Two Ideas for Taking a Food Break in NYC without Busting Your Expense Account
You can release endorphins with top-rated Latin jazz—hot salsa (not the kind you eat), son and boleros—and eat well at the same time for less than $20, five days a week at Havana Central, 151 West 46th street.
OK, so I am a little crazier than most for this kind of music, triggered about five years ago by a trip to Havana. But it’s a cool place with great food, and it takes your mind totally off work. Best yet, even though you may not see Poncho Sanchez, Chucho Valdez or Arturo Sandoval, the talent is awesome, and there’s never a cover charge. You can walk there from most parts of Midtown Manhattan. The general manager is Phil Colbaugh, 212 398-7440. Reservations are not usually necessary.
This next one—pure, unadulterated, totally authentic Greek, Taverna Kyclades, 3307 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria, Queens—requires about a 30-minute (could be a little longer, but well worth it) cab ride or subway. But get ready for a true culinary feast, where the average entrée with appetizer, a glass of wine at a neat little bar down the street, and dessert, is $14. Trust me, this place is no dive. You won’t see tourists, you will hear Greek spoken, and you will make a return trip.
About that wine…there is usually a 30 to 60-minute wait to get seated at the restaurant. So former basketball player-turned-restaurateur Adrian Skenderi (718-545-8666) made a deal with a bar-owner friend a half a block away to provide a free glass of wine or hard drink absolutely free while waiting. When you sign in at the restaurant, you and your guests are given a coupon for the free booze and the name of the bar. Leave a tip, of course. You can get essentially the same meal, sans the wine, at Avra on 49th just east of Lex for about $60+ per person, but you will not likely hear many people speaking Greek.
— Roger Pondel, firstname.lastname@example.org