Staff Picks in NYC

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Dec. 3rd, 2014
Tags: Staff Picks New Yorker Residence
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Join EHS RA Marcela Corro on a quick food tour around NYC to find out where you can get great food, at great prices!

Checkout EHS top picks and more! Make sure to stay tuned for more in upcoming months. We will do our best to make sure that we take the work out of finding great places in NYC at a good price for you.

Do you have a great place with great prices that you would like to recommend? Let us know by emailing us at

Empanada Mama - by Brian Harrington, Administrative Assistant

I walked in, sat down, and became a different person. Well I’m still the same person, but with a new found love. Empanada Mama gave my taste buds a fiesta that they will never forget. This quaint little Colombian spot in Hell’s Kitchen was filled with aromas that will instantly make your mouth water. My first time here I utilized the take out option. I picked up two empanadas, made my way home and fell in love. I went back the next week to dine in. This time, the feasting began.
I ordered three empanadas; the Spicy Chicken, Brazilian, and Jamaican. I also ordered a side of rice and beans for about $3.00 more. Add a specialty drink to that and you are still under the $20 mark. I recommend stopping by during off peak hours as it’s a small place with limited seating. If you aren’t opposed to take out (which is a popular option), you can still get the benefits of Empanada Mama this way. Do you have Foursquare on your cell phone? Well if you do, make sure to check in here! Every now and then they offer specials when you check in.

Pota-topia - by Robert Haynes, St. George Associate Director

As an avid lover of potatoes, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon this small West Village eatery. Conveniently located right off of the A/C/E West 4th Stop, this small spot packs a big punch. With a Chipotle style setup, potato lovers are able to pick from 9 different styles of potatoes and add on over 20 different toppings and 14 different sauces. Pota-topia has 6 signature meals that are already predetermined for you or you can be adventurous and build your own yummy spud. Ordering was quick and simple, the ingredients were fresh and quickly prepared, and the final product was delicious. My amazing and filling meal was also extremely affordable, coming in at around $9.00, drink included. If you ever find yourself venturing through the West Village and in need of a quick bite, I definitely recommend checking out Pota-topia!!

Studio Diva Nail Salon - Lindy Emerson, St. George Associate Director

Mid-Terms will be starting soon, and there is a new way to de-stress near the St. George. The Diva Nail Salon is literally next door to the St. George. Don’t let the small space or seemingly unfriendly ladies deter you.  I went in, expecting them to rush me through as many New York places do. An inexpensive pedicure often comes with a place rushing you out or with questionable cleanliness standards. I was delightfully surprised at Diva Nails.  It’s nice to be in a new and clean place. The ladies working there were much friendlier than I had initially thought. They spent an entire hour pampering my tired feet and didn’t rush to finish when someone else came in for a pedicure. You can get a pedicure for $25 or a Mani-Pedi for $32 with your student ID (don’t forget to tip!). Take an hour to relax, read some magazines, enjoy their massage chair and get your feet pampered. You won’t regret it.

SweetWater - by Brian Harrington, Administrative. Assistant

Looking for a great spot to get a great burger in NYC? You’re in luck. There are of course many great places to get great burgers. Five Guys may have amazing burgers and delicious fries as well as Shake Shack. But, the place I’m talking about will leave you leaving wanting more. Don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. When you have a chance, take a trip down to Williamsburg and stop by Sweetwater.
The Sweetwater burger is a hot menu item. The locals know you go there mostly just for the burger. What’s so great about? I’m glad you asked. This burger is lean and is a generous portion of beef. It comes served on an English muffin, wrapped in melted cheddar cheese and topped with caramelized onions. But that’s not all; this burger also comes with hand cut fries cooked to perfection with just the right amount of salt and a side salad topped with a tasty vinaigrette. Did I mention this is all for just $12.00? Add a beverage and you’re still under the $20 mark. If beef isn’t your thing, try the lamb burger for just a dollar more! It’s just as good. When you’re done with that, make sure and take a stroll down to the Wythe Hotel for a different view of the city. The Wythe Hotel has a rooftop area with a stunning view of NYC, not to mention one of the few places where you can order a coke in the original glass bottle.

Diva Salon - Lindy Emerson, St. George Associate Director

Sitting slumped over your computer all day or stressing about that upcoming exam can put your back in knots. Diva Salon is only 1 block away from the St. George on Henry Street. They are offering one hour massages for only $45.00 (normally $75.00). If you’ve ever had a massage, this is a great price for one hour! It may seem steep for your college budget but one massage will do wonders after all that red bull and coffee you've been drinking! After my massage and a short nap I was ready to conquer the day! (Don't forget to tip generously)

VAPIANO - by Brian Harrington,  Administrative Assistant

Vapiano is a great new hot spot to hit NYC. Located in the heart of Union Square, Vapiano serves as a great way to spend the evening with friends and family without breaking your bank account. When you enter you will find a tasteful and spacious décor inside that lends to a lounge/ bar/ restaurant atmosphere. What’s even better is you receive a debit style card when you enter. This card is what you will use to buy your meals and drinks. This was fun as you are able to create your own experience. No need to wait for a waiter/waitress because they won’t be coming around. You can walk straight up to any of the food stations or bar and place your order. Use your card to add your items to it and then you pay when you’re ready to leave. The food was tasty and for $20 you can get a great meal. I’m not sure what my favorite dish is, but I will definitely give Vapiano another visit soon. If you’re looking for a different dining experience you will too.

REPUBLIC~ THINK NOODLES! - by Brian Harrington, Admin. Assistant

I’ve never been much of a noodle person until one day I was introduced to the wonder known as Republic. Located in the heart of Union Square close to the Heartland Brewery, this hot spot hosts a variety of noodle dishes. My personal favorite is the Grilled Beef. For just $13 you can get a delicious plate of angel hair noodles, alongside perfectly cooked beef skewers. The dish is accompanied by salad in a light tangy dressing. Republic is also cafeteria style seating so you might even make a few new friends while you’re there. You can always take in one of their freshly made drinks that go great with this scrumptious meal and a hot day of walking around NYC. You’ll definitely want to come back and try out some of there other signature dishes time and time again. This venture won’t hurt your wallet and if you choose wisely, you’ll find that you haven’t spent more than $20.

RED BAMBOO - by Yolanda Cruz, Director of Student Life

Are you Vegan or Vegetarian? Looking for a delicious cheap eat?  I stumbled upon Red Bamboo near Washington Square Park on one of those sunny Saturday afternoons. The restaurant itself has a cozy and friendly atmosphere. After reviewing the menu, I realized I was faced with a tough task.  Deciding what to eat!  Everything sounded so good, but since I am a Texan I went with the BBQ option. For $10 I had a savory “pulled pork” sandwich with a side of fries. If you want to stay away from fried foods you can have a side of coleslaw instead. Their portions are big, filling and really affordable.This is a definite must visit when you’re in the neighborhood. Check out their menu at Red Bamboo NYC.

SHORTY'S - by James Wojtkiewicz, 1760 3rd Avenue Associate Director

Looking for a little hometown bar in big ole New York City? Check out this small, classic, authentic, hometown cheesesteak bar visited by New Yorker Associate Directors James Wojtkiewicz and Keri-ann Byers!
For years now, Shorty’s (located on 42nd Street and 9th Avenue, in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood) has been serving NYC’s most authentic cheesesteaks.  The debate rages on: what makes a cheesesteak authentic? Some people say it’s the meat. Others say it’s the cheese.  Some people actually think a cheesesteak must be eaten in Philly!  For Shorty’s, it’s all about the bread.  Just like it’s difficult to duplicate NYC pizza in Los Angeles or a Long Island bagel in Miami, everyone feels the same way about a Philly cheesesteak outside of Philly.  What makes Philly bread work so well?  Is it the water?  Who knows?  Shorty’s ship their bread in directly from Philly and bake it every hour.
Our personal favorite meal at Shorty’s? To start, their amazing buffalo winds, chicken cheesesteak with fried onions, mushrooms peppers with a side of Italian fries (sprinkled with garlic and parmesan cheese), and a nice beer (to those that are 21+).  Check out their awesome menu and their locations (they also have a traveling van) at:

THE MEATBALL SHOP - by Samantha Neugebauer, (Previous) St. George Residence Director

You would think a restaurant that sells mostly meatballs wouldn’t be known for its versatility, but you would be wrong. The Meatball Shop is a great place to take anyone in your life and share a delicious meal! There are three locations in New York City (Williamsburg, the Lower East Side, and the West Village) and each location has its own charm and character. I’ve had the opportunity to eat at all three and would recommend the Williamsburg location for a meal with friends, the Lower East Side shop to take a date, and the West Village spot for a trip with your parents or relatives. Each meal is customized and under twenty dollars. There are daily special meatballs, vegetarian meatballs, and ever-changing sides and desserts. My favorite side would have to be the mushroom risotto and the pesto chicken meatball smash sandwich is a winner. You can check the website for the daily specials and to see what is being served at each location any given day. You can also “Like” The Meatball Shop on Facebook or follow the restaurant on Twitter!

BOAT BASIN CAFE - by Irina Ostrozhnyuk, (Previous) 1760 3rd Avenue Associate Director

Do you ever wander around NYC trying to figure out what want to do? Here is a suggested route! Pick a nice sunny afternoon, take lots of water with you, and head out to the west side to my absolutely favorite place to walk- Hudson River Park. Aside from its gorgeous scenic route, you will get a chance to see a lot on your way. As you get to 79th street, you will see amazing scenery of boats and yachts right in the Hudson. You can take a small break and get a table at the “Boat Basin Café” which offers incredible views of the basin itself as well as a good variety of options to snack on. A burger with fries is only about $9, so it will not hurt your wallet, and the view and the fresh air is worth giving it a try!

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