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SF Chowhounder Looking for Recs in NYC

Hi everybody,

I live in San Francisco and am coming to NYC for 4 day in a couple weeks. I am very interested in focusing my trip around eating. I am hoping to eat out all three nights and catch a couple good lunches. I have heard good things about a noodle house called Mamafucos (sp?) in the village. Do you recommend it, what's the cuisine/atmosphere? Also, I am a cook in a Spanish restaurant here in San Francisco and would be interested in finding a nice Spanish place. I heard that Mario Batali's ex-Sous Chef, Joe something, opened a Spanish restaurant somewhat recently, but don't know much other than that. I'd also like to find a nice upscale Greek spot. I've been to Jose Andres' Zaytinya in Washington D.C. and had one of the best dining experiences in a long time. I have a friend who works at Pearl Oyster Bar who I'd like to visit, is it worth eating there? I'm 22, living on a cook's wages, but I don't mind spending $50 a head on food, more for drinks. Any other spots I shouldn't miss, particulary late-night places in the village?

Thanks for the recs!

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  1. Here's a recent post on Momofuku:
    I haven't been, but there is a new upscale Greek spot, Parea, that has received some good reviews.
    Pearl Oyster Bar has a lot of fans. I think the food is fine but lackluster.
    I'm not sure I know what you're talking about w/the ex-Batali sous-chef. A former Babbo pasta chef started Enoteca Barbone (Italian) in the E Vill several months ago. It is a good neighborhood Italian.

    1. I think the Spanish place you are referring to is Casa Mono. Mario Batali is an owner along with his former chef at Babbo, Andy Nusser. A quick search on this board will give you a lot of posts about the place. Ethos is very good for Greek, although I have not been there in the last 6 months.Have not been to Momofuku.

      1. I've heard that NYC chefs go to Blue Ribbon (in SOHO) to eat after they close up their own places. Blue Ribbon is supposed to have very unique food.

        1. cafe espanol on carmine street is a really nice spanish place in the west village. they have a great lobster special and fantastic sangria along with many other spanish speciaties. sooooo yummy!

          1. Momofuku is a great noodle shop, especially for the area. Pearl oyster bar is also terrific, though you should be careful about showing up... at peak hours it can be a long wait. In the east village (not too far away from POB and Momofuku), there is a terrific spanish late night spot called Bar Carrera. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Small plates only, but a wonderful selection and a great atmosphere. Tapas-ish places may sound silly to you, but this place really shines. Barca 18 also has good spanish food, though it's a little further north, a little more conceptual and a LOT bigger. I live in the East Village and my favorite restaurant in this area is Itzocan. Don't poo-poo east coast plate mexican until you've tried this place. I've lived in Santa Fe, and this place rates with Pasquals (not quite THAT good, but close).

            1. Ethos and Parea are both excellent Greek restaurants but *very* different from one another. Ethos is a taverna-style spot with a traditional-style menu; Parea is in a huge space, has minimalist decor and cuisine that I'd describe as modern or creative Greek. Ethos does not have a website, but you can check out the menu on menupages.com:


              Parea has a website: http://www.parea-ny.com

              I have not been to Pearl's, so I can't comment. However, I strongly recommend that you try Tides, a teensy fish/seafood "shack" on the Lower East Side. The owner, Steven Ye, is one of the friendliest guys around, an excellent host, and provides first rate service. The chef, Judy Seto, previously cooked at Mary's Fish Camp (Pearl's direct competition). Tides' lobster roll is delicious, and whole fish is grilled perfectly. Sleek decor and a *very* unusual ceiling. Reservations are a must!


              Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

              1. I've eaten at Pylos on 7 St. bet. Ave A and 1 Ave for Greek cuisine, and enjoyed my dining experience. But this was several years ago. Not too expensive and worth a consideration since it's located in a great neighborhood. You can walk along Ave. A afterwards and check out all of the bars.

                For Spanish, I agree Cafe Espanol is a fun place and decent sangria. Good for groups, too. Check out Sevilla in the West Village. Great Paella and potent sangria. I would bother with La Paella if anyone recommends it. Not that great in my mind.

                Oh, Xunta and Pinxtos has decent tapas and Pinxtos has squid ink paella if you're interested. A bit salty though.

                1 Reply
                1. re: FoodFanNYC

                  The squid ink paella at Pinxtos is a bit salty...it's also somewhat greasy, in my opinion. The paella at Sevilla is delicious - very authentic - and they have good sangria.

                2. Thanks for all the feedback. I have it narrowed down, but any input on the final decision would be great.

                  Greek restaurant: Parea, Pylos or Ethos

                  Seafood: Pearl Oyster Bar or Tides

                  Spanish Tapas: Bar Carrera, Cafe Espanol or Bar Jamon

                  Lastly, I am travelling with a friend who has never been to New York and I figured there were some iconic New York bites we have to experience. I was thinking Girmaldi's in BK for pizza, Shaingai Joe's in Chinatown for dumplings, the burger joint in the fancy hotel on 56th. Any other recs? Ideally a cut above Gray's Papaya.

                  Thanks again!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: d24karat

                    Skip Joe's Shanghai and go to New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe on Bayard between Mott and Bowery. I think that they make various things that are better than their xiaolong bao, though. I haven't had any really great xiaolong bao in New York.

                    RGR, Gem Spa is on the corner of 2nd and St. Marks, not 7th St., which is a block further south.

                    1. re: Pan

                      Pan, Thanks for that correction.

                      1. re: Pan

                        Joe's Shanghai soup dumplings are really of a genre apart from orthodox xiaolong bao, but seem to be a model for what New Yorkers crave. The best and most authentic xiaolong bao I could find were at the M Shanghai hipster place in Williamsburg.

                        I think the OP would find a 5/$1 dumpling crawl through Chinatown illuminating, or (especially) a tour of street food and food stalls in Flushing.

                      2. re: d24karat

                        For Spanish, Cafe Espanol on Carmine is a good choice for what you're looking for. Reasonable prices, good food, nice atmosphere for a group. The owner is a nice fellow. I believe he
                        just recently took over the restaurant. Their garlic shrimp entree is a very good portion, delicious sauce. Pair that with sangria...delicious. Get a few sides for the table: green beans, stuffed mushrooms, sliced potatoes. Yum.

                      3. For the quintessential NY deli experience, nothing beats Katz's, where it's all about the pastrami.


                        You definitely *must* experience the iconic NY drink -- the egg cream. An excellent version can be had at Gem Spa, on the corner of 2nd Av. & St. Mark's Pl./7th St.

                        I notice you haven't included any steakhouses. So, just in case you want to include one, I recommend Keens, which has been in its 36th St. location since 1885. (Katz's opened in 1888.) Keens' signature dish is actually the mutton chop. The interior has incomparable Old NY ambiance -- walls filled with memorabilia and rows of clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings.


                        I've already chimed in about the Greek and seafood choices. If you want traditional Greek, go with Ethos. For contemporary/creative, it's Parea. (I haven't been to Pylos.) And, of course, my seafood vote goes to Tides.

                        Have a great trip!

                        1. I think Lombardis is the best brick oven pizza in town, so consider that over Grimaldi's. Just make sure you ask for fresh garlic on your pie. But every new yorker has their preference so I'll leave it up to you.

                          Go to Maoumons on MacDougal between Bleecker and W. 3 St. for the best falafels in town. Not a sit down type of place at all, but you can order your falafel to go, and walk a block north on MacDougal to Washington Square park and enjoy it as you people watch. Not too far from Grays Papaya.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FoodFanNYC

                            Cafe Azuri (on 49th St., just off 10th Ave.) has the best falafel, schwarma, etc. I've ever tasted - the owner is a bit cranky, but it's really authentic and delicious.

                            Also - what about bagels, lox, cream cheese? I recommend Ess-A-Bagel all the time (51st St. and 3rd Ave.)...

                          2. You were given good suggetions on Spanish restaurants in the city. Having lived there, I am quite aware that it is difficult to find good authentic tapas in the Bay Area

                            Don't miss out on one of the top, if not the best, authentic Spanish tapas in the city - Tia Pol on 10th Ave, and 23rd.


                            1. as a fellow sf cook who was born and raised in ny, i desparately miss nyc dining. half of the places have been mentioned but are worth repeating.

                              so please, so that i can live vicariously through you, consider the following places and report back on your experiences...

                              the spanish batali joint is called casa mono and is owned/run by chef andy nusser (the ex babbo chef you were referring to). batali also has a stake in it. it's my favorite place in nyc. have anything and everything there!

                              their next door spot, bar jamon, is a small cramped but sexy lowkey wine bar with small plates. a good late night spot.

                              momofuku is worth going to because its soooo talked about and the food is good. however, if one more person throws themself upon the altar of this place like it's the end all be all of dining, i'll puke. plus, i have a problem with the fact that, on a bad day, the chef will belittle his cooks in an open kitchen. if you go, please eat the dishes like the sweetbread nuggets and pigtails.

                              for more late night spots downtown...
                              blue ribbon bakery
                              tia pol.

                              are all wonderful. don't tell your friend, but i prefer a place called mary's fish camp to pearl.

                              all of these spots, maybe with the exception of mas - which is higher end - are in the genre of pricey-casual, meaning you won't get multi course tasting menus and stuffy service, but you will pay higher than usual prices for simple, well-executed dishes made with quality ingredients.

                              for ny experiences, i again ditto the above.
                              a pastrami sandwich at katz's - only because 2nd ave deli is closed!
                              una pizza napoletana. not ny pizza but much talked-about.
                              a koreatown joint (san fran korean food is awful)
                              one gray's papaya hotdog.
                              a real bagel! i like murray's but people might diagree.

                              because sf is lacking in the hypermodern/progressive dining scene, you might also want to consider a trip to wd-50.

                              if you're lucky, find out if a place called p*ong is open by the time you get to town. it's a dessert-ish bar by a very popular local pastry chef, pichet ong. i'd love to hear about it.

                              and finally, i really miss me a goat paratha and coffee lassi at lassi. not the world's most authentic indian spot, but so salty and tasty.

                              oh god, and this is just the tip of the iceberg...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: gingersweetiepie

                                As a fellow cook as well, I totally agree with gingersweetiepie on Momofuku. If you want good authentic noodles in the east village, try Sobaya on E.9th b/w 2nd & 3rd or Rai Rai Ken on 10th street b/w 1st & 2nd for excellent, tasty & cheap ramen noodles. It's not trendy but it's authentic.

                                Also, I recommend Annisa in the W. Village - GREAT menu, inventive/creative cuisine that's a 'treat' but doesn't totally break the bank and a superb wine list. If you don't want the whole experience, sit at the bar, sip a glass of wine and taste Anita Lo's signature foie gras soup dumpling. To Die For.

                                Little Owl - just went there...former chef from the Harrison and Pace - Joey Campanaro - BEST pork chop i've eaten in a long long time. Tiny place, great vibe, great service and that PORK CHOP is heaven.

                                Also for one of the best burgers in NY, Pete's Waterfront Ale House on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill.

                              2. Parea--delicious, inventive, friendly staff, beautiful room.
                                Katz--old school good just don't lose your ticket!
                                Grimaldi's in BKLYN is an experience as well but you'll wait outside in line for a table.
                                Inoteca-great late night place with an energetic yet laid-back in some way vibe. Great wait staff and tasty small dishes.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: nadiav

                                  Grimaldi's is a great destination spot for after a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. I think there's an ice cream place nearby too if it;s a hot day. I'm an SF'er and that's one of my favorite things to do in NY.

                                  1. re: Gary Soup

                                    I think it's called the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory? I'm probably a little off, but you'll see it - just look for the place with the long line...

                                2. I had a light snack at momofuku two days ago. I went at around 2:30 and there were plenty of seats. It's a good place to go for the snacks (I had steamed buns and pickled vegetables). I thought the food was alright.

                                  I'm not as noodle-starved as some other people because I live in Chinatown. But if noodles are what you're after, I think you could do better in Chinatown.

                                  And for Greek, I'm not sure if Snack is still open, but I had a nice dinner there a couple years ago. It's on Thompson Street.

                                  1. Thanks for all the recs!

                                    I think for lunch:

                                    Gotham City Bar and Grill for prix fixe

                                    Devi for prix fixe


                                    for dinner:

                                    Pearl Oyster Bar- Mary's looks good but having a friend on staff is always nice because they sometimes throw you free food and she can save a table for us.

                                    Onera- Parea looks good, but a lot more expensive. Also a good chance to see a part of town we otherwise might not get to.

                                    WD-50- looks to interesting to pass up. the $109 9 course tasting menu looks very tempting. Anyone tried it? If I can't get reservations, Craft or Bappo are great 'fallbacks'

                                    late night:
                                    blue ribbon bakery (price is more right than the restaurant), Inoteca, Tia Pol and Bar Carrera all look pretty good to me.

                                    Thanks all! I'll keep you posted on a SF chowhounder's take on my experiences when I return!