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The Best Restaurants for Every Budget in New York City

From affordable omakase to splurge-worthy burgers
February 13, 2017
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by Abigail Abesamis

It's no question that there are countless quality dining options in New York City, and with the abundance of choice it makes it easy to find a great spot for any occasion — and any budget. From birthday dinners to date night, and omakase sushi to burgers, here are our top picks for every budget when the occasion (or craving) strikes.

Omakase sushi

Inexpensive: Sushi Seki Chelsea
Omakase sushi (aka chef's choice) is the only way to enjoy the Japanese delicacy. But around NYC, this style of dining may end up burning a hole in your wallet. Fear not: At this beloved sushiya from chef Zhong Zhen Shi ("chef Seki") you'll find affordable and high-quality à la carte sushi and sashimi options including the "Seki Special," a steal at $45, which includes nine pieces of nigiri and a maki roll.

And yes, there is also the brand-new LA import Sugarfish, where you can get a chef's omakase starting at $27, but do yourself a favor and avoid the 2+ hour waits at dinner for the time being.

Moderately priced: Tanoshi 
This omakase-only spot in the East 70s serves chef Toshio Oguma’s signature “loosey-sushi,” which falls apart in the mouth to allow for the different textures and flavors to blend together. Toshio makes his own soy sauce, which is brushed on top of the fish before being served, balancing the flavor of the nutty, sweet sushi rice with red vinegar. Omakase menus include Matsu (Pine) — $80–$85, Hinoki (Cypress) — $90–$99 and a kosher option for $85.​ There are three seatings per night: 6 PM, 7:30 PM and 9PM.

Worth the splurge: Ichimura
Originally housed in David Bouley's Brushstroke, this new iteration of chef Eiji Ichimura’s omakase concept is an indulgent experience with a premium price at $300 per head. The 10-seat sushi bar in TriBeCa hosts two seatings a night, at 6 PM and 9 PM. The daily changing menu is influenced by the seasonal availability of fresh fish that Ichimura sources from Tokyo’s iconic Tsukiji Market. On the menu are creative sushi rolls, sashimi, soup and more, plus Ichimura’s signature: aged fish.

Date night

Inexpensive: Nom Wah Tea Parlor
A Chinatown fixture since 1920, this old-school dim sum spot originally known for its Chinese pastries and teas serves a variety of bites at affordable prices (dim sum averaging about $5 per plate), including roast pork buns (a house special), dumplings and spring rolls plus a selection of desserts like almond cookies and steamed lotus buns. Ten different teas are on offer and include red, green and jasmine varieties. 

Moderately priced: Mr. Donahue's
This NoLita nook from the husband-and-wife team behind Uncle Boons is like entering a time capsule, with food to match (the concept is inspired by a traditional "meat and three"). Mains include rotisserie chicken, dry-aged meatloaf and chicken fried pork cheeks served with a variety of sauces and creative sides including crab imperial and deviled duck egg. A main with a choice of sauce and two sides costs $19.99. Seating is first-come, first-served and cash is not accepted. 

Worth the splurge: Flora Bar
Dinner and a museum, anyone? From the team behind Estela and Café​ Altro Paradiso, this upscale New American eatery in the Met Breuer serves an eclectic, seafood-centric menu with offerings like lobster crudo ($21) and tuna tartare ($22) and globally inspired bites including potato croquettes ($14) and lobster and crab dumplings in a yuzu broth ($29), plus beer, cocktails and a deep wine list. 

Birthday dinner

Inexpensive: Black Tap Meatpacking
The Meatpacking outpost of this popular craft burger joint offers more seating than the original SoHo location, making it more convenient for groups. On the menu are creative burgers (around $15), burger salads, sides and (of course) signature Insta-worthy shakes ($15, but $7 if you just want a classic shake without the frills) generously topped with a variety of sweets including peanut butter cups, cotton candy and sour candies, just to name a few. 

Moderately priced: Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Based off a South Korean chain, this large-format BBQ hub in K-town offers premium cuts of meat that are cooked for you on tabletop grills specially designed to cook side dishes at the same time. Meats ($25–$40 per selection) are served with banchan (Korean side dishes) and guests have the option of adding cold noodles, stew or having their meal served in a shakeable lunch box. And did we mention there is a special birthday song (complete with lighting)?

Worth the splurge: Chinese Tuxedo
Housed in a former Chinatown opera house, this elevated eatery dishes up classic Cantonese fare with a contemporary twist. Offerings include sweet and sour pork cheek ($26), whole crispy skin squab ($32) and a charcuterie board ($28) featuring honey-glazed pork, soy stock beef shin, spiced duck liver pâté and more.

Burgers

Inexpensive: Hard Times Sundaes 
Chef Andrew Zurica’s buzzy Brooklyn burger truck and the more recently opened Manhattan outpost in Midtown food hall Urbanspace Vanderbilt offer a straightforward menu of single, double and triple burgers with your choice of toppings on buttered and grilled potato rolls, which will cost between $6–$13 depending on how fancy you get. The signature “hard times burger” is topped with American cheese, caramelized onions and thick cut hardwood smoked bacon. 

Moderately priced: 4 Charles Prime Rib
Chicago’s Hogsalt Group (that owns famed cheeseburger spot Au Cheval among others), recently expanded to NYC with this intimate steakhouse in the West Village that specializes in prime cuts of beef (including a prime rib that is salt crusted and slow roasted for 12 hours), fresh seafood and an American cheeseburger ($18) that can be topped with bacon and farm eggs for an added cost.

Worth the splurge: Augustine
This refined brasserie by restaurateur Keith McNally inside the Beekman Hotel in FiDi crafts elevated entrees like sea urchin spaghettini, dry-aged sirloin and a decadent whiskey burger ($27) featuring single-malt scotch-braised onions and Comté cheese, plus a rotating daily special. 

Lunch

Inexpensive: Los Mariscos
This Chelsea Market sibling to Los Tacos No. 1 (actually voted Zagat's no. 1 taco in NYC this past year) focuses on Mexican seafood unlike its meaty counterpart, including fish and shrimp tacos ($3–$3.50), ceviche ($4–$6), aguachiles and a raw bar, supplemented by libations like palomas, margaritas ($12 each), aguas frescas and more. 

Moderately priced: High Street on Hudson
This West Village outpost of the acclaimed Philly original offers up killer sandwiches served on housemade breads (including a mushroom melt and the “best grilled cheese ever”), inventive salads and homemade pastries during lunchtime. Mains and salads average around $15.

Worth the splurge: Le Coucou
From restaurateur Stephen Starr and acclaimed Parisian chef Daniel Rose, this SoHo destination in the 11 Howard hotel produces contemporary takes on classic French fare made with local ingredients. The lunch menu features a two-course prix fixe for $48 which includes options like warmed oysters with seaweed butter, poached lobster salad and rabbit leg bouillon. Bonus tip: This may be the only time of day you're actually getting in here, so take advantage.

burgers
lunch
date night
omakase
birthday