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Eat "Cheap"

We've finally gotten around to combing through NY Mag's Eat Cheap issue, which hit newsstands Monday.

There are two descriptive phrases displayed prominently, neither of which comes close to accurately representing price point. The cover reads: "103 Great Discoveries under $25 (with a few minor exceptions) including the best ribs, lobster rolls, cheesesteaks, veggies, etc..." Inside, below the headline is: "Presenting the city's best new places to eat like a prince, at pauper's prices." To be sure, very few of their 103 "discoveries" will have you walking out the door having spent $25 on anything more than a glass of wine and an entree. (The ones that will have you cashing out at $25 are places like Lassi, which is not a restaurant, but a classy sliver of a storefront with a very small handful of stools against one wal.) But other than Raisfeld's and Patronite's blatant misrepresentation of their central criterion -- and their dedication of full pages to two of NY's most over-covered and now annoying food subjects in the last six months, BBQ and lobster rolls -- their Eats issue is not a total disaster.

NY Mag, like Time Out last week and The Voice last month, had to figure out a way to get around the fact that New York has a real dearth of legitimately cheap restaurants. Whereas both the Voice and TONY went ethnic and outerborough, NY Mag took a different tack: They decided to say that "cheap" is all relative -- and that at many pricier places, deft menu navigation will save you the agony of a three-figure bill.

The examples of the magazine's choice are many. Alias, Bellavitae, Blue Smoke, Gari, Prune, Sumile, and Xing, to name a few.

Ultimately, while we won't discount Metro's competitors for having the pluck to dig deep and deliver venues with legitimately low price points, we like the suggestion that cheap eating often involves economy once you pick a restaurant, not in picking the resto itself. Sure, they should have just come out and said what they were doing instead of apologizing post mortem. But any economizing approach that allows us to keep eating $17 margarita pizzas and french onion soup dumplings will do just fine.
· Eat Cheap [NY Metro]

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