Empire State Building and NY skyline at dawn

New York City has been my home for close to three years, though I’ve been coming to the city since I was 16.

(Little known nerd fact: My parents took my friend Matt and me to NYC because we won a free trip for placing first (me) and second (him) in the Massachusetts state championship of the card game Magic: The Gathering. Yes, you read that correctly!)

As you probably know, NYC is one of the best foodie cities in the world — you can find cuisines from every ethnicity here. And from dollar pizza slices to expensive $400 USD meals at Per Se, it also has food to cover all price ranges.

Because of the variety and quality of food here, I rarely cook at home (kitchens are small and there’s better food everywhere!), and so, over the years, I’ve developed a robust list of recommended restaurants that I want to share with you now.

My 25 Favorite Restaurants in NYC

Tomato and mozzarella farm to table healthy salad found in NYC

1. Corner Bistro (331 W. 4th Street)
World-famous for its thick and greasy hamburgers, I think this is one of the best burger joints in the city. This tiny, dimly lit bar is definitely not the restaurant you would expect to find such mouthwatering food. I bet they haven’t cleaned the grill in ages, which makes the burgers have such an amazing taste. I’m sure the drinks here are good too but I only ever come for the burger.

2. The Fat Radish (17 Orchard Street)
With some of the best farm-to-table, organic food in the entire city, the menu here changes based on seasonality, offers lots of vegetarian options, and will leave you full and feeling healthy.

3. Hot Kitchen (104 Second Avenue)
Delicious, fiery Szechuan food at a great price. This isn’t the place to get General Tso’s. It’s the real deal. Try the tripe (pig’s intestine) – it’s delicious! Be warned though: the food here is really spicy! Since I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food, my stomach still suffers the day after I eat there, but if you love fiery food (or are willing to suffer the consequences), don’t miss this place.

4. Jeffrey’s Grocery (172 Waverly Place)
Located in the West Village, this is not a cheap meal (most mains are $20 USD), but they pour heavy, heavy glasses of wine and have some of my favorite oysters and seafood in the city. They also host a $1 USD oyster happy hour on their entire selection (4–6pm during the week), which I think is the best deal in the city!

5. Miss Korea BBQ (10 W. 32nd Street)
This is my favorite Korean BBQ restaurant in the city. Granted, I’m not a Korean BBQ expert, but the meat here is delicious, and they give you a TON of sides of a dizzying variety (which to me is the best part of Korean BBQ. Bring on the unlimited kimchi!). The fact that it’s usually full of Koreans is something I take as a good sign.

6. SriPraPhai Thai Restaurant (64-13 39th Avenue, Flushing, Queens)
The best and most authentic Thai restaurant in New York. As someone who has lived in Thailand, I rarely find a place I like. It’s never as good. I hardly ever get Thai food because I’m always disappointed but this place is the real thing. It’s as close to getting to eating in Thailand as you can get. I especially like the som tam (papaya salad) here. It’s legit.

3 Mexican tacos on a beautiful plate from an NY restaurant

7. Tomoe Sushi (172 Thompson Street)
This tiny restaurant serves big cuts of fish on perfectly warmed rice. Their toro(fatty tuna) is outstanding. Tomoe is considered one of the best sushi bars in the city and gets packed quickly, so come early or for lunch. Prices here aren’t on the cheap side, but their $18 USD lunch set offers the best value.

8. Yuba (105 E. 9th Street)
My favorite sushi bar in the city, this little restaurant is easily missed. I visit here too often — so often they gave me cake on my birthday and call me up when they have hard-to-get or especially fresh fish. I take all my friends here. It’s consistently the best sushi I’ve found for the best price. Try the lemon roll (you have to ask for it, it’s not on the menu), the toro, and the uni. Tell Jack and Nina that I sent you.

9. Russ & Daughters (179 E. Houston Street)
This is the best breakfast and brunch joint in the city, hands down. Nothing even comes close. Come here for latkes, lox plates, world-class cream cheese, and anything else breakfast/deli like you can think of. There are two sections: the restaurant and the deli. The restaurant always has a long, long wait, so if you don’t get there early, it’s better to grab from the deli around the corner and eat elsewhere.

10. Left Bank (117 Perry Street)
Located in the West Village, this French restaurant offers a wonderful $20 USD Sunday prix fixe dinner that is one of the best budget meals in the city. You get two courses and wine in a romantically lit setting. My roommates and I also come here often, especially if we want a nice quiet bonding evening!

Beautiful colorful sushi and sashimi with chopsticks

11. Sao Mai (203 1st Ave)
A great Vietnamese place located near my apartment, this place serves pho that rocks my world. The portions are huge here and, according to my friend Jodi, who is an expert in all food Vietnamese, this place is authentic.

12. S’MAC (345 E 12th St) 
A mac-and-cheese shop that takes the traditional dish and makes it even better. It’s heavenly, cheesy goodness. Their 4-Cheese and Cheeseburger are my two favorites. The fact that this place is around the block from my house has become a problem, though — I’m eating there too often and may be getting a S’MAC belly!

13. Masala Times (194 Bleecker St)
I was only recently turned on to this place near the NYU campus. Serving Bombay-style street food, this place serves some really good Indian meals. I couldn’t get enough of it. The plates are sharable, and you get rice and bread, too. Try the Fish Tikka — it’s delicious.

14. Vanessa’s Dumpling (220 E 14th St)
I stumbled upon this place in the East Village while walking home one day; it was only later that I found out it’s actually quite famous. After eating their dumplings, it’s easy to see why. They were delicious — the pork dumplings had an intense flavor to them. And at 10 for $2, the price is just right.

15. Prosperity Dumplings (46 Eldridge St)
Located in Chinatown, this is another amazing dumpling place. The pork dumplings come fried or steamed, and there’s a nearby park where you can sit if this tiny place is full. And if you want more for later? You can buy 50 frozen dumplings for $8!

Close up of a New York pizza with vegetable toppings

16. John’s on Bleecker (278 Bleecker St)
Pizza in New York is an institution, and I admit I’m no pizza guru. To me, it’s either bad, good or really good. I can’t make those fine pizza distinctions like some New Yorkers can. I qualify John’s as really good. The thin-style pizza comes in huge portions big enough to serve three. Service is quick, but expect to wait for a table during dinner.

17. Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave)
Chelsea Market is more a collection of food places than a single restaurant. It’s extremely popular and a great place to pop into when you need some groceries, a meal, or snacks. You’ll find good Thai food here, and Amy’s Bread has amazing bread. The Lobster Place has decent sushi (and great lobster), but I really enjoy their clam chowder. If you want a meal with local and organic food, try the Green Table.

18. Rosemary’s (18 Greenwich Ave) 
This West Village Italian restaurant boasts a rooftop farm with fresh produce and herbs that goes directly into the food you eat. Their handmade pastas are a must-eat and they have a good Rosé selection. It’s one of the best weekend brunch locations in the city too. Come early because it fills up really quickly, especially on nice warm day.

19. Bennie’s Thai Café (88 Fulton St)
As someone who has lived in Thailand, I’m quite picky about my Thai, but this restaurant is legit. It’s a popular lunch spot with the working crowd and serves incredible curry. It’s one of the few locations where I can get an authentic Thai iced tea too! Service is a little too fast and abrupt, but who cares? The food is incredible.

20. Mamoun’s Falafel (119 MacDougal St) 
You will find inexpensive falafel and gyro stands all over Manhattan, but the best one is Mamoun’s. You can pick up a classic falafel with tahini and salad for less than $5, but all the options here are tasty and affordable.

21. Karasu (166 Delkab Ave)
This is often considered a restaurant and cocktail bar, but it’s more of an izakaya speakeasy (you’ll need to enter through a secret door). It has an elegant ambiance and the drinks are top-notch. The menu isn’t huge, but everything is delicious.

22. Peter Luger Steakhouse (255 Northern Blvd)
Located in Williamsburg, this is the best steakhouse in the city. It’s an institution in the city. The restaurant has a German beer hall feel and the steak (which they age in-house) is some of the best I’ve had in my life.

23. Eat’s Khao Man Gai ( 518 E 6th St)
This is a tiny restaurant with a limited menu, but the food here is absolutely delicious. Their Thai-style Hainanese chicken and rice is simple but tasty.

24. Friend of a Farmer (77 Irving Pl)
Since 1986, Friend of a Farmer has been embracing the farm-to-table movement, offering seasonal dishes as well as classic comfort food. The food is filling and hearty. They have a great brunch too!

25. Pete’s Tavern (129 E 18th St)
This vintage bar has been open since 1864. It’s an unpretentious place where you can enjoy some pub food and enjoy that classic tavern atmosphere.


a green mountainous landscape in the Colombia countryside

A trip to Colombia wasn’t going to break the bank. I knew that much.

But would it be a bargain?

Only a visit there would tell me for sure.

And so, earlier this year, I spent over five weeks there, varying my time between dorm rooms and cooking my own food on the one hand and staying in boutique hotels and eating luxury meals on the other.

I can tell you that while people are right — Colombia isn’t going to break your bank — if you’re not careful, your costs can escalate quickly, especially if you indulge in the up-and-coming gastronomy scene.

So how much does it cost to visit Colombia?

And how can you save money there?

Let’s break it down and go over my trip as an example.

How much did I spend?

people walking around a plaza with a fountain in Cartagena, Colombia

Over the course of 37 days, I spent $2,908.50 USD, or $78.60 per day. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • Accommodation – 3,690,531 COP ($1122.10 USD)
  • Food – 3,231,903 COP ($982.66 USD)
  • Drinks (Starbucks, water, tea, etc.) – 183,488 COP ($55.78 USD)
  • Alcoholic drinks – 691,170 COP ($210.15 USD)
  • Taxis – 386,000 COP ($117.36 USD)
  • Public transportation – 37,000 COP ($11.25 USD)
  • Intercity buses – 238,200 COP ($72.42 USD)
  • Uber – 518,447 COP ($157.63 USD)
  • Walking/day tours- 541,500 COP ($164.64 USD)
  • Miscellany (Band-Aids, soap, etc.) – 47,650 COP ($14.48 USD)

Total: 9,565,889 COP ($2908.50)

I spent so much money for two reasons: I stayed in a lot of hotels, and I ate out at a lot of fancy restaurants. They destroyed my budget. If it wasn’t for those things, I figure I would have spent about $1,000 less (thanks, Cartagena, for those lovely but pricey boutique hotels!) or around $53 per day, which isn’t too bad, and closer to my ideal $50 a day budget.

I don’t have any regrets, though. I had a lot of friends visit me and it was hard to convince them to stay in hostels and eat cheap meals. They wanted to splurge in the few days they had.

How much do you need to travel in Colombia?

a beach resort in Colombia

Accommodation – Most hostel dorm rooms in Colombia cost between 30,000-45,000 COP ($9-14 USD) per night, though in smaller cities and towns you can find them as low 23,048 COP ($7 USD) per night. You can sometimes find them that low in the big cities but the facilities tend to be pretty meh. Private hostel rooms start around 50,000 COP ($15.50 USD), though during the high season and in major metropolitan areas, you’ll likely spend double that.

Budget hotels in Colombia start around 60,000 COP ($18 USD) per night. On the coast and in the high season, you’ll find most places will be closer to around 120,000 ($36 USD) per night. If you’re looking to stay at some of the really nice boutique hotels the country has to offer, you should expect to pay around 658,533 COP ($200 USD) or more a night.

Airbnb is available in the larger cities, with shared accommodation prices starting around 35,000 COP ($11 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, prices start at 90,000 COP ($28 USD) but average closer to 250,000 COP ($78 USD) per night.

Food – Most of the local food is around 10,000-15,000 COP ($3-5 USD) per meal. You can find a lot for around 5,000-10,000 ($1.50-3 USD) in the countryside. You can also find a lot of cheap food like empanadas for like 200-500 COP ($0.06-0.15 USD) (they make the best snack food). An arepa on the street will be about 3,000 COP ($0.90 USD). Ceviche, which is popular throughout the country, is around 15,000 COP ($4.55 USD).

Most “Western” food will cost about 20,000-30,000 COP ($6-9 USD) each, or 15,000 COP ($4.55 USD) if you get fast food like McDonald’s or Subway. You can find some really expensive food in the country so prices just go up from that. Beer at the bar can be found for as little as 2,500 COP ($0.75 USD) but, on average, you’re likely to pay double that a backpacker bar. Cocktails, which are becoming really popular here, cost around 20,000 COP ($6 USD).

Grocery shopping is very cheap, costing about 110,000 COP ($34 USD) per week if you plan on buying your own groceries.

Transportation – Local transportation is cheap. The metro in Medellin is only around 2,500 COP ($0.76 USD) for a one-way fare. Local buses are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 1,000-2,5000 COP ($0.30-0.80 USD).

Uber (a ridesharing service) is way cheaper than taxis and you can pretty much get anywhere for around 16,463 COP ($5 USD). You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.

Intercity buses are the best way to get around Colombia. A bus from Bogota to Medellin will cost around 65,000 COP ($20 USD) while a bus to Quito, Ecuador from Bogota will cost around 175,000 COP ($54 USD). Medellin to Manizales is 42,000 COP ($12.75 USD) and Salento to Cali is about 27,000 COP ($8.20 USD). On average, you’ll probably spend 20,000-40,000 ($6-12 USD) for a bus, more if you’re going over 9 hours.

Companies like Bolivariano, Expreso Palmira, and Trejos are all good companies and they make it easy to research schedules and fares on their websites.

Tours – Most tours cost around 30,000 COP ($9 USD) and most museums are 10,000 COP ($3 USD) or less.

I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money in Colombia. On a backpacker’s budget, you’ll probably spend about 160,000 COP ($48 USD) per day. This is assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating local food, cooking some of your own meals, and using local transportation to get around. You’ll roughly spend around 60,000 COP ($18 USD) per day on hostels, 30,000-40,000 ($9-12 USD) on food, and 60,000 COP ($18 USD) on everything else. If you plan to drink a lot, do more tours, or eat a lot more Western food, I’d probably budget between 181,097-197,560 COP ($55-60 USD) per day.

On a mid-range budget of about 306,000 COP ($92 USD) per day, you can afford a private room at a hostel, Airbnb, or hotel; eat anywhere you want within reason (splurging once in a while); fly a couple of times, and take whatever tours you want. You’re going to spend around 99,000-132,000 COP ($30-40 USD) per night on lodging, 99,000 ($30 USD) on food, and 99,000 ($30 USD) on everything else.

If you’re going to stick to more luxury hotels, meals, drink more, or not use any points, I’d budget maybe 329,266 COP ($100 USD) or so a day.

After that, the sky is really the limit.

I found my trip a good in between. In the next section, I’ll talk more about how to save money in Colombia but, overall, I didn’t really want for anything on my trip. I ate cheap when I wanted, balanced my partying, cooked some food, used hotel points when I could, took public transportation as much as I could, and, just overall, tried to balance the two budget types above.

How to save money in Colombia

a street food vendor in Colombia selling fruit

You don’t need to do a lot to save money in Colombia. It’s relatively cheap to visit, and there are a lot of good deals throughout the country.

Accommodation is inexpensive unless you are staying at major hotels chains. Hostels are cheap (especially when you leave the big cities) and there are a lot of great value local hotels throughout the country. There are a ton of markets with cheap food. Local attractions are cheap. Buses are cheap. Really, if you travel as your average Colombian lives, you’ll be hard pressed to spend a lot.

Here are my 12 tips on how to save money in Colombia:

Eat like locals – It’s easy to eat on a budget here if you stick to local Colombian food. You can also find a lot of cheap food like empanadas for like 200-500 COP ($0.06-0.15 USD) (they make the best snack food). An arepa on the street will be about 3,000 COP ($0.90 USD). Ceviche, which is popular throughout the country, is around 15,000 COP ($4.55 USD). In the countryside, you can find meals closer to 10,000 COP ($3 USD)! In short: eat local, eat cheap. Sure, Colombian food isn’t the healthiest (it’s heavy on meat and fried food) but it is filling and inexpensive.

Skip the cocktails – Colombia has a lot of awesome cocktail bars now — especially in Medellín — but these drinks are expensive, usually costing around 20,000 COP ($6 USD) (sometimes up to 30,000 COP, or $9 USD). I mean, that’s crazy, especially when beer will cost you around 4,000 COP ($1.25 USD). If you’re on a budget, you should definitely skip the cocktails and stick to beer.

Cook your food – While local food is really cheap, you can also save some money by grocery shopping, although I didn’t find it to be a great value. It cost me 50,568 COP ($15 USD) for three days of food (plus, the hostels had terrible cooking facilities). If you do shop, I recommend getting breakfast food or snacks and eating meals out. You get more bang for your buck that way.

Avoid the hostels on the Caribbean coast – The hostels on the Caribbean coast were pretty lackluster. They were expensive and didn’t have great facilities, especially the bigger “resort” ones in beachside towns like Palomino. Instead, you can find comparatively cheap budget hotels on Booking.com for less than a private room and only slightly more than a dorm bed.

Avoid Gringolands – Everything where the gringos are is double the normal price. Avoid staying in areas with lots of tourists and expats, like Poblado in Medellín, Cartagena’s Old Town, or Park 93 in Bogotá, since you’ll end up paying more for everything.

Couchsurf – Nothing’s cheaper than free. Couchsurfing connects you with locals who will not only give you a free place to stay but also serve as a local tour guide and introduce you to the cool stuff only locals know about in town! You’ll find the most hosts in college towns and big cities.

Fly Viva Air – If you’re planning to fly around Colombia, the best deals are on Viva Air. It has the cheapest fares in the country (though it flies to the fewest places). It’s best to book a few weeks in advance. (LAN and Avianca, the two major carriers, also have deals sometimes.)

Use miles and points – You can use your miles on both LAN (part of Oneworld) and Avianca (part of Star Alliance). There are also a lot of hotel chains for which you can use points. If you have miles and/or points, you can burn through a lot of them in Colombia — and the redemption rates are really good too!

Avoid the airline surcharge – Non-Colombians are charged higher ticket prices than locals. If you look at the non-local version of the website, you won’t see the super saver cheap fares. To get around this, load up the local Spanish versions of an airlines’ websites. Then use your browser extension to translate the pages and book away! You’ll see the cheaper, Colombian prices, and no one will challenge you at check-in about your ticket fare.

Take Uber – Uber is by far the cheapest way to get around Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín. It’s about 1/3 as much as taxis. (Note: Uber is actually illegal, so don’t sit in the back seat or you might get stopped.) I also like to tip the Uber drivers here, since the fares are so cheap and they are taking a risk. But all the drivers I met did this out of necessity — they couldn’t pay their bills if it wasn’t for Uber.

Haggle with taxi drivers – There are no meters in Colombia. While prices from the airports are regulated and non-negotiable, everything else is just a matter of your bargaining skills. If you’re going to take taxis, haggle before you get in the car.

Take free walking tours – Most major and medium-sized cities in Colombia have free walking tours. They are a good way to see the city on a budget and learn by asking your guide questions. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Free Walking Tour Cartagena
  • Free Walking Tour Bogota
  • Real City Tours Medellin

Cooke City Chamber of Commerce

The Cooke City Chamber Visitor center is a cozy small log cabin built in the early 1900’s when gold was discovered and miners were running rampant. Winter season brings the best in snowmobiling both groomed and ungroomed trails a plenty. Cross Country skiing has increased in the area also. Summer the fishing is fantastic take your pick, lake, river, or stream. Cutthroat trout and brookies abound. Horse back riding, hiking, fishing, picture taking we have it all.

Directions: The Cooke City Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center is located in the scenic village of Cooke City on the south side of Highway 212 near the east side of town. Only 4 miles to the west lay Yellowstone Park north east gate, to the east is the Gallatin National Forest and the Beartooth Highway which climbs into the clouds approximately 12,000 feet