New York: Top 10 Entrees Under $25

imageBecause the choice shouldn’t be between restaurants where Chipotle and Per Se, here are a few spots that have embraced the middle ground.

10. Moules-frites @ Schiller’s Liquor Bar (Lower East Side), $18 – Same Parisian-bistro vibe as at Keith McNally’s Balthazar and Pastis, but you’ll save yourself some cash, a two-hour wait, and any shame involved in being stingy with your wine selection (the list is divided into “cheap,” “decent,” and “good”). 9. Hamburger @ J.G. Melon (Upper East Side), $8.50 – Nothing can pack in hoards of NYC prepsters like this UES landmark’s juicy burger. 8. Romanian skirt steak @ Delicatessen (Soho), $17 – Forget that foodies critically panned it and that a neighbor urinated on the glass roof; with nothing on the menu over $20, a lively atmosphere, and plenty of swank space, it’s little surprise that Delicatessen is almost always packed.

7. Open filet mignon grilled taco with roasted poblanos, onion confit, rice and beans @ Manana (Upper East Side), $23 – Good eats and eurotrash eye candy come together at this Mexican spot from the folks behind Serafina and Geisha. 6. Steak frites @ L’Express (Flatiron), $19.50 – Nothing like hearty protein and carbs at 4 a.m. 5. Dutch-style pancake with pears and Canadian bacon @ Prune (East Village), $14 – A must for brunch, the baked pancake is so good it’s not only worth the wait, but worth dealing with the diminutive spot’s stern no-substitution policy. 4. Chicken dolsot bibimbop @ Bonjoo (East Village), $12.95 – Cheap enough to order as take-out, the traditional Korean chicken bibimbop is served sizzling hot in a heavy stone bowl. 3. Zucchini and heirloom tomato lasagna @ Pure Food and Wine (Flatiron), $24 – Not for nothing does outspoken meat lover Giselle Bundchen have a house account at this surprisingly satisfying raw and vegan spot. 2. Grilled mushrooms, mozzarella, pesto & spinach panino @ ‘inoteca (Lower East Side), $11 – Carbs, vino, a bustling corner LES location, and communal seating make this a perfect before-the-bars meal. 1. Sweet & crispy jumbo shrimp at Buddakan (Chelsea), $24 – A sceney spot with eats, cocktails, and décor likely to impress even the most jaded New Yorker.

Industry Insiders: Dylan Lauren, Candy Princess

Dylan Lauren, owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar, on recession-proof sweets, her love of Willy Wonka, turning candy into art, and how her new joint serves both candy and booze.

Favorite Hangs: J.G. Melon on 74th and Third Avenue. It’s nostalgic to me. I grew up going there with my family. I like the cozy décor and tavern feel, the old-school waiters, the food and the outdoor seating. I also like Cafe Bacio On 71st and First Avenue. The two owners are nice guys and entrepreneurs as well. They make a delicious nonfat vanilla chai tea latte which I have to get my day started.

How did you get your start in the candy business? I am a candy connoisseur and started by attending the candy trade shows and meeting the owners and CEOs of major American candy brands

What were you doing before? I ran my own event planning company called Dylan Creative Events.

Industry Icons: In the candy industry I admire Roald Dahl, who created Willy Wonka and made candy inventors seem so creative. I also admire the CEOs of candy brands who are very creative, think out of the box, and take brands that have been around for over 75 years and constantly re-invent them, such as Herm Rowland who owns Jelly Belly; Sal Ferrara, owner of Ferrara Pan; and Richard Ross, who owns Galerie Au Chocolate.

Is chocolate recession-proof? Yes! At Dylan’s Candy Bar, we have seen an increase in sales of chocolate and candy during hard times like 9/11, war, and the falling stock market.

What was your favorite candy as a kid? Cherry lollipops and Bazooka.

And now? Bazooka, marshmallows, and red licorice laces.

Who are your partners? I seek advice from my father [fashion designer Ralph Lauren].

Side Hustle: I create art out of candy as a hobby, like mosaics out of gumballs and furniture with candy wrappers. One day I may host a show in my store.

Projections: I am working on a Dylan’s Candy Bar book to show how to celebrate holidays and special occasions using candy to decorate. We are looking to open in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In our NYC flagship we are opening a candy cocktail bar and lounge with real drinks.

What are you doing tonight? Going to dinner and a film.