Friday, May 15, 2009

Edacious Blogger Shares His Top Picks for Affordable Dining in Manhattan -- By Neighborhood

By day, this Friday’s Fabulously Frugal Featured Reader quips that he is a “superhero (a.k.a. an accountant)”, but don’t let that fool you. Marc Smith (see photo) is no corporate drone. He is the editor of the food blog Edacious, runs his own catering business and is writing a musical – seriously.

The foodie and restaurant connoisseur has eaten his way through New York City over the past few years and knows a thing or two about “really, ridiculously, good eating” as the tagline of his blog implies.

Smith started Edacious just over a year ago and was inspired to blog by friends and family who were constantly asking him for recipes, cooking ideas and information about restaurants. He also wanted a forum to exercise his writing skills, something he doesn’t get to do in his day job. He says Edacious has “evolved into a space where I can share my thoughts and promote things I think are worth knowing about.”

Smith gets a lot of tips for Edacious from readers, especially David, who pens the fantastic food blog EatFoo.

According to Smith, there are tons of great deals all over the city waiting to be discovered, “Eating out in Manhattan can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. I've had fabulous, filling meals for less than $3 and left hungry and disappointed from $80 tasting menus (I won't name names). The key is to plan ahead and seek out great value by doing a little research (or just email me for ideas). I try to keep my readers abreast of the best deals going on at any given time in New York.”

Here Smith offers up a helping of his favorite affordable Manhattan eats, by neighborhood:

Upper East Side
-Cafe Boulud (Lunch) - Gavin Kaysen's outstanding cooking has earned him three stars from the New York Times. Taste a bit of the good life at a great price.
-Papaya King - "Tastier than Filet Mignon" might be a stretch, but for the price they are charging, I'm buying it.

Midtown
-Naples 45 (2:00 - 8:00 PM) - Check out my dissertation on the take-out pizza deal. I eat here at least once a week.
-Pompano Taqueria (Lunch) - Cheap, interesting and tasty. It's worth a long walk if you're a midtown luncher.

East Village
-Momofuku Ssam Bar (Lunch) - Sample three dishes from the restaurant that is on the tip of every foodie's tongue for $25. Again, this is enough food to split, if you can stand to share these phenomenal flavors.
-Mamoun's - It's not New York's best falafel, but it demolishes a majority of the competition. At $2.50, it's an entire meal for 10 quarters.

Upper West Side
-Kefi - Haute yet homey Greek food for tabs lower than you'll find at far inferior Greek restaurants, even outside of Manhattan.
-Jean Georges (Lunch) – Four-star dining for under thirty dollars? That's a deal that can't be beat in Manhattan (or maybe anywhere).

Chelsea/Flatiron/Union Square
-Hill Country (Pitmaster's Combo #1) - It's more than enough food for two, so saddle up with a partner and split this cornucopia of BBQ goodness. On Sunday evenings, not only is it $5 off, but they throw in a free dessert.
-Dogmatic - A hybrid between a sub and a hot dog, you'll forget how gimmicky the name sounds when you bite into the juicy lamb sausage with cooling mint yogurt sauce.

West Village
-Elettaria (House-made hot dog) - It's cheap, it's delicious, and unlike other hot dogs, it might not eventually kill you.
-Lobster Place - One doesn't usually think of lobster as cheap eats, but when this highly regarded purveyor is serving their eponymous dish up (along with other well priced seafood) for less than $10 a pound (depending on the market and the season), it becomes an affordable luxury.

Soho/LES
-Aquagrill ($1 oysters, Tue-Fri, 4pm-6pm) - One of my favorite places to eat oysters is now shucking them for a buck. What a great time to be alive.
-Vanessa's Dumplings - A name change (from Dumpling House) and a decrease from 5 to 4 delicious dumplings for a buck are not nearly enough dissonance to deter me from patronizing what might be the best cheap eats palace in the city. Don't miss the sesame pancakes either.

Chinatown/Tribeca/Financial District
-Saigon Bakery - In a city increasingly full of Banh Mi, this is the one people have been writing up the longest. A filling, crave-worthy meal for $4.
-Great NY Noodletown - In short, after eating here in 2003, I decided to move to New York. There's nothing better at 3:00 in the morning.

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