Dining Dilemma: Where Can Jinkx Monsoon Get Not-Expensive Caviar In NYC?

The ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ star and queen of queens wants to feel luxe without spending a fortune.
two people sit at a table. they are both holding sushi in chopsticks held out in front of them

photo credit: David Lee

When you spend your evenings sharing the stage with a bloodthirsty plant who demands human sacrifice, you learn to appreciate the little things in life. Caviar, for example, preferably priced for regular consumption.

Currently starring as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the Westside Theatre, two-time Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon asked The Infatuation where to eat caviar—even just the salmon kind—in NYC without having to spend three or four figures. Here are the places we recommend, and see more from our chat with Jinkx here.


photo credit: Teddy Wolff


East Village

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Penny isn’t cheap, but if you’ve lived in this city long enough, you can delude yourself into finding it affordable. The roughly 30-seat East Village seafood spot from the people behind Claud serves $3 oysters, shrimp for $4.50 a pop, and seafood small plates like tuna carpaccio and stuffed squid in a pool of harissa-like sauce. Should you want caviar, there are several options: a crepe-wrapped purse of the stuff for $49 and a 30g tin that costs $68.

photo credit: Alex Staniloff

The sturgeon king. The sultan of salmon. Whatever you choose to call Barney Greengrass, it should be something grand and respectful. This Upper West Side appetizing shop has been in the neighborhood since 1929, and it’s an essential stop for lox, bagels, omelets, latkes, and more. Hang out on some vinyl seating in the fluorescent-lit room and, if you’re on budget, enjoy some relatively affordable salmon caviar.

For a quick bite of caviar, try a sushi spot. There are many places around town where you can get your roe piled on a piece of nigiri, or, in the case of, inside of a handroll. Grab a stool at this casual Midtown counter from the people behind Mari, and, for $28, enjoy some warm rice, fatty tuna, and caviar wrapped in crisp seaweed. That particular handroll won’t make much of a dent in your hunger, but you can supplement with a few of the other Korean-inspired options that run around $6 each.

At LittleMad in Nomad, you can add uni, truffle, or kaluga caviar to any dish for $20 extra. It’s similar to Chipotle, but with luxury goods instead of guacamole. Given the abundance of high-end ingredients, you’d think this place would be offensively expensive—but every dish costs less than $30. A mashup of Korean, French, and New American, the menu features things like octopus fried rice and chou farci mandoo with prawn and foie gras, all of which benefit from a few sturgeon eggs on top.

Caviar is best enjoyed in a room with frilly lamps, ornate chandeliers, and spooky black-and-white photos on the walls. So head to Mari Vanna, where the food is Russian, and the atmosphere is that of a cluttered, aristocratic dinner party. In addition to borscht and chicken kiev, the Flatiron restaurant offers a selection of caviars, with several non-sturgeon options that clock in under $50.

When people talk about Maison Premiere, it’s usually because of the cocktails or the toilet with a chain you have to pull in order to flush. But the old-school absinthe house is also one of the top raw bar spots in the city. The selection of oysters is vast and diverse, and if you order yourself caviar service—starting at $85—a few of those oysters will come on the side. For a less extravagant night out, you can always just do a single oyster with caviar for $21.

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