Happy Hour of the Week: One year for EVT

evtIn this climate, it’s worth celebrating if a new restaurant can stay open for a month. East Village Tavern (158 Avenue C, Manhattan–map) has made it an entire year, and they’re spreading the wealth this Friday with a free open bar from 6-8 pm.

EVT gets the job done by having something for everyone: the beer enthusiast–16 rotating taps with a wide and seasonal selection of American craft brews; the food lover–a high end, seasonal bar food menu; even the dive hound–Big Buck Hunter and pinball. It’s no wonder that you find yourself among a diverse crowd.

EVT’s got a great happy hour to begin with: Monday through Friday from 4-7 drafts are $3, well drinks are $4, and sliders are $2. But nothing beats an open bar. Knock off work and get there early (these things do tend to fill up), and it will be a happy birthday for them and you.

Another falafel enabler


photo from Yelp.com

There’s a cheap falafel restaurant in the East Village. Groundbreaking news, no? Well, if you’re like me and eat cheap East Village falafel weekly, branching out to a new location is, in fact, a significant deal. So it was an exciting Tuesday evening when I trekked an extra couple blocks in the rain to Mohamed Falafel Star (178 E 7th St., Manhattan–map), at the bottom of Tompkins Square Park.

I was originally attracted to the spot by a memory I had of a sign in the window: Falafel Sandwich $2. So I was a bit disappointed when I arrived and that $2 had been changed to a $3. But I was willing to shell out the extra buck to see what Mohamed had to offer. And the first thing he has to offer is a friendly face. It seems a one-man shop, and the man behind the counter is talkative and cheerful as he stuffs your pita.

My first observation, before sinking my teeth in, was that this is the biggest falafel sandwich I’ve examined yet (bigger than Yatagan kebab, and much bigger than Mamoun’s). Upon devouring the sandwich, I discovered that Mohamed also adds chopped cucumber to his sandwich, another new revelation I greatly appreciated. When it came to the patty, however, Mohamed’s was just as bland as all other comers when compared with Mamoun’s. Nevertheless, his counter is worth checking out, if only for the over-the-counter banter. I’ve also heard high praise for Mohamed’s shawarma–I’ll report back after my next trip.

The happy hour that comes once a year

cheapshotzOnce you pass 21, each successive birthday gets a bit more depressing: you’re another year past your prime, and it’s even less socially acceptable to hang out in trashy dive bars looking for cheap drinks. But as my birthday approaches this week, social mores don’t stand a chance in the face of a unique East Village offer: free drinks, all night.

As my friend and fellow pennywatcher Frank pointed out just two months ago on the anniversary of his birth, Cheap Shots (140 1st Ave., Manhattan–map) will pour you anything on tap, in a can, or on the shelf (except Patron) for the night’s duration. All you need is an ID showing that it is, in fact, your birthday.

Of course, the place is a rather dank hole, so you’ll want the company of a lot of friends. Luckily, Cheap Shots has enticements for paying customers as well, like $3 16 ounce cans of PBR, pitchers of Yeungling for $7, and shots as cheap as $2. That’s enough reason for everyone to get a little happy; at least in the morning, you’ll have an excuse.

Uncovering the roots

grassrootsSometimes the best deals are so close to home you don’t even think to look for them. Such is the case with Grassroots Tavern (20 St. Mark’s Place, Manhattan–map). This dive bar shares a wall with Mamoun’s, the home of New York cheap falafel. So every time I walked by, my drooling gaze was drawn to the man with the mustache, and I never saw Grassroots hidden next door.

As of this weekend, that’s all changed. The first thing I noticed when I walked into Grassroots was its beer list. Bud, Miller, and Michelob Amber Bock cost $2 a mug, $3 a pint. All Brooklyn Brewery pours are $3 and $4. For beer that cheap in the East Village, I used to rely on holes that had plenty of character, but also plenty of depressing, alcoholic characters, and an over-abundance of CCR (no offense, John Fogerty).

Grassroots is never packed, but has a fun, young atmosphere, and it’s surprisingly clean and comfortable–even the bathroom is useable. From now on, I’ll know where to quench my thirst after a falafel, and where to get a snack to soak up all the extra beers I can suddenly afford.

Happy Hour of the Week: Continental

continentalYuengling is America’s oldest beer, first brewed in Pennsylvania in 1829. Sundays through Thursdays from 8 pm to 4 am, you can get it for some old-fashioned prices. Continental (25 3rd Ave, Manhattan–map), just off of Astor Place, sells Yuengling for that whole stretch for only $1.50 a pint.

Combine that with their standard any five shots for $10 deal and you’re set for a night that you won’t remember. But when you wake up in the morning, you’ll probably still have some cash in your wallet.

Another slice, another dollar

After my first taste of $1 pizza, I needed more. But I figured if I can’t mix up the toppings, I might as well change my source. So I headed to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, home of Mamani (151 Ave. A, Manhattan–map).

On the surface, Mamani is quite different from 2 Bros. There’s less seating–only three tables–and a much more varied menu, boasting halal food, fish sticks, and unidentifiable fried balls. But when it comes to what’s important–pizza and price, the two are strikingly similar.

Mamani’s pizza has the same thin, airy crust. It’s less filling, but still has a nice crispness and flavor. The cheese and sauce are similarly fine, but nothing to go crazy over. Mamani has a much smaller crowd, which is great if you’re in a hurry, but also means the pizzas aren’t as fresh and hot as they are down the road. The verdict: if you don’t mind a bit of a line, 2 Bros has the edge. But if you like eating in the park, Mamani’s location can’t be beat.

Snacklicious Tuck for a Buck

snacklicious1Just when I thought a falafel sandwich couldn’t get any cheaper, I scoured 8coupons.com for New Year deals and found one for only 88 cents. From now until January 25, you can stop by Snacklicious Cinderella Falafel in the East Village (129 2nd Avenue, Manhattan–map) any time between 2 and 8 pm and get your falafel fix for under a dollar.

All you have to do is text this coupon from the 8coupons site to your phone. Flash the message to the friendly man at the counter when you get there and he’ll hook you up.

To be honest, this is no Mamoun’s. The 88 cent sandwich is smaller and less tasty than what you’d get for $2.50 around the corner. But two crisp falafel patties, lettuce, tomato and tahini in half a pita for 88 cents is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at.

How I learned to love the lizard

Thanks to the Discovery Channel, the words crocodile and alligator used to bring to mind two things that wanted to disembowel and devour me. When I hear them now, all I can think of is pizza. Two sister bars, Williamsburg’s Alligator Lounge (600 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn–map) and the East Village’s Crocodile Lounge (325 E. 14th St., Manhattan–map), have made their mark with an unprecendented deal: free pizza with every beer.

croclounge1It sounds too good to be true, but it’s real. With every pint you order ($4-6 for a wide selection of beers on tap, or $3 for Yeungling at Happy Hour) you get a ticket for a free 12 inch personal pizza, popped directly from the oven onto a tin plate. And it’s not a frozen cardboard disc. This is homemade dough topped with fresh sauce and mozzarella and fired thin and crispy.

Not surprisingly, both joints draw a crowd. At Crocodile you’ll meet folks letting loose after a day of work by unloading a shotgun on Bambi in the arcade staple Buck Hunter. Alligator offers a more laid-back vibe, with tiki-style decor and a dose of hipsters letting loose after a day of being ironically unemployed.

Size does matter

dscn3236The average American consumes half a pound of meat per day. At Paul’s “Da Burger Joint” in the East Village (131 2nd Avenue, Manhattan–map) you can fill that quota all in one sitting, for under $5.

Over 19 years, Paul’s gargantuan 8 oz. burger hasn’t let fame go to its head: it still costs only $4.90. Unlike many diners, Paul’s actually cooks the burger the way you order it, so you won’t end up looking for a rare and getting a rock. You can get fries for an extra $3 if you dare, but if you haven’t been stretching that stomach, chances are the burger alone will do you in.

dscn3243The monster arrives looking nice and neat, but as soon as you wrap your mouth around it and take a bite its delicious juices will be unleashed and rapidly dribbling down your chin. So don’t plan on sampling it before a hot date or a big interview. Save it for later, and be prepared to tip your dry cleaner.

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!