New York: Top 10 Free Bar Snacks

imageIn a time when even airlines have scrapped free peanut service, a few righteous New York institutions are keeping their patrons in gratis bar snacks that are a far cry from stale Chex Mix. Almost makes the rising martini costs worth it.

10. Buffalo wings and nachos @ Rodeo Bar (Kips Bay) – Any place where the bar’s made out of a repurposed horse trailer knows the value of free. The kitschy hangout offers wings and nachos during happy hour, Monday through Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. 9. Truffled popcorn @ Desnuda (East Village) – The tiny ceviche bar has no kitchen, so the chef prepares seafood dishes right behind the bar. The view would be positively torturous without the bottomless paper cone of popcorn to nosh from, seasoned with just enough truffle salt. 8. Tater tots @ Trash (Williamsburg) – The Brooklyn dive is the sort of place that wouldn’t card you as a teenager — so it’s only fitting that they offer the cafeteria classic. Who knew tots complimented two-dollar PBR so well?

7. Antipasti @ Il Mulino (Greenwich Village) – Leaves no customer unstuffed, starting with free helpings of antipasti circulated through the restaurant and bar areas. 6. Soft pretzels and roasted almonds @ Blaue Gans (Tribeca) – The cozy German restaurant boasts one of New York’s most perfect pretzels, served to bar patrons upon request along with buttery almonds that’ll make it tough to ever go back to beer nuts. 5. Pizza @ Alligator Lounge (Williamsburg) and Crocodile Lounge (East Village) – The bi-borough bars have made their respective presences known by offering a free personal pizza with every drink, making each a great place to start or end a casual night out. 4. Panini @ Vero Midtown (Midtown East) – Every Monday night, the wine bar serves its crispy, cheesy panini with every drink order. 3. Cheese spread @ Blind Tiger Ale House (West Village) – The after-work appeal of Blind Tiger skyrockets during Wednesday’s happy hour (starting at 5 p.m.), when free cheese from neighborhood institution Murray’s is offered to patrons. 2. Free appetizers @ dell’anima (West Village) – From 4 to 6 p.m. on weekends, the acclaimed trattoria serves a variety of small Italian plates. 1. Curried popcorn @ Tailor (Soho): Serious drinkers swear by Tailor’s curry-dusted popcorn, which holds its own next to the mixologist-approved cocktail menu.

New York: Top 10 Restaurant Recession Specials

imageIf there’s one upside to the tanking economy, it’s that transcendental culinary experiences are finally accessible to the foodie cheapskates. Here’s a rundown of 10 particular pleasures of the palate and wallet, offered for the moment at a discount. Of course, “discount” is a very relative term …

10. Two-pound Lobster at Strip House, $58. Replaces their $116 four-pounder with a critter that’s half the size and half the price.

9. 2005 Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio, Mastroberardino at Union Square Cafe, $25. Wedged between the four-figure bottles on their 30-plus-page wine list are 100 new selections under $75 — Why this particular Italian wine? Because when an eatery prices a Plain-Jane Belgium beer at $9, $25 for a bottle of wine is a steal.

8. Organic corn dogs at Hundred Acres, $2. For this price we’ll not only eat a corn dog, we’ll wash it down with their $3 ice cream float — offered 5-7 p.m.

7. Wok-seared filet mignon with mixed vegetables in peanut sauce at Ruby Foos, $10. At long last, a worthy excuse to be caught in one of the irritably kitschy Pan Asian tourist magnets.

6. Free Monday panini with glass of wine at Vero Wine Bar, around $10. Booze plus carbs equals happiness — especially if part of the equation is free.

5. Lunch entrée and a glass of wine Fridays at La Grenouille, $35. So you’ll have some extra cash to put towards that $20,000 panther ring from Cartier, conveniently located across the street from the posh eatery.

4. Chicken and rice at Republic, $8. Because dammit, when the going gets rough, that’s what you eat! Luckily this is Manhattan, so the chicken comes with tasty Vietnamese rice, shiitake and wood-ear mushrooms, Asian basil, and bean paste.

3. Three-course Sunday dinner at Apiary, $35. Groaning because it’s almost Monday isn’t attractive, so treat yourself to this new prix-fixe that includes a chocolate cashew brownie tart with cashew ice cream.

2. Two-course dinner menu at Eighty One, $42. We don’t know what foie gras royale is, but we had it, and it was not only good — it was worth the heartburn.

1. Three-course prix fixe at Le Cirque’s Wine Lounge, $48. Now the only question is: Do we pair our meal with the $50 glass of 1993 Barolo, or do we go for the more affordable $48 glass of 1996 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin “la Grande dame?”