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NYC Nov 20-25, eating on a budget as a tourist


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So i was hoping fellow egullet-ians could give me some advice on where to eat on a college budget. I'm thinking some NY style pizza, perhaps shake shack, a hole in the wall joints and what not. Since we are visiting as a tourist, might there be also any decent places around the sights (museums, statue of liberty, empire state, ground zero, wall street, central park(i know thats huge), more museums).

Also anything we should be aware of when we visit? Festivals, fairs, weather, places to NOT go to...

thanks!

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Definitely get something to eat at the modern in the MOMA, we also had a great meal at Frannys in Brooklyn when we went to the Botanic Gardens. Shake shack is great too. We had a fantastic Reubens at Arties deli when we went to Zabars via Central Park too.

Edited by nikkib (log)

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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My husband highly recommends Saigon Market on University Place near 12th Street in the Village. S.G. is a sit-down place and is fairly comfy ambiance, also delish and cheap. For quick food just around the corner on 12th Street between University and Broadway there's a tiny hole-in-the-wall place (NOT the falafel place -- stay away!) that has fusion modern food, sandwiches, etc., for around $7. Mostly take-out but you can sit upstairs, but it's cramped.

On University Place between 12th and 13th is Newsbar -- an inexpensive place for coffee, snacks, excellent soups and sandwiches. Very nice people -- if there's a tall blonde guy say "Ross from Toronto sent me!" Right across the street from Newsbar is a little sausage vendor, don't remember the name, but very cheap and good.

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I don't live in NY any longer, but I visit frequently. For true splurges I let my mother buy me a meal. If I'm on my own or with my husband I tend to eat as cheaply as possible and try to find stuff that we just don't get here in the bay area. She lives in midtown, just a few blocks from MOMA. My favorite spots around there are the Halal truck on the SW corner of 53rd and 6th Ave; love their chicken and rice plate with 2 sauces. Also good is Menkui Tei on 56th off 6th. And that would be ramen. I was at Katsu-hama once, and had cold noodles and cold beer, which was very nice, but it was very warm weather then.

The cafe and restaurant at MOMA isn't exactly what I call budget, but I haven't eaten there in several years, so I don't really know.

Walking around Chinatown is always fun. I love the hand-made noodles at Xi'an. Comfort food for me, perfect for chilly weather. Also NY Noodle Town just down the block.

For a medium price lunch I love to go to Luke's Lobster on 81st on the east side. No frills, just the basics, very good meaty lobster roll with chips and a drink with friendly atmosphere. Seating is at large tables so it's easy to strike up a conversation with strangers, which I like. I've had lobster rolls that cost far more and weren't nearly as good as Lukes. And if you don't live on the northeastern seaboard, a lobster roll isn't so easy to come by.

I guess everyone should try Papaya King or Gray's Papaya once in their lifetime, but in my opinion the hotdogs are pretty terrible. Dirt cheap, though. I admit that I am fond in a nostalgic way of the papaya drinks.

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Great, thanks for the suggestions so far!

I have to say though, i'm not familiar with the streets - university place for example, what's that near?

MOMA cafe looks great, though one michelin star our budget is not :( too bad, though, i'll definitely want to try it if my parents were with me.

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You could just go to the bar at moma and have one dish and a drink for around $20 - squeeze the budget on one of the other days ( or skip buying a subway pass and walk for a day) also worth looking at ore booking tickets for the empire state building and other attractions as you save money that way too....

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Great, thanks for the suggestions so far!

I have to say though, i'm not familiar with the streets - university place for example, what's that near?

MOMA cafe looks great, though one michelin star our budget is not :( too bad, though, i'll definitely want to try it if my parents were with me.

University Place is in the Village. The biggest landmark in the area is The Strand book store, but Washington Square is nearby. Google maps is your friend!

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University Place is in the Village. The biggest landmark in the area is The Strand book store, but Washington Square is nearby. Google maps is your friend!

I don't want to pick nits, but the biggest "landmark" is probably Union Square Park. Much closer than WSP. If you're in this neighborhood, Dos Toros does some pretty good tacos and burritos - they've upped their status from hot food truck to bricks and mortar with multiple locations.

There are literally tons of places to eat decently on a budget. Search our site, Village Voice, yelp (shoot me). Still, one of my favorite lunch spots is Great NY Noodletown on Bowery. Roast duck or pork with wonton and noodles is around $5.50. Same thing for roasted meats over rice.

Most ramen places are gonna run you more than noodles in a Chinatown spot.

Vanessa's Dumplings on Eldridge St. will buy you 4 for $1 dumplings, or a great sandwich on a sesame pancake for around $2. Some soups too.

You might want to see what all the fuss is about at the Meatball Shop on Stanton. I like it; others bitch and moan, but for good budget eats, it rocks. And if you're on Stanton, Souvlaki GR has their bricks and mortar shop (they were also only a truck, back in "the day"). I had the pork souvlaki last week (under $5) and it was really good, though I've had better Greek salads elsewhere.

A $20 large pie will feed 3 nicely at Arturo's. If you start drinking, your budget will go straight to hell.

You can split a pastrami sandwich and a knish, with a couple of Dr. Brown's sodas at Katz's and get out for around $25. Or, skip the knish and supplement with a hot dog. Get ballsy and sneak a knish in from Yonah Schimmel's down the block (go ahead, I dare you) - just don't let anyone see you.

More as I think of it.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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University Place is in the Village. The biggest landmark in the area is The Strand book store, but Washington Square is nearby. Google maps is your friend!

I don't want to pick nits, but the biggest "landmark" is probably Union Square Park. Much closer than WSP.

Oops. Just goes to show ya I'm really a Jersey girl and not a new Yorker. :)

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Near the big tourist attractions there is not much in the way of great eating. But then nothing is very far from anywhere else in Manhattan.

For cheap eats I'd suggest (going from least expensive to most expensive):

Super Wang bakery in Chinatown for steamed pork buns

Xi'an Famous Foods in Chinatown - seconded - liang pi cold noodles and lamb burgers

Shake Shack - absolutely, I prefer the regular cheesebugers to the Shackburger

Corner Bistro in the West Village for classic East Coast style burgers & fries & beers

Totto Ramen in Hell's Kitchen - get the red miso

Katz's for pastrami - absolutely, seconded, disregard any naysayers!

Congee Village on Allen just south of Delancey for superb congees, also try their grilled lamb chops - this is slightly more upscale & sitdown than the previous recommendations - but still a magnificent bargain & really delicious

Pizza: Arturo's is indeed quite good, though the live piano music can get trying; my partner loves the slices at Artichoke Basile on E. 14 St.; others swear by Co. in Chelsea or Motorino in Williamsburg, but the best in the city despite its many infuriating issues remains Di Fara's out in Midwood, Brooklyn - not "cheap" for pizza, but still cheap for some of the best food on earth

Bar Pitti on Sixth Ave. near Bleecker for excellent affordable Northern Italian

hope these help to some extent!

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oh considering your coming from Singapore... it's gonna be cold. Average around that time period is high of 10 degrees C, low of 1 degree C. November 24th is also Thanksgiving day. It's a pretty big family holiday for americans. It's been a long time since I was in the city for thanksgiving so I'm not sure about how things are. Don't expect too many shops and stuff to be open on that thursday. Friday is a big shopping day. There are usually a crazy amount of sales going on starting really early like 3 AM early that Friday.

I also was leaning away from asian fare since your from Singapore and there's so many things to try.

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Near the big tourist attractions there is not much in the way of great eating. But then nothing is very far from anywhere else in Manhattan.

For cheap eats I'd suggest (going from least expensive to most expensive):

Super Wang bakery in Chinatown for steamed pork buns

Xi'an Famous Foods in Chinatown - seconded - liang pi cold noodles and lamb burgers

Shake Shack - absolutely, I prefer the regular cheesebugers to the Shackburger

Corner Bistro in the West Village for classic East Coast style burgers & fries & beers

Totto Ramen in Hell's Kitchen - get the red miso

Katz's for pastrami - absolutely, seconded, disregard any naysayers!

Congee Village on Allen just south of Delancey for superb congees, also try their grilled lamb chops - this is slightly more upscale & sitdown than the previous recommendations - but still a magnificent bargain & really delicious

Pizza: Arturo's is indeed quite good, though the live piano music can get trying; my partner loves the slices at Artichoke Basile on E. 14 St.; others swear by Co. in Chelsea or Motorino in Williamsburg, but the best in the city despite its many infuriating issues remains Di Fara's out in Midwood, Brooklyn - not "cheap" for pizza, but still cheap for some of the best food on earth

Bar Pitti on Sixth Ave. near Bleecker for excellent affordable Northern Italian

hope these help to some extent!

Unfortunately, the Brooklyn location of Motorino has closed, but the East Village location is still going strong. They also have a nice lunch prix fixe on weekdays. $12 for a salad and a single pizza.

Artichoke tends to have thicker crust than most NYC places. I like the square slice there, but find the other ones too creamy/heavy/rich (artichoke "dip" slice) or too sweet (plain/margherita).

Edited by kathryn (log)
"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Definitely check out this site: Real Cheap Eats.

I think you're thinking right in terms of pizza (Pies: Motorino over Co and John's over Arturo's; slices: South Brooklyn or Joe's, personally), burgers, Chinese, but I heartily second Katz's Deli, and would add on Russ & Daughters (especially if you split a bagel sandwich), maybe some Italian subs (Torrisi at lunch, Defonte's, Faicco's), falafel (Taim, Azuri Cafe), perhaps Caracas Arepas Bar, Zabb-Elee for Isaan Thai food, the Dosa man in Washington Square Park (lunch mostly).

There's a single kinda boring concessions stand at the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island; you might want to eat before/after.

Near the ESB, I'd go to Koreatown. Korean BBQ joint Madangsui will be about $20pp. Or you could walk to No. 7 sub and get gourmet sandwiches.

Near Ground Zero and Wall Street, the Tribeca Shake Shack isn't too far away and neither is Chinatown, as the whole island kind of tapers and gets narrower to the south. It will depend if you're down there on a weekend; lots of cheap eats vendors and food trucks are only in the Financial District on the weekdays. I'd personally just walk the 20 minutes to Chinatown!

In Chinatown, like weinoo, I like Great NY Noodletown. But mostly for roast pork, roast suckling pig, roast duck, flowering chives with beef, and less so the wontons (like most of Chinatown you must order carefully to avoid the clunkers on the menu).

Also in Chinatown, I also like Noodle Village for wontons (fried or in soup) and claypot rice. 456 Shanghai Cuisine for fried tiny buns (sheng jien bao). Maybe Shanghai Cafe for soup dumplings. Red Egg for dim sum. Xian Famous Foods for cumin lamb hand pulled noodles.

For Central Park, on the north end, Amy Ruth's for chicken and waffles.

Near the UWS part of Central Park, there's a Shake Shack at 77th and Columbus.

Near the UES, for museums and Central Park, that's a harder neighborhood. We've definitely walked to the UES Luke's Lobster from 5th Avenue and that was a bit of a longish walk.

Closer options: at the Met, there's the Sigmund Pretzel Cart, which is one of the few places doing high quality pretzels. At the Whitney, Danny Meyer's Untitled supposedly has gentler prices for lunch.

Near Times Square/Bryant Park/Grand Central, Szechuan Gourmet is our go-to: pork dumplings in chili-soy, cumin lamb, mapo tofu (make sure you order the Sichuan dishes). Heard good things about Cafe China and Lan Sheng but haven't tried yet.

Near Union Square, you can do a nice duck lunch at Momofuku Ssam for ~$15pp (weekdays only). Dos Toros (as weinoo mentions) or Num Pang for even cheaper. Or maybe the new location of Baohaus.

Near MoMA, second the halal cart at 53rd and 6th. It's on the southeast corner during the day, and southwest after dark. The one on the SW corner during the day is a fake. Look for yellow bags that say We Are Different under a circular logo. The red sauce is insanely hot; the white sauce, creamy and delicious. I think it's something like $7-8/plate now.

Edited by kathryn (log)
"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Arrgh... this is killing me. I know a great, inexpensive Dim Sum joint on Columbus. Last time I was there (with my Chinese in-laws), the bill was around $50 for four people. We all left full and happy. It was a short walk up Columbus to "Little Italy."

Any New Yorkers care to jog my memory?

Speaking of Little Italy, how mobile are you? If you have the ability, spend some time on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx. There is no end of excellent, inexpensive food there. Next time I'm in the area, I plan to spend my entire trip in and around Arthur Ave. (Woo hoo! We're going to the Bronx! Never thought I'd type THAT in my lifetime.)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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In Manhattan Chinatown? There's a Columbus PARK but no Columbus Street. Columbus Park is between Baxter and Mulberry, a few blocks south of Canal.

"A short walk to Little Italy" doesn't really narrow it down much, either. .

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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Arrgh.... I'd know it if I was there. It wasn't in Chinatown. It was close to the pizza joints in Little Italy. And I remember looking to my right and seeing an arch of some sort. Then we walked a couple minutes and it was wall-to-wall pizzerias. That doesn't help matters. I'll ask my in-laws.

EDIT -- I think the original Bowery Bank was close by. Arrgh. Damn my long-term memory. It's weird. I can find my wife's favorite place in Venice even if you dropped me into the city randomly. I can't find a Dim Sum joint in New York.

Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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ScoopKW, we're gonna be walking and taking the trains/buses. Actually im coming over from WA state (havent changed my location yet...) so im quite happy eating Asian food since im starting to miss it. But definetlly gotta go for the NY style pizzas and dirty hot dogs i guess.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!

I think we're looking at staying in the Loft Hotel in Brooklyn - is that hard to get to around the sights? Also food wise around Brooklyn? Oh also, if anyone has any suggestions on accommodation please share, theres 4 of us and we're trying to keep the budget to under $50 per person, per night. I checked a number of hostels but some are more expensive charging upwards of $70 per person for like a 8 person dorm which is pointless..

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If you're in the mood for some not-so-dirty hot dogs, you might give Dogmatic a whirl (south side of 17th Street, between Broadway and Fifth Avenue).

Whenever I'm back in NYC, I have breakfast at Whole Foods (coffee + larabar/fruit) many, if not most days, and it's pretty reasonable.

If you're going to be in NYC 4+ days, get unlimited 7-day Metrocards (unless you think you're likely to take ten or fewer separate rides each during your stay), especially if your plans may be scattered over the city on any given day. I love walking, but if I've spent several hours walking about uptown, then want to eat downtown, I'm not always in the mood for an hour-long walk, and the individually-paid fares mount really fast. Once you know what you've laid out for transit, you also have a better idea of what you can spend on food.

I'd skip the Empire State building, and go to Rockefeller Center for your view: Not only is there a much better selection of food around the the latter, but you'll actually get the Empire State building in your photos, and the queue is shorter (I admit I may still be in a grouch because Mosaico – just a few minutes from the Empire State building – closed, and I loved their food).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I think we're looking at staying in the Loft Hotel in Brooklyn - is that hard to get to around the sights? Also food wise around Brooklyn? Oh also, if anyone has any suggestions on accommodation please share, theres 4 of us and we're trying to keep the budget to under $50 per person, per night. I checked a number of hostels but some are more expensive charging upwards of $70 per person for like a 8 person dorm which is pointless..

I looked on Google and there's the Aloft Hotel in Brooklyn, as well as the New York Loft Hostel, 249 Varet Street, in Bushwick. Are either of these the one you meant? I don't think that there's anything called the Loft Hotel.

If you're staying at the New York Loft Hostel, you are very close to both Roberta's and the L train, Morgan Ave stop.

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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