Sure, eating out in New York can be a competitive sport (try getting a reservation at WD50), sometimes a contact sport (try squeezing in the door at Caracas). However, once you're equipped with enough information about New York's 25,000 restaurant choices, the rewards are limitless, and we can confirm that this is one of the best damn towns on Earth to eat in. Certainly you could take advantage of the city's gourmet grocery stores and make fabulous meals at home, but compare your Citarella grocery bill to the check at Westville and you'll be eating out more often. But not to worry, we can always help you find the perfect place. Whether you're looking for a restaurant with a rare 28 from Zagat, or you refuse to let that D health rating get between you and good food (re: Kosher delis and Chinatown basements), you'll never have to settle.
Since New York City is a perpetual culinary hotspot featuring tons of celebrity chefs (and Top Chef contestants who packed their knives and went), it's easy to get wrapped up in trendy food that looks more like a Rorschach test than dinner. Some experimental restaurants are
remarkably on the cutting edge, but when you're not in the mood for aerated olive-chocolate foie gras (Wylie Dufresne, we're looking at you), you can rely on the Big Apple's longstanding heavyweights. They've relaxed the tie and jacket rule, but you can still rub elbows with the who's who at the posh 21
Club (circa 1929, Map 12); dine on New American cuisine at the 219-year-old Bridge Café, the oldest business in the city, older than Chase Manhattan (circa 1794, Map 1); slurp fresh-shucked oysters and enjoy amazing desserts under the vaulted, tiled ceiling at Grand Central Station's Oyster Bar (circa 1913, Map 13); sample more oysters and one of the best burgers in existence at the venerable Midtown watering hole P.J. Clarke's (circa 1884, Map 13); order the sturgeon scrambled with eggs, onions, and a bialy on the side at Barney Greengrass (circa 1908, Map 16); feast like old-world royalty at The
Russian Tea Room (circa 1927, Map 12); or expand your culinary horizons with calf's spleen and cheese on a roll at Ferdinando's Focacceria (circa 1904, Map 32).
New York has always had options for us broke folks, and the economic collapse (still hanging on, isn't it?) didn't hurt those options either. At Shake Shack (Maps 2, 9, 14, 17), you can still grab a Shack Burger for under $5 or a Shack Stack (twice the goods) for under $10. Ethnic food has always been a great friend to eaters on a budget. For the city's most succulent soup dumplings, head to Shanghai Café (Map 3). For brilliant Middle Eastern go to Hummus Place (Map 7), Gazala Place (Map 11), or Taïm
(Map 5) for some of the best falafel on the planet. For Mexican check out the taquería at The Corner a.k.a. La Esquina (Map 6) or head out to Bushwick's factory-restaurant Tortillería Los Hermanos. The Indian lunch buffet at Tiffin Wallah (Map 10) is less than ten bucks and veggie friendly to boot. Papaya King (Map 17) has kept hot dog lovers grinning since 1932. For a gigantic plate of Puerto Rican food under ten dollars, sit at the counter of La Taza De Oro (Map 8). For a cheap breakfast that even celebs appreciate, La
Bonbonniere (Map 5) can't be beat. And many of us can't survive a day without the staples of NYC Jewish eats: bagels and knishes. For bagels, go with perennial winner Ess-a-Bagel
(Maps 10, 13) or try our favorites: David's
Bagels (Map 10), Kossar's
Bialys (Map 4), Absolute Bagels (Map 16), or the original Tal
Bagels (Maps 13, 15, 16, 17). For knishes, nothing beats the Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery (Map 6). Since the NFT office began in Chinatown and we're always broke (free advice: don't go
into publishing), we are certified experts on eating cheap in this part of town. At Nice Green Bo (Map 3) get the scallion pancakes, at Food
Shing/Food Sing 88 (Map 3) get the beef noodle soup, at Fuleen (Map 3) get the shrimp with chili sauce, and for Malaysian order the stingray (!) at Sanur (Map 3).
Eating hip usually involves the food of the moment (kale chips and artisanal popsicles), beautiful people (who couldn't possibly eat another bite of that amuse-bouche), and some kind of exclusivity (unpublished phone numbers and hidden entrances). Although, with this little hiccup in our economic stability, even the hippest places have had to let the dirty, burger-eating plebeians through their doors.
That being said, the ultimate in cool dining is, of course, Rao's (Map 20)--or so we hear. But unless you're the Mayor, the Governor, or Woody Allen, you probably won't be getting a reservation anytime soon. If you can find the unmarked basement door of Bobo (Map 5), you'll really impress your date. Head east to try the always crowded, no-reservations eatery Freemans (Map 6), which hides itself at the end of an alleyway; do not miss the pork chops. For fans of Japanese izakayas, nothing is quite as fun as an evening at En Brasserie (Map 5). Its gourmet menu brilliantly fuses homemade miso with duck, cod, tofu, and anything else you can think of. And the low lighting will make anyone look good. Zenkichi (Map 29) also has killer Japanese, and yes, it's behind a camouflaged front door, but both the food an ambiance are stellar, and it's a great date spot. David Chang's restaurant mini-empire is still on people's radars, so try Momofuku Ko (Map 6). If the lines are too long at the Momofukus or you don't have friends that can afford to score a table at The Spotted Pig (Map 5), try Kuma
Inn (Map 4) on the Lower East Side. The small plates like Chinese sausage with Thai chili-lime sauce and pork wasabi dumplings are brilliant, it's BYO sake, and there's no secret phone number. If you don't mind waiting and your date isn't a vegetarian, grab a cocktail
in the lobby of the slick Ace Hotel and get ready for a dinner you won't soon forget at The
Breslin (Map 9).
Some say New York never sleeps, and some (ahem, Madrid) insist that it does, but like any big city it depends on the neighborhood, so let us help you locate some options. Kang Suh's (Map 9) Korean barbecue runs all night, as well as the Turkish kebab spot Bereket (Map 7), the bar/burger joint 7A (Map 7), and a host of classic diners like Odessa (Map 7) and Waverly Restaurant (Map 5). Veselka (Map 6) is the place for late-night Ukrainian soul food. You'll find cabbies chowing down past 3 am at Lahore Deli (Map 6), Big Arc Chicken (Map 7), or 99 Cents Fresh Pizza (Map 11). French Roast (Map 5, 14) serves good croque-monsieurs 24 hours, and that dessert you declined earlier in the evening. If you're near Chinatown at 3 a.m, let the wonton soup and barbecue duck at Great NY Noodletown (Map 3) soak up all that beer. And, of course, Blue Ribbon (Map 6) is still one of the best places to eat after midnight.
We don't care what Chicago says; we do pizza best! The coal oven spots top most lists: Grimaldi's (Map 30), Lombardi's (Map 6), Luzzo's
(Map 7), John's Pizzeria (Map 5), and the original Patsy's (Map 20) in East Harlem. The coal oven enjoys extra cachet because it's illegal now, except in the aforementioned eateries where they were already in operation. However, the regular brick oven joints, such as Franny's (Map 33), Keste (Map 5), Co (Map 8) and Lucali
(Map 32) are no slouches. For an upscale pie, try the exquisite
creations at Mario Batali's Otto (Map 6). Trying to find something edible near Wall Street? Check out Adrienne's (Map 1) delicious rectangle pies on Stone Street, or walk up to TriBeCa for a luscious Brussels-sprout-bacon-caramelized-onion pie at Saluggi's (Map 2). For a classic Village scene complete with live jazz, check out Arturo's (Map 6) on Houston Street. The outer boroughs seriously represent here: Louie & Ernie's in The Bronx (p 177), Tufino in Queens (Map 26), Denino's on Staten Island (p 183), and, of course, Di Fara in Brooklyn (p 179). Pizza by the slice practically deserves its own category, but the highlights include Patsy's (Map 20, definitely the
best slice in the city), Artichoke
Basille's Pizza (Map 6, get the grandma slice), Farinella (Map 3, very unique), and Joe's (Map 5, classic NY Style).
Spin a globe, blindly stick your finger onto a spot, and chances are you can find that cuisine on offer in New York. And an outstanding offering it will be. To wit:
Aires (Map 7)
Austrian: Edi & The Wolf (Map 7)
Australian: Tuck Shop (Map 6) and The Thirsty Koala (Map 26)
Chinese: Joe's Shanghai (Map 3), Old Sichuan (Map 3) and Szechuan Gourmet (Map 9)
Cuban: Café Habana (Map 6)
Dominican: El Malecon (Map 23) and El Castillo de Jagua (Map 4)
Egyptian: Kabab Café (Map 26)
Ethiopian: Ghenet (Map 33) and Zoma (Map 19)
(Map 15), Zum Schneider (Map 7) and Hallo Berlin (Map 11)
(Map 14), Periyali (Map 9) and Pylos (Map 7)
(Map 13), Banjara (Map 7) and Indian Tandoor Oven (Map 15)
Italian: Babbo (Map 6), Felidia (Map 13), Il Giglio (Map 2), Sfoglia
(Map 17), Al Di La (Map 33), I Trulli (Map 10) and countless others
Japanese: Nobu (Map 2), Takahachi (Map 7), Ki Sushi (Map 32) and about 40 others
Jewish: Sammy's Roumanian (Map 6) and B&H Dairy (Map 6)
Korean: Kang Suh (Map 9), Seoul Garden (Map 9) and Dok Suni's (Map 7)
Malaysian: New Malaysia (Map 3)
(Map 32) and Mexico 2000 (Map 29)
New Zealand: Nelson
Blue (Map 1)
Pakistani: Pakistan Tea House (Map 2) and Haandi (Map 10)
Polish: Christina's (Map 28) and Lomzynianka (Map
Russian: The Russian Vodka Room (Map 12) and Russian Samovar (Map 12)
Scandinavian: Aquavit (Map 13) and Smörgås Chef (Map 1)
South African: Madiba (Map 31)
Southern American: Sylvia's (Map 19) and Cheryl's Global Soul (Map 33)
Spanish: Socarrat (Map 9) and Tia Pol (Map 8)
Sri Lankan: Sigiri (Map 7)
Thai: Pongsri Thai (Map 3) and Sripraphai
Turkish: Turkish Kitchen (Map 10)
New York is home to arguably the world's best steakhouse, Peter
Luger (Map 29), but it's competitive at the top, and clawing at Luger's heels are: Mark Joseph Steakhouse (Map 1) and classics like Sparks (Map 13), Palm (Map 13), Smith & Wollensky (Map 13) and the Strip House (Map 6). For the Brazilian-style "all you can eat meat fest," Churrascaria Plataforma (Map 11) does the trick. As for hamburgers, the rankings provide material for eternal debate: Corner
Bistro (Maps 5, 26), Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien (Map 12), J.G.
Melon (Map 15) and Bonnie's Grill (Map 33), to name a few. Royale (Map 7) compliments the perfect patty with stellar fixins for a song, and Korzo Haus (Map 7) serves a succulent ground beef patty wrapped in Hungarian fried bread, topped with Central European goodies. Texans and Missourians alike can agree that New York has some damn good BBQ, even if we sometimes recruit our BBQ talent from down South: Daisy May's (Map 11), Hill Country (Map 9), Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (Map 18) and Blue Smoke (Map 10) in Manhattan, and The Smoke Joint (Map 31) in
You could live your whole life here, never eat a shred of meat, and feast like a king every day (and probably live longer). Try the quality Indian fare at Pongal
(Map 10) and Chennai Garden (Map 10), and, for high-end eats, Franchia (Map 10), Candle 79 (Map 15), Dirt
Candy (Map 7), and GoBo (Map 5). For those on a budget, try Atlas Café (Map 7) for a quick bite and Angelica Kitchen (Map 6) for something a step up. For a delicious macrobiotic meal including dessert, Souen (Maps 5, 6) has yet to disappoint. For adventurous veggie heads, nothing beats HanGawi (Map 9), consistently voted one of the best vegetarian and Korean restaurants in the city.
Eating Your Wallet
While we technically use the same currency as the rest of the country, it's actually worth about half as much here as elsewhere. Even the most frugal among us have spent 100 New York dollars on a night out and thought we got off easy--the damage can easily exceed $200 per person at a Michelin-starred restaurant. No doubt you're dying to try Eric
Ripert's this and Daniel Boulud's that, but treat this like open bar at your holiday office party: Know your limit (financially, emotionally, morally), and try not to do anything you'll regret in the morning. If you can keep your food down after witnessing triple digits on your share of the tab, start on the slippery slope to gastronomically induced bankruptcy at the following restaurants, which rarely disappoint: Babbo (Map 6), Per Se (Map 11), Gramercy
Tavern (Map 9), Le Bernardin (Map 12), Bouley (Map 2), Union Square Cafe (Map 9), Mesa Grill (Map 9), Craft
(Map 9), Aquavit
(Map 13) and Spice Market (Map 5). And remember to manage your expectations: unless you fall in love with your server, the experience will probably not change your life. Although Per Se (Map 11) comes pretty damn close.
Our Favorite Restaurants
Consensus on this subject is always difficult, but with a group of New Yorkers opinionated enough to produce the NFT, we have to at least try and duke it out. We've historically granted the accolade to Blue Ribbon (Map 6): it's open 'til 4 a.m., it's where the chefs of other restaurants go, it's got fondue, beef marrow, fried chicken, great liquor, a great vibe and great service. And it will always have that special place in our hearts and stomachs, but we also have to give a shout out to a few others: Alma (Map 32), an out-of-the-way rooftop Mexican restaurant with stunning views and equally good tamales, mole, margaritas, and ambiance, Sigiri (Map 7), a spicy Sri Lankan gem that's BYOB to boot; Babbo (Map 6), because it's Babbo (call at least one month ahead); Arturo's (Map 6), a classic, old-school pizza joint with live jazz, Greenwich Village locals and amazing coal-fired pizza and Kuma Inn (Map 4), a hard-to-find Asian tapas restaurant that's cool and hip but also affordable, laid-back and mind-blowingly delicious.
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Monday, February 24, 2014
Tea & Sympathy
In a city that's just as well known for its indelicate disdain as it is for its incomparable allure, there lies a little morsel of sweet sympathy tucked between the bites of bangers and mash. NYC offers plenty of places for high tea paired with high toit, but here it's all about comfort.
From your first step into this delightful, little tea room to your initial taste of authentic, British fare, you'll swear you've walked straight into a delicious daydream with your best friend, Earl Grey, where you'll dance among the cozy clouds of clotted cream.
What's better, they offer the most pleasant of care packages to send to fellow mates who may be longing the Land of the Rose. Inside these gifts of goodness coined "tuck packages" is an array of savory splendor ranging from chocolate bars to marmites and all the British essentials in between.
They've got your spot of tea and you've got a world of reasons to visit. On you go! Chop Chop!
Monday, April 15, 2013
Hey New Yorker, feeling overlooked? Just another face in the crowd, cog in the wheel, body on the 6 train? If you are in need of some attention, head over to First Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets. Stacked one on top of the other and side-by-side, you'll find the most festive quartet of Indian restaurants in the city. Each is strung with an epilepsy-inducing amount of party lights, and each is super eager to win your service. At this spot you'll feel anything but overlooked; instead, you'll be sweet-talked, coerced, or even, personally escorted into any of the four restaurants. In fact, my friend who was meeting a group of us for dinner was tricked into the wrong restaurant and promptly shown to another table of girls where the waiter tried to convince her that these girls were in fact the friends she’d been waiting to find.
In other words, your entrance will be overwhelming, but a dinner out at Milon NY is entirely worth the experience. Brimming with color, you’ll have a unique dining experience without spending a fortune (entrees range between $10-$15), and it’s BYOB. Be sure to get there early as this small spot fills up quickly.
Monday, March 25, 2013
On a Saturday brunch excursion, I stumbled into Diablo Royale hoping to partake in their $25 all-you-can-drink until 4 PM brunch special. Upon entering, I was told my party and I would have to wait almost two hours for a table. There's not much I would wait two hours for...and Diablo Royale now fits into that category. However, at the time, the atmosphere, sun-drenched bar, and booze made the wait acceptable. Great tacos and the Rickys (3/4 beer, 1/4 margarita) are a must, but do yourself a favor and show up early.
Monday, March 11, 2013
This family-run business welcomes you to their restaurant as if you were a long-lost relative; even the décor makes you feel like one of the family as pictures of the dynamo Sylvia, her husband, and family adorn the walls in gilded frames. Quite the inspiration, Sylvia, the "Queen of Soul Food," was a mainstay of the Harlem community and New York City at large (she even rang the opening bell at the Stock Exchange). As a friend who works in Harlem assures me, her influence was obvious after the community-wide festivities held in her honor after her passing in 2012. Along with fabulous fried chicken, out of this world collard greens, and a perfect hot sauce, this restaurant proves that its mission is more than filling people's bellies. Sylvia's is out to have a positive and integral impact on its community. Quite the definition of "soul food."
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Tucked amidst the flashing lights and persuasive calls to dine at one of East 6th Street's many Indian restaurants is Sigiri. It is not adorned with Christmas lights and no one pulls you off the street boasting a deal, but Sigiri provides an unparalleled dining experience that is not to be missed. Like its neighbors in the East Village, Sigiri serves South Asian cuisine, but rather than hailing from India, Sigiri's food is from the island nation of Sri Lanka. In a mecca of international eats, it is hard to be totally unique in New York City, but Sigiri pulls it off as a reasonably priced, conveniently located, authentic Sri Lankan eatery on a continent where such places are few and far between. Sri Lankan cuisine as it is served up at Sigiri is not for the faint of the heart (or tastebuds!) It is spicy, spicy, spicy. Not to fear though--Sigiri is BYOB, so make sure to bring a spice fighting alcohol to accompany your meal. If you're looking for a cozy atmosphere with eclectic decor, delicious food, and a unique feel, head on over to Sigiri. You won't be sorry, even if your salivary glands will!
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