I'm never happier to find good deals than at restaurants, especially during the holidays when I'm supposed to be spending my money on gifts. So it's fortuitous for me that Food & Wine has been scouting out some of the best spots to dine well and cheaply in Manhattan (hint: you might see some of this research in an upcoming F&W).
Chef Michael Psilakis's elegant midtown Greek restaurant Anthos has an astounding $28 prix fixe lunch that always provides the option of an excellent grilled lamb burger. Psilakis is also behind the more casual and even more affordable Kefi on the Upper West Side (Frank Bruni of the New York Times recently reported that Kefi is moving and will soon take both reservations and credit cards). Back in midtown, Gordon Ramsey's Maze offers elegant two-course lunches for $25 all the way until 4 p.m. (at dinner, you can get four courses for $55, which might include white asparagus salad with truffle vinaigrette). Up at the Time Warner Center, juicy hangar steak frites is part of Porter House's Park View lunch for $24. And while we're talking about outstanding prix-fixe lunches uptown, Jean-Georges still serves two courses for $28 and adds additional courses for $12 each.
My new favorite deal is at Stand where it's 2-for-the-price-of-1 burgers from 3 p.m. to 6pm, Monday to Friday, which leaves me more money to spend on their awesome il laboratorio del gelato milk shakes and onion rings. The ramen soups at the new Momofuku Noodle Bar are as good as ever and still a relative bargain, since the most expensive soup is $16. Coincidentally, nothing costs more than $16 a few blocks away at Degustation, the avant-garde Spanish bar in the East Village that specializes in items like lamb belly with mushroom-potato hash. And then there's my beloved Frankie's Spuntino on Clinton Street (I actually frequent the Brooklyn location, but this list is all about Manhattan), where the priciest dish is the addictive house made cavatelli with hot sausage for $15.
Because this is too long already, I'll leave it for another time to write about Chinatown's Oriental Garden and the Japanese izakaya Chiyono and Tia Pol's new tapas outpost El Quinto Pino, other places that are allowing me to overspend on things besides food.