I have turned a major corner. Or just perhaps realized that I am not wealthy. Or I just got pissed off one too many times paying a lot of money for mediocre food. Or all of them. But whatever.
I am now making a concerted effort to get to as many BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) restaurants as possible. Not only do I save a lot of money on the beer or wine, I have so far found these places to be above average in food and below average in price (and often cash only). Below is my list of favorites so far and the pertinent information. PLEASE: ADD YOU OWN RECCOMMENDATIONS!
Sadly it seems Sripraphai is no longer on this list.
I am just coming back to Chowhound after an absence but I do not think this topic has been well covered (my search revealed nothing). Here it goes.
Tartine: 253 W 11th St. (@ W. 4th st.) 212.229.2611
This is the one that started this craze for me. I stumbled in here one night with two friends, one of whom was too hungry tom wait in line at Corner Bistro. French-ish fare (there is a spicy chicken and guac dish on the menu, which while out of place is tasty) with great fries. A couple good steaks, fun salads and sometimes specials that seems a bit strange, but end up being tasty (I am remembering one from last summer that was tuna tartare with tortilla chips in a roasted butternut squash). Good fresh food. The place is tiny and there is no waiting inside which sucks on nights like tonight (and I'm going!) but when 6 people can have 5 apps, 6 entrees and 4 desserts and pay $168 w/ t&t it is a good night out.
Ivo & Lulu: 558 Broome St. (btwn 6th Ave & Varick) 212.226.4399
I've only been here once but quite enjoyed it. It is tiny, narrow and long. Small but warming and satisfying menu. On cold nights avoid sitting by the front door. I remember well the mushroom ragu in a bread bowl.
Sip Sak: 928 2nd Ave (btwn 49th & 50th) 212.583.1900
A friend thankfully introduced this Turkish place to me a few weeks ago. It was a bit loud but the best (smoky and delicate) baba ganoush I've had in a while. Evidently the owner is hilarious, but he was not there the one night I was. This is not his first endeavor and my friend has loved all of his places. She has good taste in restaurants (if not in friends). We left full, happy and not broke.
El Jarro Café: 45-02 48th Ave, Queens 718.392.2161
My buddy who recommended this place found it right here on Chowhound! Fantastic find. Silly cheap (difficult to spend more than $15 per person really difficult). Great seemingly authentic Mexican food (which is good because I was sad at the slow decline in quality and eventual closing of Tierras Mexicanas in Astoria). Try anything Tinga. And the Poblanos Nogales (sp?). It is sausage stuffed poblano with a walnut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. Yum!!! I hear (but have not confirmed) that if you take in your own tequila they will make margaritas for you. I usually buy a six pack at the corner before going in.
La Taza de Oro: 96 8th Ave (btwn 14th & 15th) 212.243.9946
Puerto Rican diner (although I have read in other venues that it is not authentic PR I wouldnt know) that really hits the value market. Two weeks ago I had roasted chicken (medium-sized leg and thigh) with black beans and rice (tasty) and rice pudding (OK). My buddy had steak and onions (he was happy) with black beans and rice and flan (VERY good). We also have fried plantains. Silly silly cheap. Our meal, plus a six pack and then 4 pints of Guinness around the corner (who has 2-for-1 until 9pm? Crazy!) was $52. For the two of us. All night. T&t included.
This is my new world.