Recession Chic? Call It What You Will, We've Got Tips To Get You Through This Recession In Style.

by ROBYN ROWE · March 18, 2009

In line with the trend of saving more and spending less, we've set out to prove that you can continue to enjoy the best of everything the city offers on a tighter budget.  After doing a bit of research and asking some friends, including an up-and-coming designer, a journalist for an indie zine, a restaurateur cum musician, and a financial consultant, GofG has put together a list of some choice deals, discounts and bargains so that you can live it up even if your stocks are going down.

Dining: By now we've all seen those signs around town for the recession special.  But let's be honest, there's no spaghetti and meatballs recession special that will curb a craving for gourmet food.  And for this reason, it would insane not to take advantage of:

Restaurant Week's extension through March 20th.  Bargain prix fixe lunch or dinner menus at the likes of the 21 Club, Nobu, Spice Market (or any of the Jean Georges establishments, for that matter), and Dovetail are a few of the offers: check the complete guide to participating restaurants at NYCGO.

And don't worry, when those deals end, here are a list of some of our much-loved and decidedly cool restaurants and cafes in the cheap to moderate range that are guaranteed to satisfy a taste for exceptional food and atmosphere without breaking the bank:

Brown Cafe in the LES;

Campo and Deluxe, neighborhood favs up by Columbia;

Bodrum , an amazing Mediterranean on Amsterdam;

Cafe Ronda, an uber friendly and fun Tapas bar on Columbus;

24 Prince in Nolita;

Smith's on MacDougal Street;

Eva's in the West Village;

Champignon, a twee French cafe in Chelsea

Toloache, a Mexican in Hell's Kitchen with the 'best ceviche in town'.

My personal favorite is Wild Ginger Kitchen, a vegetarian pan-Asian on Broome St with a startlingly cheap lunch menu (and the fastest delivery in town). 

Admittedly, my survey turned up nothing in the UES and the Wall St area, not to mention the other boroughs, so let us know what we're missing.

Drinking: The economic situation has definitely prompted some interesting new takes on the trad Happy Hour...

Cellar Bar at Bryant Park Hotel,  is serving up free cocktails from 5 to 6 PM every weekday this month.

Elettaria, noted for taking over a venue at which Jimi Hendrix once played and for its seasoned mixologists from Freemans and Death & Co, is offering half-priced cocktails, wines by the glass, and beers seven days a week from 5 to 7 PM.

Also, there are literally thousands of hipster joints that pride themselves on their divebar aesthetic perfected by $2 or $3 cans o'Pabst and wonderfully discriminating playlists - think Rusty Knot, Bob Bar, Von Bar, Bourbon St, The Heights, or Amsterdam 106.  I'm dying to hear more suggestions from readers...

[Bumble and Bumble trainees ready to serve you!]

Pampering: I always say that budget cuts are no excuse for bad haircuts.  In case you haven't heard:

Bumble and bumble University offers FREE haircuts, color, and styling, though you do have to call or email in advance to sign up.

For your Skin: Bliss is having great sales, including $15 off their bath and body line.  And remember, you always get a discount at Bliss during your birthday month.

Aveda salons across the city offer cheap (not free) training prices, and if you can manage the schlep up to Morningside Heights, you can walk in to the Scott J. Aveda Salonspa for a cut on the spot.  Prices here are doubly reduced - the base prices are lower for a student clientele and reduced again if you request a stylist in training.

GofG Fav: Priti Organic Spa on East First Street where you'll find a sweetly packaged, green and wallet friendly product line as well as monthly spa specials.

Lesser know spas: Acqua Beauty Bar by Union Square and Eden Day Spa in Tribeca.  For insanely cheap though meticulously performed manis and pedis visit Cindy's, a gem of the UWS that many a fashionista will swear by.

Shopping:

Favorite Sales Sites: Gilt Group, Top Button, Shop It To Me, Ideeli, and Daily Candy.  A personal fav, Net-A-Porter, a site that doesn't force you to sign up to view their stock, is currently having a mid-season sale worth perusing.

Finding Sample Sales: (or to find bargains on vinyl, books, and more, find daily and monthly listings and locations), visit NYMag and NYCGO - or just walk around our shopping districts the old-fashioned way.

Downtown Bargains: There are delectably reduced pieces at Ina.

Uptown Bargains: We found some insanely cheap used books at Book Culture, previously Labyrinth books.

Entertainment:

Free TV Shows: We've been tipped off that it's possible to call ahead and charm the guys down at NBC into giving you some free tickets to SNL and other shows.

Comedy Clubs: Like Gotham Comedy Club, where the pilot of Curb Your Enthusiasm was filmed, have websites to sign up to regularly receive free tickets - they will actually mail them to you.

Opera: If you're looking for something a little more sophisticated, spend your unemployed mornings with the NY Philharmonic: Avery Fisher Hall hosts Open Rehearsals from 9.45 AM to 12.30 PM daily for only $16.  You can also score some tickets to the Met Opera for $15 if you can get to Lincoln Center's box office by 10 AM on the morning of the performance.

Museums: For those of you who couldn't be paid to stand through the Ring Cycle for five hours, but still want some high culture on the cheap, visit MoMA's Target Free Fridays - free admissions Friday evenings from 4 to 8 PM.  Similarly, Brooklyn Museum offers Target First Saturdays.

Hotels:

Midtown:If you always need to be right at the center things, stay at midtown's Bryant Park Hotel while you visit the city and enjoy its free happy hour listed above.

Downtown: The Soho Grand and its sister hotel the Tribeca Grand are offering March promotions and winter specials through March 31st: these links to their websites list the details and availability.

Uptown:check in to the seasonal packages and anniversary specials at the Columbus Circle Mandarin Oriental - its website invites you to celebrate with them through Sept 2009 by saving 50% through a Suite Fifth Anniversary Offer.