Whether you want to take a break from shopping to refuel with an inexpensive bite, or line your stomach before hitting the local bars (or soak up the damage afterwards), there are plenty of cheap eats in the neighborhood. Feast on everything from tasty tacos to nicely priced Asian fusion fare at these Soho restaurants in NYC.
RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in NYC
Iacopo Falai’s third downtown outpost melds the former pastry chef’s diverse skills: The place is at once a restaurant, a bakery and a café. Daytime diners linger over cappuccinos and crusty panini oozing with fillings like fontina and speck; at night, heartier offerings include charred baby octopus tossed onto slices of roasted potato. Rounding out the Renaissance man’s oeuvre are the artful desserts, including a citrus-and-strawberry bombe,plucked from the display case up front.
When it opened in 1830, the historic Ear Inn was popular with colorful characters ambling in from the docks of the Hudson. The basic decor (dark-wood bar, wobbly tables and chairs, lots of retro ephemera) hasn’t changed much since, but locals continue to pack the place thanks to its relaxed vibe and historical charm. Free snacks such as fried chicken and sausages can be had weeknights from 4 to 7pm, mitigating any wallet damage wreaked by a few $6 pints of Guinness.
Fanelli’s has stood at this cobblestoned Soho intersection since 1847. The long bar (which dates to that time), framed prints of boxing legends and checkered tablecloths add to its effortless charm. You can polish the bar with your elbow as countless poets and artists have done before, and as lots of tourists now do. The kitchen is known for perfectly charred beef patties on toasted onion rolls. Chalkboard specials, such as pumpkin ravioli and grilled mahimahi with lime and coriander, are tasty gourmet offerings in a sea of pub grub. Gobble up the atmosphere along with your food.
Delicate dosas are stuffed with traditional or Western combinations—such as spiced potatoes and curried chicken or grilled asparagus with roasted pepper and goat cheese—and paired with freshly made chutney. The vegetarian thali plate features a daily curry, dal, chutney and yogurt (skip the bland, leathery nan). Some folks may think the burbling chants piped into the simple room are soothing; if you find them annoying, just get your eats to go. And the name? Oddly enough, this upscale quickie-food joint originated in Amagansett.
Fusion fare that’s light on the wallet—what a concept! Waitresses squeeze past each other in the tightly packed diner, dropping off starters of crisp grilled squid with curry-lime sauce and light Vietnamese summer rolls with lightning speed. The open kitchen, which occupies most of the room, sends delicious smells into the dining area, making it tough to choose among the many appetizing options. Try the fragrant lemongrass shrimp, grilled, flattened pork chops or rich miso-glazed salmon—when everything’s nine bucks or less, you can’t go wrong.
Salt + Charcoal
The menu at this Japanese restaurant in Williamsburg centers on its grilled options, from a porterhouse for two that was dry aged in a climate-controlled environment for at least 28 days ($55 per person) to smoked duck breast with balsamic soy butter ($46) to chargrilled octopus with miso garlic butter ($17). Carnivores might also be interested in the wagyu carpaccio ($22) or tartar ($26), while seafood lovers might want to try the bafun-uni shooter with a poached egg, truffle oil and caviar ($12). You can also order an assortment of sashimi ($50) or sushi rolls such as eel-cucumber ($22) or shrimp tempura with tuna and crab ($22). The drink menu also favors Japanese beverages, from bottles of Sapporo ($6) to a distilled liquor called shochu to sake infused with charcoal, lemon, shiso, coffee and other flavors ($6 each).
Venue says: “Brooklyn’s only Japanese steakhouse. Experience our super tender steaks, wide selection of seafood, Japanese inspired appetizers & full bar.”