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New York food itinerary

Hello, We are a couple from Finland, Europe and coming to visit New York for a weekend already in this month. We are about 30yrs and very interested in good food. I am currently trying to find out where should we eat during our stay. Just found this forum, and I have now read about so many places...

We want to experience the diversity of cultures and foods in your city. Obviously we have travelled and eaten quite a lot in Europe so, we are mostly interested in non-European restaurants. So 3 dinners, and 3 lunches! Maybe 1 dinner and 1 lunch in a bit more upscale places (something like 100pp) and the other meals cheaper.

The selection in Manhattan seems overwhelming! We'd be very thankful and glad on any tips and advice you can give us.

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  1. Taneli,

    Welcome to the board! You're right; there are zillions of great places to eat in Manhattan, but you can get a lot of great information here. It would be helpful to know more about where you will be geographically, how far you want to travel for food, and what you want to spend. Are there places you've read about that you're interested in and want more info about?

    I'll start with Sichuan food--both Grand Sichuan and Wu Liang Ye have excellent incindiary food. My newest food excitement was the wok seared peppers at Wu Liang Ye--a perfect mix of salty sweet and fiery.


    1. Also Indian. I would suggest: Vatan, Tamarind, Bombay Talkie. Vatan is a pretty decently-priced vegetarian prix fixe with a great atmosphere. You can check it out here: http://www.vatanny.com/ Tamarind is more expensive but they have (delicious) meat options and food from all over India: http://www.tamarinde22.com/index.html Bombay Talkie is smaller portions and mostly street food from Bombay: http://www.bombaytalkie.com/ I'm used to home-cooked Indian, but would definitely vouch for these restaurants. Good luck, and have fun!

      1. Thank you rosewater and tamasha!

        We'll be staying in Midtown on 42nd street. We'll be willing to travel for restaurants, and want to see different neighborhoods. Our stay is too short to check out all the tourist sights, so we want to just enjoy the atmosphere and good food. I'd like to try very different places. On one of the evenings we'll definitely try fine-dining, but on the others it could be cheaper and authentic. Also I'd imagine that eating street food (for lunch) could be very NY-experience. Our big dinner could cost something like max 120$/person, and the rest of the meals should be considerably cheaper.

        European restaurants are not out of the question if there and there is an American or New York twist to them. It's just that there many good Italian, French, etc. restaurants here where we live, but our Asian, Mexican, Indian etc. restaurants are mediocre, boring and customized to the local taste.

        Some things we'd enjoy:

        - seafood, we love seafood
        - authentic and fun Mexican, all our Mexicans are tex mex
        - southern kitchen, completely new to us
        - Japanese + all other asians, we love all asian food
        - Italian with New York twist

        We are "foodies" and interested in just about evereything. Just think about where you'd take your food loving friends who visit NY for the first time.

        Thank you very much for your tips on Sichuan and Indian food. The chinese places you recommended seem very authentic, and something we are looking for. Also Bombay Talkie sounds fun and cool!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Taneli

          I'll bet you don't have great pastrami in Finland. Go to Katz's on Houston and Ludlow.

          Also, consider getting a Vietnamese sandwich at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery, Mott St. between Grand and Hester.

          New York isn't the best place to look for Mexican food, but there is a long, active thread on Mexican food in Manhattan, so do a search. You might consider going to Jackson Heights, Queens; have a look in the Outer Boroughs board.

          Do you like spicy food? Perhaps you'd like Korean food. There are several worthwhile places in Koreatown, between 32nd and 36th Sts. between Broadway and 5th Av. If you have to choose just one, perhaps Kang Suh (32nd St. just east of Broadway) is most reliable throughout their menu, or you could try Woo Chon (36th just west of 5th) or Cho Dang Gol (35th between 5th and 6th), which makes several varieties of artisanal tofu. For a cheap and good meal in a festive, relaxed atmosphere, go to Han Bat, and if you go there, get Dolsot Bibimbap, a dish of rice mixed with beef (or seafood if you get Hyaemul Dolsot Bibimbap), gochujang (Korean hot sauce) and all sorts of other things mixed with rice in a stone pot. The pot is brought to your table still very hot, and you mix up all the items at the table and get some crispy rice, which is much prized and an important part of the experience of eating the dish.

          If you want Malaysian food, go to Skyway, Allen St. between Division and Canal.

          Skyway, and most any good Chinese or Korean restaurant will have plenty of fish and seafood available and will do a good job with it.

          Some other Chinese recommendations are:


          Congee Village or Great NY Noodletown (Congee Village has more decor, is a bit fancier, and is very popular; NY Noodletown is cheaper, open later, and more informal. Overall, I prefer Congee Village, but get reservations if you're going.)


          Yeah Shanghai Deluxe (Bayard St. between Mott and Bowery)

          If you want to pay more for Chinese food and get really superior seafood, you might consider Oriental Garden (Elizabeth between Bayard and Canal) and if so, I understand that the best strategy is to literally point out to the manager what fish and seafood you want to be cooked for you, and tell him what style you want. When I say point, the seafood is in tanks in the front of the restaurant. I haven't done this, but people I respect have had great experiences this way.

          1. re: Pan

            Woorijip is also on the stretch of Koreatown restaurants (on 32nd St. between Broadway and 5th) that is pretty good - at least, that's where I always go...they're always very reasonably priced and fresh.

            Also good for a quick and cheap lunch/snack is Katagiri, a Japanese grocery on 59th St. between 2nd and 3rd Aves. There's a deli-type counter and sushi/bento boxes to your left when you walk in, and it's really fresh stuff for very little money.

            And while you're in NY, be sure to eat some bagels! Ess-A-Bagel's great (there are a few other places that people seem to like; do a search) and is on 51st St. and 3rd Ave. They have a location on the lower east side as well.

            Also, be sure to try NY-style cheesecake at Junior's...I think the most accessible branch is probably at Grand Central Terminal (go inside and head for the food court) - 42nd St. and Lexington Ave.

            Enjoy, and let us know what you ended up trying...:)

          2. re: Taneli

            I think you need to include Parea to your agenda. It is perhaps one of the best Greek restaurants in the North America. It does Greek like nowhere (outside of Cleveland) else.

            Otherwise stay away from most places in your midtown area. most are tourist traps.

          3. - seafood, we love seafood
            Tides in the Lower East Side is very good.

            - authentic and fun Mexican, all our Mexicans are tex mex
            Itzocan in the East Village has awesome lunch burritos. Also, the shrimp tacos at Cafe El Portal at quite good.

            - southern kitchen, completely new to us
            If you have the time, head up to Harlem and have Chicken and Waffles at Amy Ruth's. You'll love it.

            - Japanese + all other asians, we love all asian food
            I would try to get reservations at Nobu.

            - Italian with New York twist
            Try to get reservations at Babbo. Very good meal.

            1. I recommend a Japanese excursion in the East Village. It can be a day of eating and strolling all around the East Village; most of the places below are within a block of each other.

              --Japanese pastries at Panya bakery, E. 9th St between 2nd and 3rd (better coffee at Taralucci i Vino, E. 10th St at 1st Ave)

              --stop into Sunrise Mart (up the elevator, same block) to see the cool Japanese stuff, maybe buy some snacks or drinks

              --Walk down the block towards 2nd Ave and get a snack of takoyaki (fritters with octopus inside) or an okonomiyake (like an omelette with lots of stuff) at Otofuku (look for the red and white flags) and eat on the street or around the block in the little park in front of St Mark's Church at E 10th St and 2nd Ave

              --tea and snacks upstairs at Cha-an tea house, same block (the oolong is served in a really interesting way, involving lots of decanting and sniffing the aroma, ask about that and they will show you how to do it)

              --dinner at Soba-ya, same block, or Soba Koh (E 5th St between 2nd and 1st), be sure to sample a selection of appetizers and then have hot soba soup or cold noodles (if at Soba-ya dont miss the shiso-wrapped chicken tempura; at Soba Koh get the cold soba soup with uni and salmon roe)

              --dessert at ChikaLicious, E 10th St between 2nd and 1st for light, perfect three-course dessert

              --drinks either at the sake bar downstairs on E 9th St just west of 2nd Ave or at Angel's Share (upstairs inside the Gyu-ya restaurant) E 9th St same block, closer to 3rd Ave.

              There are even better (and more expensive) Japanese places in midtown such as Sakagura and of course Yasuda for very expensive sushi. Hasaki, on that same block of E. 9th, is not bad for sushi but their price for the good stuff has gone way up.

              I also highly recommend Skyway (Allen and Canal) for the best Malaysian in NYC right now.

              1. I would second Tides and add Shimizu and Esca near where you're staying. Although Esca is Italian it is quite interesting with a focus on "Crudo" or raw preparations with olive oil and other yummy things.

                Shimizu is a great sushi bar on 51st. You would be able to eat there for one of your special dinners or as one of your regular meals, depending on what you order.

                Enjoy your visit!


                1. Pan, theannerska, Traz0r, kenito799, JeremyEG, rosewater and tamasha,

                  Thank you all! We are SO looking forward to this. Now we don't have to rely on Lonely Planet or any travel book like regular tourists, but we have lots of recommendations from real New Yorkers and experts. Now we are going to make some dinner reservations beforehand and decide rest over there.

                  I'd like give you something back so you can expect to hear what we decided, and how was it after all. (We'll be back in the beginning of September) And if you ever need a tip where to eat in Helsinki... :)

                  1. A couple more suggestions:

                    Casa Mono -- ate there last night and everything was so simple and fresh and good. Definately a New York twist. Ate with my friend from Barcelona who loves the place, but says its more beatifully executed in Spain. We had the octopus, sepia and guinea hen, all of which were delicious. You need reservation for a table, but we got a seat at the bar after about 30 min.

                    El Jarro -- actual Mexican food in Sunnyside, Queens (45-02 48th Avenue).

                    Matsuri -- good sushi and people watching.

                    1. I really love Blue Ribbon bakery and market down on bedford and downing - a bit of a trek, but well worth it. the best breads and a really interesting menu of small plates.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jenna28

                        perhaps not for folks with only 3 days in nyc, but i agree 100%. the shop has the best bread in manhattan (imho) and many varieties of amazing honey--ask to taste them. some are coarse and granular, others intensely floral.

                      2. Some regional American food for you to consider as well:

                        Barbecue: Rub on 23rd Street

                        Soul Food: Amy Ruth's in Harlem (just take the 2 or 3 train to 116 Street and walk a block west)

                        Southwestern: Agave on 7th Avenue and 10th Street

                        Cajun: (I'm not sure where to recommend, someone else can chime in or you can do a search)

                        A diner would be a very New York experience. Probably best to go to Queens for that though. If you want to stay in Manhattan, try Empire Diner.

                        A New York steakhouse would be real local treat for your big meal. Consider Peter Luger's in Brooklyn or Keens or Strip House (among many others. Don't forget to order creamed spinach with your meat.

                        Get hotdogs from a cart and eat them for lunch in Central Park and watch the world go by. Or for better quality food, get hamburgers from Shake Shack and sit in Madison Square Park.

                        Deli: Katz's for pastrami sandwiches.

                        And do brunch on Sunday. Lots of choices for that. Consider 5 Points or August.

                        1. What great selections. I will have to try a few of them that I have not been to. I hate to confuse the OP but I would add a steakhouse to your itinerary, especially if you are looking for "non-European". It is hard to sample New York without including a steakhouse. Some great options include Strip House, Keens, Dylan Prime (more for the atmosphere and drinks than the food)or Sparks.

                          1. I second Casa Mono.

                            For southern, there are a couple other places in Harlem that could you try: Copelands, on 145th (I always go to the cafeteria, but they also have a sit down restaurant next door); Miss Maude's Spoonbread, too; or Charles' Southern Fried Chicken. I would also recommend a drink/show at Lenox Lounge. You can eat there, but it's more about the ambience than the food.

                            For Korean, I would add to the list a vegetarian Korean place also on 32nd, Hangawi. That might be a good place for lunch, since they have a nice lunch special that will give you a good sampling of the food.

                            You might try Blue Water Grill in Union Square for Seafood.

                            And I don't think anyone has mentioned Hearth in the East Village. It's a lovely place, great wines, and a seasonal menu.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: m de p

                              I didn't mention Hearth, but it's a very good suggestion and fits into the "Italian with an American twist" category (or vice versa). I've only been there once so far, but definitely look forward to a return visit.

                            2. It's been three years since I have eaten at an upscale NY eatery so I'll leave that to the other experts. Just wanted to point out that in case the top restaurants deplete your pocketbook too fast, there is a review of the 101 Best Cheap Eating places in NYC in the last issue of New York Magazine. Many of these are ethnic, and they even include a few burger joints and street vendors. You can read it on the web at www.nymag.com/

                              1. There's a lot of good Japanese food in New York at all prices. For sushi, my opinion is that Yasuda is extremely good and quite different from ordinary sushi. The best Japanese place for atmosphere is Omen.

                                For Thai and Chinese food, and also Mexican, you want to go to Queens. Ask on the Outer Boroughs board.

                                Opinions are mixed on Katz's and Nobu.

                                The Village Voice list of cheap ethnic restaurants is far, far superior to the one in New York magazine.

                                1. A fun thing to do might be to spend an afternoon walking around chinatown and the Lower East side, just snacking on what you find there. I did that today and had such a fun time so that's why I am suggesting it.

                                  You could also eat a lot of cheap small things that way and there are a lot of street vendors selling very interesting food for only one or two dollars.

                                  I would definitely recommend checking out Economy Candy on Rivington Street.

                                  1. The best Thai food in NYC (and possible the whole eastern US) is found at Sripraphai at 64-13 39th Ave in Woodside, Queens. While in Queens, it is really easier to get to from your location than some of the Manhattan suggestions. Just take the #7 (local or express) which starts at Times Square, to 61st St-Woodside Ave stop and walk 3 blocks. Make sure you ask for your food "Thai Spicy" as they can be very cautious on spicing the food for non-Asian clients (and might hold back even more for Caucasian foreigners).

                                    1. I would go to Pearl Oyster Bar for seafood. Its got a great New England feel and the food is incredible. No reservations so expect to wait 30 minutes for a table.

                                      1. Seafood: Pearl Oyster Bar (their lobster roll is very good)
                                        Japanese Ramen: Rai Rai Ken or Momofuko
                                        Thai: Arunee Thai (it's in Queens - just off the 82nd St. stop on the 7 train)
                                        Malaysian: Sentosa (it's also in Queens - the last stop on the 7 train)

                                        Enjoy your stay! :)

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jgc10

                                          I think Skyway is better than Sentosa. If I were going to Flushing, I'd much sooner go to Spicy & Tasty for Sichuan-style food. But for three days, I think our Finnish visitors can be excused for staying in Manhattan (with a possible shorter trip to Sripraphai if they want a really good Thai meal). :-)

                                          1. re: jgc10

                                            I left Rai Rai Ken off my Japanese excursion recommendations because I think homemade soba is more interesting, but I do like their ramen. Only the cold dish is really good for the summer, usually. However, please not Momofuku! Yuck!