Dining in New York can be expensive, especially when you are a foodie, and hot dogs from the stand on the corner just don’t cut it. As you march from restaurant to restaurant with an expensive menu that makes your wallet shrink into the recesses of your pocket, you might think it impossible to eat well on a budget in Manhattan, but I found that you just need to know where to look. Sure, you can go to Pret A Manger for a quick, pre-packaged meal (which, in all fairness, will probably be fresh and delicious), but there are really more options than you think. Bakeries, for example, are usually a safe bet, and you should definitely take advantage of prix fixe menus. Here are a few discoveries, some of which will probably surprise you:
55 Spring Street
Transit: 6 (Spring St-Lafayette)
Ceci-Cela is a pastry-shop and brainchild of Laurent Dupal, which evokes the cozy atmosphere of Parisian cafes. The small dining area in the back is the perfect place to catch up with a friend over one of the patisserie’s dazzling pastries, but it is also where I had one of my best dinners in the city for less than $6!
106 W 73rd Street
Transit: 1, 2, 3 (72nd St)
I stumbled across Arte Cafe mostly because it happened to be located right next to my favorite tea shop in New York, Alice’s Tea Cup. When, tragically, I came for a scone just after it was beginning to close, I reluctantly shuffled next door to Arte Cafe, and promptly fell in love with it. The Cafe is likely one of the most reasonably priced up-scale Italian restaurants in Manhattan, and I have never been disappointed. From the gnocchi to homemade pappardelle, Arte Cafe offers classic, no-frills Italian fare. If you need an additional incentive, the restaurant has a $15 prix fixe menu from Monday through Friday for guests who arrive before 6pm.
I chose the mussels steamed in white wine for an appetizer and was pleasantly surprised to receive a plate heaped with seafood, unlike the miniscule portions I was expecting for the price. My entrée was pappardelle bolognese, which was perfectly savory but did not feel heavy. A wonderful tiramisu concluded the meal, and a little orange zest gave the traditional dessert a light twist. Arte Cafe is the perfect spot for an elegant dinner that won’t put your wallet on a diet.
The Lobster Place
75 9th Avenue
Transit: A, C, E, L (14th St-8th Ave)
|Chelsea Market, decorated for the holidays|
Among Chelsea Market’s many treasures is The Lobster Place, which is part seafood market, part restaurant, part sushi bar. Enjoy a range of incredible soups, or if you’re feeling particularly hungry, you can carry out an entire, cooked lobster for less than $20. My personal favorite, however is the sashimi. At around $10.50 for nine pieces and $16 for twelve, the sashimi is right around the same price range as most grocery store fare, but this fish is some of the best you will have. The slices of sashimi are thicker than usual, and the fish is incredibly fresh, the quality you might find somewhere like Nobu but at literally 1/5 of the price. I still have dreams about that salmon…