by Josh Ozersky - 149 Reviews - 48 List
Talk to the most engaged gastronomes, epicures, bec-fins and feinschmeckers about New York seafood restaurants, and the same names will come up again and again: Le Bernardin, Marea, Masa, Esca. Yes, these temples of marine worship deserve reverence, but is there really no place for a semi-busted, struggling New Yorker to eat seafood that doesn't cost as much as a used car? You're damned straight there is! And here are five of them. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Updated: September 24, 2009
This perennially popular East Village seafood place is one of the city's quintessential neighborhood restaurants. It's romantic and cozy without really trying, and the menu is an essay on simplicity: delicately fried oysters, textbook seared scallops, grilled Arctic char. Year in and year out it's as solid as the Great Barrier Reef. And satellite branches on the Upper West Side and central Village are every bit as good.
Let's say you're in Harlem, and hungry. Maybe you want a hot dog, and maybe you also want some deliciously peppery fried whiting, the kind you grab with one ecstatic hand while standing on a sunlit street corner. We have just the place for you. Fishers of Men was a straight-up seafood shack until its owners decided to buy the hot dog stand next door, creating a poor man's surf-and-turf paradise. And yes, the fries are deliciously crisp and greasy.
Astoria's Greek restaurants, at least the old guard, really knew how to serve seafood. There aren't as many as there used to be, but Taverna Kyclades represents the best of them. A plate of fresh, tender octopus, char-grilled and doused with lemon and good olive oil; some deliciously greasy fried sardines; grilled scallops with crusty little potato rounds and a cold beer: What else could you ever ask from a casual Greek joint?
This hugely popular BYOB sushi joint is as packed as a dragon roll, and it's not hard to see why: The sushi is excellent, the party-hardy vibe contagious and the prices rock-bottom cheap. The rolls are especially inventive, so fill up before hitting the bars. Just don't plan on dawdling; once you pay the check, Cube 63 needs you out the door!
The ultimate delivery vehicle for cheap seafood is, of course, fish and chips. And it doesn't get much better than this English fish hut, whose entire menu consists of fried cod, French fries, baked beans, pickled onions and deep-fried Mars bars. The English shtick is laid on a little thick--the fish comes in a British newspaper and the staff speaks in Cockney slang--but the fish is incredibly, impeccably fresh and crispy, and when doused with malt vinegar, it is one of the city's great cheap treats.