It doesn't have to be like this.
Photo-illustration: Everett Bogue; Photo: Getty Images
You've heard it a dozen times: Times are tough, we're hurtling toward (or already in) a recession, everyone's feeling the pinch, etc. If there's a bright side, it's that New York's restaurateurs feel our pain (or are in it themselves) — but they want to keep feeding us, and we want to keep eating as well as we always have. This common interest has resulted in a cornucopia of foodie bargains, from new bar menus at Eleven Madison Park and Craftsteak to a total prix fixe frenzy. To help you make sense of it all (and keep your wallets intact, even if they're thinning), we've compiled over 50 dining deals that should help all levels of epicures to survive. (And if you've got more, do add them in the comments below!)
5 Ninth: $24 three-course lunch (one of the best dining deals in the meatpacking district).
Abboccato: new selection of chiccetti (small plates for sharing); $26 three-course lunch on weekdays.
Allegretti: $28 three-course lunch; sample three entrées for $30 at dinner.
Apiary: $35 three-course Sunday dinner, featuring options like pan-seared halibut with broccolini and spicy eggplant, and pumpkin crème brûlée.
Bacchus: $25 three-course dinner with plenty of options.
Bobo: Everything is $20 or less on the new den menu.
Café Loup: Nightly $28 three-course dinner.
Casa Havana: Recession Special breakfast includes two eggs, ham or bacon, French fries, toast, and coffee for twenty cents.
’Cesca: Half-price wine on Mondays; $31 three-course dinner before 6:30 on weekdays.
Community Food & Juice: Burger and a beer for $15.
Craftsteak: The new bar menu features options like fried mac and cheese and crispy pork belly, all for $15 or less.
davidburke & donatella: $24.07 three-course lunch with shockingly luxurious dishes.
David Burke at Bloomingdale’s: $24.07 three-course dinner.
Demarchelier: Two-course dinner with wine for $26.
Dennis Foy: any appetizer and entrée for $27.
Dovetail: $38 three-course Sunday supper, featuring dishes like sweetbreads and duck goulash.
Eighty One: $42 two-course seasonal dinner all night on Sundays and from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Eleven Madison Park: $38 two-course lunch; new à la carte bar menu.
The EU: All entrée prices have been reduced by approximately $10.
Fiamma: $50 three-course dinner from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Fleur De Sel: $29 three-course lunch.
Gotham Bar and Grill: $31 three-course lunch; options include grilled steak.
Gramercy Tavern: $14 soup and sandwich in the Tavern room at lunch, options include a lobster roll and borscht.
Grayz: $27 three-course lunch.
Japonais: The Restaurant Week menu is still being served from 5 to 7 p.m. every night.
Jean Georges: $28 two-course lunch, plus free marshmallows (possibly the best deal in town?).
Johnny Utah’s: $19.95 three-course lunch; two-for-one drinks at lunch.
JoJo: $24.07 three-course lunch; $35 three-course dinner before 6:30 p.m. and after 9:30 p.m.
La Bonne Soupe: $23.95 three-course lunch and dinner.
La Petite Auberge: Four-course dinner with coffee for $28.
Le Cirque: $45 three-course lunch in the dining room; $28 two-course lunch in the café.
Megu: $55 three-course dinner.
The Mermaid Inn: The menu includes new wallet-friendly items such as a lobster po' boy.
Mia Dona: $24.07 three-course lunch (don't miss the bigoli); happy hour from 5-7 p.m.; 25 percent discount on gift cards worth $100 or more.
The Modern: Every bottle of wine in the Bar Room is now $50 or less.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar: $28 three-course lunch, features favorites like pork buns and spicy rice cakes.
Nougatine: $24.07 three-course lunch.
The Orchard: BYOB with no corkage fees every Sunday night.
Ouest: $34 three-course dinner before 6:30 p.m.
Pamplona: $15.95 two-course lunch; $21.95 three-course lunch; more shareable, wallet-friendly items at dinner.
Payard: $31 three-course lunch; $37 three-course dinner before 6:45 p.m.
Perry St: $24 two-course lunch; $35 three-course dinner before 6:30 and after 10 p.m.
Persimmon: $37 tasting menu.
The Smith: $12 burger and beer every Sunday night.
South Gate: $24.07 three-course lunch.
SushiSamba: $35 three-course dinner.
Tabla: $27 Autumn-inspired three-course lunch; $35 chef's three-course lunch.
Tailor: Enlarged bar menu now includes items like chicken-liver pâté; Monday night special of huitlacoche corn dogs with a beer for $12.
Tempo: $32 three-course dinner Sunday through Thursday; lots of options.
Union Square Cafe: Recently added 100 new bottles of wine under $75.
Vero Panini & Wine Bar: On Monday nights, order a glass of wine or a beer at the bar and receive a free panini.
Vong: $24.07 three-course lunch.
Wafels & Dinges: The price of the WMD (the Waffle of Mass Deliciousness, which includes unlimited toppings) has dropped to $6.
And finally, in one giant sweep, OpenTable's Appetite Stimulus Plan will include over a hundred New York restaurants like Centro Vinoteca and Bar Blanc offering $24 three-course lunches and $34 three-course dinners from November 17 to 21.
For more creative ideas, check out this week's magazine: Eat Like a Prince at Pauper's Prices