NYC: 5 Ways to Save When Dining Out

New York is a hotbed of culinary genius. Unfortunately a four-star dining experience can easily cost as much as a night’s hotel room. However, adventurous foodies on a budget need not settle for anything less than scrumptious. Here are five strategies for saving while savoring:

082306_cirquebar copy.jpg1. Lunch Like Royalty

If you have your heart set on eating in some of the city’s fancy schmancy dining establishments, make lunch the day’s best meal. By ordering off a heralded restaurant’s prix-fixe lunch menu you’ll appreciate the spot’s distinct flavor as well as the cheaper tab. Priced at $27, Gotham Bar & Grill’s three-course menu is a steal.

Other fine-dining prix-fixe lunch “deals”:

  • Le Bernardin, Midtown, $59
  • Jean-Georges, Upper West Side, $50
  • Fleur de Sel, Flatiron District, $29
  • Le Cirque Bar, Midtown East, $25 (right)
  • 2. Head East

    To the East Village that is. If you’ve never ventured to Alphabet City (so named for its letter-named avenues), you’re missing some of the city’s best culinary values. Small bistros and ethnic eateries abound, as do bustling bars perfect for lingering over an afterdinner drink. Squeeze into Angelica Kitchen for a sense of the neighborhood’s bohemian flair — the vegetarian menu is nothing short of inventive.

    Other East Village cheap eats:

  • Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 East Houston Street
  • Le Gamin Café, 536 East 5th Street
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar, 163 First Avenue

    082306_craftbar copy.jpg3. Try Gifted Progeny

    Indulging in a full-on feast at Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich’s Babbo might break the bank. As an alternative, stop into Greenwich Village’s Lupa (a part of the duo’s Italian empire) for lower-priced but equally inspired authentic Italian fare. To minimize what will most certainly be a long wait, go as early as possible or be prepared to wander the neighborhood for an hour — or two.

    Other well-priced brainchildren of über famous chefs:

  • Blue Smoke, Gramercy
  • Craftbar, Flatiron (right)
  • Bouchon Bakery, Upper West Side

    4. Hit the Pavement

    Never underestimate the street food vendor. Judging by the lines, many garner serious respect from harried office workers. Luckily for you, you’re on vacation and not racing back to work. Grab something on the go and find a free bench in one of the city’s many squares and enjoy lunch at your leisure. Madison Square Park boasts hands-down one of the city’s best burger spots — Shake Shack. At the peak lunch hours from 12-2, hungry hordes endure 30-45 minute waits for Danny Meyer’s take on the American staple. While we’re certain folks would endure winter’s chill for a bite of these burgers, the Shack is typically shuttered from December to March.

    Other vendors with street cred:

  • Gyro Truck, Financial District, on the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets
  • Dosa Man, Greenwich Village, southern end of Washington Square Park
  • Taco Truck, Upper West Side, around West 86th Street and Broadway
  • 081606_dimsumSTOCKf.jpg5. Do Dim-Sum

    Chinatown is famous for its surplus of vendors hawking everything from fresh fish to faux fashion accessories. But the dumplings served at Dim Sum GoGo are certainly among the district’s very best bargains. You’ll be amazed at how much dim sum ten dollars can buy.

    Other delightful Chinatown spots for dim-sum:

  • HSF, 46 Bowery
  • Golden Unicorn, 18 East Broadway
  • Vegetarian Dim Sum House, 24 Pell Street