Monday, March 1, 2010

Financial District on a Budget


Downtown in Manhattan, the Financial District serves as the city's heart of commerce and the financial industry. Although several renowned firms and companies have since fallen on hard times, this particular neighborhood is sure to be bustling from early in the morning to 5p or 6p. Never been? You don't have to be a suit-and-tie-kinda-girl to appreciate the legendary structures like the New York Stock Exchange, the boats at South Street Seaport, and the cheap beers at Jeremy's. The neighborhood functions primarily as a destination for brokers, traders, and suits, but has seen an increase in residential population in the past three years. A growing number of tourist attractions, from the South Street Seaport, Battery Park, and the former site of the World Trade Towers allows for no shortage of class trips and tourist families, but the sites are worth the sacrifice.

Here are our favorite Financial District picks for the Bitch on a Budget:

EAT/DRINK:

1. Looking for a traditional but cheap breakfast before entering your office building for the daily 9-5? Stop by Roxy's Coffee Shop (20 John St) for a stack of pancakes ($4), an egg sandwich ($2), or a bagel ($1.50). Perfect for a pre-work hangover pick-me-up, for half the price of what you'd have to shell out at Chipotle. Enjoy the diner food served in a cozy, laid-back atmosphere. Place your order by phone if you're too busy to wait with the masses.
2. Alfanoose Middle Eastern Cuisine (8 Maiden Lane). Want to experience heaven? Order the "special" soup ($5), which arrives piled with rice, fried onions, and swimming in hot sauce. If you're not a resident Wall-Streeter, stop by on a Saturday when it's sure to be less crowded. Truly starving? Choose the chicken shawarma platter, which is expensive at $10 but will last for three or four meals- comes with red couscous, hummus, and extra pitas.
3. Sam's Falafel Stand, at Cedar St (between Trinity Pl and Broadway) is one of neighborhood's best street cart meals. The $5 combo platter is one of Manhattan's best lunchtime steals, and you'll get generous portions of both hummus and baba ganoush. Don't be daunted by the long line- they've been doing this long enough to know how to keep it moving. Be sure to ask for the chips (free upon request)!
SEE:
1. Gawk at the tourists at South Street Seaport (Fulton and South Sts) without shame. It's not every day you get the opportunity to be this close with a gigantic historical sailing vessel. In addition to the screaming school children on class trips and their equally horrible parents, you'll also find an extensive indoor mall, TKTS booth, Heartland Brewery, and South Street Seaport Museum.
2. If it's a particularly sunny day when you're taking your Financial District adventure, visit Battery Park (at Broadway). Dominating the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park offers access to ferries that travel to the Statue of Liberty and to Ellis Island. NOTE: Both national monuments are free, but ferry admission requires a fee. In the spring and summer, free outdoor concerts, festivals, and fairs are held for public enjoyment.
3. Every New Yorker should take the trip downtown to view the site where the World Trade Center used to stand. The viewing platforms on Church St and Liberty St have been removed, so visitors can enter for free without tickets. 
DO:
1. Toss pack a styrofoam cup of warm beer at Jeremy's Ale House (228 Front St), one of my personal favorite dive bars in all of New York. The ceiling and walls are decorated with all varieties of bras and undies, and the wings are under a quarter. Happy hour runs from 4p-6p during the week, and boasts $4 buckets of Coors and Coors Light. A great place to kick back and watch the game, or slowly get your out-of-town guests absolutely trashed. 
2. Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. It's free and a fun way to spend a few hours getting a different perspective of the city that never sleeps. One of our favorite ways to spend a lazy weekend afternoon, we recommend picking up a box of cupcakes and bringing someone special to smooch on the ride to Long Island. 
SPLURGE:
I've never had a bad meal at Bridge Cafe (279 Water St at Dover St), although it's certainly one that breaks the bank. This is the place to bring your financially-endowed friends, well-off business colleagues, or parents who really want to treat you to a nice meal. I'm still drooling over their mashed potatoes, and I haven't been there in over a year. The sauteed crab cakes ($25), buffalo steak ($29), and Parmesan chicken ($24) all taste even better when paired with an absurdly expensive bottle of wine. Make sure to save room for dessert- the Southern Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie will make you melt like a Popsicle on the fourth of July. 
SPEND: (not including $2.25 metrocard) $8- $10

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