Cheap Eats

I dream about one day dining at Thomas Keller's Per Se in the Time Warner Center overlooking Central Park as I admire his signature oysters and caviar. Recently, Keller introduced an a la carte menu at Per Se but as the Wall Street Journal reports, a meal for two can easily cost $175.

On a culinary school budget and the weight of loans bearing down on my shoulders, dining at four-star establishments isn't really an option. But the great thing about living in New York is the abundance of cheap eats.

I'm just as happy biting into the crisp baguette of Vietnamese banh mi, slurping on $2-a-bowl won ton soup, licking every last bit of the blood orange sorbet or the two dozen dumplings that only set me back $5 that week.

So you don't have to be on beer budget if you have Champagne taste.

I'd argue this sort of "food democracy" is much healthier than only having fast food chain options as an affordable choice. For someone interested in food, the variety of choices in New York is inspiring and even overwhelming at times. If you want a porchetta sandwich, there's a dozen options at least.

For now, I'll keep dreaming about that meal at Per Se or Masa or Restaurant Daniel.But I'll be more than content with cheap eats.