As a newly minted Williams College graduate I will work for food—or preferably, a full-time salary with health insurance. Making it in the city is hard enough and a meal at Per Se would be a dream, but what does a young food-loving girl do when even Restaurant Week deals are a major splurge? In the midst of interviews and apartment hunting, with minimum wage and utility bills looming ahead, living an affordable gastronomic life in this city seems almost impossible. Friends, new and old, are always wanting to meet up for dinner or drinks, sandwiches from your local deli are upwards of $10, a tall iced coffee from Starbucks is a big treat, and the parents aren't visiting for awhile, so no free dinners are in sight. A slice of 99 cent pizza or hot dogs from Gray's Papaya is good for a meal or two, but really, how long can you sustain a greasy carb, veggie-less existence?
Every week on Young & Hungry, I'll be posting on what I've been doing to make my urban epicurean life both budget-friendly and delicious. Whether I'm hoarding free pizza tickets at the Alligator Lounge, throwing a wine & cheese party with Trader Joe's three-buck-chuck and East Village bargain cheese, or pulling out the canned sardines for dinner again, you can bet that when I hit that pavement with resumes in hand, the only thing I'll be hungry for is work.
After spending the afternoon in Bryant Park at a free event featuring Michael Ian Black and his new book, I bypassed the overpriced 'wichcraft line and headed up a few blocks for tastier and more affordable lunch options. Being that it was lunchtime, Kwik Meal's line was unsurprisingly long with those donned in button-downs and pencil skirts, but another block up brought me to Margon, a family-run Cuban restaurant.
It took me less than a second to decide to get the Cuban and though Margon was packed too, the sandwich line at the front was quite speedy. My total came to just $6.50 for the Cuban and a Diet Coke (a drinking habit that's hard to kick). With roast pork, ham, salami, melted cheese, thin pickle slices, mustard, mayo, and hot sauce—Margon's Cuban was a success. My friends got the chicken sandwich, which uses meat that's hand-pulled from the bones of a quarter roast chicken with each order. Of course, the savings continued that night when I had dinner and did laundry at my sister's apartment.
We ate our lunch back in Bryant Park, chatting about interviews and how we were going to save money on nights out (leave the ATM card at home). Sitting just blocks from a company I'd be interviewing with the very next day, I wondered how long it would be until I'd be spending my alloted lunch hour eating at places like Kwik Meal, Margon, and Minar. Soon, I hope.
146 West 46th Street, New York NY 10036 (between 6th and 7th Avenues; map)