West 80s Barney Greengrass, 541 Amst [86th] 212.724.4707 Cuisine: Deli Average entree: $12 Teddy Roosevelt was president when 'the sturgeon king' first hung out its shingle and breakfast or lunch here continues to be a reliable wormhole to an earlier Upper West Side. The sturgeon scrambled with eggs and onions is a national treasure and at $17 makes the case for raising the debt ceiling.
Celeste, 502 Amst [84th/85th] 212.874.4559 Cuisine: Italian Average entree: $15, pastas: $10 Crowded, noisy, delicious, and inexpensive—the fried artichoke and ravioli with butter and sage never disappoint. Cash only.
Kefi, 505 Columbus [85th] 212.873.0200 Cuisine: Greek Average entree: $16 Michael Psilakis' much-loved splash of the wine-dark Aegean, where the meze, the octopus, the branzino, and lamb chops bring the warm Greek sun and spirit to the UWS.
Ouest, 2315 Bway [83rd/84th] 212.580.8700 Cuisine: American Average entree: $32 This past weekend Ouest celebrated its 10th birthday and Tom Valenti's place, in spite of its Frenchy name, remains as American as the street where it lives. For the neighborhood, it's been a gift that keeps on giving. Chops, steak, pork tenderloin: go for anything meaty.
Greenpoint Five Leaves, 18 Bedford [Lorimer] 718.383.5345 Cuisine: American Average entree: $22 An ideal neighborhood restaurant, the kind of place you wish were near you. To wit: comfort food that's full of thought (and some twists), making good use of ingredients from all over, particularly the Mediterranean. Plus: oysters and a serious burger. No reservations.
Lomzynianka, 646 Manhattan Ave. [Norman/Nassau] 718.389.9439 Cuisine: Polish Average entree: $4 Time has stood still in parts of Greenpoint and nowhere more so than Lomzynianka, where Polish cooking—your kielbasa, your pierogies, your bigos—is done just right. It will probably cost more for the subway back and forth than for your rib-sticking meal.
Paulie Gee's, 60 Greenpoint Ave. [Franklin/West] 347.987.3747 Cuisine: Pizza Average entree: $15 (whole pizza) One of the city's top-tier pizzerias thanks to choice ingredients, some unusual creations (the 'Cherry Jones' has prosciutto and dried cherries), and vegan options. Bacon Marmalade turns up twice: on a pizza and in an ice cream sundae.
Chinatown Big Wong King, 67 Mott [Canal/Bayard] 212.964.0540 Cuisine: Chinese Average entree: $8 You'll get a lot of opinions about Chinatown restaurants (the WORST/the BEST), complaints about ambience and service, and it wouldn't matter what we recommended, someone's going to disagree. But for congee, roast pork, and noodle soups, you can't do much better for less. Cash only.
Great N.Y. Noodletown, 28 Bowery [Bayard] 212.349.0923 Cuisine: Chinese Average entree: $8 Same caveats as above; focus your attention on pan-fried noodles and noodle soup. Cash only.
Xe Lu'a, 86 Mulberry [Canal/Bayard] 212.577.8887 Cuisine: Vietnamese Average entree: $10 For years we've been loyal to Nha Trang, but Xe Lu'a has a growing fan base for its excellent pho, pork chops, and spring rolls.