6 days in NYC
I am going to be in NYC from Dec 26-Jan 31. What must-eat restaurants should I not miss? I don't care for touristy places or popular places because I might see a movie star. I want good food for good prices. I am from LA, and I've had very many authentic cuisines and I love it all! so I am open to anything unique from any country!!!
I don't have specific place suggestions here, but I will throw out the fact that L.A. has no decent pizza, and pizza therefore might be something to check out in NYC. (Many huge threads about pizza for you to check out.) Also you can't really get Puerto Rican cuisine out there (as far as I remember, it's been a few years), if anyone has specific suggestions for that. And I will second, third and fourth Katz's...
Since NY is always filled with tourists, particularly at this time of year, it will be difficult to avoid them. And, let's face it, you will be one of them. :-) Frankly, I'm happy that people from all over the world want to visit our wonderful city, and if they want to eat where I do, it's perfectly fine with me. That said....
While the idea of going to a steakhouse may seem "unexciting" to you, a place like Keens is, in fact, quite unique. It's been in its 36th St. location since 1885. So, in addition to excellent food, it has unmatchable old NY ambiance, i.e., walls filled with memorabilia and row-upon-row of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings. There are also pipes that belonged to famous people in display cases in the vestibule. As I said, it's a unique NY place, and I'm sure you don't have anything quite like it in L.A.
The same goes for Katz's, which has been in business since 1887 and has that "only in NY" ambiance. You should go there if only to decided how the fabulous pastrami compares with Langer's.
Actually, I would suggest that you consider taking my (in)famous Lower East Side Food Excursion, which starts with Katz's and continues on to a number of other food destinations, many of which have been around for a long time. Here it is:
For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front. It's cash only. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.
When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.
After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.
Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.
When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).
Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.
Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. (www.tenement.org
Once you have finished the tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.
If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.
Note: It's best not to take this tour on Saturday because some of these places are closed for religious observance.
As you can see, with the exception of Katz's, this isn't a restaurant tour. But the Lower East Side does have a variety of excellent restaurants. One that I highly recommend is Tides, a teensy "fish" shack with delicious food and a unique, charming interior. The owner, Stephen, is a great guy who goes out of his way to make sure his patrons have the best experience possible. You will actually pass by it during the "tour," but as a dining destination, it should be a separate event.
If there are any particular cuisines that you feel are lacking in L.A. that you want to try here, let us know, and we will make appropriate restaurant suggestions.
Hope you have a great time in NYC and Bon Appetit!
Actually, I found another post similar to mine but....most of those were pretty unexciting suggestions (ie- best burgers, best steak, best hot dog, etc.)
LA is full of cuisines: Philipino, Vietnamese, French, Lebanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Russian, Ethiopian, Persian, Jewish...god, that's just the beginning.
I hope someone can suggest unique, delicious, and exciting places that I can't find in LA.