Pricey prix fixe menus are the bread and butter of fine dining restaurants, but the best affordable tasting menus in NYC prove that you don’t have to make it rain to have a stellar multicourse meal. For under $100, you can enjoy a highbrow dinner from a Michelin-starred chef, a Southeast Asian spread at one of the city’s best Thai restaurants and standout Japanese food at an outdoor omakase counter.
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Best affordable tasting menus
The paper menu posted in Contra’s window offers an interesting proposition: six courses for $67. Young-gun chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske draw inspiration from Paris’s néo-bistrot movement, which champions affordable set menus served in casual spaces. Seasonal dishes include uni with rye and solfino, and halibut with black trumpet mushrooms and spring onions. A three-course version of the menu is available at the bar.
The restaurant—which moved north from an East Village basement to a Murray Hill townhouse—is likely the city’s most accomplished practitioner of shojin cuisine, a type of hyperseasonal vegan cooking that originated in Zen Buddhism, and is at the foundation of the Japanese kaiseki tradition. There are two tasting menus: A four-course Kaze for $55 and an eight-course Hana for $95; the latter has additional dishes like house-made soba, matcha and desserts.
This four-seat pop-up from former Sushi Dojo chef David Bouhadana and partner Derek Feldman inside the Bowery Market offers and omakase that is surprisingly reasonable: Ten pieces of nigiri (with stuff like snow crab and Santa Barbara uni), plus a hand roll, are yours for a cool $50.
From Mexican to Malaysian, New Yorkers have a world’s worth of cuisines at their fingertips, yet New Zealand fare is as scarce as on-time subways. Auckland native Matt Lambert (Public, Saxon + Parole) aims to change that with this rustic Nolita den. Lambert’s contemporary menu melds his French training with the Asian influences of his hometown: On the Short Story tasting menu ($85), find dishes like black pudding with apple ketchup, quail with blackberry and bread sauce, and toasted coconut lamingtons for dessert.
When Kevin Adey set out to open his first solo venture, he didn't stray far from where he honed his kitchen chops. Around the corner from Northeast Kingdom, the Bushwick comfort-food cabin he has helmed since 2010, Adey expands on his alma mater's locavore ethos at this modern Italian outfit, milling upstate flour in house for pastas. On his $85-per-person tasting menu, Adey features bowls like chitarra with crab, uni and Calabrian chile, and a corn gnocchetti with quail and rosemary.
The East Village needed a Hearth—an upscale yet relaxed place that wasn’t just another surprisingly good ethnic hole-in-the-wall. Skirting the small-plate trend, the hearty fare is big, rich and flavorful. You can get six of those filling plates for $78 as part of chef Marco Canora's tasting menu.
Michelin-starred chef Polo Dobkin reimagines his former Dressler space with creative American plates (Chatham cod "Pil Pil," horchata-spiked semifreddo), while wife Stephanie Lempert (Al Di La Vino) dreams up herbal cocktails like the rosemary-tinged Ra Ra Rye. Available Sundays through Thursdays, the tasting menu will allow you to try five dishes for $75.
Chef Junghyun Park serves thoughtful Korean fare at this casual fine-dining Nomad restaurant, c. For $36, guests can get a selection of three tapas-style dishes—think beef tartare with oyster and potato, asparagus with dried scallop and gochugaru (Korean chile-flake powder), and octopus with kimchi and chorizo—along with a bowl of white rice.
Gunter Seeger, the titular Michelin-starred chef of the West Village fine-dining restaurant, naturally offers a ten-course tasting menu full of fancy stuff for $148. But he also offers a four-course spread that's slightly more easy on the wallet ($98 per person), with dishes like sunchoke soup with Burgundy truffles, a rabbit loin with Savoy cabbage, and chocolate mousse with eggplant-ash ice cream.
Chef Leah Cohen has been turning diners on to funky Southeast Asian flavors since 2012, off the strength of dishes like sizzling pork head, baby octopus paksiw and red-curry khao soi. Her five-course tasting menu, available Mondays through Thursdays, is a solid thesis statement for $45 per person.
A pair of fine-dining vets from Alain Ducasse at the Essex House reunited for this intimate Brooklyn restaurant. Chef-owners Walker Stern and Joseph Ogrodnek boosted their haute-French chops with stints at American locavore temples—Blue Hill for Stern, Anella for Ogrodneck—before striking out on their own. The pair dispatch hyperseasonal plates, dictated by the market, from an open kitchen: endive with aged cheddar and apple, agnolotti with a caramelized onion broth, and a strip steak with ramps and shiitake. Every night, they feature a five-course tasting menu (four savory, one sweet) for $75 a person.
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Tri Dim Shanghai
This Upper East Side restaurant offers a wide range of Shanghainese, dim sum and Szechuan dishes. You’ll find plenty of classics among the starters, like scallion pancakes, Peking crispy duck roll, egg drop soup and steamed shrimp dumplings. As for entrees, traditionalists might go for the Szechuan-style twice-cooked pork or crispy whole sea bass. To try the beggar’s chicken—a whole bird marinated in Chinese five spice, then wrapped in lotus leaves and slowly roasted—you must order a day ahead of time. Other specials, like the lion’s head casserole of braised pork meatballs and cabbage, can be requested that same night. You’ll probably need to order some fried rice or spicy dan-dan noodles to round out your meal, too.
Venue says: “We offer the best lunch deal in the city - $7.75 for soup or a spring roll along with an entree. Also join us for brunch on Sat or Sun 12-3”