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moving to 5th & A...neighborhood recs?

ciao hounders!
moving to 5th St. b/w Ave A & B, and wanted to know where are people's favorite places to eat around there.
i have a few places i already frequent when i head to the hood: minca ramen, caracas arepa bar, awash ethiopian, kate's joint, esperanto; just wanted to know what are ppl who live there's favorite places to return to again and again. casual atmosphere, good simple food, entrees under $15 (and preferably under $10...rent's killing me), preferably within a 5 block radius.

this goes for both eat in and delivery.


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  1. you've got a great list. i would add gruppo (thin, almost cracker -like crust pizza; the mushroom with truffle oil is fantastic), zaragoza grocery (ave a btwn 12th and 13th st--really really warm staff, and pretty good prepared mexican food; nowhere to sit, but that doesn't stop it from having a very social feel), and moustache (my favorite hummous in manhattan--the puddle of olive oil and lemon juice on top is divine).

    one place that never gets mentioned here, but that's great, is bagel zone (or some such thing) on avenue a (btwn 3rd and 4th? that, or 4th and 5th). their oatmeal is served with steamed milk, blueberries, cranberries, and walnuts, and is really great.

    whatever you do, don't do what i did when i lived in the neighborhood. eating portabello mushroom banh mi at nicky's may be cheap, convenient and delicious. but three times a week is a bad, bad, bad idea.

    7 Replies
    1. re: rose water

      ha! thanks rose water. i've always wondered about nicky's, but never tried it.
      was also wondering about the groceries in the area...i heard the C-Town on 4th and A is horrendous. Any good places for produce? is zaragoza grocery a grocery store as well as serving mex?

      1. re: emilia

        Head towards Houston on Ave A. If you continue on the same side of the street as the Key Food there's a gourmet shop about a block or so away that has some nice (and somewhat expensive) produce in the back portion of their store. The name of the store escapes me right now. Hounds, please chime in if you know it. Essex street market is also an option for you. http://www.essexstreetmarket.com/esmE...

        1. re: Cheese Boy

          Gracefully. It's crazy expensive, though. You're better off taking the M14 to Union Square & shopping at the greenmarket & Whole Foods & Trader Joe's. Essex Market has good prices, generally, but selection is hit or miss.

          1. re: small h

            Yup, that's the place. Gracefully. Expensive, right?

          2. re: Cheese Boy

            Zaragoza grocery is primarily a small Mexican grocery store, with shelves stocked with jarred/canned goods. They also sell beer, and there are invariably some older guys sitting around the shop chatting with the proprietors. They have a limited amount of fresh fruit, cactus leaf, and the like. And they have prepared foods, including (the name escapes me) thin rolled up fried with meat or potato filling inside, tacos, and tamales. they slather on lettuce, cream, and white cheese, and great spicy green salsa. i say this every time i post about this place, but the people who work there are really warm.

            Just to clarify, Key Foods is at 4th and A, not C town (though I think there's a C town on Ave C or thereabouts). And yes, it's a nightmare. Lines that are way too long and way too slow. But they have liberte yogurt, and I used to go there regularly for that. They also have organic eggs/milk. Produce is generally crappy.

            Gracefully is very expensive. The one thing that wasn't was their ciabatta bread, which I'd get there regularly. Actually, that's really the only nearby decent bread source that I can think of.

            I agree with those who recommended Essex St Market--If you don't go there regularly, you do need to just stop by once in a while for the experience. It doesn't feel like you're in the US at all. In my experience, the produce was generally fresh, and inexpensive, and far better quality than Key Foods (though less fancy than the much more expensive Gracefully). Beyond produce, Goya products, and Latin American foods, the selection is pretty limited there.

            But hey, if you're going to walk down there, then that opens the doors to an awesome chow shopping extravaganza--Kossar's Bialies, The Pickle Guys, Il Laboratorio di Gelato, and The Doughnut Plant are all a quick walk from there.

            Russ and Daughters, beyond their incredible smoked fish, also has fantastic cream cheese. They have one with cinammon and toasted walnuts that I loved, but warning, it will smell like smoked fish.

            1. re: Cheese Boy

              not exactly close to you, though on the way back from the subway at astor place, but i find st. marks market (st. marks between 2nd and 3rd) to have decent produce - and not all that expensive

              1. re: EVchickadee

                I'll add to that Sunrise Mart, right above St. Mark's Books on 9th Street, for Japanese food products. There's also the
                downstairs section of Italian Tomato, which is actually a
                Japanese food store chain, on St. Marks.

        2. we went to Perbacco 2 nights ago -- it's on 4th between A and B. if you get there early and avoid the crowds, it can be a very nice spot for an Italian dinner. we found the waitstaff very energetic and helpful and the food delicious. not remarkable, but tasty enough. homemade pastas are in the low 'teens, entrees in the high 'teens.

          1. One example: Fage Yogurt is $4.69 at Whole Foods & FreshDirect, $5.99 at Gracefully.

            There's also a pretty big Chinese supermarket on the east side of Clinton, above Delancey.

            1. I know people have mixed feelings about it, but I always enjoyed Mama's on 3rd between A and B - especially the fried chicken and some of the veggie sides, like the turnips. You can eat in or take out and stay below 10 dollars.

              1. I love Mama's, too. The portions are always very generous. You can also get a plate of three veg (good quality and deliciously prepared) for $9--which is worth it to me when you consider the cost of the ingredients and the time and trouble it would take to make it yourself. It's frequently enough to make 2-3 meals out of one plate.

                I like Zum Schneider on Avenue C at E. 7th. They are a German Bar with Bavarian food on the menu. It can get very loud in there, but the weekend Brunch is one of my favs.

                There are some corner stores on 1st Avenue that have decent produce, but I admit I go up to TJ's or Whole Foods if I have the time and want really good produce.

                1. On a walk back from Royale a couple weeks back I found a good grocery store on ave. C (I think at like 5th or 8th). They had full size aisles and an actual full selection of food, very fresh deli meats as well.

                  I'd add Dumpling Man on St Marks, Snack Dragon on 3rd, Downtown Bakery for mexican delivery, Lil Frankies, Franks, Max, for Itallian, and for a splurge Hearth.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wingman

                    i think the grocery store might be foodtown. it's a lot nicer than others in the area.

                  2. Flea Market on Weekends- Ave. A and 12th St. Mexican meal $5.00-3 chicken flautas with mole and lettuce, salsa,cheese-try them they are yummy-take out-

                    1. Bar special: 10 cent wings at Croxleys(28 ave B) on mondays and wednesday. Twenty cents on sunday. Double check, I might've mixed up the prices. Large selection of beer.

                      Le Gamin Cafe on 5th A-B is quite lovely.
                      MaYa for asian 4th St Btwn Ave A & Ave B.

                      For groceries your better off taking the M9 towards chinatown and hop off east broadway/chatham stop. Theres a huge stall of fresh fruits and veggies right on the corner. And the bus back home is right there. Heck you might as well pickup some cheap takeout.

                      1. some additional favorites:

                        - downtown mexican bakery, on 1st ave btwn 4th and 5th. delicious tacos, cheap
                        - tuck shop: aussie meat pies on 1st and 1st
                        - two boots is the best slice nearby
                        - grand sichuan on st marks is best chinese delivery in the area
                        - blue 9 burger will deliver. pretty quick and decent
                        - royale is definitely the best burger in the neighborhood
                        - hummus place and crif dogs on st marks are super cheap

                        1. There is a Met Foods grocery store on 2nd Avenue around 6th Street. The aisles are narrow, but it is extremelly well run, the aisles are fully stocked and they have a very good produce section.
                          As far as restaurants--I love Casimir on Ave. B between 6th & 7th Streets. They have fantastic mussels for $12. Also, the food at OG, on E. 6th between Ave. A & B, is a favorite--always fresh and consistantly good.
                          Welcome to the 'hood--chowhound heaven!

                          1. I'm surprised that no one had mention..Casa Adela on Avenue C bet. 4th and 5th St. They serve probably one of the best rotisserie chickens in town (Puerto Rican). I think it's around 7 to 8 bucks for a whole chicken. I concur with the suggestion to take the M9 bus to chinatown and do most of your food shopping there...you can take the M14 bus as well to go check-out the grand st. good eats...Kosser's Bialy's and Donut Plant. I was also a fan of Nicky's Bahn mi's and Mama's fried chicken, roasted veggie sides, baked mac and banana pudding.

                            1. Aside from what's been mentioned:

                              Cafe Mogador, St. Marks between 1st and A - Dependably good and tasty Moroccan-centered food, good brunch every day.

                              Teresa's, 1st Av. between 6th and 7th - your diner favorites, prepared with consistent competence, plus very good soups and Polish food. I like their pancakes, like the fact that you can get real maple syrup for extra, and like their lunch specials (well, mainly the chicken stew and soup). This is another place where you can get a good "brunch" every day, in the sense that what can get good pancakes, waffles, omelettes and the like, but their brunch proper is on weekends and some holidays, and it can get very packed then. They deliver, too.

                              Mancora, 1st Av. and 6th St., is a Peruvian place that has pretty good rotisserie chicken (no delivery; pickup or eat in only). I'm not sure what else they can be depended on for, though, as I was disappointed by my last try of something else.

                              1. Although it has gotten mixed reviews on this board, I would definitely recommend the Berkshire pork Sahm at the new Momofuku Sahm Bar, as well as the Berkshire pork buns. I believe it is on the corner of 2nd and 12th street. The admittedly non-traditional Momofuku Ramen, at the original Momofuku (1st and 11th), has been trashed on this board, but I have found it to be very tasty and believe it to be worth a try.

                                Across the street is the old stalwart, Sapporo East, decent Japanese fare for the price, great atmosphere. I usually go for the Chirashi, sashimi over rice in a bowl. There is better Japanese out there, in your hood and outside of it, but, as I say, this is good for your price range.

                                B&H Dairy, on 2nd near the corner of St. Marks, as well as Little Poland, on 2nd near 11th, for excellent hearty soups. The apple cake at LP remains one of my favorite cheap desserts in the city. My mother-in-law, when visiting from Japan, makes a beeline from the airport to have a bowl of their mushroom barley.

                                I second the rec for Mogador, especially for their breakfasts. My wife swears by the Oreo cheesecake at Cafe Orlin, which is a block or so west of Mogador, on St. Marks.

                                Enjoy the hood.

                                1. My favorites in the area, keeping in mind the cheap eats...

                                  -Esashi Sushi, on A, right near Mo Pitkins. They have a special from 5-7/8 (i forget) on their sushi. It's better than average, and cheap with the special.

                                  -Seconding the Croxley 10/20 cent wings. They have a bunch of different sauces and can even combine sauces for you. You can pig out with a beer and 20 wings and tip for $10.

                                  -Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches are definitely great-- probably not every night of the week. :)

                                  -Two Boots is your closest good slice, but Rosario's on the LES is pretty amazing and just a ten minute walk. In that vein, Essex has a decent, not spectacular, $10 brunch that comes with THREE mimosas, bloodies or screwdrivers. And they're not stingy.

                                  -On A near Tompkins Sq. Park is San Loco, which, if you've ever done time in the 'burbs, will slide nicely into any Taco Bell craving you may have developed, though it's certainly no culinary masterpiece or anything.

                                  -The frites place on A near Tompkins that is also a milkshake stand and is kinda scary/grody looking-- is actually not bad at all, and kinda damn tasty.

                                  -The pizza place next to Niagara has decent pizza by the slice and good subs. For some reason the delivery pizza never turns out to be any good there.

                                  That's all I've got off the top of my head...

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: psmalera

                                    i think the hot dog/belgian frites/ice cream shack is called ray's. while it looks a bit dodgy, it's actually a great place for a snack. the frites are tasty, and their frozen yogurt is delicious. portions are enormous and cheap.

                                    1. re: psmalera

                                      Speaking of Tompkin Sq park, they have a great Greenmarket on Sundays, which is your best local produce shopping option. They have some great vendors, including Ronnybrook Farms (oh, the yogurt drinks!), Norwich Meadows Farm (organic, fantastic heirloom tomatoes and flavorful cukes), Di Paola's(?) which makes great spicy turkey sausage, and Fantasy Fruit Farm (incredible berries in season).


                                      1. re: psmalera

                                        Agree with everything on the above, but wouldn't recommend Two Boots over Lil Frankie's for Pizza. A bit more expensive but in my opinion well worth the extra cost. Great crust that rivals most in the city IMHO.

                                      2. For a bit of a splurge, but still under your entree price, Grape & Grain is a wonderful place for dinner. Really reasonable wines and tapas-style menu items.

                                        The A&P on 14th St. b/t 1st & A is my local grocery store, and it's not bad for NYC standards.

                                        1. Ray's--yes there is really a Ray (and nice person too) they make the best egg creams in the city-Ave. A between 7th st and st.marks-coffee egg cream is my fave

                                          1. across from Mamas is a taco place--what time do they open-I want to try the fish taco

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: marlie202

                                              They are usually open by 6pm. Definitely by 7. Pretty yummy, but I swear they were better when they were in the shack on Ave B.

                                            2. How could I forget Otafuku! Octopus balls and Okonomiyaki at the right price makes a great midnight snack. Check them out, they're on 9th street, a few paces west of 2nd.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Polecat

                                                Of course! I love that sauce they squirt all over the top of them. You can buy it at that upstairs market down the street. It's a bit of a hike from 5th and A, but you could always swing by the East Village Cheese Shop, too.

                                                1. re: Non Cognomina

                                                  ah! that's right...i forgot about the otafuku! thanks..and thanks to all that've contributed to this board. i can't wait to try all these places. i'm sure to be one happy hounder.

                                              2. best chinese delivery: our kitchen, 14th and d. everything is so fresh and good.... lunch specials are great

                                                1. One of my favorites is Itzocan Cafe on 8th between 1st and A. It is Cheap relative to the quality of the food and it is really interesting food Mexican/French Bistro Fusion.