Try finding a good place to eat for under $10. But, if you go local, ditch the ambiance, and listen to word-of-mouth you can usually find some good places. Sniffing out spots while traveling normally involves talking to local merchants and doing a bit of research beforehand. Finding places in your neighborhood and environs is easier---you know what's new and where there are crowds. Also, you can try a place on different days to confirm you didn't just get lucky one day. Location and longevity are a factor, restaurants catering to the local ethnic populations are a good bet, especially when it comes to finding authentic.
I like to keep track when out and about hunting for good, different, and reasonable places to eat. When friends come to visit it is helpful to have a few selections ready for a quick recommendation. Here are a few of my recent favorites:
B-Bap Fusion Rice Bar in midtown Manhatten has great bibimbap --Korean rice bowls with meat and veggies -- actually, it could be that I just like saying bibimbap. But this is a great dish in itself because Koreans would say that on another level, it reflects the nature of Koreans, who like to blend and mix things finding an artistic aesthetic in the mixing of food. But then for me, nothing is ever harmed by putting an egg on it.
Aamchi Pao on Bleeker Street features the best of Bombay-style Indian street food. If you want to try the everyday, everyman Indian food, no fuss, no frills this is a great place to get started. Lots of chutney appetizers for under $4. Some are turned off by some of the strong Indian spices, but for the record, there are mild Indian dishes.
25Burgers is a great place to get a fresh burger done in one of twenty-five ways. If burgers are your thing you can find a great burger done up 25 different ways for under $7. This is fast food at its best.
Chapin Guatemalan and Mexican Restaurant in Princeton is real tiny and not much to look at, but a great place for an authentic burrito with beef, chicken, or pork. The seasonings are fresh and the salsa is native with a kick. Finally, it is getting easier to find good Mexican food on the east coast.
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