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Dine out without breaking the bank in Hell’s Kitchen

Once a rough and tumble quarter full of Irish immigrants and hot dog carts, Hell’s Kitchen is now a fashionable Midtown neighborhood that boasts some of the best eateries on the isle of Manhattan. Its proximity to the theater district and the famed Actors Studio has long made Hell’s Kitchen a haven for the artistically minded, and now that the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has made its home there, the area is even more of a hot spot for Manhattanites and tourists alike. But, you can’t drain your wallet every time you want a night out in the city, so here is a list of some of the best inexpensive (and fun) restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen that could please even the fussiest foodie.

Empanada Mama

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While Empanada Mama on 9th Ave has a full menu, including entrees, salads, and desserts, you really need to try some of their famous empanadas. With over 40 flavors to choose from, you will be able to satisfy your appetite for something savory with the Caribbean-style pork filled Brasil empanada, something spicy with the Spicy Chicken Empanada, and something sweet with the American as apple pie USA empanada. Allergies? Fear not, empanadas come in both wheat and corn flour. Picky eaters? There is a plain old burger on the menu too. All empanadas are priced between $2 and $3 each, which will leave you plenty of cash to try one of their delicious drinks too!

Stecchino

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 Stecchino’s is known for its Italian-style burgers. While you can grab an entree here, the best bang for your buck is one of the burger plates which range between $12.50 and $14.50. These burgers range from the adventurous, The Butchers Block pork and black truffle burger, to the aristocratic, Caesar’s Palazzo with shredded romaine and Caesar dressing. Each plate comes with a generous helping of the familiar and the unexpected, and every burger satisfies. IF by some chance you are still hungry after dinner, you can always top things off with a traditional cannoli for dessert.

Merilu Pizza Al Metro

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Pizza is always the perfect choice, whether you are dining with a large group or a small one, and New York always knows how to do pizza right. At Merilu’s you can go for a plain NY Pie for as little as $12 or a Prosciutto di Param Pizza for $23, or grab one of their delicious salads or homemade Italian dishes to satisfy your appetite. The folks at Merilu’s have a huge menu for you to choose from, and even offer gluten free options, because no one should have to live without pizza. You can round off the night with some Classic Nutella.

 

 

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Take a Look at a Book in New York City

Nothing beats the smell of old books stacked high in a sunny bookstore on a charming summer day. New York City is full of bibliophiles who love to frequent independent and big-names book shops throughout Manhattan, on the hunt for the latest release or just a calm spot to read. Some of coffee and desserts inside, while others may be bare bones but offer free wifi and a chance to browse. Every local swears by their favorite, so travelers will have to try a few to decide on their own preferred book haven in the Big Apple.

Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books

Travelers with a sense of humor and a love of all things quirky will want to make a beeline for 34 Carmine Street in the East Village. The shop is called “Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books”. Really. It says so on their sign. It’s open really late as well, even until midnight on the weekends, so it can be worth stopping by for a book to conclude the night with back at your hotel. Most literary finds only run a few dollars and staff are more than willing to offer a few recommendations. It might not carry the newest bestsellers on your list, but it’s perfect for discovering a hidden gem not many have read.

Bluestockings

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Ladies flock to this shop, as it used to be a strictly feminist hangout and bookstore. Nowadays it has a more inclusive stance, but has still stayed true to its global justice and equality roots. There are more than 6,000 titles ranging from magazines about women’s rights to biographies of those incarcerated. This is the place to learn, as they also hosts various workshops, discussions and even performances on the daily.

St. Mark’s

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Among the student crowd in the Lower East Side is this shop, holding some wonderfully written masterpieces just dying to be picked up. St Mark’s Bookstore has been around for decades and has withstood the test of time and popularization of Kindles. Every month, they welcome an author to do a reading and signing as well, which would be a fun alternative activity to try while in the city. The décor is simple and unpretentious, allowing for a safe space to curl up with a new read and get lost in its story.

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Top small music venues in NYC

Manhattan has some of the most creative and musical residents in the world. People travel from all corners of the globe to make it big as rockstars, on Broadway or anything in between. This gives everyone a chance to showcase their talents and also be witness to some incredible live music in almost every corner of the city. No matter if you are into rock, indie, soul, hip hop or even orchestral, there is a place for you to treat your ears to fantastic entertainment.

Beekman Beer Garden

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Most people do not head to NYC for the beaches, but there is in fact a city man-made shore overlooking the East River that doubles as a music venue. The Beekman has featured acts such as Eric Prydz, Moe., and even George Clinton on the past to patrons hanging out on the sand and in glowing, funky chairs outside. More energetic travelers can enjoy the massive dance space, or challenge a friend to a ping-pong or pool game on the premises. It’s located off of South St.

Gramercy Theater

Live Nation is dominating in ticket sales throughout NYC and the country – so they’ve decided to take creating concert venues into their own hands. The Gramercy Theater was born out of an old movie theater from the 1930s and re-designed to accommodate about 600 music fans at once. Some bands coming up on the calendar include Bassface, Wheatus and Switchfoot.

Living Room

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On Ludlow Street is a little gem that has a great coffee house feel and an intimate setting. Made famous by Norah Jones, the Living Room now features relaxed, singer-songwriter acts throughout the week. Some shows are so laid-back that the singer will make up songs on the spot, so guests can be sure they’re hearing completely original tunes. During the day, kids can even get in on the fun and hear some friendly jingles from famous rockers, like Nada Surf and the Hold Steady.

Jalopy

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Big lights and exciting bands are the draw to most NYC shows, but sometimes locals and travelers also want to get away from it all. Jalopy offers this ambiance on Columbus St. with its curtained stage and charming libations served in mason jars. People who get inspired can stick around for music classes as well, with instruments available to rent in concentrations of mandolin, ukelele, guitar and fiddle.

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Tastiest brunch spots in Manhattan

For such a bustling city like New York, the locals still have an affinity for taking things slow when they can. This is most prevalent on easy Sunday mornings, where many people take to the streets and local restaurants to indulge in a long and lazy brunch. This tradition is carried out by everyone – families order pancakes piled high with candied and syrup, while twenty-somethings often cure their headaches form the night before with unlimited mimosas often included with the meal. Each popular, famous or cozy establishment has its own personality, so it can be well worth the time for travelers to try a few on their next NYC visit.

Choosing a brunch style

It’s really an art form when it comes to eating out on late weekend mornings. Calling ahead for reservations is almost always advisable, due to its popularity all over the city. If interested in unique libations with a meal, ask about included drinks. Or, if trying to impress family and friends, decide on a spot that has a wide variety of selections and some memorable eats. Many establishment will also run specials during restaurant week or have daily deals online to sweeten the deal even more.

Top picks for brunch in NYC

Ilili – American-style brunch may be a classic choice, but sometimes travelers will want to stray from the norm. This stylish eatery offers delectable Lebanese cuisine that’s still include staples like eggs, but they are coddled and prepared instead with fresh spices and sides. Bunch deals also come with a standard mimosa, or guests can sip some tart pomegranate cava, or sparkling wine.

Back Forty West – People who hate making decisions should head straight for this restaurant. On weekend mornings, the pro chef presents a special tasting option that allows patrons to sample many delicious things on the menu at once.

DBDG – Here you can order a stack of pancakes, or go for a more lunch-like brunch, complete with juicy burger sliders and fries. Having a light dinner the night before can be best, as the not-to-be-missed prix fixe menu includes a basket of fresh pastries and a ice cream dessert to finish.

Cafecito Bogota We had to include a great Brooklyn spot as well, as this funky neighborhood as just as much to offer as Manhattan. With a decidedly Latin flair and three free refills on your brunch cocktail, this place more suited sapping stories form the night before than a tranquil meal. Savor poached eggs in passion fruit sauce with South American salami or any of the other filling options.

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Feel like a movie star on a unique Central Park tour

It goes without saying that the skyline of New York City has been used in countless feature films. The iconic layout of the bustling streets is easily recognizable in everything from action flicks to romantic comedies. When travelers visit Manhattan and hope to spot their favorite movie scene backgrounds, it can get overwhelming knowing where to begin.

Fortunately, the plucky staff at Must See Central Park have designed a customized tour to help guests get an insider’s look at one particular filming hotspot in the city – the massive 843 acre sprawl of green. The natural beauty and urban style of Central Park has made creative types flock to it’s gorgeous landscaping and walkways full of interesting people.

Credit: The Movie Picture Database

This excursion can be the perfect place to start when hoping to catch a glimpse of New York’s cinematic splendor. Each tour takes place inside a pedicab, allowing for the best views of each landmark at a leisurely pace. Guides pedal travelers along the winding pathways to glide past countless movie backdrops over the last few decades. See an area featured in the blockbuster Independence Day, or the famous Bethesda Fountain that was used in the Disney movie Enchanted. Feel transported back in time at the Boathouse Cafe where Harry Met Sally, or see The Mall where part of Vanilla Sky was shot.

Each movie adventure lasts one or two hours and is always led by a licensed New York City guide. The cabs can fit one to three people, with frequent stops for questions and photos. Even if guest take this tour several times, the stops and highlights are constantly updated to keep things fresh and relevant to the modern movie fan. No matter what time of year travelers head to Manhattan, they can check this tour out and enjoy it rain or shine.

A Must See Central Park tour is the ideal romantic date to impress your loved one, a fun family outing or even a great way to get a feel for the area when traveling solo. Not only can travelers explore famous film scenes, but it can also be a fantastic way to map out the park for a future visit and to scope out the perfect picnic spot.

Credit: The Movie Picture Database

Interested in other movie tours while in Manhattan? There are many options throughout the city travelers can indulge after their Central Park excursion. Guests can take a bus with the Screen Tours company to catch a glimpse of the hotel used in The Devil Wears Prada or the diner in Chelsea from Men in Black II. Or if tourists adore the Sex and the City TV show and movies, they can experience a full tour by bus, booked through the New York Sightseeing website.

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