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Virgin Visit to Manhattan

I'm taking my fiancee to NYC for the first time and I used to live there for 10 years. My obsession with food began there! So far we've planned on a slice at Joe's on Carmine and porterhouse for 2 at Peter Lugar's. Being away from the city for a couple of years, I've sadly fallen out of the foodie circle. Anything new open in the last couple of years that we must check out? Or, do you have suggestions for a first-timer to get a great NYC food experience? I'm in LA now, so no sushi (or any Asian food for that matter), Mexican or burger suggestions, please.

Apologies if this topic has already been covered. Thanks everyone!

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  1. Other 'hounds will do a much better job of covering the finer dining, but whenever I'm away from New York I crave these the most:
    - bagels, cream cheese, lox (Ess-A-Bagel)
    - Gray's Papaya (or Nathan's at Coney Island) for hot dogs
    - Junior's cheesecake (original)
    - sour cream apple walnut pie at Little Pie Company
    - the carts: Quik Meal and "the cart" (53rd? and 6th)
    - falafel and schwarma at Azuri Cafe
    - (is Il Laboratorio del Gelato a recent thing? I'm not sure, but it has generated a lot of buzz and is very yummy...), Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Otto for gelato

    And ah, can't wait to have some Peter Luger's again...

    3 Replies
    1. re: theannerska

      Oh yes, Ess-A-Bagel! And Junior's! Il Laboratorio is decadent. Thank you so much for helping me remember...

      1. re: grapenehi

        :)

        I did leave out all the Asian recs, but Koreatown and Chinatown are both non-sushi...just in case.

      2. re: theannerska

        Well if you're going to go to Il Laboratorio, I'd go to Kossar's for a bialy instead of Ess-A-Bagel. It's not too far away. Although if you're there you might want a Doughnut from the DP...

      3. The Joe's on the corner of Carmine at 6th closed (tragedy!) but the one a few doors down is still open.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Petitpois

          Aviod Joe's Pizza and go to DeMArco's which is 5 blocks away. Best slice (not pie) in Manhattan.

          1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

            I must respectfully disagree. I'd take Joe's over DeMarco's any day o' the week!

            1. re: billyeats

              No point in debating taste, but here's my summary of how the two taste to me:

              DeMarco's: Complex blend of cheeses (cheese tortellini in cheese sauce, maybe?) cut with tomato sauce on crispy olive oil bread

              Joe's: home made pizza on a piece of toast (like a late night snack you make at home with available ingredients)

              Both taste good. I prefer the former, for my own taste.

              1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                Definitely give DeMarco's a shot for a slice (esp. the square). Make sure you ask them to heat it up "well done" so it's nice and crisp. Two other pizza possibilities are Arturo's in the Village and the original Patsy's in East Harlem.

                I also recommend you try Azuri Cafe on 51st at 10th Ave -- I've never had middle eastern food as good in CA. For bagels, my rec would be Murray's. I've never quite gotten the whole Ess-A-Bagel craze -- they remind me of unusually dense sandwich rolls.

                My upscale rec would be WD-50, which serves cutting edge cuisine in a pleasantly casual setting.

          2. re: Petitpois

            Agreed! It's a terrible tragedy that Joe's on Carmine/6th closed. It was fantastic.

          3. For the quintessential NYC deli experience, you should definitely take your fiancee to Katz's, where it's all about the pastrami. Then, since you're now living in L.A., I guess you can debate how it stacks up with Langer's.

            Also, every first-timer should definitely sample *the* NY drink: an egg cream. Gem Spa, on the corner of 2nd Av. & St. Mark's Pl., makes an excellent one.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RGR

              Yes! Definitely left out Katz's - a must. Be sure to tip the guy...

            2. If you've never tried Japanese ramen (soups/stews) I suggest:
              Rai Rai Ken
              10th street between 1st & 2nd ave
              ...try the curry ramen... (soy based soup) it was so dark and tasty, with pork, noodles, scallions, hard boiled egg and a little square of seaweed... unbelievably satisfying. Then, went around the corner to DeRoberti’s for an italian ice (their chocolate is the best) or any pastry they sell...or even Veneiro's accross the street... and all for under $10.

              10th street between 1st & 2nd ave

              1. Katz's or 2nd Ave. Deli for pastrami?

                Never had an egg cream...might have to on this trip.

                LA has great Japanese ramen joints, but thanks anyway!

                Now, if you were to crave a cannoli, Veneiro's or the Italian bakeries on Bleecker?

                4 Replies
                1. re: grapenehi

                  2nd Ave. Deli has closed, sadly, but I've always preferred Katz's.

                  Veneiro's is great, but if you decide on Bleecker, Rocco's is very good...I think I'd go with Veneiro's if absolutely forced to choose.

                  1. re: theannerska

                    Thanks, theannerska, for the sad update on 2nd Ave. Deli. I did enjoy their pastrami for many years, but Katz's is good too. Can anyone tell me why they closed?

                  2. re: grapenehi

                    2nd Av. Deli closed earlier this year, so that solves your dilemma -- not that it would have been a contest anyway because when it comes to pastrami, Katz's has always been the winner.

                    You lived in NYC for 10 years and never had an egg cream?! Shame on you! lol

                    1. re: RGR

                      Speaking of egg cream, I just remembered the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity on the UES.