If you like: Masa
Try: Sushi of Gari
402 E. 78th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-517-5340
Chef “Gari” Sugio’s omakase creations may not be as loaded with truffles or foie gras as Masa’s, but they’re less than a third of the price and arguably more inventive.
If you like: Jean Georges
154 W. 13th St., nr. Sixth Ave; 212-989-7699
Josh DeChellis’s intricate fusion menus can cost up to $120, but if you go between 5:30 and 7 p.m., the “sunlight special” costs just $35 and buys a taste of some of the city’s most imaginative cooking.
If you like: Le Bernardin
Try: The Mermaid Inn
96 Second Ave., nr. 6th St.; 212-674-5870
The truffled arctic-char tartare isn’t quite what you’d get uptown at Le Bernardin, but for ten bucks, we’ll take it. On the downside, the restaurant serves only a rudimentary dessert, although the wine is well chosen and, again, fairly priced.
If you like: Ducasse
Try: Fleur de Sel
5 E. 20th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-460-9100
Chef Cyril Renaud’s stylish, modest, supremely thrifty establishment is everything Alain Ducasse’s isn’t. The $25 lunchtime tasting menu is one of the best deals in town.
If you like: Babbo
24 Minetta Ln., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-473-5121
The proprietor of this elegant little restaurant supplies Mario Batali with many of his fancy olive oils and Italian rices. Nothing on the menu costs more than $19, which is about the price of a good glass of wine at Babbo.
If you like: BLT Steak
179 W. Broadway, nr. Leonard St.; 212-343-3883.
The steaks aren’t ridiculously cheap here ($27 for a nice New York strip), but you save big on thewine, which is expertly chosen and abstemiously marked up.