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Comiing to NY from SF and in need of advice

The wife and I are coming for a four day visit and are staying around 9th St. and 5th Ave. San Francisco has lots of great dining but also lacks many cuisines. With that in mind we are looking for:

1) Indian food
2) Italian
3) breakfast places in our neighborhood
4) restaurants serving food we can't get out here
5) one spiffy but not outrageous splurge place
6) Pastrami
7) Bagels

We're sure to hit the Met and MOMA, so good lunch spots near those musuems would also be helpful.

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  1. In terms of Indian, it depends how much you want to spend, and you'll get different recommendations for Italian (though many will say that if you are planning enough ahead of time to get reservations at Babbo, you should, I have not yet been to Babbo), breakfast places, outrageous splurge places, and even bagels, but there can be little if any doubt that the one place you must go for pastrami is Katz's, and it's a good walk or short cab ride from where you're going to be.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      Could you give us a few options for Indian food -- one moderately priced place and one that's more spendy? Out here, it's hard to spend more than $35 per person for South Asian food, but we're willing to spend more.

      1. re: Tobias

        Spendy suggestions are Tabla (or Bread Bar at Tabla), Devi and Tamarind - I've enjoyed all three, but think if I had to choose one, I'd go to Devi. I think they all have websites that you can check out.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Tabla and Bread Bar not strictly speaking Indian. More in the category of creative/fusion Indian.

          Devi's menu consists of dishes based on recipes from Executive Chef Suvir Saran's family and friends back home in India taken to a higher level. The best way to experience this superb cuisine is to do the tasting dinner. (Wine pairings available.) However, if you want to do it on the "cheap," the 3-course lunch prix-fixe is $24.07, and all the selections are taken directly from the dinner menu. Whichever way you go, the tandoor-grilled lamb chops are not to be missed!


    2. Go to Prune for brunch. Then waddle across the street and have a Pastrami sandwich at Katz's. Foodie heaven.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tsb2001

        Prune is great but the wait is often an hour or more. I was turned away yesterday at 2:40 pm becuase they had reached their "time-space limit". The kitchen closes at 3:30 pm.

      2. I like Blue Hill for a splurge. It's the closest I have found to Chez Panisse in Berkeley. A little more formal than CP but not stuffy: http://bluehillnyc.com/main.html

        1. 3) breakfast places in our neighborhood - head over to Claude's for croissant/pain au chocolat - there's a recent thread on it - he's on W. 4th Street. Cornelia St. Cafe is a decent reasonable choice for brunch - on Cornelia St.

          Met - Cafe Sabarsky - Austrian

          1. For cheaper Indian head to Murray Hill (aka Curry Hill). I recommend The Curry Leaf (27th and Lexington), which is run by the people who own Kalustyan's, the amazing spice store just up the street.

            1. 1) Indian food - I dig Angon or Brick Lane Curry...both on 6th Street between 2nd and 1st Ave...curry row. For upscale Indian, I like Devi.

              2) Italian - Low end, I'd go with Max on Ave B and 4th street...dirt cheap, amazing food, cash only, no reservations...expect a wait on fri and sat nights. Try the meatloaf...no joke. Upper End, there's Babbo but I never loved it like others do. I'd go to L'impero in Tudor City or Alto on 54th street and Madison. Also check out I Trulli and La Piadina for less expensive options.

              3) breakfast places in our neighborhood - You're in a great area but I am hard pressed to think of breakfast places. If you go further south and east, you'd hit Freemans which is my favorite brunch spot. A bit too hipster for my taste but the food is great and rather inexpensive. I also like 'ino for brunch. I've never had breakfast at Balthazar but I hear its definitely a great idea.

              4) restaurants serving food we can't get out here - Obviously you're mexican destroys ours. I'd look for a good french restaurant...on the bistro side, balthazar or pastis really are excellent...I'd also consider getting pizza...if you wont go to difara's in brooklyn, try john's pizza in the west village or demarco's which i actually dont mind.

              5) one spiffy but not outrageous splurge place - I'd bite the bullet and go to Bouley. Just the best dining experience in the city. Probably will cost $200-250 if you go a la carte with no bottles of wine. Annisa in the west village is less expensive and their tasting menu is $65 I think...very romantic, quiet space. Also check out Telepan...$59 for 4 courses...in the upper west side.

              6) Pastrami - no contest...Katz's deli

              3 Replies
              1. re: sam1

                Telepan and Annisa are both nice choices. I also like AOC Bedford (not AOC).

                1. re: MMRuth

                  AOC Bedford is very good and charming in that West Village kind of way for continental cuisine (French & Spanish), as is Le Gigot on Cornelia Street (French).

                  1. re: Striver

                    Yes - don't know why it didn't come to mind - Le Gigot is a great suggestion.

              2. For a very spiffy but CHEAP splurge, try some of the fine restaurants that offer a $25 lunch. Fleur de Sel, Perry Street, Tocqueville are all more or less within walking distance.



                One expensive splurge place right next to you is Cru.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Brian S

                  My family and I were very underwhelmed with the prix fixe we had at Fleur de Sel around this time last year.

                  As to the question about a moderate-priced Indian restaurant, I don't get to Curry Hill a lot, but like Madras Cafe on 2nd Av. between 4th and 5th Sts. As befits its name, it specializes in South Indian cuisine, so for best results, get specialties like rasam iddli, utthapams, or masala dosas. If you want your food robustly spicy, ask the waiter to have them put extra little green hot peppers into your utthapam or masala dosa (the rasam will be hot enough, regardless!). Desserts are also very good. Expect to pay around $25 - so not very expensive at all, especially for the quality of the food.

                2. I'll be doing my semi-annual return to NYC (from SF) in 1 month and here's what I'll be eating (based on what I crave the most and what I can't find in SF):

                  1. Lombardi's: for a pizza pie with pancetta and roasted peppers.
                  2. Sushi Yasuda: omakase in front of the master and to see what kinds of fish he's flying in from Japan these days. No restaurant in California, except for possibly Urasawa, does nigiri the way Yasuda does.
                  3. Bagels: H&H or Ess-a-Bagel...probably the latter with whitefish.
                  4. Honmura An: for handmade soba and udon.
                  5. Babbo. Can't miss and won't miss. I would have cancelled my trip if I didn't get Yasuda and Babbo.
                  6. Katz's for pastrami. No pastrami to be found in the bayarea despite most recent thread.
                  7. L'Atelier for my splurge. I had a hard time deciding between L'Atelier and Daniel. I'll miss the amazing madelines at Daniel though.
                  8. Norma's for brunch. Kinda touristy, but the GF loves brunch.
                  9. Lupa. What can I say, I love the way Batali does pasta. Plus, the gnocchi and tartuffo are calling my name.
                  10. Peter Lugers. A steakhouse like no other. I'm having lunch there right before I head off to JFK.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Porthos

                    If you can fit in lunch at Cafe Boulud, the cuisine is superb, and they serve those seriously delicious madeleines at meal's end.

                    1. re: RGR

                      I'd love to but the meals are packed. I really enjoy the soups at Cafe Boulud. That's the problem with going back to NY or even living there...there's never enough time/money to revisit your favorites AND try new places.

                  2. in response to
                    4) restaurants serving food we can't get out here:

                    there are the obvious - good new york pizza, pastrami and bagels. previous posts offered some great places.

                    but in addition, (i'm an SF transplant), i think the upscale japanese in NY is superior to SF. personally, i would splurge on an omakase rather than an italian or french meal.

                    Wallse in the west village is a lovely Austrian restaurant - i can't think of anything comparable in SF.

                    also, i highly recommend a lobster roll at pearl oyster bar- it's a very east coast, new england experience to me and something you can't get in sf.


                    1. Tobias, In my view, the best place for lunch near the Met is Cafe Boulud, on 76th St., b/t 5th & Madison Avs. This is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's second-tier restaurant, but the cuisine is first-rate! Polished, yet cordial, service in a relatively small space with attractively stylish contemporary decor.

                      At MoMA, there are several places to eat within the museum. The best are the upscale restaurant, The Modern, and its more casual Bar Room. I've not been to either yet, but most reports on both are very positive.


                      1. Go to L"Impero or A Voce for Italian.
                        Chanterrelle for a splurge or Toqueville.
                        Katz' deli for pastrami. Avoid Carnegie Deli or the Stage.
                        Go to Nobu on 57th St for dinner or lunch.

                        1. Molyvos for Greek food near Moma

                          1. Another SF transplant here....I'd highly suggest skipping Katz's (not as good as Max's which isn't saying much) it's more about saying you went then the food....seriously. New York deli is more of a myth then anything these days. Those are fighting words, but I'm being honest.

                            My advice - go real New York and try a steakhouse! (I like Strip House becuase it's a nice experience and cool red room....some people will say it's garbage...everyone has their favorite.)

                            I second the high end sushi suggestion earlier.
                            You might try a burger out here, since SF really lacks an equivalent (Molly's for massive burgers in a old Irish pub, Walkers where a real cross section of New Yorkers dine in one of the cities oldest bars, and there are tons more)

                            Try some pizza at one of the many places making fresh mozzerella pies. There's a street war to determine the best, but you can go basic and try Lombardi's. (sometimes it's better then others). You won't find anything close to this style of pizza in SF (maybe the East Bay, but still)

                            Try some cuban food (my SF friends all love San Cubanos + they have great Mojitos)
                            Get some drinks at Campbell Apartments for a splurge in a nice old room. It's inside of Grand Central and has a lot of history.

                            If you have time - try cheesecake here (Veniero's, and Juniors are good, but there are lots of places.) Same with Red Velvet Cake (skip the cupcake trend, it's on it's way to SF).

                            Polish diner food at Veselka is a great cheap place in the East Village. I suggest the Pirogies. If you love fried food, get them fried.

                            Oh, and for bagels - the two classics are H & H bagel or Ess A Bagel.... but there's a chain around the city called Pick A Bagel that makes a great bagel and you won't have to make it a big event to get one.

                            have fun!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: candyismmm

                              Veselka is Ukranian, not Polish. So, you think Veselka is great and Katz's is all hype. You should be run out of town for making such a blasphemous statement. :-P I'll probably have good luck going to whichever places you don't like and avoiding whichever places you do like.

                            2. Very helpful info. Thanks one and all. Three more questions:

                              1) Out here in SF, there's a bit of a coffee renaissance going on, with a handful of places making truly amazing espresso drinks. Where can I find the same in Manhattan?

                              2) There's mention of a Ukranian place in your responses, and I would love some other recommendations for cuisines we can't get here in northern CA.

                              3) Tell me about a few excellent bakeries -- croissants, muffins, and other breakfast stuff.


                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Tobias

                                There's been a lot of discussion of croissants recently. I think some of it may have been on the "The Best" board, as well as this one. Patisserie Claude, which I have not yet had the pleasure of trying, has been getting the biggest and most consistent raves.

                                In terms of bigger sit-down breakfasts, you might want to look at threads about brunch. Some of the popular weekend brunch places have excellent breakfast/brunches on weekdays, albeit with somewhat fewer choices. Cafe Mogador would be a good choice for any meal. Teresa's, a dinerish Polish restaurant, is cheaper than Mogador and has good pancakes and so forth.

                                1. re: Tobias

                                  It's hard to get a bad cup of coffee in New York, so you won't find many artisan coffee places like Blue Bottle. Joe's Coffee in the West Village is said to be a good neighborhood place with a cult following - and they sell cupcakes that Amy Sedaris makes.

                                  Otherwise, you can pop in to any of the Puerto Rican Coffee Roasting locations (I'm screwing up the name, I think) and take out a cup of their house blend, or buy some beans for presents. They specialize in organic latin american coffee.

                                  For Tea you can try Teany, but beware, the food/desserts are all vegan.... and you're on vacation from SF...

                                  You could try Amy Ruth's in Harlem for chicken and waffles.... latin foods are something you won't see much of in sf, you already know the burgers here are tops... if you're into high concept celebrity chef food you should stick to the establishments which have been open for under 5 months. Oh, and you can try Grey's Papaya hot dog stand in the W. Village for a really surreal NY experience.

                                  Bakeries - Balthazer, Ceci Celo (again spelling?), and Sullivan Street Bakery (which may have changed it's name). Moishe's on 2nd avenue is good for Hamentaschens and Challah. Amy's bread is a lot like Acme Bread in the Bay, but prety good. I'd say just pop into Dean and Deluca and browse their baked breads section because they carry a few items from everybody.

                                  1. re: candyismmm

                                    That's Balthazar (the name of one of the three Magi who are said to have come to pay respects to the infant Jesus) and Ceci Cela (which means "This and That" in French).

                                  2. re: Tobias

                                    Tobias - just to retract my earlier suggestion of Cuban... I've had two awful cuban meals in the past week, and in particular, I'm pretty horrified I've been recommending Son Cubanos to people so heavily. It's amazing how much damage a new manager and chef can do!

                                  3. Re: #2. Responses to your original post have covered Indian and Italian. So, which other cuisines are you lacking in your area of CA?

                                    Re: #3. Amy's Bread, which has three locations, has much more than just excellent bread. You can see the breakfast offerings on her website.


                                    Penelope, on the corner of Lex & 30th St., is a very popular place for breakfast.


                                    1. Not sure if Scandanavian food is available or popular in SF, but you can try Aquavit for some great scandanavian food.

                                      Bouley bakery in Tribeca also has great bread and pastry.

                                      1. If you're going to be near or in MOMA - go next door to the American Folk Art Museum Cafe for lunch. If you're just going to the cafe, you don't have to pay admission. It's much quieter, better service and the food is delicious! It's one of NYC's little secrets!

                                        1. for italian, try either beppe (flatiron) or apizz (LES), two of my favorites. there are numerous site references to both.

                                          1. If you are going to Lupa, try the big board of cured meats. I am guessing only a few cites have places that cure in house meats as nicely as Lupa. I think it is the best thing on the menu. Call me crazy but that gnocchi did not bowl me over.

                                            1. I highly recommend Nino's on 58th @ 6th for Italian. It is really great. I ate there last weekend using my OpenTable reservation and certificate. The food was great and unlike some NYC places, reasonably priced. I picked a great Barbera wine off the list for $25.


                                              1. 1) Indian food - Tamarind or Tabla (second being more American-Indian). Tamarind is consistently great.
                                                2) Italian
                                                3) breakfast places in our neighborhood - Jane ( W Houston b/w SUllivan and Thompson) not too far from your 'hood
                                                4) restaurants serving food we can't get out here
                                                5) one spiffy but not outrageous splurge place - Le BErnardin ( if you manage to get the reservation, not sure when are you coming)
                                                6) Pastrami - Katz's Deli
                                                7) Bagels

                                                1. 1. if you're staying around 5th and 9th, you're basically AT Cru, which would fit the recommendation for a fancy spot.

                                                  2. maybe my palate is off but i might be the only person in ny who thinking joe coffee is awful. i've had and enjoyed blue bottle and the two are not similar in any way.

                                                  3. sf has not managed to sustain any restaurant serving "progressive" cuisine, so i would recommend good old wd~50.

                                                  5. gusto is wonderful italian in the neighborhood with a new, celebrated chef. haven't found a place quite like it in sf.

                                                  4. there's a murray's bagels on 6th ave and 12th st. bagels are a little pricey but delicious ONLY if you get there early enough to buy a warm one. for more breakfast in the area, go to french roast for nice omelettes.

                                                  5. there's tons of indian but if you want something fast, cheap and in the neighborhood, lassi on greenwich.

                                                  have fun on your trip! ny has so much to offer; i hope the recommendations you take don't disappoint.