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$48.56: What Can You Get For NYC's Average Meal Cost?

By James Mulcahy
October 2, 2013
Photo by: Clay Williams

$48.56. That’s the average price that New York surveyors report spending on dinner in the Big Apple, per person. That’s $8.03 more than the national average of $40.53 - and with New Yorkers going out for an average of 2.7 dinners a week, that adds up to about $131 per week and over $500 per month.

So, what are city diners getting for all of this money? We headed to some of the city’s best restaurants and tried to stretch our cash out to get the most bang for our buck (sometimes going over - but are you really going to say no to Casa Mono’s tomato bread?). Check out a chronicle of the meals below and save up - while dining in this town might not be cheap, spending your $48.56 at these top-rated spots is well worth it.

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Raw Bar: Aqua Grill

    Of course you have to have oysters when you visit this SoHo mainstay, where you get two courses and some vino without going over budget pre-tip.

    6 Blue Point oysters: $12.90
    Falafel-crusted grilled salmon: $25.50
    White wine: $9

    Total: $47.40

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Burger: Burger Joint

    You can feed a family of three at this burger-slinging favorite, which now has two locations. The inexpensive menu offers the best value of the bunch.

    3 cheeseburgers: $24.12
    3 fries: $11.70
    2 Sam Adams drafts: $10.10
    1 brownie: $2.30

    Total: $48.22

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Spanish/Tapas: Casa Mono

    The small plates being served at this Union Square tapas joint make it easy to keep the spend down, if you can resist ordering too much. As you can see, we couldn’t.

    Pan con tomate: $5
    Duck egg with potatoes and black truffle: $18
    Razor clams a la plancha: $16
    Quartino of white wine (Anima Negra - Quibia 2011): $11

    Total: $50

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best BBQ: Fette Sau

    Grab a tray at this Williamsburg barbecue joint and load up on meat, served by the pound. If this seems like it will put you in a carnivorous coma, skip one of the options and replace it with beer.

    ½-lb. brisket: $11.50
    ½-lb. pulled Pork: $10
    ½-lb. BBQ pork cheeks: $14 per pound
    1 spicy sausage link: $5
    Small burnt-end baked beans: $6

    Total: $47.50

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Chicken: Pies-n-Thighs

    You can get plenty of pie and thighs at this Williamsburg winner, which nabbed the Best Chicken title for the first time. In fact, you can easily feed two people and have a few dollars left over.

    2 chicken boxes: $13 each
    Banana cream pie: $4.50
    Sour cherry pie: $5
    Arnold Palmer: $3
    Pilsner draft: $6

    Total: $44.50

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Dim Sum: Red Farm

    Pretty much every table at this West Village Chinese orders the Pac Man dumplings, a playful plate of dim sum that has become the venue’s signature dish. After that, there are plenty of ways to approach the $48.56 mark, so choose your own adventure, Chinese-style.

    Pac Man shrimp dumplings: $12.50
    Mushroom and vegetable spring rolls: $9
    Shrimp-stuffed crispy chicken steak: $27

    Total: $48.50

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Indian: Tamarind

    When you’re craving Indian, head over to this top-rated venue, which has locations in TriBeCa and the Flatiron District. Two dishes will land you under budget, and if you’re willing to go a little over you can also squeeze in a drink.

    Lamb chop and dal makhni: $36
    Poori: $5.75

    Total: $41.75

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Austrian: Wallse

    Diners can get an Austrian classic at Kurt Gutenbrunner’s West Village charmer, and, if you’re willing to go a little over budget, you can also get the hook up with a glass of rosé.

    Wiener schnitzel with potato cucumber salad and lingonberries: $36
    Glass of rosé: $15

    Total: $51

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Best Italian: Marea 

    If you want to make your dollars stretch at Michael White’s epic Italian, the best time to go is during lunch, where you can get a two-course special deal for $45.

    Lunch special:
    Polipo (grilled octopus, smoked potatoes)
    Malloreddus (pasta with crab, sea urchin)

    Total: $45

  • Best Restaurant: Le Bernardin

    The lounge at Le Bernardin features a special three-course City Harvest lunch menu, which gives you a more casual option in this fine-dining establishment (which was named NYC’s best restaurant in our latest survey) while also raising some money for a good cause - $5 of the $45 tab goes to the namesake charity. Dishes rotate, but you’re likely to catch some signature classics being served from time to time.

    Total: $45

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