Re:New York in the Fall
OK, here are a few of my favorite, less expensive (but not cheap) places:
Chinese/Hispanic: Although most of these are Cuban/Chinese, my favorite is Flor de Mayo, which throws Peruvian food into the mix (order a Peruvian roast chicken for the table, regardless of what else you're ordering). They're at 484 Amsterdam Avenue (around 84th-85th St).
The best deli I can recommend is Sarges on 34th St. & 3rd Ave. At one time, it was certainly one of the better ones, but the best have gone down in quality while Sarges has not.
If you want an Indian buffet lunch and don't want to venture out to Jackson Heights in Queens (although it's right off the E train), the best one I know of is Diwan at East 48th St. between Lexington & 3rd. For straight Indian food, nothing compares to the excellent albeit possibly too expensive Dawat on East 58th between 2nd & 3rd. If you want what the cab drivers eat, try Curry in a Hurry on Lexington and East 28th St. (look for all the double parked cabs). Cheap, no ambiance, but good food.
That should start you off.