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New York City on a Budget

by Susan Matthews


New York City must have every type of fare imaginable within its Manhattan streets. Finding what you want to eat isn't hard to do. Finding what you want when you're working with a budget is more of a challenge! NYC is one of the world's most expensive cities--a lesson my wallet has quickly learned. Here I will begin a list (in alphabetical order) of New York City restaurants to help you find good food to fit a low-key budget.

Arturo's Pizzeria
Greenwich Village: 106 W. Houston St. at Thompson St.
Dinner Only

A favorite of the locals, this pizza spot has a style all its own. Arturo's has nightly blues with their own piano player. Although it cramps the bar, the live music is a pleasant addition. The restaurant offers a large variety of beers and wine carafes. The pizza (Large Pepperoni $15.50) is excellent with fresh toppings. Also good is the Lasagna ($10.75). Credit Cards accepted.


Bagel Shops
All over Manhattan
Open for lunch and dinner.

NY bagels are hands down the best bagels around. Walk down any street in New York and it won't take you long to come across a Bagel Shop worthy of your time and wallet. Most offer an array of spreads and deli meats. You can find all you want from Peanut Butter and Jelly to Cous Cous to a Turkey Swiss Bagel Lunch. There's no way to promise that every shop will be excellent, but with prices like $1.50 for a Bagel with Plain Cream Cheese and Bagel Sandwiches ranging from $3.00 to $6.50, you'll be willing to try more than once to find the right place. Popular chains include: Ess-a-bagel, Hot Bagel, Bagelfeller, H&H Bagel, Pick-A-Bagel. Credit Cards and Cash accepted at most shops.



Hi Life
Upper West Side: 477 Amsterdam Avenue and 83rd Street
Dinner only, Saturday and Sunday brunch

Come to the Hi Life to enjoy a fun night with friends. You'll have all the ingredients: good blues/rock music, outdoor seating, and a full bar. This is a great neighborhood spot. The menu should have something for everyone with entrée prices ranging from $5.95 for the Deluxe Burger to $16.95 for the Steak Au Poivre. Hi Life has great food specials each day of the week: 50% off of Sushi prices, $7.95 Big Bowl Pastas, or $8.50 for the Grilled Chicken Fajitas. Although the Ravioli was not up to par, we were pleased with their Salads, Maryland Crab Cakes and Fries. Credit Cards accepted.


Island Burgers & Shakes
Hell's Kitchen: 766 Ninth Ave. (between 51st & 52nd)
(212) 307-7934
Open lunch and dinner.

When you want a good burger, but not an ordinary burger, this is the place to be. Island burgers are big, juicy and made to order with the freshest ingredients. Their menu is loaded with options including every type of cheese, vegetables, and condiments you could want. And switch to chicken if you're not in the mood for red meat. The actual restaurant is tiny, but their delivery service is a dream bringing you hot food and cold shakes pronto. Cash only.


John's Pizzeria
Village: 278 Bleecker Street
East Side: 408 E. 64th Street
Lincoln Center: 48 W. 65th Street
Times Square: 260 W. 44th Street
Open for lunch and dinner.

With great locations, everyone should take the time to stop into John's. It's 6 slice Brick Oven Pizza starts at $10. The toppings are fresh and the thin crust is tasty. The pasta dishes start at $8.00. And a personal favorite is the House Salad for $6.50, which can be shared by up to three people. The restaurants aren't hole-in-the-wall joints. They are spacious and able to accommodate large parties. John's also has a full bar and a tempting array of desserts. Credit Cards accepted.


Theatre District: 750 Eighth Ave. and 46th St.
(212) 997-8885
Open for lunch (except on Saturday and Sunday), dinner 7 nights.

These are some big, bad burgers not for those watching their cholesterol. Yes, some grease is involved in this eating frenzy, but it's all forgivable when you taste the fare. The French fries are a great accompaniment and do the food justice. The menu touts many other hearty items, but I recommend you order the burger for lunch and save the other half of this concoction for your dinner. The portions are just that large! Burgers start at $8. Cash only.


Greenwich Village: 163 Bleecker St.
Open for lunch and dinner.

Deep in the heart of NYC's famous Village is a fine Chinese restaurant named Suzie's. It's only too bad they have just one location. With a large Lo Mein (choice of chicken, shrimp, beef, vegetable or roast pork) at $5.50 and a Sesame Chicken Salad at the same price, you can't miss this joint. Vegetarian entrees start at $6.95 and meat entrees start at $7.95. Credit Cards accepted.


Trattoria Rino
Theatre District: 877 8th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd

Simple and good is the best way to describe this little jewel of an Italian restaurant. They serve all the favorites with no fuss. Try their Penne Alla Vodka ($8.50), Chicken Parmesan ($9.95) or Baked Rigatone Siciliano ($8.75) and you won't be disappointed. Other perks include fresh-from-the oven bread, service with a smile, and its close proximity to the theatre district. Trattoria Rino is a great place for a relaxing and enjoyable meal anytime. Credit Cards and Cash accepted.


Zen Palate
Union Square: 34 Union Square East and 16th Street
Flatiron District:: 663 9th Ave and 46th Street
Upper West Side: 2170 Broadway and 76th Street

A popular spot for quick, but quality Vegetarian Chinese food, Zen Palate is true to its name. The atmosphere is trendy, yet calming. And the food is sure to awaken your taste buds. The flavors are unique and far from the path of the typical Chinese fast food joint. It's a much more challenging and interesting experience for your mouth than most vegetarian fare. Although one dish may not fill a more voracious eater, you won't mind ordering side dishes with their more-than-reasonable prices. Entrees range from $7.65 to $8.85. Credit Cards accepted.




Bonus restaurant in Brooklyn

Sherwood Café
Brooklyn Heights: 195 Smith Street
Open for Lunch and Dinner.

In trendy Brooklyn Heights resides a restaurant worthy of a spot on this list. Smith Street is known for high quality French bistros. Sherwood Café is a few notches below the rest, but makes up for it with its low prices, short waits and fun atmosphere. Almost all the funky, antique decorative items, tables and chairs have orange sales tags so the restaurant is constantly morphing as pieces get bought and sold. The menu is limited, but it was an overall enjoyable meal. The Mashed Potatoes ($4.00) and Spinach Salad ($6.00) had a very home cooked feel. The Steak Tartare ($13.50) was on par. This spot may not have the best food on the row, but its atmosphere makes it a pleasant spot for lunch or dinner. Cash only.


Susan Matthews has lived and eaten in New York City.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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