Ballin’ On A Budget: Dining With the Michelin Stars

Take advantage of these Michelin-starred restaurants right at your doorstep.

Enjoy Michelin-quality Asian fusion food at Laut on a budget. (Photo by Talia Barton)

Rather than being relegated to (literally) substandard dining hall food, NYU students have the luxury of living in a foodie haven. Restaurants brimming with delicacies line every street in the city, but some offer cuisines a cut above the others. The coveted Michelin star, awarded by the Paris-based brand of the same name, is an honor bestowed upon dining options deemed worthy by the annually published Michelin Guide. A restaurant can earn between one and three stars: one usually equates to a restaurant that serves their genre of food in an exceptional manner, and three stars are reserved for lavish fine dining venues, often consisting of several course meals costing several hundred dollars. While a seven-course tasting menu with white truffles and Osetra caviar may be out of the question for most, there are still plenty of Michelin-awarded restaurants near NYU that won’t break the bank for a special dinner out. 

Laut

Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai

15 E. 17th St.

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lautnyc.com

212-206-8989

With its splashy painted brick walls, cozy ambience and expansive menu of mouth-watering Asian fusion dishes, Laut earned its Michelin star in 2011. Chef Salil Mehta of New Delhi, India opened Laut in 2010, and runs a second restaurant, Laut Singapura, with his wife and business partner, Stacey Mehta Lo. Laut has plenty of on-theme cocktails like the ginger pineapple martini and the Malaysian Old Fashioned, but the real star of the menu is the roti canai ($9.50). The pillowy soft roti, a kind of flatbread, is served with the most luscious coconut-based curry dip. Like, if I could bathe in this sauce, I would. If that’s not enough of an endorsement for Laut, go for the asam laksa ($18), a noodle soup served in a spicy and acidic fish-based broth, a favorite of the late and great culinary expert Anthony Bourdain, or the curry laksa ($18-$22), a coconut-milk infused noodle soup featured as the winner of Buzzfeed’s Worth It series. If you want to dine like some of the most well-renowned food critics without their paychecks, you’ll love this restaurant a “laut.”

Tim Ho Wan

Dim Sum

85 4th Ave.

timhowanusa.com

212-228-2800

A favorite among NYU students (and WSN staff), this dim sum destination is the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, started by Chef Mak Kwai Pui after his stint as a chef at the decadent Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Most of its menu consists of garden variety bites like pan-fried chicken dumplings and steamed egg cake, but the standout dish is the baked barbecue pork bun (three for $6). The melt-in-your-mouth smoky pork is enrobed in a cloud-like bun, studded with sugar crystals. Make sure to order plenty, and finish your meal with an order of delicately-flavored French toast, Tim Ho Wan-style, filled with a silky custard. 

Tomiño Taberna Gallega

Spanish Tapas

192 Grand St.

tominonyc.com

212-933-4763

This taberna offers Northwestern Spanish-style tapas perfect for sharing amongst friends. The restaurant’s history is tied to Galicia, Spain, a region celebrated for its gastronomy and home to Tomiño’s chefs. Gin and tonic enthusiasts will love their myriad of twists on the classic cocktail — try the rosemary and orange or mango and pepper variations — and their extensive list of libations will please the juniper-averse drinkers. Start your meal off with croquettes two ways: Serrano ham and roasted tomato or seafood and aioli, traditional Spanish egg and potato omelettes, spicy roasted chorizo and lamb chops drizzled in hearty chestnut purée. Cheese board lovers can indulge in platters of manchego cheese and famed Ibérico ham, and most of the seafood and salad dishes can be savored for $20 or less. Don’t forget to finish your meal with a creme brulee-topped sponge cake or almond cake with strawberry and almond milk ice cream. 

Norma Gastronomica

Italian

438 3rd Ave.

normarestaurant.com 

212-889-0600

Chef Salvatore Fraterrigo immigrated from western Sicily to the United States, working in restaurants across the United States and opening his own eateries in Italy and Paris before creating this authentic Italian dining destination in the East Village. The menu is pure elevated comfort food, with four different kinds of arancini, oven-baked pasta loaded with cheese and sauces and all the pizza you can stomach. The Michelin guide applauded the restaurant’s rianata pizza, decked out with fresh tomatoes, savory anchovies, pecorino cheese and Italian spices, and the wood-oven baked anelletti pasta — ring-shaped pasta with beef ragu, eggplant, green peas, basil, cheese and Italian ham. End your meal on a sweet note with traditional Italian goodies like cannoli or indulgent modern desserts like nutella-stuffed pizza. 

A version of this article appears in the Monday, Jan. 27, 2019 print edition. Email Lauren Gruber at [email protected]

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