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Cheap late-night Middle Eastern food in New York's East Village
On late nights when you’re stumbling down the block in the East Village after a few drinks, there’s another option for Middle Eastern food besides your neighborhood Halal cart. Open from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. at First ave and 14th Street, Big Arc Chicken’s busiest hours are late at night, when cabbies and clubbers flock to this hole in the wall for affordable grub. Occasionally you’ll find that the door is locked, lights are off, and the cooks have cleared out except for the single worker who gets to take a break while the others go out the back door for ablutions and ṣalāh. It doesn’t take longer than fifteen minutes (except Fridays, when they’re closed between 1 and 1:30 PM). As soon as the door is unlocked customers pour for a healthy, cheap, authentic meal complimented by Al Jazeera in Arabic on the flatscreen TV. Be forewarned, this year Ramadan lasts until August 7th, and undoubtedly the crowds will increase after sunset even more so than usual.
Everything on their menu is inexpensive without compromises: Offerings include a half grilled chicken ($5) or whole with pita and hot or BBQ sauce ($8). They grill chickens all day, but get there when it’s fresh and hasn’t had the time to dry out at the end of their rush hour. Specials like a half grilled chicken with soup, green salad, pita and sauce rounds out a complete meal for only $6.50 at lunch. At dinnertime, a half chicken with baba ghannouj or hummus, green salad, rice, pita, and sauce is only $7.75. Guests frequently order pita sandwiches with falafel ($3.50) or various kebabs ($4.50). Instead of using boring fillers like lettuce and tomatoes to cut costs, Big Arc fills their pita sandwiches with diced cucumbers, red cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and other veggies. They’re known for stuffing their pita more generously than other falafel spots like Mamoun's. One of the most expensive menu items is the fish ($10), which we haven’t tried, but judging by the people around us it’s extremely popular. Other options include kofta, kebab and shawarma platters for meat eaters ($7-8.50), and hummus, baba ghannouj, or falafel platters (4.95). There is a vegetarian combo with all three for $7. Desserts available are baklava or honey cake ($1.50 each). Bonus: they deliver. With a variety of options for vegans, vegetarians, the health-conscious and omnivores, Big Arc has maintained a reputation as a reliable lunch, dinner, and late-night hot spot for all. Cash only. Delivery available.
10 Crockpot Recipes Under $5 – Easy Meals Your Family Will Love!
Here are 10 quick and easy crockpot recipes you can make for under $5! Crockpot recipes are great because you can just toss the ingredients into the crockpot in the morning and then, when it’s dinner time, your meal will be done!
Summer is the perfect time to break out the crockpots because most of us are busy running around and it’s not only convenient, but won’t heat up the house!
Most of these are in our Dining On A Dime Cookbook but if you want more ideas check out our Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus E-book with 187 Recipes and 61 Menus!
Eat Better, Spend Less!
With our Dining On A Dime Cookbook!
Check it out here!
75 Easy, Delicious Family Dinner Ideas For Any Day of the Week
Any of these quick dinner ideas are perfect for your family meal tonight.
There&rsquos nothing better than a home-cooked meal. These uncomplicated family dinner ideas will please everyone. From cozy casseroles to veggie-filled healthy soup and stews and easy pasta recipes, you&rsquoll have endless delicious quick dinner ideas to choose from night after night, whether you have all day to prep or just minutes. If you're on the hunt for hearty ideas to add to your menu, these deliciously cheap and easy dinner recipes are both impressive and flavorful, and they will certainly make the whole crew happy.
Liven up staples like chicken and linguine with a creamy tangy sauce of cream cheese and lemon.
The basics: No Cheddar's around? With more than 1,200 U.S. locations, there's bound to be a Chili's nearby to get that baby-back-ribs jingle stuck in your head for eternity. And while ubiquitous eateries like Applebee's aim for the same mass appeal, Chili's and its Southwest-inspired menu edge out the competition with healthier choices, better all-around value, and a renewed focus on what it does best — namely, perennial favorites like ribs and fajitas.
For the kids: Cheesy chicken pasta and grilled chicken sliders are notable kids' menu items, but there are also standbys like pizza, grilled cheese, and quesadillas. Chili's has a wider-than-usual range of kids' sides, including healthier choices like pineapple and celery, Mexican rice, and corn on the cob. A kid-size molten chocolate cake makes a casual dinner out feel more special. Expect to pay $5.20 to $5.50, dessert excluded.
For special diets: Healthier choices are easy to find on the five-item Guiltless Grill menu, including chile-rubbed salmon with rice and broccoli (630 calories) and mango-chile chicken with the same sides (490 calories). A detailed allergen menu offers a lot of guidance for anyone avoiding gluten, nuts, or other ingredients. It also lists vegan and vegetarian-friendly options like a Caribbean salad, bean and veggie fajitas, and a veggie burger.
What you'll pay (and how to save): The famous baby back ribs are the priciest choice on the Chili's menu — a full rack will set you back about $20. Many sandwiches and more modest entrees range from $10 to $15, and fajitas from $14 to $17. Budget-savvy diners can eat on the cheap with a Dinner for Two menu: Select one of five appetizers and two entrees from about a dozen choices for $22. Another strategy: Go midday for a $7 lunch combo menu that includes sliders, flatbreads, and a chipotle chicken bowl.
18 of 33
Peanut Fettuccine with Roasted Cauliflower
Budget dinner price: $1.81 per serving
Sticking to healthy meals on a budget often means driving past your favorite take-out joints and heading home. With healthful restaurant remakes like this, you can enjoy dining-out flavor while saving money, sodium, and calories. If you&rsquore ravenous, toss in some leftover or rotisserie chicken&mdashas-is, this less-than-$2 meal has only 270 calories per serving, leaving plenty of wiggle room for add-ins.
All white meat, shredded chicken, finely minced celery, mayonnaise, & our secret seasoning.
A southern tradition combining sweet pickles & egg.
Our brightest flavor featuring chopped pecans, fresh basil, & lemon.
An onion-lover&rsquos delight! The only one with onions.
A zesty blend of ranch, bacon, & shredded cheddar cheese.
A hickory smoked BBQ flavor that is sure to please.
Fruity and Nutty
Dress it up with Fuji apples, seedless grapes, & pecans.
A refreshing blend of Fuji apples, seedless grapes, & pineapple.
A mixture of dried, sweetened cranberries, & slivered almonds.
Craving wings? This is definitely the choice for you.
Whew!! The name says it all, diced jalapeños galore.
This flavor powerhouse is a combination of buffalo sauce, ranch, bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, & Sriracha!
Pimento Cheese & More
Choose a Scoop or Sandwich
A blend of freshly grated sharp cheddar & pepper jack cheeses combined with just a smidge of our creamy house dressing.
A blend of freshly grated sharp cheddar & pepper jack cheeses combined with jalapeños & just a smidge of our creamy house dressing.
A classic egg salad with eggs, sweet pickles, mustard & mayonnaise.
Salads, Sides, and Soups
Fresh broccoli florets tossed in a sweet vinegar-based dressing with shredded mozzarella & cheddar cheeses, topped with crispy bacon.
Red & white seedless grapes covered in a sweet cream cheese mixture, topped with brown sugar & crushed pecans.
Tri-color rotini pasta in an Italian-based dressing with feta & parmesan cheeses, black olives, & artichoke hearts.
Chilled, freshly cut strawberries, blueberries, & red and white seedless grapes.
Elbow macaroni in a creamy sauce made with a three cheese blend and a touch of spice.
Your choice of any scoop, served atop a bed of our spring lettuce blend with grape tomatoes & cucumbers.
Our seasonal side salad features fresh greens & the season&rsquos freshest fruits, cheeses, & crunchy toppings.
BBQ Chicken SaladPhoto courtesy of Panera
Don't get me wrong, salads are delicious if they are prepared the right way. I love salads from Panera Bread because they are just your typical lettuce, tomato and cucumber. This BBQ Chicken Salad is made from chicken raised without antibiotics, romaine, black beans and corn salsa tossed in BBQ ranch dressing, topped with frizzled onions, and drizzled with apple cider vinegar BBQ sauce. If you like BBQ, then this is definitely the salad for you and it's only $9.59.
22 Ways to Turn Costco’s Rotisserie Chicken Into a Five-Star Meal
ICYMI, Costco’s rotisserie chicken, along with a bunch of their other products, kind of has a cult following. In a sea of oversized vats of olives and ketchup jugs the size of your head, the rotisserie chicken stands out for a few reasons: it’s tender, it’s juicy, it’s quick and it’ll only set you back around five bucks. Roughly the cost equivalent of a venti beverage at Starbucks &mdash but unlike a caramel macchiato, Costco’s rotisserie chicken will sustain you for days. Like, it’s big, y’all. We’re not sure where Costco rounds up these birds, but they’re noticeably larger than the ones you’ll find sitting under heat lamps at other supermarkets.
So, in all likelihood, you’ll have a decent amount of leftovers after your first night dining on this grab-and-go entrée. But that’s just another reason you should reach for this pre-cooked poultry! You’ll be dining on it for days. If you’re the type who craves a little more variety from your cuisine, that might not sound super-appealing. However, the internet is a giving place, and a cursory search yields countless recipes you can create using leftover rotisserie chicken from Costco.
But hey, you’re busy. We get it &mdash that’s part of the reason you love Costco’s quick and easy chicken option in the first place. So, we did you a solid and rounded up some of the best recipes out there that you can whip up using your rotisserie chicken remains. If you thought your family loved it the first night, they’re going to love these gourmet remixes.
Our mission at SheKnows is to empower and inspire women, and we only feature products we think you&rsquoll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.
There's another high-profile fine dining abuse allegation. What do chefs do next?
Blaine Wetzel, chef at the Willows Inn on Washington's Lummi Island, prepares dishes in New York in September 2011. A recent New York Times investigation detailed allegations of abuse at the restaurant under his watch.
If you haven&rsquot read Julia Moskin&rsquos investigation into the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, you should absolutely do so. In her New York Times story, reported over the course of three months, Moskin uncovers allegations of rampant sexual misconduct, abuse and even fraud behind the scenes at the internationally renowned restaurant in Washington state. The piece made a splash within the restaurant and food journalism industries, but the fine dining world has been mostly silent. To my knowledge, no big-name American chef with the power to change restaurant culture &mdash no one who benefits from the same celebrity chef hype that enabled Blaine Wetzel&rsquos alleged ego-driven mismanagement of the Willows Inn &mdash has said anything publicly about this story.
And I think they should. There&rsquos precedent, after all: In 2021, it&rsquos now commonplace to acknowledge Black Lives Matter and #StopAAPIHate and talk about how your restaurant doesn&rsquot tolerate discrimination, which are honorable statements that also benefit from their vagueness. It makes me wonder how it makes career restaurant workers feel, to see their industry remain silent in the face of such obvious injustice, and I&rsquom not surprised that restaurants are still having a hard time finding staff, now that dining in the Bay Area is opening back up.
This issue leads to another set of questions: Do customers even care about this stuff? And are they willing to pay for it? I decided to chat about the future of the restaurant workplace with San Francisco chef Eric Ehler, who is currently the chef consultant for Chinese American restaurant Lazy Susan. When I shared Moskin&rsquos story on social media, Ehler was the only chef who wanted to talk to me at length about it. Ehler, who has been working in the industry since he was a teen, told me that he&rsquos been thinking through these issues a lot lately: about the sometimes awful things chefs get away with in the name of making good food and the collateral damage of the &ldquocustomer is always right&rdquo mentality.
A past experience with a social media scandal, wherein he was criticized by a Chinese writer for supposedly making gentrified Chinese food, has made him skeptical about the efficacy of taking to the internet to call out individual bad actors. Instead, he hopes to model good leadership by example and hopes that chefs who have mistreated people in the past just own up to it themselves.
The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Eric Ehler at Mister Jiu’s in 2018.
Rosa Furneaux / Special to The Chronicle
Let me ask you this question directly: Pretend I&rsquom your everyday customer. How do I know you&rsquore not an abusive chef, too?
That&rsquos the big question right now. For me &mdash Eric Ehler in general &mdash you can ask anyone I&rsquove worked with, and I think they&rsquoll tell you I&rsquove done my best to make a good atmosphere. I hope that my previous employees and current employees would be able to vouch for me because they&rsquove worked with me and they&rsquove known me. I&rsquom not perfect. I&rsquove been wrong, and I&rsquove tried to right those wrongs.
Honestly, that issue is something I&rsquom trying to figure out. I see a lot of chefs trying to cover their tracks or bury their history. The truth is that every chef right now with their name on a big, nice restaurant has so many skeletons in their closet. When I was younger, I was very fortunate to work in tough-love kitchens that were not racist or malicious or misogynistic. But I would hear stories of people working for bigger chefs back in the day. I&rsquove been in San Francisco since 2008 and seen the industry go through so many different waves.
I do feel guilty &mdash guilty by association. That&rsquos what haunts me. Who have I supported in the past? So right now, it&rsquos so important for me to try to right any wrongs I&rsquove done. To push into the future.
The story of Blaine Wetzel, who&rsquos a chef in his 30s, about the same age as you and me, also shows that this isn&rsquot a simple story about how toxic restaurant culture is an old school versus new school thing, right? So in your mind, what needs to happen for restaurants to truly change for the better?
There&rsquos this idea of the soldier chef, who embodies precision and everything about going into fine dining, Michelin-starred service. Finesse is great and all, but it&rsquos not sustainable for people, for staff. The time of the chef is over. That&rsquos not to say that fine dining can&rsquot exist &mdash the ideals of the past just need to go.
I also just think that people in these bigger restaurants need to have better human resources (HR) solutions. Not to drop names, but in the past, whenever I tried to talk to managers about anything HR-related, it just went nowhere. That&rsquos why these traumatizing situations happen. We just never had any help.
You told me in private messages that, for you, &ldquoIt's been a mission statement since day one to have healthy kitchens.&rdquo Can you clarify what you mean by &ldquohealthy&rdquo? What does a healthy restaurant workplace actually look like?
How about I just tell you about my day? When I come in, everyone gets greeted. Everyone is treated as if I&rsquom coming home to my family. We go through the prep list and make space for questions or concerns &mdash in Spanish, English, and sometimes even Mayan or Chinese. I check in with everybody and ensure there&rsquos a good staff meal and that everyone&rsquos food prep is fair and not too heavy.
I get people snacks and water, check in with them. I make sure they get their bathroom breaks in. We crack jokes and talk about Netflix on the line, and I give people small projects during downtime. And I make sure everyone&rsquos energized and ready to come to work the next day.
If there&rsquos ever an issue, we fix the problem, resolve it and retrain. I&rsquom never like, &ldquoYou did this because you&rsquore stupid, or because you&rsquore lazy.&rdquo When I&rsquom on the line, no one has to be scared or freaked out. My team knows that I&rsquom there because I want to help them. I&rsquom willing to stop service and slow things down to do that. The customer can wait if there&rsquos some issues that need to be resolved.
In my experience, the customer is usually blamed by managers and restaurant operators for the way staff are treated: In the past, I&rsquove heard bosses say people won&rsquot pay more for food so employees can get living wages, or that customers won&rsquot tolerate slower service or sold-out menu items due to staff taking more breaks. Does that ring true for you?
That bothers me so much: The people operating these restaurants at a high standard, they&rsquore the ones not doing their books correctly and doing all of this irresponsible ordering. &ldquoLet&rsquos bring in all of these fancy ingredients let&rsquos make oyster sauce from locally harvested oysters!&rdquo All those costs brought on to boost the chef&rsquos ego create more labor, more high pressure situations, harsher work environments. In these situations, people aren&rsquot allowed to mess up because that hurts the chef&rsquos ego.
So if it&rsquos my decision, we can run out of something. That&rsquos fantastic. I&rsquom not gonna lose my mind, and it&rsquos not gonna bother me. I love going to tables and being like &ldquoHey, we ran out of this, so this is what we&rsquore going to do&hellip&rdquo
All it takes is some genuine courtesy and telling people we&rsquore gonna make this right. 9/10 people are super excited and understanding about it. That 1/10 that&rsquos super upset? I don&rsquot want you as a customer.
Keep Insects Away
Insects also can pretty much ruin a nice time outdoors. Fortunately, there are measures to limit their presence around your dining area. Citronella candles are decorative, provide light, and can keep some of the biting bugs at bay. A moving water feature also can repel some insects while freshening the air. Plus, you might be able to outfit your patio with some mosquito netting-like curtains. Make sure to have covers for serving platters and dishes handy to keep bugs off of food.