By Jessica Colley—
Wander through SoHo without a plan and the cost can add up quickly. This former bohemian neighborhood with its cobbled streets and cast-iron-detailed buildings is now home to upscale shopping and cocktail dens with soaring prices for a single drink. A strategy is in order to find the affordable, neighborhood spots that locals depend on for cheap eats, drinks, and entertainment.
The Solita SoHo Hotel is an affordable option amid the pricey boutiques and bistros of SoHo.
Believe it or not, there is a budget side to SoHo. The following places all have a local vibe, and often deep roots in the neighborhood. In a city like New York where restaurants open and close at a rapid pace, it’s refreshing to cross the threshold in decades-old establishments.
Where to Stay
341 Broome Street (near Bowery)
Doubles from $99
Not exactly in SoHo, but on its borders, is SoHotel, a boutique 96-room option with exposed brick walls and flat-screen TVs. On the corner of bustling Broome and Bowery, you might experience some noise, but the central location to explore some of the best downtown neighborhoods (at an excellent value) is worth it. Bring earplugs.
159 Grand Street (at Centre Street)
Doubles from $140
Another on-the-edge of SoHo option is the Solita Soho, a small, modern hotel offering free Wi-Fi. A friendly, helpful staff and quality beds and linens are highlights, though be prepared for small rooms and bring along your own toiletries (they aren’t provided). The location makes it easy to explore on foot.
Off SoHo Suites Hotel
11 Rivington Street (between Christie and Bowery Streets)
Doubles from $130
Another property that's not quite in SoHo (in fact, it's just a block or two away from the SoHotel), the appropriately-named Off SoHo Suites Hotel offers apartment-style suites with full kitchens and private bedrooms. Perfect for Cheapos that want a little more than just a place to lay their head, the hotel boasts a magnificent location within walking distance of SoHo, the Lower East Side and the East Village.
Alidoro's huge sandwiches draw equally huge crowds to their tiny SoHo storefront. Photo: roboppy.
Where to Eat
Lupe’s East LA Kitchen
110 Sixth Avenue (at Watts Street)
For decades this cheap and cheerful Mexican café has been serving up hearty breakfast, lunches, and dinners (along with fair trade coffees and affordable beer, wine, and cocktails). Expect heaping platters of enchiladas, burritos, and tacos, served with rice and beans, to the pleasant background of upbeat Mexican music. At $5.95, breakfast is an especially good deal.
28 Watts Street
Down the block from Lupe’s, Mooncake Foods is on the western edge of SoHo, serving up casual Asian-inspired food at reasonable prices. Appetizers like dumplings, spring rolls, and chicken wings are in the $5-$7 range, while sandwiches and filling plates mostly come in under $10. For even more value, you can bring your own drinks.
105 Sullivan Street (between Prince and Spring Streets)
On a gorgeous stretch of Sullivan Street is Alidoro, a tiny sandwich shop with a long line out the door. Avoid coming at peak lunch time (1p.m. on weekdays) and you can skip the line for these made-to-order mammoth sandwiches. One sandwich (about $10) can easily feed two people. Take your loot to the park next door and eat outside on a nice day.
494 Broome Street
It’s not fancy, but locals love the Japanese market and food court Sunrise Mart, on Broome Street. Here you can pick up soba noodles, sushi, bento boxes, or even French fries with wasabi mayo, for a few dollars. There are tables for eating in and people watching, both in the market and on the sidewalk of busy Broome Street.
During happy hour, the Cupping Room Café is a steal, offering discounted drinks and free bar food. Photo: Lauren Manning.
Where to Drink
59 Grand Street
SoHo is home to the beloved Balthazar, a gorgeous restaurant, though not exactly cheapo friendly (unless you stop in for an early morning croissant). Before there was Balthazar, there was Lucky Strike, Keith McNally’s first SoHo venture that opened in 1989. This is the cheaper, more neighborhood version of Balthazar (and serves their famous bread, too). Come at happy hour for $4 wine and $5 cocktails, and snacks from $3 fries to $5 sliders.
Cupping Room Café
359 West Broadway (at Broome Street)
Another SoHo institution is the Cupping Room Café. Since the ‘70s, this exposed brick café has been a gathering place for the neighborhood. The deals are found on weekday happy hour, from 5 to 8pm, when drink prices come down significantly and bar snacks are on offer for free. Bands often play, too.
94 Prince Street (at Mercer Street)
In the prime heart of SoHo is Fanelli, a throwback to another time in the neighborhood. Since 1922, the weathered bar has welcomed those looking for an affordable pint and juicy burger. There are tables topped with red-checkered tablecloths if you’re looking for some privacy.
Bonus: Where to Shop
Pearl River Mart
477 Broadway (between Grand and Broome Streets)
Strut straight past the outrageously priced boutiques in SoHo and enter Pearl River Mart, a multi-level Chinese emporium filled with everything from tea and snacks to handbags and kitchenware. If you’re looking for an affordable gift (or fun place to browse), this is it.
Want more? Check out our picks for each part of New York, starting with our Budget Neighborhood Guide to the East Village.
About the author: Jessica Colley is a freelance travel writer and poet. She blogs about Dublin and more at www.thegreatamericantraveldream.com.