You can try to walk into Kiki’s with six people, but you should be prepared to spend a few hours drinking shot and beer combos at 169 Bar while you wait. But for similar food, prices, and atmosphere, with far shorter waits, go to Kiki’s Grill, which is from the same people and it’s located directly across the street. They serve some of the same dishes you’ll find at the original, like grilled octopus and perfectly cooked lamb chops, and they also serve some more budget-friendly options, like huge skewers of pork or chicken, which are $3 each. The ideal order for a group is a bunch of souvlaki (you can get 10 for $20), some oregano spiced fries, and plenty of $13 half-liters of Greek wine.
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All of the food at Dirt Candy is vegetarian, but you should come to this East Village tasting menu spot no matter how you feel about meat.
Gaia Italian Cafe
Gaia is a little Italian place on the LES that keeps weird hours and has good, cheap food.
Though the food at Bacaro is pretty good, it’s the kind of place you come to for the atmosphere.
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The NoMad Bar
Thanks to the prices, this casual(ish) bar in The NoMad hotel probably isn’t a place that you can afford to visit often. But when you do, eat dessert.
Bar Wayo is a cocktail bar from the Momofuku people, and it’s a good spot to get drinks and bar food by the Seaport.
Hartley’s is a neighborhood Irish pub in Clinton Hill that’s quiet enough to have a conversation.
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Kiki’s is a Greek place on the Lower East Side that’s packed every night, and serves good, affordable food.
Cervo’s is a little place on the LES where you can bring a date and share some seafood-centric small plates, or just sit at the bar and grab a drink.
Jajaja is a vegan Mexican restaurant on the LES. Is it the best Mexican in the city? No. But if you’re a vegan, you’ll probably be into it.
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