Happy Hour of the Week: Moe’s

moes1In some ways, the Moe’s in Fort Greene (80 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn–map) is like the Moe’s in The Simpsons. It’s a comfortable bar where the neighborhood crowd gathers after a long day of work. Just replace the bitter old man with a young, friendly bartender, the homogenous yellow power plant crowd with a conglomeration of all ages, colors, and styles, and the drunken warbling with an eclectic playlist, and often a live DJ spinning vinyl.

Add 2 for 1 pints and $1 off well drinks from 3:00 to 7:30 every day, and you get a lively yet intimate spot in a classy little neighborhood, just a couple of blocks from the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Atlantic Avenue subway hub. Dos Equis dark pints are just $3 normally, so during Happy Hour you’ll ring up at $1.50 apiece.

Happy Hour of the Week: T.G. Whitney’s

When I think of Midtown East, many images race through my mind: jewelry stores and boutiques, skyscrapers buzzing like beehives with businessmen, a line of rich European high schoolers around the block outside of Abercrombie and Fitch. But as of last week, I’ll also be thinking of free food.

dscn3195As far as drinks go, T.G. Whitney’s (244 E. 53rd St., Manhattan–map) happy hour is not spectacular: $3 Miller pints, $4 Yeungling pints, $5 cosmopolitans. The reason to park at this Irish pub is its free grub, every Tuesday and Wednesday between 6 and 9.

Grab a drink and take a seat at one of the many tables–on the night I went there wasn’t much of a crowd. Within an hour, a food fairy will appear from the kitchen with plates of chicken fingers, chicken wings, and potato skins, along with the requisite blue cheese and honey mustard for dipping. It may not be the gourmet the midtown crowd is used to, but it’ll provide the comfort that they won’t be getting from their bonuses this year.

Mideast meets Mid-Brooklyn

sahadiFor Brooklynites and other New Yorkers willing to hop the river, the path to any number of Arabian nights starts at Atlantic (Avenue, that is). Sahadi Importing Co. (187 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn–map) is your one stop for hard-to-find Middle Eastern goodies at cheap prices: chickpea flour for $1.98/lb, a 32 oz. jar of tahini for $7. Sahadi’s will also save you money on staples you can get anywhere: packs of 6 pitas for 80 cents, a pound of couscous for $1.80.

nutsI walked in for the first time in search of tahini to make hummus, and my eyes bulged at the vats of grains, nuts, seeds, dried beans, and spices, all for cheaper than supermarket prices. I left with an armfull of groceries, but not an empty wallet.

Before you head out the door, stop at the counter in back for a lovingly prepared, yet inevitably messy, $3 falafel sandwich, or any of a host of other Mediterranean goodies.

2 bros, 2 branches, $1

2brosThe sign outside 2 Bros Pizza in the East Village (32 St. Mark’s Place, Manhattan–map) still says “Grand Opening Special: Pizza Slice $1.00.” The place has been open for at least a year, and now has a second location in Chelsea (601 6th Ave, Manhattan–map), but the special is grand enough that they’re still dishing it out today.

The pizza’s not Di Fara, but it’s on par with most of the $3 slices you can get in this city. The crust is thin and light and it’s topped with ample, fresh-tasting tomato sauce and cheese. Cheap eaters come in droves, so there’s always a fresh pizza coming out of the oven and your slice is always piping hot.

Don’t be turned away by the line out the door. When everyone’s ordering the same thing, that line rolls through in no time. That’s clearly the case here; the only question is how many you can eat.

2 Bros is a great deal, but it’s not the only $1 slice in town. Check back later for write-ups of Mamani’s and 99 Cents Fresh Pizza, and let us know if we’ve missed one!

In the Heights: Low-cost wine hits Broadway

picture-1Washington Heights, of recent Broadway fame, is known for Dominican joints with wonderful food and seriously hole-in-the-wall decor. But the brand new Columbia Wine Co. (4038 Broadway, Manhattan–map) brings spiffy hardwood floors, recessed lighting, and a noticeable lack of bullet-proof glass, without jacking up prices.

I visited for free wine tasting, which the new shop is hosting from 5-8 every night for the next two weeks. The friendly staff was pouring four bottles in the $10 range. The highlights when I stopped by were a dscn3205Faunus Copertino Rosso and a Gecko Pinot Grigio, both from Italy and both going for $9.99, though they tasted like something well out of my price range. The store’s selection dips as low as $4.99, and almost every bottle is under $20.

They balance their wine list with an impressive array of liquors, including Brugal rum–a Dominican staple for a Dominican neighborhood–for the same price as Bacardi. One sip of the Brugal and you’ll never go back.

Happy Hour of the Week: Rodeo Bar

dscn3194When Billy Crystal had a hankering to get out of the city he flew west and joined a cattle drive. You don’t need to go so far to get in touch with your inner cowboy. Just head to Rodeo Bar in Gramercy (375 3rd Ave, Manhattan–map). Rodeo features old west decor and live country and rockabilly music 7 nights a week. But from 4 ’til 8 Monday-Saturday and 6 to 9 on Sunday it’s Happy Hour, and the main event is the free grub.

dscn3190Settle in with a $4 pint, or a $6 margarita if the other cowboys aren’t looking. Then saunter over to the food table for free nachos and roast chicken. Top it off with a mound of peanuts from the nearby trough that’s always full. Go ahead, throw your shells on the floor! This ain’t no beauty parlor.

Classy Hour of the Week: Crush Wine’s Holiday cocktails

elderflowerWhen you’ve finally conquered your food hangover this Friday, keep up the merry-making in style at Crush Wine Co. (153 E. 57th St., Manhattan–map) in midtown Manhattan. From 3 to 6 pm they’re pouring samples of “Simple Home Cocktails for the Holidays,” including harvest rum punch, elderflower cocktail, “Viking mojito,” and more.

Crush will also have experts there to show you how to make these drinks at home, so be prepared to take notes. Then you can save money at the bar and spend more time with family–or invite that date to stay in and show off your mixological mastery. The drinks will be fiery enough to keep you warm while you rest your feet by your non-functional fireplace.

crushwineCheck Crush’s website regularly for their impressive schedule of free tastings, including a Corzo tequila event on Saturday and a champagne gala in December (RSVP required). And take advantage of the friendly and knowledgeable staff as you search for palate-pleasing wine bargains.

Happy Hour of the Week: A Lesson in Beer

4apThe late Brit beer critic and writer Michael Jackson (not the pallid pedophile) taught the world that an educated palate is as important for beer as it is for wine and food. There’s no better place to learn than one of Brooklyn’s favorite bars, 4th Avenue Pub (76 4th Avenue, Brooklyn—map).

4AP has a vast rotating selection of international beers and domestic micro brews on tap. The friendly bartenders will give you a sample of anything you want to help you make your decision. One even claims to be able to pick a beer for you based on your favorite type of tree—I’ll reserve judgment on that technique. Once you make your pick, you can complement it with unlimited helpings from the self-serve popcorn machine.

There’s no better time to visit than from 3 pm to 8 pm every weekday, when all drinks in the bar are $2 off for happy hour. That means $3 for a delicious pint of a beer you didn’t know existed—it’s an Oxford beer education at community college prices.

Happy Hour of the Week: Whiskey Town has your medicine this Thursday

bottleshot1As the economy keeps tanking, no commodity is in hotter demand than whiskey (closely followed by vodka, rum, and gin). Liquor companies, like lawyers, make a killing off of the misery of others. But for one night this week, Whiskey Town (29 E. 3rd St., Manhattan—map), 8coupons.com, and a man named Evan are teaming up to help you forget your woes (and perhaps create a host of new ones) for cheap.

whiskey-town1Head to Whiskey Town this Thursday (11/13/08) between 6:30 and 9:30 and get unlimited Evan Williams bourbon, however you like it, for 88 cents a glass. Why 88 cents? It’s the “Ocho Loco” deal from 8coupons.com. To cash in, go to this website and follow the link to text the coupon to your phone. When you get to the bar, show the doorman your coupon and you’re set to throw ‘em back like a homeless former I-banker.

Welcome to the Penny Palate

pennyWhat is it about New York that can make folks with average means and decent jobs feel left out? Somewhere between the bustling bankers, the bright lights and shiny boutiques, and the haute cuisine and swanky bars, it’s easy for the modest majority to get lost. But that doesn’t mean we’re not here. And we’re as hungry, thirsty, and fun-loving as ever.

Luckily, there are droves of businesses throughout the five boroughs that cater to us. They serve up great food and drink and they’re a lot of fun, but they toss out the pretense of luxury and the price hike that goes with it. They’re living proof that you don’t have to be rolling in dough to enjoy the city life. You just need to know how to find the deals.

The Penny Palate is here to find those deals for you. We’ll post every day about a new way to eat, drink, and be merry on a budget. We’ll include special categories like a “Happy Hour of the Week;” “Tuck for a Buck,” which points you to great food for only a dollar; and “The Circular Jerk,” epic journeys in food shopping and cooking led by the treasure map that is the circular.

New deals pop up every day, and we’re not omniscient, so we’ll rely on tips from our thrifty friends and readers to spot all the best joints, recipes, and techniques. Leave comments and contact us and we’ll credit you for your deal-spotting prowess.