Twice a year, for three or four weeks, the restaurants of New York City grace us with the deal of all deals: fine dining at an affordable price. They have to pay rent as well, and they feel your pain—you want to eat well, but you also want to keep living in your
tiny cozy apartment. Unless you have a specific restaurant on your list, finding the best 3-course meal on the extensive participants list is tough and time consuming. So, lucky you, I did the work for you. See below for the NYC Restaurant Week picks that give you the most bang for your buck.
I bet the last thing you thought I’d suggest you do is walk into a pawn shop for a top quality meal. Don’t be fooled by the look from outside: Beauty & Essex is a vintage chic place to eat and be seen. Keep trendy with the tuna poke wonton tacos, then go all in on the pressed jerk-spiced chicken with creamy polenta. Finish it off with the Petite Cupcakes (Guinness cupcakes with Bailey’s icing: sign me up!)
$14 savings means you should stay to party after dinner, and order an extra Beauty Elixir instead of getting your beauty sleep. I’ve never met anyone who can resist sparkling rosé atop Hendricks gin, cucumber and strawberry.
2. Bar Italia
Bar Italia Madison prides itself on being an uptown restaurant with a downtown feel. Serving up light Italian cuisine means you can indulge in all three courses, but you won’t have to roll home afterwards. I’m going for the beef carpaccio or caprese with the roasted lamb shank and finishing it off with chocolate cake.
$45 savings means you should definitely be asking your server about wine pairings.
3. Casa Lever
Arguably one of the more touristy spots on the list, Casa Lever is actually giving you the best deal on the list. I’m partial to the San Daniele because I can’t for the life of me resist prosciutto and buffalo mozz. Then depending on if you’re reducing carbs or not get the Bolognese or the salmon and finish with a sweet and light tiramisu.
$41 savings means you can hop on a train in Grand Central for a night outside the city (lodging not included). Aren’t you glad you skipped the Oyster Bar?
This 5th Avenue spot will have you looking up flights to Paris when you sit down at your sidewalk table. The chefs at Claudette are focused on local produce and seafood, so they keep it light, but if you need to walk off your dinner, go explore the Village. Restaurant Week is a time to be adventurous so why not order the charred octopus? The Sasso chicken tajine is guaranteed to satisfy, and what is better than completing a meal with Valrhona chocolate cake?
$16 savings means you can do as the French do and spring for that extra glass of rosé, or share a cheese platter with the table.
5. El Vez
Battery Park City offers a casual and fun Mexican restaurant with killer cocktails and serious food. Plus, El Vez is offering four courses instead of three, so go ahead and have that tequila shot—you’ll have plenty of yummy food to line your tummy. Guac is a given because during restaurant week it isn’t extra. Personally, I can’t resist chicken quesadillas and shrimp tacos, but El Vez gives a bunch of options. The desserts aren’t standouts, but who goes to Mexican for dessert?
$14 savings means you can go upstairs to Loopy Doopy next door for more Instagrams, or you can put that towards a margarita pitcher. Yeah, you heard me right, pitcher.
The Irvington is in the W Union Square, but isn’t your standard hotel restaurant. They feature New American dishes using ingredients that they picked up at the Union Square Greenmarket located just across the street. Your girl is a sucker for a sausage flatbread to start, and I’m always up to try a restaurant’s salmon. But, as I said before, Restaurant Week is a time to experiment and the crispy Muscovy duck is just the ticket for that. Finish with an ice cream sandwich or citrus cheesecake.
$18 savings means you can go get a weeks worth of produce at the Greenmarket yourself, or grab a house cocktail.
7. Koi SoHo
Political leanings aside, Koi is the perfect reason to make a trip down to the Trump SoHo. Sushi places are great on Restaurant Week if you’re into all kinds of raw fish, but if you aren’t, Koi has some great options for you. Koi’s Crispy Rice is a personal favorite in the city, and you can have it topped with tuna or avocado. If you came for the sushi you can get the Chef’s recommendation or the spiced braised short ribs. Finish with some classic Japanese mochi.
$24 savings means you can go home in a sushi coma and save your energy for SoHo shopping the next day.
On the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Street, Andrew Carmellini makes you feel like you’re at a sidewalk cafe on the Rue du Montparnasse. Lafayette always has a great brunch scene, but sometimes you need to change it up. Start with the salmon rillette followed by the smoked and roasted chicken and close your meal out with a dessert profiterole (a v fancy cream puff).
$18 savings means you can hit up the bakery after your dinner (or lunch) and grab some macarons for the road.
For those who want to escape the city for a few hours, look no further than Lido. Yes, it’s a trip all the way up to 117th Street, but this is the week to try something new. Plus being removed from the tourists and the bustle of the city will add to your return on investment here. To start, you have to make the always difficult decision or heirloom tomato salad or polenta fries. After, move on to the hangar steak and finish with a sweet nectarine and raspberry bread pudding with gelato on top to cool off.
$6 savings at dinner, but a $17 savings at lunch so you have my permission to actually use your summer Friday’s to go to Lido and take an Uber home.
If we’re being honest, I almost didn’t put MAMO on the list because I didn’t want to have to compete with everyone for a reservation. MAMO is open during lunch and dinner, so there are no excuses for skipping it. Amazing food from their every day menu is being featured, so it’s a perfect fit those who are looking for a good meal in a place that feels like home. Make everyone at your table get a different app, because deciding between penne with lobster sauce and salmon carpaccio is just too hard. Then go for the rabbit rollatini if you’re bold, and lamb chops to play it safe. Close out a lovely Italian meal with some chocolate mousse.
$40 savings means yes, you should spring for that $20 glass of Veuve. It’s your life, celebrate it.
11. Miss Lily’s
Miss Lily’s is doing restaurant week at both their SoHo and East Village locations. It’s not the best deal on the list, but this is a perfect time to go since you know you’ve been wanting to for a while. You can try a bunch of dishes and you get a free dessert—that’s enough of a deal in my book. Miss Lily’s also provides a really great vibe, perfect for summer days with your friends.
#SpoonTip: Miss Lily’s 7A location is also open for lunch—do I have to beg you to take a summer Friday?
Free dessert savings means the calories don’t count.
Say what you want about Chris Santos’ judging ability on Chopped, but the guy knows how to do NYC Restaurant week. You can’t go wrong with any of his appetizers, but the Cobb salad bites and the chicken taquitos really speak to me. If you’re feeling healthy and spicy, go for the wasabi crusted salmon—who, though, can resist a burger called Derrick’s Big Sexy? If you still have room, go for the warm doughnuts with dipping sauces.
$12 savings means you can head around the corner to Pianos and finish your night with some great live music.
Word to the wise: Tao Downtown is open for dinner, Uptown is open for lunch. Great for Girls Night Out, birthdays and to see and be seen, Tao also provides really delicious Pan-Asian and sushi dishes. Crispy rice is always a good starter, but if you’re not into tuna you can always go for the veggie spring rolls. All of their main courses aim to please, and you can never go wrong with a grasshopper layer cake.
$37 savings means you should head right on over to Tao’s Nightclub and dance the night away.