The Torch Guide to “Cheap Chic” NYC

Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man
841 Broadway
New York, NY 11106

Chocoholics beware! Chocolate by the Bald Man, located at 841 Broadway by Union Square, could be a permanent cure for any chocolate craving. With menu items called “Chocolate Mess,” which requires the customer to eat with a spatula, and “Chocolate Pizza,” which has roughly chopped chocolate sprinkled with marshmallows on a bread-like pastry served warm, each bite is delicious. While it is the prime dessert spot, prices for one usually go for a median price of $13. However, there can be too much of a good thing; while taking the final bites of the chocolate desserts, patrons can have feelings ranging from a sugar rush to a sluggish low, ensuring that a person probably would not eat another bite of chocolate for a least a week.

Worried about the waistline? No need! Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man has a reduced calorie menu as well as a separate non-chocolate menu, which include sandwiches, salads, and waffles.

Nuyorican Poets Café
263 3rd Avenue, between Avenues B and C
New York, NY 11106

If you love HBO’s Russell Simmons Def Poetry, or just love hearing spoken word, then definitely check out the Nuyorican Poets Caf√©’s Friday night poetry slam. Well known former competitors include Bridge and Tunnel performer Sara Jones, and Def Poetry cast member Lemon. With a $7 admission charge, the Nuyorican Poets Caf√© is located at 263 3rd Avenue between Avenues B and C in Manhattan’s alphabet city. Poems can range from hilarious to incredibly heartfelt, and all of the featured competitors are very talented. However, only one can be named “champion of the week” and audience participation is key because they do the judging. Overall, the Nuyorican is a nice spot where anyone can just sit, watch, and enjoy the art of performance poetry.

The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey Street
New York, NY 10002

The birthplace of punk rock in New York may be gone with the recent shutdown of CBGB’s, but there are still plenty of places to catch your favorite band’s performance at an intimate setting. That’s where the Bowery Ballroom comes in. If you want to waste some time before the main act comes on stage, the basement of the Bowery Ballroom is a good place to meet people. Red lights highlighting people’s faces and turning their bodies into shadows making it mysterious and giving it the mystique of a vampire’s lair. When it comes to seeing bands perform, patrons can stand on the floor and try to get close to the stage or scramble to the balcony to try and snag a table (but these seats go fast, so it is possible that patrons may have to sit through an opening band).

Brick Café
30-95 33 St.
Astoria, NY

The one thing you can count on in New York is to stumble upon a little piece of Europe in every borough. The Brick Caf√© has a rustic and romantic feel with its brick-lined walls, a fire place, soft glowing Moroccan lamps, and couch lined walls. In the summertime, the restaurant expands onto the sidewalk with people dining on iron tables and chairs. The menu offers delicious Italian dishes including risotto with black squid, chicken francese with fresh basil and tomatoes, and a dessert menu with tiramisu, chocolate souffl√©, and cr√®me brulee. So when you’re trying to decide between going to T.G.I. Fridays again or going elsewhere, try something new with the Brick Caf√© for the same price.

Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market
39 Street between 9 and 10 Avenue
New York, NY 11106

Shopping in Manhattan can leave the average student devastated as they stare at their bank account balance. One of the city’s best-kept secrets is the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market on 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. Formerly known as the Chelsea Flea Market, which Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw frequented, the area has been visited by celebrities searching for antiques, thrifty clothes, and custom jewelry. The market is open every weekend, rain or shine. It is a great place to sharpen one’s haggling skills and can be the essential spot to shop for that perfect gift, a great jacket for the upcoming winter season, or a first-edition book. Visitors are guaranteed to get a rare find, and an experience that most other stores cannot offer.

Bamn! Automat
37 St. Mark’s Place
New York, NY

Best use of extra laundry change goes to the Bamn! Automat at 37 St. Mark’s place in the Village. Bamn! opened in August and has been a haven for those looking for a late night snack while crawling around the city. Unlike the automats your parents remember, this automat is open 24/7 and has menu items comparable to most of the city’s modish restaurants, but with a low-budget twist. It boasts dishes such as macaroni and cheese croquettes, peanut butter and jelly empanadas, and Spam sushi, most of which are under $2 and surprisingly offer filling portions. Freshness is not a problem either, since the chefs dispose of the food if it sits longer than 15 minutes. While there are no seats, the bright pink and white d√©cor sets an overall pleasant mood, along with the on-site change machines to ensure an easy and hassle-free eating experience.

Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater
307 W. 26 Street
New York, NY

Looking for a good laugh? Most of the city’s famous comedy clubs come with cover charges starting at $20 and a usual two-drink minimum. The drinks are usually come in a bathroom-sized Dixie cup for $10 a pop. Sometimes it’s just not worth the trouble. But the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater on West 26th Street in Manhattan is the solution. Boasting popular alums such as Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler and many comedians from VH1’s Best Week Ever, the UCB is mostly improvised comedy. Most of the shows cost no more than $8 and some are even free. The best show to catch is Sunday’s ASSSSCAT 3000 show hosted by Poehler and Horatio Sanz. Reserving tickets for this particular show is highly recommended since many Saturday Night Live cast members make surprise cameos and it is the UCB’s most popular show.

Word to the wise: Show up early to most of the shows to get good seating. Keep in mind that the comedy is improvised so sketches are usually hit or miss, but in this environment, even the mistakes are funny.

Alice’s Tea Cup
102 W. 73 St.
New York, NY

The only thing missing from the whimsical Alice’s Tea Cup is the Cheshire Cat purring on a customer’s lap when they’re enjoying a glass of afternoon tea. With passages from Alice in Wonderland decorating the purple walls and fairy wings strung from the ceiling, it would surely help add to the magic. Alice’s Tea Cup is one of the best places to go for a relaxing cup of tea after a long day of exploring Central Park. Customers can order a personal pot of tea from a variety of black, green, white, or herbal teas. Although it is not the best place to go for a hearty meal, but Alice’s offers a variety of finger sandwiches and salads for dinner or pancakes, waffles or eggs for breakfast. Of course, tea is never complete without dessert. Luckily, Alice’s Tea Cup offers chocolate cake with pearly sprinkles, ice cream, cup cakes and scones with custard and jam.

Museum of the Moving Image
35 Ave.. at 36 St.
Astoria, NY 11106

Located in the heart of Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image is a movie lover’s dream. Aside from its regular collection of movie clips, film props (including costumes worn by actors including Al Pacino and the Yoda puppet from Star Wars), and movie making equipment, the Museum offers film editing and video game demonstration giving museum goers a hands on experience on movie production. The Museum also has preview screenings of films. In a few weeks, a preview of Nicole Kidman’s new movie, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, in which she portrays the famed photographer, will be presented to the public.

Check out these Web sites for more information: