I was very upset after reading the other comment about Athena's....I live right around the corner and go there often for manicures and pedicures. The manicures are only 6 dollars- the pedi's 12...unless you go for the "spa" versions which are slightly more expensive and longer (more massage) treatments. The staff is always amazingly sweet- and does a wonderful job. One girl usually even walks around and gives free (really good) back and shoulder massages while you get your manicure. My nails have never been done sloppy. In fact, I recently was treated to an expensive spa day by my BF in the city, and I felt like my nail treatments weren't as good! And it cost more than 3 times as much... Athena's nails isn't trying to be anything they are not. Its cheap- and clean and a perfect place to go on your day off for a quick treat.
If you want to be difficult and fussy...go ahead....just do it at a stuffy place in Manhattan where they are prepared for you- leave our Astoria spa's alone!