The Queens Kickshaw (Astoria)

queens kickshaw

  • The 411: Insanely addictive grilled cheese sandwiches in a completely green and artsy space that is simultaneously rustic and charming, yet contemporary and spacious, with exposed brick walls, refurbished floors and lofty ceilings. Entering the ‘straunt, you are greeted by an old-fashioned counter service bar, while the back room has a communal table that seats about twenty, as well as smaller tables for 2-4.
  • F.Y.I.: The guava jam on the Gouda sandwich is to die for.
  • Ideal meal: Cheddar & mozzarella grilled cheese (brioche with tomato soup) ($8) and Agua de Astoria (sparkling cider, fresh OJ) ($6)
  • People behind Queens Kickshaw: The married owners of this ‘straunt, former Nobu Fifty Seven captain, Ben Sandler and his wife, AP photo archivist, Jennifer Lim, moved to Astoria in 2008 and quickly surmised that while there was certainly good coffee to be found, great coffee was another matter… so Sandler took matters into his own hands and sprung into action. He took classes, went on coffee tours, read books, talked to baristas.. soon enough he was ready to introduce his peers to his kind of coffee… but something was missing from his business plan.. fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. And thus, Queens Kickshaw was born.
  • Address: Astoria, 40-17 Broadway
  • Prices: $5-$12

The Queens Kickshaw on Urbanspoon


Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria (Greenwich Village): Mangia Monday

Want to experience a Mario Batali ‘straunt, but don’t want to break the bank or dip into next month’s rent check? We’ve got just the ‘straunt for you: Otto.Ottos

  • Why it’s worth it: Conveniently located just past Washington Square Park, and a few blocks from NYU, Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria is a great place to grab a meal. Whether you are going on a date, hanging out with friends or taking your visiting family to Otto’s, you are sure to find something that everyone will enjoy. Otto offers salads, appetizers (meat, vegetable, fish or cheese), pizza, pasta and an extensive wine collection.
  • Vibe/Layout: Beyond its revolving front door is a wine bar and elevated tables that help to set up the atmosphere for the large interior. The middle section of the ‘straunt is finished with red walls and wooden tables and provides a more intimate feel with tables of 2 and 4. The back section of the ‘straunt is bustling and chatty and ideal for hosting larger parties.
  • Ideal meal: Caprese salad ($8), pane frattau pizza ($13) (tomato, pecorino, egg) and milk chocolate chip gelato (special thanks to my mom for teaching me to always leave room for dessert)
  • F.Y.I.: This ‘straunt is modeled off of a train station, such that, upon checking in, your group will be given the name of a city and you watch the train schedule board click away until your reservation is called. In addition, “Otto Enoteca” actually means wine bar and offers more than 700 types of vino.
  • Address: Greenwich Village, 1 5th Avenue (on 8th St and 5th Ave)
  • Prices:$8-$20

Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Prosperity Dumpling (Chinatown)

Prosperity Dumpling is an amazing little hole-in-the-wall joint selling some delectable dumplings of love! They are ridiculously inexpensive and delicious, it’s a great place whether you’re on a budget or not. Even if you’re looking to just get a quick bite of food, all you need is a $1.

Prosperity Dumpling

  • Why it’s worth it: If you want DELICIOUS dumplings for $3 total (aka middle school lunch money), this is your new go-to place.
  • Layout: As you enter, there are two counters on both the left and right with 5 total stools. You’re also greeted by an ordering counter and a large menu hanging overhead with the prices. Once you’re ready, place your order, and try to grab a seat in this tiny ‘straunt (which will definitely make you feel like you’re a sardine in a can) or head to a nearby park.
  • Ideal meal: Pork fried bun (4 for $1) and chives and pork fried dumplings (4 for $1). The dumpling skin was thick and crispy, while the filling was juicy and moist, with rich pork juices exploding with flavor.
  • F.Y.I.: Prosperity dumpling is about a 5 minute walk from the Hester Street Fair, which is also a great spot to check out on the weekend.
  • Address: Chinatown, 46 Eldridge Street (between Hester St and Canal St)
  • Prices: $0.75 – $3

Prosperity Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Caffe Buon Gusto (UES): Mangia Monday


  • Why it’s worth it: Caffe Buon Gusto serves delicious and very reasonably priced Italian favorites such as homemade ravioli and penne alla vodka. This is a mix-and-match pasta ‘straunt, where you can choose your meats, your pasta and your sauce to create your personal, fresh and delicious dish!
  • Vibe: This charming and small ‘straunt exudes intimacy and comfort! Great for a date night or for catching up with a friend!
  • Layout: This ‘straunt is tiny with around 10 tables and no bar area.
  • F.Y.I.: 50% off wine on Sundays
  • Ideal meal: Gnocchi with pesto sauce
  • Address: Upper East Side, 236 E. 77th St (between 2nd and 3rd Ave)
  • Prices: $6-$18

Caffe Buon Gusto on Urbanspoon

The Ellington (UWS)


  •  Why it’s worth it: If you’re looking for a satisfying, familiar and affordable spot on the Upper West Side for a meal, The Ellington is your answer. The menu is a mash-up of classic British and American bar food and is truly enjoyable.
  • Vibe/Layout:  “You’ve got to find some way of saying it without saying it,” reads a Duke (as in Ellington) quote on the wall, and the space communicates an unassuming warmth through its wooden chairs and “country kitchen” paneling. The 60-seat den includes a 12-seat bar and carries a rustic feel with whitewashed barnwood walls, oxidized tin ceilings and large antique mirrors. The floor-to-ceiling windows open in warm weather, making this a go-to spot in the spring and summer.
  • Ideal meal: Grilled cheese bites (with tomato basil dipping sauce) ($8) and the Ellington burger ($12)
  • Address: UWS, 936 Amsterdam Avenue (at 106 St)
  • Prices: $8-$25

The Ellington on Urbanspoon