Vanessa’s Dumplings – "Unbelievably cheap and delicious. I don’t even bother with the dumplings usually – just go straight to the scallion pancake pork sandwich. Number P4 on the big board, I believe? I always think I’m gonna feel terrible after such a grease bomb, but somehow it never happens. Magic."
Stella Dallas – "My favorite second-hand and vintage shop. Strikes the perfect balance of cheapness, volume, and quality. Better and more interesting stuff than a Salvation Army-type place and nowhere near as expense as a vintage-only or more boutique-y spot. Also, they play classic rock radio and have a super-friendly staff that’s smiley but ultimately knows to leave people alone and let ’em wander.
Housing Works – "Staffed by volunteers, proceeds going to the namesake AIDS and homelessness advocacy group, it just sorta feels right here. And it’s pretty cheap. Sometimes I think I’ll just stop in for a tea or something, but always end up walking out with a few books. I went to a wedding here once, too, and it was lovely."
Record Grouch – "Not the most efficient place to find a record you’re looking for, but a fantastic place to browse stacks. It’s cramped in the basement of a clothing store, but the quality ratio is surprisingly high."
NOT SO MUCH
Dishes – When I worked in midtown. I got a little too wrapped up in "fighting the tyranny of the omnipresent $12 salad place." Still, this place is really annoying!