How to Pay Less at New York's Priciest Restaurants

Diners at Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental New York are treated to spectacular Central Park views. Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental New York
By Hillary Richard McNamara

As anyone who has ever visited New York City will tell you, it's not cheap. It comes as no surprise that this international hub has some of the best -- and most expensive -- restaurants in the country. Some of the world's most talented chefs work tirelessly to create innovative tasting menus for customers. Some kitchens are so inspired that the menu changes daily, according to the chef's whims.

If these restaurants seem a little out of your budget, don't worry. It's still possible to experience the decadence of some of the New York City's best restaurants for less with these insider tips.

Photo Caption: Diners at Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental New York are treated to spectacular Central Park views.
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Adour Alain Ducasse. Adour Alain Ducasse
What: Wine connoisseurs, rejoice: Adour's menu pairings (and even its décor) were made with you in mind. This Alain Ducasse creation boasts an extensive wine library with hundreds of options, each selected to compliment the bold French flavors of Adour's cuisine. Executive Chef Didier Elena studied under Alain Ducasse and shares his dedication to mastering the art of pairing seasonal ingredients with the perfect vintage. Wine novices have no need to worry, however. The intimate restaurant wine bar features interactive projection technology where guests can learn about the various wine selections in an informative, touch-screen way.

Money-Saving Tip: The Astor Court Restaurant and King Cole Bar, both also in the St. Regis, offer diners a chance to enjoy the regal atmosphere for less.

Where: Adour is in the St. Regis New York, located at 2 East 55th Street and Fifth Avenue; www.adour-stregis.com

Cost: Adour does several tasting menus as well as an à la carte menu. The seven-course seasonal tasting menu is $115 per person. The white truffle tasting menu is $200 per person. The vegetarian tasting menu is $85 per person.

Most Expensive Menu Item: The Prestige Osetra caviar is $315 for 1.76 ounces.

Least Expensive Menu Item: The fall vegetable cooked and raw composition costs $18.

Photo Caption: Adour Alain Ducasse.
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Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental. Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental New York
What: The atmosphere at Asiate would be stunning even without its award-winning décor. Guests are treated to unsurpassed views of Central Park from the floor-to-ceiling windows of this 35th floor restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental New York. It's little surprise, then, that the restaurant's cuisine is inspired by its stunning surroundings. Asiate's menu changes with the seasons but always features contemporary, modern cuisine with subtle Asian influences.

Money-Saving Tip: The three-course prix fixe menu is $34 per person at lunch. Guests can also order from an à la carte lunch menu.

Where: Asiate is at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, at 80 Columbus Circle and 60th Street; www.mandarinoriental.com/newyork/dining/asiate

Cost: A three-course menu is $85 per person and a seven-course tasting menu is $125.

Most Expensive Menu Item: Dinner at Asiate is not a la carte, but the most expensive item on the menu would be the Wagyu beef.

Least Expensive Menu Item: The Hawaiian blue prawns appetizer would be the least expensive.

Photo Caption: Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental.
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Daniel, by Daniel Boulud. Eric Laignel
What: After almost 20 years, Daniel is still at the top of the New York dining scene. This is only fitting, since French Chef Daniel Boulud perfected his skills in Manhattan. Daniel has a loyal fan base of regular customers, due largely to Boulud's attention to every detail. When the restaurant was remodeled in 2008, Boulud handpicked the artwork for Daniel, choosing artists he knew well in order to give the restaurant a chic, personal touch. And of course, there's the exquisite food -- an effortlessly blend of seasonal elements with traditional French staples. This three-star Michelin restaurant is one of only five the New York Times has given a four-star rating.

Money-Saving Tip: During the winter months, the three-course prix fixe menu is $125 per person and includes sommelier-selected wines for each course. This offer is only valid on 5:30pm and 6:00pm reservations Monday through Thursday. Alternatively, guests are welcome to enjoy the à la carte desserts ($18) or champagne by the glass ($25) at any time in the bar and lounge at Daniel.

Where: Daniel is located at 60 East 65th Street; www.danielnyc.com/daniel.html

Cost: A three-course prix fixe dinner is $108 per person ($168 with wine pairings). The six-course tasting menu is $195 per person ($300 with wine pairings). The decadent eight-course tasting menu is $220 per person ($350 with wine pairings).

Most Expensive Menu Item: During the white truffle season (October to December each year), the restaurant has several Alba white truffle dishes ($70 to supplement the tasting menu or $190 to have as a main course). Year-round, Daniel's private label Golden Ossetra caviar costs $470 for 50 grams.

Least Expensive Menu Item: Desserts served a la carte are $18.

Photo Caption: Daniel, by Daniel Boulud.
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Gilt, New York City. Gilt
What: The perfect balance of youth and age gives Gilt its unique appeal. The restaurant itself is in the historic 1882 Villard Mansion at the Palace Hotel, creating a distinctive Old New York atmosphere. With only slight alterations to the opulent décor, this former personal study was transformed into a contemporary restaurant. Chef Justin Bogle, the youngest two-star Michelin chef in New York City, brings a modern feel to Gilt with his 21st Century New American cuisine. The menu successfully mixes earthy, farm-fresh ingredients with global flair, adding yet another exciting contrast.

Money-Saving Tip: The pre-theater crowd can enjoy the same three-course tasting menu for only $68 per person (normally $89) from Tuesdays through Saturdays at a 5:30pm or 6pm seating. The restaurant asks that guests mention this special menu when booking.

Where: Gilt is located in the New York Palace Hotel at 455 Madison Avenue; www.giltnewyork.com

Cost: Gilt offers several tasting menu options. A three-course prix fixe dinner is $89 per person, a five-course tasting menu is $120 per person and the grand seven-course tasting menu is $150 per person.

Most Expensive Menu Item: The turbot with a supplement of Perigord black truffles would cost about $78 on its own, were it not part of the tasting menu.

Least Expensive Menu Item: The winter salad with baby vegetables and greens would be the least expensive menu item at an estimated $27, but it is not sold a la carte.

Photo Caption: Gilt, New York City.
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The famous Gramercy Tavern. Ellen Silverman
What: With its early American aesthetic and classic comfort menu, Danny Meyer's Gramercy Tavern has solidified its place in the New York dining scene. The tavern atmosphere strikes the perfect blend -- sophisticated yet unpretentious, comforting yet not too casual. The menu's country fresh American cuisine is infused with a new cosmopolitan twist each season. It's no surprise that this one-star Michelin restaurant has been a crowd favorite since 1994.

Money-Saving Tip: The Tavern Room at the front of the restaurant features similar creations by the same chef, but is much more casual and affordable. Dishes start at $12 and a four-course tasting menu is $48.

Where: Gramercy Tavern is at 42 East 20th Street; www.gramercytavern.com

Cost: The dinner options in the Dining Room are a prix fixe menu ($88) or six-course tasting menu ($116).

Most Expensive Menu Item: The Millbrook venison is part of the seasonal tasting menu, but would be the most expensive item.

Least Expensive Menu Item: The beef and barley soup on the lunch menu is $11.

Photo Caption: The famous Gramercy Tavern.
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The Modern, inside the Museum of Modern Art. Ellen Silverman
What: The Modern gets its name not only from its location (in the Museum of Modern Art) but also from its approach to food (nouveau French-American cuisine). Alsatian Chef Gabriel Kreuther created a bold, flavorful menu for The Modern's worldly patrons. MOMA fans will appreciate the bright, clean décor that allows The Modern's colorful, creatively arranged food to be shown off as -- you guessed it -- works of art.

Money-Saving Tip: The Bar Room features a more casual menu by the same chef. Dishes range from $12 to $35.

Where: The Modern is at 9 West 53rd Street; www.themodernnyc.com

Cost: For lunch in the Dining Room, a three-course prix fixe menu is $55 and a four-course option is $70. For dinner, a four-course prix fixe menu is $98 and the tasting menu is $155.

Most Expensive Menu Item: Individual selections are only available at lunchtime; otherwise the menu is prix fixe. The Black Angus beef tenderloin is $35 a la carte.

Least Expensive Menu Item: Modern liverwurst is $12 a la carte.

Photo Caption: The Modern, inside the Museum of Modern Art.
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Per Se, New York City. Deborah Jones
What: Per Se has broken dining down to the philosophical level, calling a great meal “an emotional experience.” The restaurant's blue door, fireplace, and sophisticated countryside décor successfully conjure up a chic French Laundry aesthetic. Per Se's painstaking attention to detail extends to its decadent and thrilling French menu, which changes daily. Ever since it opened in 2004, this Thomas Keller restaurant has set diners abuzz with its stylish air of mystery.

Money-Saving Tip: The Salon in the front of the restaurant offers some of the same items on the daily tasting menus, priced à la carte. Desserts start around $12.

Where: Per Se is located at 10 Columbus Circle, in the Time Warner Center; www.perseny.com

Cost: Guests have a choice between a nine-course Chef's Tasting Menu or a nine-course Tasting of Vegetables for dinner (both $295 including service charge). At lunch, guests can also try a five-course tasting menu ($185 including service charge).

Most Expensive Menu Item: Because Per Se's menu changes daily, it's impossible to quantify. However, dishes with seasonal shaved truffles are often the most costly.

Least Expensive Menu Item: Desserts on the Salon menu start around $12.

Photo Caption: Per Se, New York City.
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