You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't stray, as you say, into the "triple digits". Just walking through Washington Heights, between, say, the 160's and the 190's, there are huge stretches of Broadway where you can practically taste the chicken as it wafts out of the restaurants. You're taking in not only great scents, tastes, aromas, but the entire culture up from which they've percolated.
El Mundo Fried Chicken, at the 191st street station stop, fries up a crispy, garlicy masterpiece of a bird. Trace of vinnegar in there, too.
By the way, wherever you go, don't forget to wash it all down with a frothy Spanish coffee.
I've been to It's a Dominican thing a couple times.
It is much mroe expensive than most Dominican places, the food seems a little better, perhaps, but mostly I think you are paying for the setting, which is much nicer and more relaxed than many Dominican places.
If I wanted to grab some food for lunch, I'd go to a cheaper place.
If I wanted to take someone out, and they wanted Dominican food, I'd strongly consider It's a Dominican Thing
El Malecon (Amsterdam between 97th and 98th Sts.) - roast chicken
There is more in Elmhurst/Corona if you want to trek out for chow:
Gran Rancho Jubilee
23-04 94th St., East Elmhurst
Subway: N or W to Astoria Blvd., then M60 Bus to 94th St.
The decor here offers a fun, over the top taste of the tropics.
Lots of bamboo and thatch.
102-47 43rd Ave., Corona
#7 to 103rd St.
97-03 Roosevelt Ave., Corona
#7 to Junction Blvd.
There's a Gran Rancho Jubilee complete with bamboo and thatch in Manhattan. Forget where exactly, but it's on or just off B'way a little north of 190th or so. Although I've suprisingly eaten excellent Dominican food in some places that seemed more nightclub-ish than genuine restaurant, the food at Jubilee was forgettable. Not recommended.
I have eaten at Capri, which is just fine. Margot is kind of considered the original, and I think their long-cooked meat dishes (goat, oxtail, etc) are outstanding. I am honestly not sure if I've been to Presidente or Malecon. Looking at the other thread reminded me of the Cibao restaurant on Clinton, just across the street from Alias - same owner as Joselito's on Avenue C.
From my notes, I see I liked the cow's foot soup at Capri!
All these places, to be fair, offer reliable home-cooking - meat and rice and beans (la bandera) - so we are talking small degrees of better and worse.
The best in the city is the long-established, tiny Restaurant Margot on Broadway at 159th. There are other good bets in Washington Heights.
Downtown, we have found Joselito's on Avenue C to be very reliable for meals and sandwiches (no cuchifritos). El Nuevo Castillo on Avenue D and Castillo de Jagua on Rivington are runners up. For a specialist in asopao, try Nuevo Amanecer on Essex. Some of these places have big signs claiming to be Mexican, but that's just to bring the drinkers in - don't worry.
For cuchifritos, La Isla (or something like that) on 14th Street between A and B, or the little joint on Clinton. By far our favorite for cuchifritos - Ignacio Restaurant at the bottom of Avenue D, has closed.
Note: The owners of It's a Dominican Thing are from the DR, but I have the strong impression they have tried to Americanize the experience - it would not be my first choice to take someone from the DR.
Castillo de Jagua ia at 113 Rivington St and it's my favorite. Even their ready made stews show quite a bit of subtlety -- Saturday's goat stew has a rich brown gravy flavored with wine -- and some of their made to order stuff is even better. Their Asopaos, for example, are bisque-like soups made with rice. I wouldn't order a grilled, sauceless steak or chicken, though, I'd be afraid they'd dry it out.