food 10.29.08

Cheap(ish) Eats

Yes, the market shot up yesterday. Today, who knows? For the foreseeable future, we're keeping a close watch on our cash. But we're New Yorkers, and eating out, like jaywalking, is in our DNA. The following aren't the cheapest places in town, just some of our faves that won't decimate your wallet.

When we're downtown, Snack Taverna, 63 Bedford [Morton] 212.929.3499, the somewhat larger offshoot of Snack, 105 Thompson [Prince/Spring] 212.925.1040, is our Greek food of choice; uptown it's Kefi, 222 W. 79th [Bway/Amst] 212.873.0200. Kefi is set to move, shortly, to its larger digs a few blocks north on Columbus where they'll accept credit cards.

We've written before about the mood-altering properties of pho, the Vietnamese favorite of stock, meat, rice noodles, herbs, and spices. There's zero atmosphere at Cong Lý, 124 Hester [Chrystie] 212.343.1111, but the soup provides all the creature comfort we need.

If it's atmosphere you're after, Moto, 394 Bway [Hooper] Bklyn 718.599.6895, works for us. The roughly Mediterranean food is reliable, if not memorable. An order of mussels, $14, does the trick for us. Cash only.

Two wine bar/eateries where we're willing to wait for a seat: At Casellula 401 W. 52nd [9th/10th] 212.247.8137, they manage to feed you well without a kitchen to speak of—just a prep area the size of napkin. We always have an order of stuffed Peppadew peppers and the pig's ass sandwich, just so we can say it… At Gottino, 52 Greenwich Ave. [Perry/Charles] 212.633.2590, Jody Williams' sliver of a wine bar has interesting and delicious food options.

It feels very Tokyoesque at Naka Naka, 458 W. 17th [9th/10th] 212.929.8544, where, in addition to sushi and sashimi, the daily roster of small plates may be the best option of all. The place is stylish, tiny, and hidden in plain sight.

Cramped and noisy though it invariably is, Celeste, 502 Amst [84th/85th] 212.874.4559, turns out satisfying Italian food. We like most of the things on the menu, but often have the fried artichokes ($7.50) and the ravioli with butter and sage ($9.50). Cash only.

Hecho en Dumbo, 111 Front [Wash/Adams] 718.855.5288, has terrific, authentic Mexican food for a song. An order of three tacos or burritas is $8. Don't miss the guac. Cash only.

Considered as a 'salad bar', City Bakery, 3 W. 18th [5th/6th] 212.366.1414, is expensive. But we don't consider Ilene Rosen's food that way—the chef manages to do things with veggies that seem nearly miraculous. You always eat well here and it's good for you, at least until you get to the irresistible sweets.

What's on your cheap(ish) eats list? Email us and we'll run a reader's version.


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