Tasting menus - you either love them or hate them. Or, you couldn't give a sh*t about them. If you fall in the second camp, chances are you have control issues, or you've endured one too many stuffy, overpriced, five-hour meals during which you were forced to eat quail foam. But consider this: tasting menus - especially ones that fall on the affordable side of the spectrum - are an excellent way to try great restaurants. You get to turn off your brain, try lots of things, and truly have an experience.
Most tasting menus in this town cost as much as a down payment on a car, but a lot of fantastic restaurants offer them for $75 and well under. The next time you're in the market for a killer meal, or just need to entertain someone for a few hours - these are the affordable tasting menus we fully endorse.
$58, FOUR COURSES || Delaware and Hudson defies all tasting menu stereotypes. This isn’t some ridiculously over the top production – it’s just dinner. Really, really good dinner. For $58, you get an assortment of appetizers, a pasta course, an entree, and a dessert. The food is all inspired by the Northeast, and the experience feels like a Hudson getaway.
$67, SEVEN COURSES || Contra is an important restaurant. Not because it’s attached to a famous chef or looks like the lobby of a Vegas hotel or serves uni-topped steak. Contra is important because it serves risk-taking, truly impressive food without the pretense that usually accompanies this kind of dining. The menu is constantly changing and super seasonal, and for $67 you get to try seven displays of what this kitchen can do.
$60 TASTING MENU || Babu Ji did not make this list because it’s our favorite new restaurant to open this year. It made this list because the tasting menu is truly worth talking about. We were initially skeptical – why have your meal decided for you at a place that is so primed for choosing your own adventure? The first (unexciting) answer: You can only make a reservation if you do the tasting menu. The second (and more important) answer: Especially if you’re here with just one other person, this is the best way to try all the happiness – street food, curries, naan, rice, and dessert – that Babu Ji has to offer.
$60 TASTING MENU || Actually-satisfying, destination-worthy vegetarian food is no longer a concept that sends people into friendship-ruining arguments. By this point, it’s actually kind of old news. But Dirt Candy still does upscale, exciting, meatless food better than just about anyone. It’s a place many people feel like they need to hit at least once – and for the price, the tasting menu is a great way to do it.
$75, FIVE COURSES || If The Eddy were a person, he’d be a total catch. Charming, worldly, unpretentious, refined yet laid-back, and really great on dates. Plus, he’d be knowledgeable about wines and considerate of all those other little details that ultimately add up to a perfect night. Eddy may not be real – but The Eddy is, and it’s a special place. The food is fantastic, and pretty advanced, so if you’re the type that wants to spend less time deliberating over your order, the $75 five-course tasting menu should be your move.
$75, FIVE COURSES (Served Sunday-Thursday and at the bar on Fridays and Saturdays) || No one wants to endure a tasting menu in a stuffy, boring environment - no matter how good the food is. If you're signing up for five courses, several hours, and a not-insignificant price tag, you want good vibes. Meadowsweet not only has great, people-pleasing food (burrata and crispy artichokes, pastas, short ribs), but it's also the restaurant that inspired our coining of the term the Feel Good Factor™. It's a place that everyone will be happy, from Mom to your date to your out-of-town cousin who wants to "experience Williamsburg."
$75, FIVE COURSES || Five years ago, Battersby had a big part in putting Brooklyn (and kale salad) on the food map. Today, it's still an expert in that "new Brooklyn" style of food. It's a teeny, tiny spot - not exactly the ideal setting for a fine dining experience - but the people here know what they're doing and the service is great. One of its other claims to fame? The chefs "improvise" the tasting menu - whatever that means, it works.
$52, FOUR COURSES (Walk-in only) || The Gramercy Tavern tasting menu is a once-in-a-lifetime meal. It’s also going to cost you well over $100. So when you want a piece of that glory without the full price, the move is the Gramercy Tavern bar (AKA “The Tavern”) – a totally different, more casual, just-as-awesome restaurant in its own right. While you can order a la carte, this is a place where we put our full trust behind the (only $52) four-course tasting menu. You can’t make reservations, but that is not an acceptable excuse to miss this opportunity.