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THE BEST: "Non-Fancy" NYC Restaurants


Pan
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  • 2 weeks later...

This is for the really cheap end, and I'm doing you guys a favor letting you know about these! If people don't know about Dumpling House on Eldridge, you ought to. 5 large delicious pork and scallion dumplings for a dollar. Sesame Pancake with Sliced Beef for a buck and a half. For anybody who goes up to Harlem, El Flor de Broadway at 138th St. has unbelieveable Cuban sandwiches and delicious cafe con leche for $2.50 and 80 cents, respectively. Make sure to ask for the pickles and garlic butter. The weird thing is that this sandwich is better than more expensive ones (like at El Malecon, which is otherwise delicious, up in Washington Heights)...crispy, fatty from the chicharrones and swiss cheese (some places try and give you American, which is unacceptable) and great. Mario's, the last Italian deli in East Harlem, had a great pastrami sandwich for less than 5 (even if you get things like sundried tomatoes), but they've been shuttered the past couple weeks.

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Oh yeah, and Cicciolino in the East Village is really cheap ($8 to $14 entrees), tasty, and usually inexplicably (to me, anyway) empty for an Italian bistro in the East Village. (The empty is actually a big plus for me--places like Spice and Republic should be on the cheap eats list 'cause they're good and cheap, but also sooo crowded--this one's not.) Cheaper and better than, say, Via Della Pace or East Post, which are all right near it. They have great Martini Rossos as well.

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Thanks, wagyuboy!

I'm nonplussed by the fact that I don't know where Cicciolino is, but I don't. Where is it? Sounds like it needs more patrons, so I'd like to check it out.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Cicciolino is on E. 4th between 1st and 2nd. I've read people calling it a ripoff of Frank over on 2nd Ave, but I posit that it's much better because 1) The 7 or 8 times I've been there, it hasn't even been half full, 2)The service and ambiance is great (and they play good music too usually, not the faceless bland "hip" lounge-house most places play nor annoyingly loud music that would distract from the experience--this is obviously not as important as the food or service, but it matters to me) and most importantly, 3) The food is really good, though not unexpected. It's an Italian place, so of course the menu has spaghetti bolognese and the like, but they have other not-so-ubiquitous traits, like a yen for grilled or braised fennel, which shows up in a few dishes, and reliably tasty soups (and not your typical pasta fagioli or something, but things like a thick, butternut puree served with creme fraiche). For instance, while they have the standard fried calamari (which if, you have no problem with another plate of fried calamari, is at least prepared well and is light and not greasy), they also have a grilled calamari salad with haricots blanc. They have well-executed standard dishes, but then they also offer different, not-your-typical-Italian-spaghetti-joint dishes. And those Martini Rossos are really good, made with some kind of Italian vermouth that I have a hard time finding anywhere else. I also heard that the Cicciolino owners are the same people responisble for Esperanto over on Ave. C, which I remember being good the one time I went.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm bumping this thread up again to provide a link to my rave review of a meal at Tanoreen in Bay Ridge.

3rd Av. in Bay Ridge is an interesting and quite diverse restaurant row of its own. In a walk to the north after my meal at Tanoreen, I counted Arab, Greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants. And clearly, the restaurants continue to the south (toward the Verrazano Bridge), too. Any other favorites any of you feel belong in this list?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm surprised I have yet to add Spicy & Tasty to this thread. It is simply a superb Sichuan-style restaurant with a wide variety of dishes on offer, including an unusually large selection of cold dishes. And it has an advantage over Grand Sichuan in that no menu space is wasted with "American-Chinese" dishes and such-like: You get the real stuff here, no ifs, ands, or buts (as far as I can tell). Asimov gave the restaurant a nice review in the April 21, 2004 Times, so more non-Chinese people have begun to check the place out. Reservations are highly recommended at peak times (which includes dinner on any day).

Have a look at the thread on Spicy & Tasty for more details.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 1 month later...
As for restaurants in other parts of town, let me toss La Rosita into the mix.  It's a Cuban/Dominican coffee shop with a large, varied menu and has the best cafe con leche I've tried in NYC.  Great cubano sandwiches, breakfast specials (for under 5 bucks, including cafe con leche) that feature rice and beans, delicious pots of soupy rice stews, and pernil on the weekends.  I keep hearing it's gone downhill....I dunno.  I've been going there for almost 10 years and it's the same as it's always been.  It's the best option anywhere near me (I live in Morningside Heights) and you really have to work to spend more than 15 dollars here. (Broadway, between 108th and 109th St.)

I'l happily second La Rosita, which I frequented when I lived on 111th St and Riverside. I remember especially good yellow rice. As for other places, try Sal & Carmine's pizza if it still exists (Broadway & 101/102nd street) The pizza there probably accounted for half of my lunches growing up. For a little bit fancier, but not out of reach, try Inside in the West village, tucked away on Jones street between west 4th and Bleeker.

Luke
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Does anyone have any specific recs for Middle Eastern or Northern African in Manhattan?

Sahara's on second ave. and (27? 28? around there, i usually get take out, but its a nice place to eat as well)

the food is turkish, they have a clay oven that makes the yummiest bread... if you get take out make sure you ask for extra.

they have the best baba ganoush (actually has the charred smokey flavor so important to good eggplant!) and meze for that matter i've had in manhattan

they have this marinated vegetable appetizer that is just UNBELIEVABLE

i like to make meal mostly of the salads and the fantastic breads and maybe split a kabob with a friend...

pretty much any of their appetizers are excellent including those turkish meat pizzas--lamuk???? the name escapes me...they have the tastiest spinach pie i've ever had too, and for take out cheap filling sandwiches.

Edited by ninadora (log)
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Does anyone have any specific recs for Middle Eastern or Northern African in Manhattan?

If you want a felafel/shawarma place, consider Chickpea, Mamoun's, and Azuri Cafe. (Also, Fat Guy loves Kosher Delight, which I believe is on Broadway in the upper 30s. I haven't tried the felafel there.)

I enjoyed the lamb pitza and some of the other things on offer in my one visit so far to Moustache in the Village, but a fair number of eGulleteers are underwhelmed by the place.

If you have any inclination to take a long subway trip to Tanoreen in Bay Ridge, you are likely to get a fabulous meal! I did the one time I've been there so far.

Finally, though it's not really a restaurant, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the mujadara available on the 2nd floor of Kalustyan's. Man is that stuff delicious!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Whatever the criteria, some of my favorite cheapies are:

* 'ino, which is no breaking news to anyone, I'm sure (cheap, unless you get some fancy wine)

* Queen of Sheba (yum Ethiopian place at 46th/10th--dinner for two including beer was about $45-50)

* Great Jones Cafe (Great Jones St. at Lafayette; Louisiana-style food, most entrees under $16)

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Mama's Food Shop on East 3rd just off Avenue B.

The decor is funky, as is the attire of the waitstaff. The food is served cafeteria style (you go up to the counter and they dish things out for you there).

But it is cheap -- you can get a full, and I do mean FULL, meal for about $10 -- and it is GOOD.

It's a "home cookin'" type of menu. Customers have a choice of about four or five entrees, and a large variety of side dishes; you get a serving of one side free with each entree, and can order a second one for an extra dollar. The entrees are typically things like roast chicken, fried chicken, broiled salmon, and meatloaf; for sides, they regularly have mashed potatoes, a couscous salad, steamed green beans, snow peas, grilled vegetables, and a macaroni and cheese that is hands down the best I have ever had in my life. They have other side dishes that appear and disappear from the menu now and then -- grilled brussel sprouts is one that comes to mind.

It's very simple and basic. But the ingredients must be chosen with EXTREME care and prepared VERY well, because those grilled brussel sprouts were to DIE for when I tried them once; the green beans are at the peak of freshness, the fried chicken is just done perfectly.

And ye Gods, the value -- my regular order which I treat myself with as a takeout is fried chicken with the mac-and-cheese and green beans. They pack the macaroni and cheese and green beans in one of those 8-inch dinner-plate-sized tinfoil takeout containers, but they pack so much of the mac-and-cheese and green beans into it that they have to wrap the THREE pieces of chicken they give me in a separate container. It feeds me for three days. All for only $10.

I understand they have a West Village flagship now. Their sandwich and soup place, Stepmama's, is across the street on East 3rd and is equally as good.

You also have to appreciate a place whose slogan is "Shut up and eat it!"

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The rabbit was sweet, moist and pulled.

main - suckling pig - once again, perfectly done, succulent pulled meat

Can you clarify what you refer to when using the term "pulled"? I'm familiar with it only in the context of pulled pork. Is this something similar?

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Has anyone mentioned Via Emilia, on Park Avenue South between 19th and 20th, and virtually next door to Patria? Scruffy, cash-only, no reservations, cheap and with some of the freshest, most authentic homemade pastas in the city. Its lasagne and tortelloni are particularly noteworthy.

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Has anyone mentioned Via Emilia, on Park Avenue South between 19th and 20th, and virtually next door to Patria?  Scruffy, cash-only, no reservations, cheap and with some of the freshest, most authentic homemade pastas in the city. Its lasagne and tortelloni are particularly noteworthy.

Albie, I agree with everything you say about Via Emilia except for your use of the word "scruffy." I think a better choice to describe the ambiance would be "plain." :smile:

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  • 8 months later...
We have some new members now. Anyone want to nominate more places in this category?

some that come immediatley to mind...

Italianish:

Cacio y Pepe on 2nd in the EV

Max's on B and 3rd

Lupa

Latin:

El Portal on Elizabeth

New American:

Diner in Williamsburg

Drink maker, heart taker!

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I've been to Cacio e Pepe and Lupa once apiece so far, and had excellent meals at both. I think both restaurants probably occupy a middle position between informal and fancy, as is true of many of the Italian restaurants in the East Village and environs, with prices to match.

Cafe El Portal is a place I'm unfamiliar with, and I'd love it if you would tell us more about it. What dishes do you recommend, etc.

I got the following information from menupages.com, which also has a clickable menu for the place:

Cafe el Portal

Mexican

174 Elizabeth St,  New York 10012

Btwn Spring & Kenmare St

Phone: 212-226-4642

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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We have some new members now. Anyone want to nominate more places in this category?

Places I like in the "non-fancy" but yummy category:

*Middle eastern:

Karam in Bay Ridge

Sally's and George's in Bay Ridge

Byblos (a little more fancy but still cheap) in Manhattan

La Maison du Couscous (they are still open :smile: ) in Bay Ridge

El Manara in Astoria

*SE Asian:

Cambodian cuisine in Brooklyn

*French:

360 in Red Hook

*Jamaican:

Blue Mountain cuisine in the Bronx

*Dominican:

El Economico in the Bronx

That's all i can think of for now..

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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