● Mauzac (Fort Greene) – Low-key wine bar beckoning from across Fort Greene Park. ● L’Ybane (Midtown West) – Tour through Mediterranean flavors with Franco-Lebanese chef Al Rineh. ● Réunion Surf Bar (Midtown West) – Hang loose with rhum and Chinese gnocchi at this subterranean surfer shack.
● Pasha (Upper West Side) – Though its name often gets it confused with Ibiza import Pacha, the only similarity the spots share is that they’re both perpetually packed. Bargain prices, friendly service, and a quaint atmosphere make the wait for a table bearable. ● Tanoreen (Bay Ridge) – Though Astoria gets most of the attention when it comes to Middle Eastern food outside of Manhattan, this Brooklyn restaurant’s hodgepodge of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean eats puts Bay Ridge on the map. ● Le Souk (East Village) – Sure, the crowd’s a little on the boisterous B&T side, and you’ll come out reeking of hookah smoke. But if you’re looking for some ladies to fill out your harem, this is the spot.
● Ilili (Flatiron) – Swank setting, thumping house beats, and a $35 dinner menu that includes two appetizers, entrée, and dessert. ● Halal Chicken & Gyro (Midtown West): Buying food out of a truck, car, or cart is always a smidgen sketch, but the ever-popular Halal Chicken and Gyro cart on 53rd and 6th takes food-cart rice and chicken to a new level – not only won’t you get sick from it, you’ll want it even when you don’t have those low-standard, late-night drunken munchies. ● Ali Baba’s Terrace (Midtown East) – When the weather hits 75, there’s no better rooftop to enjoy Middle Eastern fare. ● Sahara’s Turkish Cuisine (Murray Hill) – Sahara’s takes a healthful approach to Middle Eastern food — all meat and fish are char-grilled without butter, salads are topped with lemon juice and olive oil, traditional cold appetizers like yaprak sarma (stuffed grape leaves) are purchased fresh and cured in-house, and their “rice” is actually a blend of bulgur wheat, minced vegetables, and dill. ● Turkish Kitchen (Kips Bay) – Arguably the most well-known Middle Eastern joint in the city, best enjoyed during weekend brunch hours when you can chow down on unlimited gyros, chargrilled ground lamb patties, chicken kebabs, filet mignon, bulgur pilaf, and more. ● Kebab Café (Astoria) – The chef/owner of this Tony Bourdain-approved spot will get even the most unadventurous to eat (and enjoy) cow’s feet and lamb’s brain. Yes, you can still get your hummus and baba ganouj. ● L’ybane (Midtown East) – Go for the “Imperial Assortment” — essentially a chef’s tasting. About $40 buys you 14 dishes, including chickpea fritters, meat-stuffed pita, hummus, tzatziki, moussaka with eggplant and cheese, and two-day-marinated meat skewers.
Whether due to a possible celeb sighting, a massive amount of food and booze, or just straight-up delectable eats and swank digs, these spots — at least by New York City standards — give you real bang for your buck.
10. Azuki Sushi (Flatiron) – Students and students-at-heart who load-up on at least $15 worth of fresh Japanese eats are treated to unlimited house wine and hot sake. 9. Fatty Crab (Meatpacking District) – A welcome antidote to the Meatpacking District’s endless gimmicks and attitude; all you need here is a love for spicy eats. 8. Chef Ho’s (Upper East Side) – Forget about Chinatown — this UES joint is sparkly clean, has a friendly staff, and for $28 you’ll get a traditionally prepared whole Peking duck (enough to feed three hungry diners) served with scallions, cucumber, and pancakes.
7. Rio’s Churrascaria (Midtown West) – Come hungry — very hungry — because Sunday through Tuesday, for $29, you not only get a sizable portion of steak, grilled chicken, salmon, pork loin, or beef ribs, but you can hit 40-plus dishes at the Brazilian spot’s hot and cold buffet. 6. Public (Nolita) – For $14, why not try grilled kangaroo? 5. L’ybane (Midtown East) The diminutive French Riviera import offers a $40 chef’s tasting menu that comes with 14 dishes — think chickpea fritters, moussaka with eggplant & cheese, 2-day marinated meat skewers. You’ll be stuffed through the next day’s afternoon. 4. Republic (Union Square) – A spot so worth checking out that former BlackBook intern Ryan Adams wrote an affectionate ode to the diminutive spot chock-full of under-$8 options. 3. Indochine (Greenwich Village) – The fact that you might find yourself seated next to French Vogue Carine Roitfeld — who counts Indochine among her fave restaurants — is just the cherry on the cake of this perennially delicious hotspot. 2. Matsugen (Tribeca) – Frank Bruni-approved, and you can now enjoy a six-course mini-omakase dinner menu at one of Jean-Georges’ finest for $35. 1. Mia Dona (Midtown East) – Not for nothing was Donatella Arpaia a tough judge on Top Chef — Mia Dona, which she owns along with chef Michael Psilakis, offers top-notch Italian eats that are filling without being heavy. And the menu also includes a variety of exceptionally well-prepared under-$20 entrées.