52nd Street for Cuban food. It's been around for a long time, and the setting is a little bit retro and really fun. Good mojitos. Somewhat expensive, but pretty standard prices for the area.

For one of the best buys in the Theater District, head to La Bonne Soupe on West 55th Street. Delicious soups and chocolate mousse. You will probably need a reservation during peak dining hours.

For a memorable, yet inexpensive day when there's nice weather, trek across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn and get pizza at Grimaldi's.

For a HUGE splurge (as in, something like $500 for two people), but what will possibly be the most memorable meal of your life, head to Jean Georges at Columbus Circle. Many small, perfectly-prepared courses, great service. You will definitely need a reservation.

For further reading, all these places are on Citysearch. Let me know if you have any questions, and have a great trip!

9:47 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

One more--have a drink at the Blue Mill Tavern on Commerce Street. Classy, beautiful, Old New York-feeling bar and restaurant.

9:55 AM  

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