New York is full of culinary gems, but it’s an expensive city, and often the food is no different. There’s something for everybody in New York — vegan brunch cafes, delicious pizza places or romantic restaurants with high-end food — but it can all be a little pricey. Here are five affordable (and still delicious) restaurants that are so good, they deserve Michelin stars.
Jack’s Wife Freda
This restaurant (described as “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine” by New York Magazine) has three locations: Carmine Street in the West Village, Lafayette Street in Soho and 8th Ave in Chelsea. The name Jack’s Wife Freda comes from an immigrant couple, Freda and Jack, who married in Johannesburg around 1930; years later, their grandson moved to America, opening the restaurant in 2012. Jack’s Wife Freda serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails every day of the week. The menus vary by location, but the rosewater waffle, green shakshuka (an egg dish with challah toast) and homemade spiced cheesecake are all a must-try. If you’re going for brunch, have the mint lemonade or the fresh cantaloupe juice with your food. You can easily eat at Jack’s Wife Freda for under $30 a person — unless you decide to splurge on wine with dinner, that is, which is a decision that’s totally worth it.
The BlueBell Cafe
The BlueBell Cafe sits between 22nd and 23rd Street and serves traditional American cooking that’s straightforward but delicious. Sometimes they give basic dishes a twist. For breakfast, try the Brioche French toast with a cup of Irish breakfast tea; for lunch enjoy a bisque or a crab cake; and for dinner, check out the New Zealand lamb chops or butternut squash risotto. Most dinner entrees hover around the $20 mark, and at lunch and breakfast it’s even easier to eat at BlueBell on a budget.
You can’t make a list of restaurants in New York without including at least one pizza place. Paulie Gee’s pizza is better than most, though — it’s wood-fired and has out-of-the-box toppings. For instance, choose from a vegan pizza topped with arugula, olive oil and nutritional yeast or a pizza with beef brisket and barbecue sauce. Paulie Gee’s also serves artisan ice cream and dessert pizzas topped with ricotta, marmalade and powdered sugar. Located on Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn, Paulie Gee’s is inexpensive (one pizza goes a long way) and a very tasty option. You can also hit the Slice Shop on Franklin Street in Brooklyn.
Candle 79 can be found on East 79th Street, and it serves lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends. The restaurant has an intimate atmosphere (perfect for date night) and a delicious menu. Start with empanadas or a seaweed salad and then try the chef’s daily hand-cut pasta or wild mushroom crepe. Don’t leave without sampling the Asian pear pie or the Mexican chocolate brownie. Candle 79 is a little pricier than other options listed here, but the prices are still fairly reasonable.
Rolf’s German Restaurant
Rolf’s German Restaurant can be found in Manhattan in Gramercy Park, the same place it’s been for over 50 years. The menu includes all of your typical German fare – apple crepe, sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel, smoked bratwurst, potato pancakes and more. At first glance, it’s pretty expensive (most entrees are $35), but don’t let that turn you away — the portions are very big, so you can get around the price by splitting a meal with a friend.