If you plan on visiting New York in the near future, there is no doubt that a day perusing the cobblestone streets of Soho is high on your itinerary. The epicenter of fashion and fine dining, the land of chic cocktail lounges and celebrity sightings, Soho is a big part of what makes New York City New York City.


Whether you're a traveler or just a fellow city dweller looking to explore Manhattan's hip nether regions, one thing you'll notice about all Soho institutions is that they're downright pricy. Unlike most areas of the city, where you can usually find an affordable establishment to duck into for a quick bite or some cheap shopping, the streets beneath Houston tend to be devoid of all signs of modesty. Fear not, money-minded visitors: Follow these simple steps to enjoy one of the city's most effervescent neighborhoods without breaking the bank.


Eat

Jack's Wife Freda via Website


Balthazar

The last thing that comes to mind when picturing Balthazar, a behemoth of brasserie-style fine dining that serves thousands of guests and dozens of gallons of French onion soup daily, is a nice, affordable meal. However, the early bird gets the warm bread at Balthazar Bakery on Spring Street. Rather than spending superfluous dollars and time on a luxurious brunch, crack open a crunchy loaf of fresh bread for breakfast at one of the city’s finest bakeries. Whether you prefer to munch on a solitary baguette or slice up a pain au levain for the whole family, the warm, leavened goodness is an essential resource for the thrifty Soho traveler. 

Where: 80 Spring St., Soho

When: Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 a.m.-midnight; Fri., 7:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-midnight
More info: 
212-965-1414; balthazarny.com

 

Jack’s Wife Freda

Behind the wonderful, world-spanning love story of Jack’s Wife Freda is the comforting, self-described “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine” that has made this place a neighborhood favorite. When your legs start to get tired from a day full of exploits, there’s no better place to take a load off and enjoy top-notch hospitality. Still in the mood for breakfast? How do house-cured duck bacon and rose water waffles sound? If you’re in the mood for a feast, share some small plates like peri-peri sweetbreads and Freda’s fried fish balls.

Where: 224 Lafayette St., Soho

When: Daily, 8:30 a.m.-midnight
More info: 
212-510-8550; jackswifefreda.com​

 

Mooncake Foods

For the best, most diverse selection of Chinese food north of Chinatown, Mooncake is the way to go. With influences from neighboring Asian cultures and an upbringing in Spanish Harlem, the chef at Mooncake puts tongue-tingling twists on dishes that make chicken and broccoli seem like an afterthought. From crawfish dumplings to octopus with spinach noodles, the menu will keep your palate pleasantly confused and your stomach (and your wallet) satisfied.

Where: 28 Watts St., Soho

When: Daily, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
More info: 
212-219-8888; mooncakefoods.com​

 

Drink

Mother's Ruin via Website


Spring Lounge

For the past 100 years, Spring Lounge has represented the classic New York attitude that used to permeate downtown. Make no mistake — this place knows its identity and flaunts it proudly. That’s exactly what’s kept this musky, feel-good joint open for nearly a century. A rotating craft beer selection, free bagels and ramshackle bric-a-brac lining the walls are among the many elements that have locals coming back. Take your buddies here for a round of beers or to watch a Yankees game if the time is right.

Where: 48 Spring St., Soho 

When: Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-4 a.m.; Sun., noon-4 a.m.
More info: 
212-965-1774; thespringlounge.com

 

Mother’s Ruin

Just because the hotel rooftop bars and swanky clubs may be off-limits to the monetarily challenged doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with the cool kids. Head to Mother’s Ruin any night of the week to become swallowed up by a crowd of beautiful people guzzling boozy slushies and spicy micheladas. The drinks are more than affordable, as is the delectable array of bar grub. When those drunchies (drunk muchies, obviously) kick in during the wee hours, the kitchen will still be serving up Thai pork sliders and Mexican Frito pie until 3 a.m. on weekends. You might have to avoid the bartender dancing on the bar while you eat, though.

Where: 18 Spring St., Soho

When: Daily, 11 a.m.-4 a.m.
More info: 
mothersruinnyc.com

 

Ear Inn

For all the thirsty historians out there, what better place to soak in New York's vibrant past than at the city’s oldest standing drinking establishment? Once the home of merchant sailors swilling home-brewed beer and crocks of corn whiskey in 1817, The Ear is now essentially the same thing, just without the seamen and with a few more health regulations. Stop by for some well-priced brews, ogle the centuries-old artwork, and hang out with any number of ghosts who reportedly haunt the halls, waiting for their wrecked ships to return from sea.

Where: 326 Spring St., Soho

When: Daily, noon-4 a.m.
More info: 
212-226-9060; earinn.com​

 

Shop

 

A post shared by @mcnallyjackson on


The Market

Soho is renowned across the globe for its vivacious shopping scene, with designer boutiques, cosmetics stores and eyewear shops lining each and every cobblestone block. Finding affordable options should be a breeze, right? Not right. Price tags that will keep your eyeballs from popping out of your head are few and far between. The only way to survive is to cut out the middlemen and head straight to the designers. The Market on Mulberry connects you directly to local craftspeople for a more accessible way to shop. You may not see Kendall Jenner’s pop-up shop in here, but you will find some great pieces, from clothes and accessories to decorative objects, that are unique to NYC artists.

Where: 290 Mulberry St., Soho

When: Mon., Weds. & Thurs., noon-8 p.m.; Fri., noon-9 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., noon-7 p.m.
More info: 
646-691-4525; themarketnyc.com​

 

McNally Jackson Books

At the end of the day, there’s really no way to save money in a city that makes you pay for every step you take and every breath you take. Your best chance is to either walk everywhere without ever going inside or hunker down with a good book while absorbing the happenings around you. For those whose interest is piqued by the latter, the best place in Soho to do it is McNally Jackson. The independent bookseller, which has a big focus on international works and author readings, is among the city’s finest bookstores. Wrap your hands around a cappuccino at the adjoining cafe, open your favorite Norwegian autobiography and watch the life of the city take its course.

Where: 52 Prince St., Soho

When: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
More info: 
212-274-1160; mcnallyjackson.com​

 

Sleep

The Solita Soho Hotel

via Website


Alas, when it comes to accommodations, this is where the thrifty traveler may run into a wall. If that’s the case, let it be the brick facade of the Solita Soho Hotel. Essentially the only affordable hotel in all of Soho, the Solita is remarkable for the fact that it is wholly unremarkable. When compared with the overwhelmingly ritzy luxury hotels of the area, with swimming pools and cocktail bars on the roof, the cookie-cutter amenities here may seem a bit subpar. But the place is far from drab, offering clean and comfortable rooms in one of the hottest zip codes in the city. And if you manage to secure a room on one of the top floors, the view might be a little more than you bargained for.

Where: 159 Grand St., Soho
More info: 
212-925-3600; solitasohohotel.com


By Alexander Brock

Alexander Brock is a freelance writer who writes sports, travel, food, politics, finance, fiction, poetry and whatever else is asked of him. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the editor-in-chief at downandoutmag.com.