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CHALLENGE ALERT! Who's up for it?

A friend and I have been roaming the city in search of off-the-beaten path ethnic restaurants. So far, we've gone to Brooklyn for Yemeni food, the East Village for cous cous, the West Village for Portuguese and the LES for Italian. We've got plans to find another spot for tomorrow. There will be three of us, coming from the UWS, UES and the West Village so I'm looking for a centralized location if possible. One of us is a vegetarian. Any suggestions for a must-try dining experience? About $50/person, max? Thanks in advance!

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  1. queen of sheba on 10th ave & 45th for ethiopian? it's pretty good and there are vegetables to be had.

      1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

        ethnic? off the beaten path? I find their brick oven pizzas to be a bit thick and leaden for me . . .

        1. re: bigjeff

          OP mentioned "Italian" as an ethnicity. Arturo's IS in fact Italian. (Pizza on the menu is usually a dead give away.)

          Old decor. Classic Village hangout. Jazz piano and singer stuffed in a corner. And a rare coal oven in the kitchen. Yes...it's off the beaten path.

          As for their pizza...nirvana. (I usually get the onion.)

          1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

            I guess I think of pizza and even a place like Arturo's as pretty well-integrated into the downtown streetscape; it's right on Houston and pretty high profile, as opposed to some taxi-cab stand (Pak deli on 2nd ave and 2nd st for instance). Been there a couple times and the 2 or 3 times I've had the pie, I really found the crust pretty darn thick; if it's not meant to be a thin-crust style like Lombardi's or John's, then I don't think the pizza is that great. some of the pastas are good and some of the apps, but if I wanted pizza like that, I'd go to even Patsy's instead although granted, the decor is nicer at Arturo's.

      2. Ivory Coastal cuisine (and Ghana too) at Florence's on 8th Ave. in Harlem. Hard to get any more "off-the-beaten-path" than that.

        Recently discussed and seems to be gathering steam with other hounds, though I haven't been yet myself:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/322376

        For other West African fare in Harlem and "Little Dakar," you could try La Marmite on the SE corner of 121st and 8th or slightly more upscale, Africa Restaurant (formerly Africa Kine) on 116 and 8th. Make sure you go to both for lunch, which is when they serve the homestyle items as opposed to French-influenced grilled meat dishes.

        1. Apparently there was some confusion regarding "off the beaten" path. What I meant was unheralded restaurants and/or not yet discovered spots worth trying. With that info in mind, any more ideas?

          1. Delicia on W. 11th for an all out Brazilian experience.

            1. there's a sri lankan place on east 6th street and a that's really good. can't remember the name right now though.

              1. Cork & Fin on York Ave btwn 73rd and 74th has really great sushi. It's a hole in the wall run by a husband (chef) and wife (waitress)with reasonably priced, abundant rolls and sashimi. If you tell them your likes/dislikes and how much you'd like to spend, they'll just send all different dishes, bot sushi and cooked, to your table. Haven't been in a while, but it has always been great in the past.

                1. Taam-Tov in the Diamond District in Midtown for Uzbek.

                  I love their plov and they're cheap.

                  New York Magazine writes: "Taam-Tov is designed for those in the know: No streetside sign announces the restaurant, the door is unmarked, and the elevator is hidden behind Diamond District jewelers' stalls. Jewish men fill its small lunchroom, talking shop and kibitzing with the waitresses over plates of delicious, homemade-tasting Bukharan cuisine."

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: frenetica

                    The vegetarian might not have much to go on, considering Taam-Tov is a fleischen (meat) Glatt Kosher restaurant (ie, no cheese, milk, or butter allowed). They do list hummus and a couple of salads on the website, however.
                    www.nytaamtov.com

                    1. re: Andrew P.

                      Note that Taam Tov is only open Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mostly a lunch-oriented place, it seems.

                      1. re: Ike

                        I think Diamond Dairy is a better Diamond District food adventure than Taam Tov, though Taam Tov is very good. Diamond Dairy potato pancakes, blintzes, and cabbage+noodles are *fantastic* (for what they are, of course).

                    2. re: frenetica

                      I've heard of several exotic, hidden restaurants in the Garment District (legal, open to all,just no signs announcing their presence) Finding them all WOULD be a Chowhound challenge. (By the way, it was the TITLE of this post that people found confusing.)

                      1. re: Brian S

                        Oops, sorry about the title...just trying to peak interest. Getting great ideas though. Can you offer up a link to the Garment District post?

                        1. re: Jill

                          Here's a link to a Garment Center thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/22883...

                          I didn't notice Camino Sur being mentioned on that thread. The cuisine is South American. We had dinner there recently. While a few things were not to my liking, there were some tasty items, so you might want to give it a try.

                          http://www.caminosur.com

                    3. I would say that all of Manhattan may be considered a beaten path...You might to better on the Outer Boroughs board.

                      One recommendation (of a place that is not undiscovered by any means) is Saigon Banh Mi. They have incredible sandwiches, and the shop is tucked discordantly into the back of a jade jewelry stop.

                      Have fun, and do report back on your adventures!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rose water

                        second on that banh mi, located on mott street (the east side of the street) between hester and grand; not only is the roast pork one heavenly but even their chicken one and their vegetarian one (tofu and shiitake) is delicious . . .

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          bigjeff, are you talking about Banh Mi So 1 (Broome btwn Mott and Elizabeth)? I know they have a vegetarian sandwich, with sesame oil-y rice noodles and unidentified crunchy things (seaweed?) and shitake and tofu that's delicious.

                          Or is there a new vegetarian sandwich at Saigon Banh Mi? If so, how does it compare with the Banh Mi So 1 version?

                          Another banh mi option in the area is A Chau at 82A Mulberry St, mentioned by squid-kun in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
                          their veggies are more thinly sliced, juicier and abundant, though Saigon Banh Mi's barbequed pork puts the sandwich on top for me.

                          1. re: rose water

                            banh mi so 1 is a different place with a much bigger selection than saigon banh mi (which I believe is the one on mott in the back of the jade store, they only offer 4 sandwiches I think, pork, chicken, mackerel or smelt, and that vegetarian one.). Banh Mi So No. 1 used to be my absolute favorite until I found the Saigon Banh Mi place; they really pack in the pickled carrots and radish and its really a great sandwich; about 15% bigger also; it's huge! and the veg is delicious; tofu and shiitake with plenty of cilantro, etc.

                      2. Bayan Cafe, tiny little Filippino restaurant on 45th between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Very authentic.

                        1. I think Szechuan Gourmet (39th btw 5th and 6th) is among the best and least discussed Chinese restaurants in manhattan. One of my favorite meals is their mapo tofu minus the meat -- perfect for a vegetarian who loves spicy food.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: a_and_w

                            Yeah, the place is great. It's giving Wu Liang Ye a run for the money in my pantheon.

                            http://petercherches.blogspot.com

                            1. So last week I did my own Chowhound challenge, and ate at every restaurant along a street in Astoria that most people, including me, think of as a culinary dead zone. 28th Avenue. I found three incredible restaurants. And it's so easy to get there from Midtown. (N Train to 30 Av) All those tourists shopping at FAO Schwarz... if only they realized that it takes far less time to get to this really good chow than to walk to the Olive Garden in Times Square! Here's what I found:

                              Egyptian:

                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/343272

                              Brazilian:

                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/334730

                              Moroccan:

                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/340820