Don't have the cash flow right now to try any of the cool new restaurants you read about? Or simply can't get into any of them on a busy night? Here are a few recommendations for inexpensive, accessible alternatives to five of the hottest new places in town.
5) Miss Lily's/Nights and Weekends: A lot of people love the food, the drinks, and the overall island vibe at Miss Lily's — it's easily one of the hottest restaurants downtown, right now. But if it's just a bit out of your price range (entrees are $15-$23), consider Nights and Weekends at the edge of McCarren Park in Greenpoint. Here you can also enjoy stews, light seafood dishes, sandwiches, and spicy snacks, all priced below $14. The bar serves a number of unusual rum-based cocktails for $10 each, and the room is usually full of some of the most attractive people in Brooklyn. [Miss Lily's Place Page, Nights and Weekends Place Page]
4) Marble Lane/St. Anselm: Meat is the main attraction at Marble Lane, the new restaurant inside the Dream Downtown Hotel. You can order many different styles of steak (carne asada, pizzaiola, "L.E.S. Roumanian"), all priced between $38-$48. But if you're looking for variety and value on steak night, consider the recently reopened St. Anselm in Williamsburg. The owners replaced many of the strange offal-heavy dishes on the previous menu with unique, but accessible cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and fish, all priced to move. Most are serve grilled with a sauce or compound butter on the side, all for about $15 - $19 (you can also get a massive lamb saddle for two for $39, or an axe-handle rib eye for $70). St. Anselm's dining room lacks the sparkle of the one at Marble Lane, but it has a great rough-hewn charm, and the bar features a handful of really good craft ales on tap for $4-$7. [Marble Lane Place Page, St. Anselm Place Page]
3) Junoon/Amma: Junoon boasts a beautiful dining room, very fresh fish and meat dishes, and a burgeoning star chef in the kitchen — Vikas Khanna. But if you want to do Indian fine dining on a smaller scale, at a lower price, Amma in Midtown East is the place to go. This charming restaurant serves a vibrant take on the classics, along with spectacular breads and side dishes. Most entrees are in the mid-to-high teens, and the premium seafood dishes are in the low 20s, but all of the mains are a good eight to ten dollars less than what you'll find at Junoon. Both restaurants have serious wine lists, and if you want to go big, Amma offers a seven-course tasting menu for $50, which is almost exactly half the price of a similar five-course tasting at Junoon. [Junoon Place Page, Amma Site]
2) Tremont/Lighthouse: Tremont is the airy new West Village restaurant from the team behind The Meeting House in Amagansett. It serves Mediterranean-influenced American fare, with appetizers in the mid-teens, and entrees in the high 20s. If that's a bit too rich for your blood, hop on the L-Train and head to Lighthouse in Williamsburg, which also has a somewhat beachy vibe, and a menu that includes a number of fresh grilled meat and fish dishes. If you play your cards right, you can have a lot to eat here for around $20 — the vegetables plates are all $6, generously portioned chicken and flank steak skewers are $5 each, and salads are $8-$10. While it's true that you'll pay almost as much for a steak or a whole fish here as you will at Tremont, the entrees are very large at Lighthouse, and the management encourages sharing. [Tremont Place Page, Lighthouse Place Page]
1) Veritas/Tenpenny: The critics love Sam Hazen's inventive New American cuisine at the new iteration of Veritas. But if you want to enjoy dinner at an acclaimed semi-fine dining restaurant and can't afford to pay close to $20 for appetizers and around $35 for entrees, Tenpenny is a fantastic alternative. Most dishes here are full of big flavors that really work well together. Appetizers are generally below the $15 mark and the majority of the entrees are in the low-to-mid 20s, which is a value considering the quality of the food and the service. For something more formal, there's steal of a six-course tasting menu for $68. Like Veritas, Tenpenny is also a fun place to dine if you like interesting cocktails and dynamic wine pairings. [Veritas Place Page, Tenpenny Place Page]