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Where Should First-Time NYC Visitors Eat on the Cheap?

In this Ask Eater, tourists don’t want a touristy meal

Souvlaki GR Photo via Souvlaki GR

Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater New York where the site’s editors, reporters, and critics answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. A new question and answer will run every Thursday. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.

Dear Eater:

My friends and I are coming to Manhattan, and it’s our big first trip to NYC, so we are looking for THE perfect place for an introductory dinner in the Big Apple. If you know a cozy restaurant, with more New Yorkers than tourists, not too far from our hotel (Hudson Hotel on West 58th) and not too expensive ($20 to $30 per person), please tell us. Thank you in advance for your good tips!

— Hungry First-Timers

Dear HFT,

Your hotel is in a neighborhood where things tend to be a bit expensive, but I think we’ve found a great place for you, with a real downtown New York vibe, and an inexpensive and interesting wine list. More importantly, it has great, dependable food at a moderate price level, much of it familiar but some of it different than you’ve probably seen before.

Souvlaki GR is a cozy Greek restaurant that’s a branch of a favorite Lower East Side establishment. Like its parent, the Midtown outpost looks like a seaside taverna on the island of Mykonos, complete with village decor and a cheery blue-and-white color scheme.

Souvlaki GR Photo via Souvlaki GR/Facebook

The menu runs to platters featuring multiple bread dips (try the garlicky skordalia); charcoal-grilled kebabs featuring lamb, chicken, and shrimp; with lots of meal-size salads and vegetarian entrees like luscious stuffed peppers. Don’t miss the grilled octopus! Showcasing the currently popular Greek vintages, the wine list offers 20 wines by the bottle and glass, and, afterwards, baklava and strong Greek coffee — if you’ve never tried it before, don’t drink the grit in the bottom of the cup.

The restaurant, at 162 West 56th St. at Seventh Avenue, is a pleasant four-block walk from your hotel. And let me know how you like your meal.

— Robert Sietsema