New York City is one of the more expensive places in the world to enjoy fine dining. So what’s a frugal foodie to do? One surefire strategy is to visit during the city’s Restaurant Week, which opened today (Monday) and continues through Aug. 16.
Deals, savings tricks and special menus abound if one knows where to look. Try these thrifty tips to make the most of the epicurean event.
• Lunch: Participating restaurants offer fixed-price menus for both lunch and dinner. However, the lunch menus are set at $25 while dinner menus ring in at $38. This makes lunch the more economical choice, and a convenient way to break things up between museum visits and sightseeing excursions.
A wide variety of menu choices is available. For example, the lunch offering at HARU includes your choice of fish taco, seaweed salad or a shrimp and mixed green summer roll for the first course, followed by a selection of either a samurai roll combo, grilled chicken or salmon teriyaki or a special sushi plate. Dessert choices include green tea, red bean, vanilla or mango ice cream selections.
There’s higher-end comfort food at Delmonico’s Kitchen, where menu selections include mushroom and sweet pea risotto, slow-cooked sirloin with French beans and whipped potato served with a cabernet sauce. The dessert menu features local berry shortcake and classic beignets.
• Payment: While many choose to travel with a credit card as opposed to cash for security purposes, in the case of New York City’s Restaurant Week it can also save you money. Nycgo.com allows diners to register qualifying American Express cards online ahead of time. Once that’s done, you simply order from the Restaurant Week menu and pay with your card to save an additional $5 off your total order. Corporate and pre-paid cards do not qualify however, and you must spend a $25 minimum.
• Activities: Choosing affordable activities and free venues is a great way to balance your New York City travel budget and channel as many pennies as possible towards dining. Jeff Dobbins, founder of Nycxplorer.com, recommends strolling the streets to get the best sense of what the city has to offer. According to Dobbins, “Most of New York City’s greatest attractions are free of charge.” Some of his favorite spots to explore on foot include Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Chinatown and Harlem.
Almost 300 New York restaurants are participating this year. For a complete list and to make reservations, visit nycgo.com/restaurantweek. Menu prices do not include beverages, taxes or gratuities. While all registered menus are available from Monday through Friday during Restaurant Week, Sunday offerings are optional.
Theriault is co-author of the book “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget,” and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers