Are moderately priced restaurants doomed in Tribeca?

Ajisai, the sushi restaurant that took over the Tokyo Bay space on Duane Park in summer 2022, has closed permanently. C. and H. sent word; the owner also confirmed. It’s a loss.

I have to admit that when Billy Liu closed Tokyo Bay during the pandemic, I switched to Zutto and Takahachi for sushi. But Ajisai was still great — I went several times — just quiet. And this got me to thinking about the near constant complaints regarding prices at recent restaurant openings in the neighborhood. I am beginning to think this neighborhood cannot sustain moderately priced restaurants, since we have fewer workers here and since a good chunk of the neighborhood leaves for the summer months and holidays.

We certainly deserve an A+ for destination dining, but reasonably priced spots are struggling, owners tell me. So for my own edification, I tried to make a list of sit-down spots with some attention to atmosphere where you could get a meal for under $40 a head, or an entree at $20 or below. And for guidance, I checked The Infatuation, and sure enough they have a category: SSCRPRTCUWFF, or the “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends.” Their attributes were:

  • Kind of quiet.
  • Not super boring.
  • Relatively small in size, or at least not cavernous.
  • With plates around $20 and under.

Well, it turns out you can’t do that in Tribeca. I found hardly any spots where an entree was below $20 unless it was a salad, and very few where a glass of wine was below $15. So then I upped it to $50 a head to allow for a $25 entree, a $13 glass of wine, a $7 tip and maybe half an appetizer or half a dessert.

So now here’s my list and PLEASE tell me who I forgot: I’ve updated my list with suggestions from comments and will just add further clarification: I only picked places that had more than one ENTREE at $25 or under. There are lots of ways to eat at pricier neighborhood spots — give me the Odeon’s country frisée salad all day. There’s the meatball appetizer and wine from the tap at Sarabeth’s for $26, all in. UPDATE: NEW CATEGORY BELOW! And I didn’t count The Hideaway, since they are primarily a bar, but it *is* cute in there and a fried chicken biscuit is $17; or Terroir, a wine bar but where the cauliflower with baba ganoush and a glass of the Best’s Great Western Riesling will come in at $37 before the tip.

  • Edward’s
  • Gigino Trattoria
  • Max
  • Bubby’s
  • Zutto
  • Takahachi
  • Estancia
  • Benares
  • Gunbae
  • Monk McGinn’s
  • Greenwich Street Tavern
  • Square Diner
  • Gee Whiz
  • Tataki
  • Bar 135 (Reade Street Pub)
  • Boss Tweed’s
  • File Gumbo Bar
  • Terra
  • Tre Sorelle
  • Walker’s
  • Añejo Tribeca
  • Petrarca Cucina e Vino
  • TAQ
  • Fonda
  • Mudville 9
  • Ol’ Days (closes at 5p)

NEW CATEGORY: Bars and wine bars with a dinner menu:

  • The Hideaway
  • Belle Reve
  • Terroir
  • Brickyard

Please chime in.

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  1. Thank you for shedding light on this issue as I’ve been in the comment section for 2+ years advocating for moderately priced restaurants in our beloved neighborhood.

    In addition to your awesome list here are a few more moderately priced to spotlight:
    -Tre Sorelle

    I understand we live in an expensive nyc neighborhood but is it too much to ask for more places where I’m not spending $350+ to take my wife out for a date night?

  2. We’ve been in the neighborhood for 20+ years … Which is a blink of an eye compared to many others but long enough to note the changes that have taken place

    Although Tribeca has certainly improved it’s “Cache” as a trendy neighborhood, I cannot help but feel that the Tribeca of today is lacking some of the vibrancy we saw in the late 90’s & 2000’s..

    Tribeca Commercial rents are absurdly high in relation to the amount of foot traffic in the neighborhood, and large employers cutting back and continuing on with “work from home” is certainly not helping things any.

    I would hope that these things slowly adjust in order to allow more stores and businesses to flourish in our neighborhood.
    p.s. I love Mudville for Ribs..

    • When I worked in the area, Mudville was my Friday treat myself lunch place and I always got the wings and onion rings. Before they got a new chef (I was last there pre-covid), the sauce that came with the rings was addictive.

  3. Don’t forget Los Tacos No. 1 and Chipotle!

  4. From the “old days”….

    Miss Kitchenette, Jerry’s, Riverrun and Delphi.
    And the old City Hall (though not cheap)

    Glad that Walker’s has been able to hang on.

  5. Think ajisai had closed for good ;(

  6. Speaking for those of us in Northwest Tribeca, Estancia is a must add to the list – for 20+ years a most welcoming space with reliable, moderately priced food

    • 100% agree!!!

      Estancia has been in our specific NW corner for Tribeca since we got here…The food is great & ownership and staff Amazing. It is an institution. Argentine/Italian…
      Love them!

  7. Paisley is another affordable favorite & family-owned

  8. Benares is great.

    Salaam Bombay used to be the spot. Lots of demolition happening there. Not sure what they’re doing.

    I remember being a kid at one point. Seems like a lack of places catering to families are more of the concern. Edwards will always be in my heart.

  9. TAQ!!! We are at 81 Warren and our food is fresh and prices are EASILY within this category! Come check us out! :)

    • K,
      You are right about “Taq” on Chambers between Greenwich and West Broadway. Place is always empty, and never should be: excellent tacos, salads and other worthwhile dishes at very reasonable prices, warm and comfy decor, personable and knowledgeable service every time we had dinner there. I’ve pushed this place like crazy, but despite the really good food at low prices, it hasn’t caught on. That’s a shame, because in a neighborhood chock full of families with young children, retirees and lots of younger couples, who could no doubt appreciate a break from Whole Foods, DoorDash, and $100- a head tariffs everywhere else in Tribeca, Taq could be a welcome respite from being wallet-mugged at most of the restaurants down here

      • The food is good at Taq. Please turn down the lights!!! It’s too bright. Creating better lighting will help bring the customers in.

        • Love the food at Taq, but i agree that the lighting is so off putting! Way too bright- if (when) they turn down the lights, I’ll be back.

    • Agree that we love Taq. Very family friendly place and the food is great.

    • We liked Taq the one time we went, but there wasn’t much for my 5yo so haven’t been back. Given the make-up of the neighborhood, highly suggest adding a kids menu with some basic options. That way the kids have something to while the parents go for the more adventuresome stuff!

  10. If you thought rents and real estate taxes are too high and foot traffic is too low, wait until congestion pricing hits.

  11. Don’t forget 1803

  12. I still miss Cercle Rouge and Franklin Station Cafe. Those were my favorites for exceptional quality and moderate price.

  13. Burrito mariachi is a rare gem found in the area!! Fresh food always! Not for dining really more for take away and ❤️

  14. Seems like there’s an incredible marketing opportunity right now for these low priced restaurants to attract migrant clientele flush with NYC dining dollars.

  15. Thank you for this post!

    I recently moved to Tribeca elsewhere in the city and have been building up a list of go to spots that don’t break the bank. Had been to some of these already but definitely not all.

    So helpful to a newcomer to the ‘hood!

  16. Taq in Warren and ol’ days are both AMAZING additions to the neighborhood!! Taq is delicious street tacos (same price as a single steak taco at dos toros these days!!) — and chips are homemade and addictive!!! Please go to these!! We’ve been and we’ve done takeout!!! Support great affordable food!!

  17. Please don’t forget Taq on Warren. It has some “upscale” tacos, but also has classics, and great nachos. It’s a clean, pleasant, relatively quiet, and affordable. I’m sure it could use a boost.

    Same for Ol’ Days on Warren – a big space that is done up nicely and serves great brunch.

    • Second TAQ and Ol Days! We also love Tara Kitchen on Church St! The tagines are delicious and a great value! It’s our go to for a casual dinner, with options for vegetarians, pescatarians and meat eaters.

  18. Monk McGinns should surely be on this list. Plenty of items around $20.

  19. Yall forget Khe-Yo! Excellent Laotian cuisine and while slightly higher than many on this list, it isn’t offensive given the great food and vibes.

    I have been preaching this for years that no one wants more overpriced restaurants and instead prefer these moderately priced, good food offerings instead. It’s truly a shame they open and close seemingly over night. The city needs to stop funding the migrant and weed crises and instead support small neighborhood restaurants like these.

  20. Fonda is the best moderately priced Mexican probably in the city.

    Max is an excellent casual Friday night date spot for italian. Wine and pasta, what else does one need?

    Just give me more of these places that put quality and service above stuffing customers.

  21. There was Saluggi’s – now gone. Anyone know why?

    There is still Chinatown just next to us, with plenty of affordable options.

    It’s really sad that this is the situation. We rarely go out to eat in the neighborhood due to the prices, and often disappointing food quality, even that those prices, plus so few vegetarian and vegan options.

    • Saluggi’s closed January 2023. I actually don’t think this list is sad at all. I am now impressed with the selection and the enthusiasm!

  22. While Bubby’s may meet the $25 entree criteria for this list, imho it’s hard to describe it as “moderately priced” these days. Maybe in a relative sense for dinner? But for breakfast/brunch it has gotten kind of crazy tbh. For two adults and a kid you’d be hard pressed to get out of there for <$100 for breakfast. Not to say that it isn't still good — it is — but it's hardly moderately priced. Side note — while it's long been a brunch destination, TikTok must have turbocharged that over the pandemic because the Sat/Sun lines are now to the point where you'd think they're giving food away or something. It's wild!

    Also, although it's a bar through and through, I'd add Puffy's — not sure there's a better deal down here for the quality than their sandwiches.

  23. Viet Cafe on Greenwich St. is very reasonable and they have a happy hour.

    • Nothing better than their steak frites! But no entree is below $25.

    • I love Viet Cafe and think it’s one of the favorites in the neighborhood, but it also has the most horribly unreliable hours. How is it not open on weekends? (It used to be closed on Sundays, now I think it’s closed on Saturdays and even Friday nights?) How will it survive?

  24. I worry about the few remaining places that are/were supposed to be inexpensive. Something like an omelette and soda at Gee Whiz will run $25. At some point their prices will have to get so high it won’t be worth it for that food.
    It is hard to see how establishments that rely on a high volume of low priced items (Morgans? Fernandez Shoe Repair? Corner Gourmet?) and don’t control their spaces can survive for long. Eventually they price themselves out.

  25. What a good list, thank you! I believe you should include
    Khe-Yo on Duane. The food is fresh, unique, and delicious. The staff and the chef are great. Their lunchtime menu is quite reasonably priced.

    We oh-so, miss the likes of Franklin Street Station and the Greek diner, which Bluestone now occupies. Hey, what about Bluestone?

    An aside: we need alternatives to Whole Foods. Oh yeah- we really miss Bazzini’s too.

    • Love Khe-Yo, but does not make the list of $25 and below. Same with Artesano. Will add Gunbae for the bibimbop, though their BBQ is all over $34.

  26. Artesano, greenwich st tavern, gunbae

    • Greenwich Street Tavern! Good one. Plus: kids menu. Moved Gunbae to the list. Artesano does not qualify for price.

  27. Asaji closed because their food was awful Love the list don’t forget:
    – Petrarca Cucina e Vino
    – belle reve
    – max
    – estancia / north bar

    we need more places like these!

    • Have Petrarca, Max and Estancia on the list; I don’t think of Belle Reve as a restaurant — rather a bar with food, similar to The Hideaway. But we can move this category to the list…

  28. Gunbae on Murray amazing place with plenty of dish or soup under 25 and very fun to hang out
    It is unfortunate how good high quality restaurants so pricey in nyc especially TriBeCa

    I really hope they can do paris style – a great fine dining spot with a lower price more casual sister bar/bistro next to it – providing ppl two tiers of choices…

  29. Puffy‘s grab a beer & a sandwich

  30. I’m going to try to add to this list. About to undergo a little renovation and plan to serve breakfast, brunchl light lunch and light supper items along with specialty desserts that cannot be Taken away. (Think molten chocolate cake with sauce)Small menu , “California style” service.
    Will still be a take out bakery that makes specialty and to order cakes and cookies and of course, RingDings! Stay tuned

  31. Square Diner

  32. Greca? Mudville? Have lived in Tribeca 23 years. Remember when there seemed to be way fewer neighborhood spots in comparison to high end destination dining. However, while fewer options, dining was way more affordable way back when. There are so few affordable spots and don’t consider most on the list given I have to eat gluten free which has to be considered before total dollar amount. With gf charges even a simple pasta dish isn’t guaranteed an affordable option.

  33. Tribeca’s Kitchen served an essential function as a place where local workers could enjoy lunch at moderate “diner” prices before the pandemic took both the restaurant and its owner. Many miss it still. Its successor, Maranthi, priced itself out of that market (which is still substantial despite telecommuting) and is now closed.

    It’s sad that restaurants here are no longer able to provide a reasonably-priced lunch to the “civic center” daytime crowd. That was a niche that long-closed establishments like Ellen’s seemed to fill for decades.

    If anyone has recommendations for this market segment, send them in.

  34. As reported in Crain’s New York Business this past week, the average rent in Tribeca was $11,000 a month at the end of 2023, according to market research from the Corcoran Group. Profit margins for successful restaurants in the best of times aspire to earning a dime on the dollar. With soaring overhead costs, most restaurants today are lucky to be making 2 to 3 cents on the dollar, if they are not losing money. Real Estate interests impose high rents and enjoy bullish profit margins. No restaurant wants to raise prices. Indeed the reason NYC Restaurant Week has been so successful, is that it generates greater volume due to value pricing. However, looking forward, It will be extremely difficult to offer high quality food for $25 entrees unless overhead costs are significantly reduced.

  35. Two Hands, Maman and Gotan are good for lunch
    Peppolino has great pasta
    There is a new spot by the Woolworth building that is about to open (above the A/C/E)
    Sandwiches at Puffy’s
    El Vez