Reader Questions: Affordable Eats and Gluten-Free Brunch

This week, I’m tackling queries from three readers: a mom who wants to know where her daughter can eat on the cheap in the East Village and Alphabet City; someone looking for affordable restaurants near Lincoln Center; and a reader in search of gluten-free brunch options.

As always, send questions — or your own advice — to [email protected], and you may see it shared in a future newsletter. I look forward to hearing from you all!

Cheap but Healthy Eats in the East Village

I enjoy the newsletter even though I live on the West Coast. I read it primarily to make recommendations to my daughter who lives in N.Y.C. I worry about her living in such an expensive city where her rent is high and income so low! She doesn’t really cook so eats out often. Do you have suggestions for heathy, but inexpensive eats for someone living in the East Village, Alphabet City and NoHo area? — Karen T.

Karen, when I was in your daughter’s position — not all that long ago, I’m afraid — my method for eating on a budget was to get at least two meals out of one. A restaurant that lends itself well to this approach is the new vegan Mexican place Raiz NYC, in the East Village. Whether she opts for a mom-approved sweet potato and kale burrito or the possibly mom-disapproved Westside burrito with French fries, vegan chipotle mayo and guacamole (something green!), either will cost her about $14, or $7 for two filling meals. I’d also be remiss to not include the very delicious Taiwanese food at 886, where nothing on the menu is more than $16, and the portions are pretty large. The charred bacon and cabbage stir-fry is not to be skipped.

Affordable and Non-Touristy Near Lincoln Center

The Theater District newsletter inspired me to write in with my own question. I go with friends often to shows at Lincoln Center and we are always at a loss for where to eat. Two solid places we’ve landed on are Jing Fong and Lodi (but we have to then walk to the 1 train). Most of the places in the immediate vicinity feel either too touristy or overpriced. Any suggestions? — Alex N.

This is such an age-old question that my colleague Sam Sifton answered it in 2011. (His suggestions then: Bar Boulud, Shun Lee West, Cafe Fiorello and Rosa Mexicano.) In the years since, a supercasual Momofuku Noodle Bar has opened inside the Shops at Columbus Circle. Not even the best-dressed operagoer is above pork belly ramen and peanutty charred romaine. (You get both for $33.50, before tax and tip.) Another option is the Georgian restaurant Chama Mama. It’s a bit of a walk, about 11 blocks, but the food — four kinds of khachapuri, a crispy-skinned Cornish hen in blackberry sauce, a dessert platter — is so deeply worth it. With the exception of the $70 meat platter and the $45 lamb chops, everything on the dinner menu is $28 or less.

Brunch Without the Wheat

We have friends visiting next month and would love to hear your favorite gluten-free brunch spots. Dinner is a bit easier, but so many brunch options involve wheat! — Alex T.

Since I don’t have celiac disease and don’t regularly eat gluten-free, I thought I’d hive-mind this question and reach out to my colleagues at The Times. Three people, including Sara Chodosh, a graphics editor, told me that their go-to is Friedman’s, which has several locations in Manhattan. Sara’s favorite menu items are the Nova Benny, eggs Benedict served on a pair of latkes, and the fried chicken and Cheddar waffle. Gina Cherelus, a Styles reporter, was impressed by Wild in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The restaurant specializes in gluten-free pizzas. Her favorite is the Mediterranean pie with lamb sausage.

In Other News …

  • Openings: Ignacio Mattos (Lodi, Estela) is behind the food at Corner Bar, Lobby Lounge and another upcoming project at the Nine Orchard hotel on the Lower East Side; 53, a restaurant and cocktail lounge specializing in “contemporary Asian” cuisine, opens tomorrow down the block from the Museum of Modern Art; and the Loyal has been replaced by Noortwyck, an upscale restaurant from two Eleven Madison Park alums.

  • The Upper West Side is now home to Harry’s Table, a luxury food market, and Bellini Restaurant, both from the Cipriani family organization. Find them on West 60th Street just past West End Avenue.

  • For The New York Times Style magazine, Reggie Nadelson highlights the East Village Meat Market on Second Avenue, a Ukrainian butcher shop that has been churning out succulent kielbasa and snappy kabanos since 1970.

  • Next time you’re in Los Angeles, check out these ten destinations for top-of-the-line frozen treats, all handpicked by our California critic, Tejal Rao.

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