diner, here, was newly included in the "bib gourmand" category of the 2011 nyc michelin guide, released yesterday. meaning you can have a more than reasonable amount of REALLY good food and wine there for under $40.
another bib gourmand place- dinosaur bbq. a few blocks away from home in harlem. goooood foooood! big place. happy lively atmosphere. downside is it has a formulaic, poised to franchise decor. canned "character" that makes you feel like you're in tomorrow's outback steakhouse.
also, public, a beautifully designed restaurant on elizabeth st, has a star in michelin. i LOVE to eat there! (but undistinguished bloody mary) public's sister restaurant, double crown, serves a great bloody mary (gushed about here)