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Jan 10, 2007 01:08 PM

Looking for a Uniquely New York Restaurant

I'll be in town a couple of times over the next several weeks, and will be looking for a restaurant or two that is the type of offbeat place that could only be found in Manhattan (such as the Diamond Dairy or Burger Joint). Any suggestions? I'd prefer it to be casual and reasonably priced (no more than $60 for two people, including a drink or two). Thanks!

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  1. The Nomad is wonderful North African cuisine on Second between 4th and 5th.

    1. Not really sure what you're looking for, but how about a good pizza place? (I'm partial to Lombardi's on Spring Street).

      Or there's Momofuku, a ramen joint in the East Village.

      Both, I think, would be within your price range.


      4 Replies
      1. re: slynnkiino

        I'm basically looking for anything that's offbeat and quirky, not too expensive, and has table service. The type of cuisine isn't important, since I like nearly every kind of food!

        1. re: hiddenboston

          I don't know whether to be very complimented or appalled at the notion that NYC has a monopoly on offbeat and quirky. But what about Freeman's? I've never been but they built their reputation on offbeat and quirky. (Hidden at the end of an alley, weird decor, unusual food specials such as "devils on horseback" made of prunes.)

          1. re: Brian S

            I'd say you guys are lucky to have so many offbeat restaurants in your city. Here in Boston, we used to have a lot of quirky places, but they seem to be closing by the day, often being replaced by upscale bistros or Applebee's.

            I'd love to go to Freeman's, but my S.O. is an animal lover, and I'm not sure she'd like what's on the walls there. :-b

            1. re: hiddenboston

              Lots of us love animals. They're delicious!
              Honestly, I think Freeman's is worth going to anyway for the type of vibe you specified. I believe she can be seated without any trophy heads in her field of vision, though it's been a while since I went to Freeman's.

              How about Caracas Arepa Bar (E. 7th St. and 1st Ave.) it's quirky and unique, and the food is Venezuelan, inexpensive, and delicious. Get it before Chavez somehow nationalizes it by proxy ;)

              Seriously though, Katz's Deli is as NYC as it gets. Though from what I've been hearing on the board lately, getting table service there means your sandwich won't be as good. Best to stick to counter service, and then sit down at one of the tables reserved for counter service.

      2. Veselka, the polish diner in the East Village is pretty unique and well within your price range. And of course there is Katz's deli - a NY institution.

        5 Replies
        1. re: wingman

          I've been to Veselka a few times. Definitely a good place, especially combining it with the nearby Veniero's afterwards for dessert.

          1. re: hiddenboston

            Whenever someone mentions Veselka, I feel compelled to suggest East Village Ukranian Restaurant (yes, that's the name) on Second Avenue instead. A much more offbeat and pleasant experince both in terms of food and atmosphere.

            I used to live in Boston and don't remember any Sri Lankan there so would suggest Sigiri on 1st Avenue.

            1. re: mashpee

              No, we have no Sri Lankan restaurants anywhere in Boston. I'll have to look at their online menu to see what they have (if they have an online menu!).

              1. re: mashpee

                I so agree! It's actually called Ukrainian East Village Restaurant, and it's in the building that says Ukrainian National Home on the front @140 Second Ave. It is a uniquely New York dining experience and while it won't win any culinary awards it is fun with cheap, stick-to-your ribs "cuisine." Reminds me of my Russian grandmother's home cooking. Disclaimer: Not a gathering place for the beautiful people!

            2. re: wingman

              Veselka is Ukranian. I won't repeat my comments on what I think of it, except to agree with mashpee's remarks above (except for the suggestion of Sigiri, where I had overly old fish with a sauce that was oversalted to my taste the one time I went there).

            3. Azul Bistro on the LES might fit your bill. It's an Argentinean place and they serve some of the best meat in NY.

              Here's a pretty good overview of the place from a usually unreliable website/mailing list.

              1. I'd go to Arturo's before Lombardi's. Family run pizza place filled with locals. The (sort of gross) bathroom still has a bathtub in it. Live jazz on a random schedule next to the tiny bar.

                If you want only in New York quirky, how about Chumley's? The burger is supposed to be Top 10. (I prefer Corner Bistro.)

                In my neighborhood there is a really quirky place with good cheap food called Mooncake Foods. One of the websites describes it as being home-cooked by your Shanghai mom or something like that.

                In Boston, I assume you've been to Casa Romero underneath L'Espalier? The best.

                8 Replies
                1. re: ronoc

                  A bathtub? You have to be kidding me. I'm there!

                  I like Casa Romero a lot. And since nobody else does, it's not too tough to get a seat there. ;-p

                  I'm very familiar with Chumley's. Go there nearly every time I'm in NYC. They do have a good burger there...

                  1. re: ronoc

                    Quirky, yes. And the pizza is terrific.

                    Don't make the tourist/rookie mistake of ordering anything other than pizza.

                    1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                      arturo's thirded. it has a fabulous atmosphere, and if you like mussels then the "hot mussels with biscuit" (mussels in a spicy red sauce over a giant, cheesy garlic bread crouton) are a must-order.

                    2. re: ronoc

                      Definitely Arturo's -- some of the best NY pizza in a really great setting.

                      1. re: a_and_w

                        Can you get a slice and a beer at the bar at Arturo's? Or don't they sell slices?

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          No slices. Only pies and waiter service.

                          For great slices (in a place with no atmosphere or anything) go a few blocks west of Arturo's to DeMarco's take-out area. (Avoid their restaurant where inferior chefs give inferior pizza to bad waiters who serve you slowly.)

                          1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                            I love DeMarco's, but I'd still go to Arturo's for the atmosphere. Coal oven pizza with jazz accompaniment (no cover, as I recall) it's so NYC...

                            1. re: a_and_w

                              Correct. No cover, no drink minimum.