Friday, July 20, 2012


FRIDAY FIVE -  After spending four consecutive weekends seeking meat-free lactose-freedom in NYC and Brooklyn (compliments of my Yoga Teacher Training), I have learned a great deal about the delicate task of balancing budget and belly.  I have also discovered the glories of traveling by foot to burn calories instead of cash and why you shouldn't do so in flipflops when the "great idea" to walk from St. Marks to McCarren Park suddenly strikes you... but that's a story for another day.  Right now, we're looking for a way to fill our bellies without emptying our wallets.

The following are my Top 5 discoveries:

I have three words for you: FAST. CHEAP. FILLING.  Located conveniently close to my yoga studio, Mamoun's is the perfect place to run in quickly and grab a snack on a low-low budget... and when I say low, I'm talking LOW... like $2 low for a decently large side of delicious hummus or baba ganouj with four fresh pitas.  Their service is like lightning so if you're in a rush or are absolutely famished, this place provides a great solution.  They have several meals all under $10 if you're more hungry than I tend to be and offer several juices and a really interesting spiced tea for less than a pack of gum.  Cool little spot tucked neatly away with a couple of tables out on St. Marks to relax and enjoy your food watching all of the hustle and bustle of the street.  Overall, a great deal in an otherwise expensive area.  (WEBSITE)

I found this little wonder while walking to Greenpoint from Chinatown.  Located just a few blocks from the Williamsburg Bridge, this little gem features an enormous array of italian ice flavors from fruit punch to chocolate chip cookie dough!  The $3 medium is more than big enough for one person and offers  you the opportunity to mix and match multiple flavors.  The Peach is very pleasant and the Fruit Punch (which was recommended by the gent behind the counter) is out of this world.  Oh, and did I mention that they also serve something like five or six different soups daily?  That's the fire part to compliment the gloriously affordable and absolutely delicious ice.  Grab a punch card while you're there and after 5 you get one free! (WEBSITE)

I walked into this place after literally saying "I wonder if they have tofu creamcheez" and let me tell you... THEY HAVE TOFU CREAMCHEEZ!  Six types, in fact.  Vegetable, Mixed Berry, Olive, Scallion, Plain, and my personal favorite: Sundried Tomato Basil... out of this world awesome!  I ordered mine on an everything bagel, toasted, and prepared myself with a ten dollar bill as I had expected the tofu to jack up the price.  Much to my amazement, the extremely friendly lady behind the counter asked for $3 and change.  I want to say $3.16, but don't quote me on that.  All I know is that it was a fresh toasty bagel, covered in delicious tofu creamcheez that cost less than $4 and more than filled me up as a meal.  Great service, great food, great price. (WEBSITE)

This restaurant has notoriously mixed reviews, mainly from people who have ordered delivery, but if you don't mind hopping the G or walking over to Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint then I'd suggest checking this place out.  I don't eat fish, so I can't vouch for their non-vegetarian dishes, but I can safely say that after multiple visits they have some of the best Avocado Rolls and Sweet Potato Rolls that I've had in the city thus far.  I find that sticking a bit of the ginger inside the roll before dipping it in soy sauce makes for the best flavor, but overall they are pretty decent and keep well over night.  Around lunchtime you'll pay $10.50 for three rolls (24 sushi rolls total) with miso soup and salad.  If you're stopping by for dinner, the price only goes up by two dollars for the same amount of food with the added perk of unlimited hot sake.  Beers are also something like $3 at night.  You can't beat that... and if you're there with a friend, you can split the meal and make it quite the affordable little outing!

This is my new favorite spot.  Sporting the motto "The Slice is Right" Vinnie's offers a lot of variety and generates a ton of business on busy Bedford Avenue.  The inside looks like a pizzaria from back home, complete with those red-orange "booths" and Italian-inspired artwork all over the walls.   You can take a glance at the "Special Bored" as you approach the register and check out their daily special with artwork to match or order one of the delicious slices they bake fresh every day like vegan buffalo chicken or vegan eggplant parm.  You can even follow their specials on tumblr if you feel so inclined.  Vegan slices are a flat $4 or you can get a small pie (6 slices) for $16 with a specialty topping of your choice.  Take advantage of their 5 for $1 garlic knot deal while sipping on some free tap water in the cooler by the door or grab a $1 fountain soda to wash down your meal.  Every single thing I've tried here (and I've stopped by almost daily for their specials) has been fantastic, the service is consistently fast and pleasant, and the place has an over-all good vibe.  They also have a larger Italian menu, vegetarian slices (with real cheese), and regular sorts of slices for those with less adventurous tastebuds or dietary restrictions.  (WEBSITE)

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