unique restaurants in manhattan that can't be missed
i'm visiting for four days this weekend and want to try things i can't get in toronto: great bagels, mexican food, and southern food. i also want to try places that are famous/fun/off-the-wall... any recommendations?
The first place I thought of when I saw the thread title was Katz's. Can you get great pastrami/smoked meat in Toronto?
New York is not the place to get Southern food, though you'll undoubtedly get some recommendations. Mexican is not a real strong point, generally, unless you either go to Jackson Heights (Queens) or go to one of the super-low-end places in Manhattan that have been extensively discussed in a thread about the "best tacos" in New York. (I believe that was the title; search for it.)
I think regional American food would be of interest to you.
Go for soul food in Harlem...Amy Ruths is my favorite.
Cajun food is another option though I'm not sure where to recommend.
BBQ is another option. Consider Dinosaur or Blue Smoke or Rub or even Virgil's (for that touristy Times Square feel, which after all you are, but with decent food IMHO).
Instead of Mexican, try southwestern American food, such as Agave in the Village. For New Mexican food, try Los Dos Molinos on 18th Street. Agave is better food. Wash it all down with lots of margaritas.
For an interesting New York ambience, go to Keen's Steak House (this would be more expensive than the other recommendations).
Get a drink at Chumley's in the West Village, if you can find it, for a glimpse into Prohibition America.
Definitely go for good pastrami or corned beef sandwiches at Katz.
Amy Ruth's is an excellent suggestion for good soul food.
For sushi, Yasuda is very good, plus a bunch of others that you can search here.
Burgers weren't mentioned, but Shake Shack or even the burger joint at the Meridian would suffice.
I lived in Toronto and these are the ones that you definitely will not find, at least as good as, in TO.
I think you should definitely head to either "Curry Hill" or "Curry Row" and pick out an indian place if you like indian food
As a fellow Ontarian, I would say check out something like Caracas Arepa Bar, Saravanaas, Cho Dang Gol, Ulrika's, and Shake Shack.
Athough when my friends visit, I often take them on the "one-food restaurants" tour - Rice to Riches, Beard Papa, S'Mac, Dumpling Man, OMS/B, PB & Co., and the late grilled cheese place. You get the drift.