photo credit: Neil Goldberg

Jeff Hiller’s Downtown Spots For A Budget Pre-Show Meal image

Jeff Hiller’s Downtown Spots For A Budget Pre-Show Meal

Five spots where you can have a slice of pizza or some pumpkin pancakes before seeing a downtown show.

Welcome to Perfect For, an Infatuation series of ultra-specific restaurant recommendations from people around town you don't know personally, but might wish you did.

Today, actor and comedian Jeff Hiller from American Horror Story: New York and HBO’s Somebody Somewhere, shares his favorite places for grabbing a pre-show meal that won’t break the bank. 

I got my start in Off-Broadway theater (OK, it was Off-Off Broadway. OK, it was comedy clubs in basements—but the basements were nearby to Off-Broadway!). If you’re going to see a Broadway show, you might be willing to slap down $300 for two people, but the downtown crowd likes to keep it on the cheap...or, you know, frugal. Here are some great places that don't cost too much, but still give you a lovely meal before the show.

Grand Street Pizza

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Grand Street Pizza isn’t one of those $0.99 pizza places, but it is still affordable compared to most restaurants on the Lower East Side, and the ambiance is lovely and perfect for grabbing a slice on the commute from the F train to Abrons Art Center. The lighting is a vibe, the pies delicious, and you can sit at a bar inside or at tables outside, which is so much nicer than eating a slice while walking down Grand Street. I recommend a slice of the vodka pie, and if you're feeling really flush, they have a great wine selection.

photo credit: Carina Finn


Lower East Side

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunchClassic EstablishmentKidsLiterally EveryoneLunch

Shopsins is a legendary family-owned restaurant currently housed in the Essex Market that’s ideal for brunch before a matinee at New York Theater Workshop. Now, listen: they don't serve parties over four, and they will snap at you if you ask for substitutions, but you see shows Off-Broadway—you can handle that! The food is delicious and the menu is as long as a CVS receipt. I recommend The Sneaky Pete with an order of pumpkin pancakes for the table.

Souen is where you can live out your hippie fantasy before a show at La Mama with clean food for clean living. The lack of space between tables reflects their tiny people clientele (just an FYI, if you’re a fellow big person). So you will be close, but you are seeing a show at La Mama! It's time to connect with humanity. I recommend the macro plate with a warm bowl of miso soup and no booze, ‘cause it's poison.

Paquitos is the perfect place to party before seeing a show at The Wild Project. I'm from San Antonio, and my search for good Mexican food in New York City has been long and futile. Paquitos is one of the few that scratches my hometown itch. I recommend the nachos, which come with guacamole that actually seems like it is from an avocado, vs. the green sludge most places in the city try to pass off.

My Friends Jim and Larry’s House


Look, this is my favorite place in the city to eat—especially for a cocktail before going to Joe’s Pub—but if I'm being frank, you have to know someone to get a table. So, if you can't get in there, just go to the Pub and order your favorite cocktail and the french fries, which are beloved by all folks who go there. You might also try the soft serve, which I know sounds kinda boring, but is surprisingly delicious! And don't get too sad about not getting a table at my friends’ house, ‘cause you’re seeing a show at Joe's Pub, and if that ain't a soul healer, what is?

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