I had a DELICIOUS after-theater dinner last night at Rachel's on Ninth and 44th. I had never heard of it, just happened to wander in after surveying what the neighborhood had to offer.
Split everything, and it was a perfect amount of food for two: Smoked salmon, brie and spinach napoleon appetizer; grilled shrimp and tomato salad; and the leek, sage and spinach ravioli in truffle cream sauce main course. For dessert, the "Chocolate chocolate chocolate," which was one of the best things I've ever tasted. Stuck with water (not impressed with wine list), and the bill was $45. Great dinner on a budget!
Would definitely second the recommendations for:
- Amy's Bread - their twists are pretty good, too...
- Little Pie Company for the sour cream apple walnut pie
- Junior's Cheesecake also has a location on 45th, in that area (just off Broadway, but I don't remember the exact cross street)
- Azuri Cafe has the best falafel, hummus, schwarma, etc. and is definitely worth braving the grouchy owner!
- Kwik Meal (I is definitely better than II)
Hope you are well settled into the neighborhood. I love Marseille 630 9th Ave at 44th St - their Mediterranean salad is just about the best greek salad I've ever had. Merguez and frites are also yum - I don't usually order a main course but I've heard that the bouillabaisse is special.
Amy's Bread on 9th Ave - if they have the soft dinner rolls, grab them! And the illy cafe is top notch.
Little Pie Company - West 43rd between 9/10 - ooohhhhhh.....
my faves in the area:
i second PAM REAL THAI (49/7th), but they are really inconsistent; 3 years ago they were great, then after that NY Times story they got packed and the quality really declined. Finally returned after a 2-year hiatus last week, and was just as delicious as they used to be.
Also i prefer MESKEREM to Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian, but that seems to be personal choice for lots of ppl. Both are good.
My favorite lunch places (all on 46th b/w 6th & 7th):
MINAR for good, cheap dosas and Indian food
KATI ROLL for great, fatty Indian kati rolls
And the little Cuban deli (can't remember the name--starts w/ an M?) next door to Minar--excellent octopus salads and much more authentic, cheap Cuban food. Blows Havana Central across the street out of the water (HC is kinda mediocre and inauthentic if you ask me)
Also great homemade pastas on 48th b/w 5th & Madison- can't remember the name but it is a cafe in front and a kosher restaurant in back. Salads can be hit or miss but the pastas are usually nice and fresh, good comfort food.
And of course, the carts that serve excellent Indian/Middle Eastern mix of palaws and grilled skewers (tiger shrimp, etc) called KWIK MEAL(I and II, i prefer I). They're usually floating around 45th one on 6th Ave (by Citibank) and one on 5th Ave. Guy who owns it was formerly chef at Russian Tea Rm. one platter sets you back from $4-7.
Mimi's Falafel cart for great, kosher, homemade falafel. Usually parked on 46th & 6th.
Good luck and happy eating!
The Cuban deli is called Margon. when you said Mimi's falafel, did you mean Miriam's? I've been looking for that falafel cart for weeks, with no luck. do you know when it's out there?
BTW, I totally second all of Emilia's recommendations. Kwik Meal, Kati Roll, Minar, and Maragon are all awesome places for lunch more then dinner though... i have pictures up of most of them on my midtown food blog if you want to check them out: http://www.midtownlunch.com
yeah, i'm only in that area during lunch time because i work around there, so i've really tried to hunt down the best places to eat that are cheap and good!
yes, margon is the place! and i did mean Miriam's falafel, my bad! the cart is usually on 46th @ 6th Ave on the East Side of the ave, although he does float around a bit.
also i wanted to add a great little cart right around there that serves fried fish sandwiches. i can't remember the exact name but it's something like Kim's Aunt Fish, owned by (i think) a Korean couple.
More than in most areas, a healthy dose of 'Your Mileage May Vary' applies to Hell's Kitchen restaurants. Opinions can vary pretty widely.
We really like Whym, Nook, and Vynl, as well as Market Cafe and Tehuitzingo. That said, we have had some middling-to-fair food at Hell's Kitchen and Uncle Nick's (and a terrible salad at the latter). Pam's has its great dishes, but the kitchen is really inconsistent during busy times. Grand Sichuan is good for dining in, but the take-out food can be a complete disaster. One place that gets overlooked, but which has some very good salads (and fries) is Renaissance Restaurant (should be Diner) on 9th.
Love the Renaissance Diner -- much better than the Westway, imo. Excellent spinach and feta omelettes and king-sized sodas. Here are some other favorites of mine from the area:
Azuri Cafe: Best falafel and schwarma in manhattan, imo. Worth the price of the owner's unpleasantness, but just barely. 51st off 10th.
Tulcingo Del Valle: Really top notch tortas -- try the al pastor with everything (including jalapenos) but avocado instead of guacamole. 10th btw 46th and 47th.
Greek Kitchen: Solid greek food -- much tastier than Uncle Nick's for gyros, souvlaki, and salads. 10th at 58th.
La Paloma: Underappreciated tacos (try the chorizo without lettuce) and decent burritos. 45th off 9th.
Rice 'n Beans: Cramped but tasty brazillian place on 9th.
Queen of Sheba: Saw a negative review recently, and it's possible they've slipped. But when I lived in the 'hood, they served consistently better ethiopian than Meskerem up the street. 10th btw 45th and 46th.
Sullivan Street Bakery: Little known outpost of the famous bakery. Not quite the selection of its parent but well worth a visit. 47th btw 10th and 11th.
Starwich: Tasty sandwiches with top notch ingredients but a bit pricey for what you get. Their braised short rib sandwich is particularly good. 42nd btw 10th and 11th.
Tony Luke's: Cheese steak place from Philly. I'm particlarly partial to the chicken cutlet italian with onions.
Minar: Great cheap steam-table indian. Tandori chicken is particularly tasty. 46th btw 6th and 7th.
Szechuan Gourmet: I second the Grand Sichuan rec, but you might want to check if these guys will deliver to you. May be my favorite chinese in the city. 39th btw 5th and 6th.
Ruby et Violette: Excellent cookies in a little basement apartment. 50th off 10th.
speaking of Sullivan St. Bakery on 47th, they might be a great place to eat soon. they have applied for a liquor license, and I think they're going to knock down a wall and turn the whole front of the shop into a place to drink and eat... i saw it when i walked by the other day (i live right around the corner). you can check out the pictures at: http://www.egustibus.com
yeah, if pastries were your thing, you are out of luck. the pastries were phased out when they brought the sandwiches in. but if you like the flat bread pizzas (which i do) it will be great to be able to have a place to sit and eat them (with a beer or glass of wine). i live right around the corner, so selfishly, i'm pretty excited about it.
Hell's Kitchen on 9th Avenue just north of 46th Street is excellent for gourmet Mexican.
For live music and mojitos Havana Central is the place to go Wednesdays - Fridays, 46th Street between 6th & 7th Aves.
Tartine on 9th Avenue just north of 44th Street is great for a gourmet meal to go.
9th Avenue in general has plenty of great options!
hagi - cheap japanese izakaya food (tapas size), 47th btw 6th and 7th.
pam real thai - best thai restaurant in manhattan. blows pongsri out of the water. 49th and 9th
pam encore - weird super modern version of the first. same food and prices, never packed. 47th and 9th
hallo berlin - good beer selection, german food, great sausages and wienershnitzel. spaetzle is great too. their vegetarian platter is great (potato salad, etc). 10th ave btw 44 & 45