As I’m sure you’ve by now realized, I have made it my goal to eat my way through all of New York’s best restaurants as fast as humanly possible. The merits of this are many (my taste buds love me, I am my friends’ and coworkers’ go-to girl on food recs, I have had the opportunity to consume all sorts of endangered species and foam reductions), however, this personal mission has a few small downfalls. For one, my waistline–it is difficult to fit into one’s skinny jeans post 20-course tasting menu no matter how many SoulCycle classes one takes–and for two, my
savings account piggy bank in which I occasionally drop five and ten dolla bill$. Eating out, like everything else in New York, is often absurdly expensive.
So, what’s a girl to do when she needs this season’s Alex Wang sandals as badly as she needs to try the lobster risotto at Eleven Madison Park? Find some cheap eats, and find ’em quick. Growing up in New York, I have been dining out ever since my mother gave 14 year old me a MetroCard and DebitCard when I entered high school. Being underage and having an allowance that always seems to run out by Wednesday forces a teenager to get quite crafty, so I began my search for restaurants that are a) inexpensive and b) willing to let you bring your own booze (or accept that the 8 scratched out in your driver’s permit is a 3, making you 21 years of age, with a backpack, no other form of identification, and a Stuyvesant High School hoodie). Some of my favorite BYOB haunts I found back in those glory days, and some I stumbled upon in the past few months after moving back to New York, but they all have one thing in common–you can get sloshed, and full, in $20 with tax and tip. Three faves below. You can drunk-dial me later to say thanks.
Perfect For: Pregaming a girls’ night out.
[Their only negative is that they don’t have a “Nikki” roll]
Cherin Sushi is located in a hallway-sized space on East 6th Street. That being said, with rolls ranging from $3-6 (and conveniently named after Jappy girls like “The Ashlee” (Tuna & Avocado), ” “The Kaitlyn” (Spicy Salmon, Crab Meat, Avocado), and “The Rachel” (Spicy Crunchy Salmon, Spicy Tuna, Cucumber) and a stellar BYOB policy (no corkage fee and you can bring anything–literally, anything. Last time we were there a 4-top was taking shots from a magnum-sized bottle of Grey Goose), their only downfall is that you have to spend $15 per person on weekends. Not because $15 is a lot, but because at that minimum, you always end up with leftover sushi. They take reservations by phone, sort of, in that they write down your name on a napkin somewhere and only make you wait 15 minutes when you arrive rather than 30, but when you leave stumbling slightly from too much twist-off Pinot Grigio and stuffed full or spicy tuna, can you blame em?
Other BYOB Sushi Options: Nana Sushi (Murray Hill), Cube (LES), Azuki (Union Square/Midtown West)–not BYOB but unlimited white wine and sake with a $15 order–also, if you’re 15, a) get off your Blackberry and pay attention your AP Physics teacher and b) they totally don’t ID.
II. Angelica Kitchen
Perfect For: Dinner with your mom, or one of those days when you’re thinking about maybe doing a juice cleanse but realize you need solid food in order to not physically bite off your co-workers’ heads.
[Image via Serious Eats]
Angelica in the East Village is a vegetarian’s dream. Minimal decor, lots of exposed wood, chicks wearing Toms and a good amount of skinny betches with their yoga mats propped up against their chairs. Luckily, it is also a broke 20-something-who-enjoys-eating-vegetables-but-would-also-scarf-down-a-steak-anytime’s-dream. A pleasant BYOB policy (wine & beer only), a slightly classier crowd (you won’t see chicks in Lita’s falling out of their chairs) and menu items such as “Kale” (Chiffonade of kale with miso marinated tofu feta, diced sun-dried tomatoes & toasted walnuts) and “Wrapsody” (Seasonal selection of roasted vegetables, balsamic marinated beets, creamy hummus, dill pickles, sunflower sprouts & arugula, folded & wrapped in a soft whole wheat tortilla) makes it the perfect spot for a meal with your mom (when you don’t feel like wringing her out), girlfriend, or gay best friend (because let’s be serious, when I ask my boyfriend to eat a meal without meat he gives me a really confused look and mutters “do I LOOK like a freakin’ bird to you?!
Perfect For: Impressing a date, or making an out-of-town pal wish they live in New York.
[Image via Offbeat]
Tartine is located on an adorable West Village street, and full of adorable West Village patrons. This is a great spot to show off to those not in the know, be they ladyfriends, hot chicks you met at Westway last night, or your cousin visiting from Indiana who wonders if your life is just like Carrie Bradshaw’s (it is, but you have better hair. She’s got you on shoes and abs though). Unlike many BYOBs, the food here is really worth waiting for–french classics like French Onion Soup, Steamed PEI Mussels, Beef Mignonette and Artichoke Grautin are impeccably prepared and would be worth the visit even if you had to pay for your beverage of choice. The pastry selection is also outstanding. The only downfall? Expect a wait of at least 45 minutes, up to an hour and a half. On a warm spring evening, this is pleasant enough to work around– bring a twist-off and start your dinner party right on the sidewalk outside, you’ll probably meet friends doing the same. BYOB Wine & Beer only, so save your Grey Goose shots for the post-game.
Other Places That Will Land You A Good Night Kiss/Cause Your Cousin To Ask If You Think You’re A Charlotte Or A Samantha: La Sirene (West Village), Eleven B (Best Pizza/Italian Ever on Avenue B–this really deserves it’s own blurb for its lack of corkage fee, amazing pizza, cute ambiance and wonderful staff, but I selfishly want it to stay my own best-kept secret. So don’t go–but do, because it’s great).
Enjoy! And when you’re stumbling down the Bowery 8 glasses of wine later and only a $20 bill lighter, don’t say I didn’t warn you.