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Seeking hidden gems, must-eat-at dives, etc...

I'll be in Manhattan for a week, coming soon. I'm looking for off-the-beaten-path treasures. I love neighborhood bistros, mom and pop diners, cooking schools, dive bars and such. The kind of place your average tourist wouldn't know about. Things not listed on Zagat or CitySearch. C'mon locals, give it up!

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  1. Yakiniku JUJU on 28th street between 3rd and lex. Its a japanese/korean bbq. where you cook the food yourself. Ive been going for years and love everything about it. Its hidden, not sure if its in the guide books or not, but its delicious. Get the rib meat with the bone.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JJthebearNYC

      I agree. However, I prefer the boneless short ribs.

    2. dive bar: vasmay, on the corner of suffolk and houston.

      it's not unknown, but b&h dairy restaurant on 2nd avenue btw 7th st and st.mark's is worth a visit. it's a tiny kosher dairy place that serves cheap, delicious homemade soups and challah along with some diner-type breakfasts and lunches.

      4 Replies
      1. re: wleatherette

        Add Diamond Dairy (for lunch) to this tread. A dairy kosher on 47th Street. And a piece of history.

        1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

          Try "A" (that's the whole name) between 106 and 107th on Columbus Avenue. It's a the tiniest place- French/Caribbean bistro- BYOB. It looks like a hole in the wall, but what they turn out is great. Entrees are all $12. It's cash only though.

            1. re: haleyjen

              The one time I was at A I was unimpressed. My sense was that this was an attempt at creative cuisine that didn't entirely pull it off--my most salient memory is of a roast avocado doused in too much salad dressing.

              It's a cozy space, with friendly staff, and I wanted to like it, but I haven't been particularly inclined to go back. Could you tell me more about what you like there?

      2. Re, dive bars: Several come to mind, including The Distinguished Wakamba Cocktail Lounge on Eigthth around 38th St., and Why Not? on Ninth around 40th. Think of them as bookends to that cultural epicenter, The Port Authority Bus Terminal. Oh yes, and there's still another just north of the Port Authority, near Ninth, whose name escapes me just now....

        Re, holes-in-the-wall: I've always loved Sucelt, on 14th just east of 7th, for rib-sticking rice, beans, and fried plaintains.....

        2 Replies
        1. re: 280 Ninth

          I love Sulcet too-I could not remember their name--they also have great cafe con leche and flan--and make a bunch of different pasteles-thanks -I'm glad they are still aroiund

          1. re: marlie202

            Third on the Sucelt - I am surprised and happy that it remains. Try anything with pernil.

            The Subway Inn, on east 60th near the corner of Lexington, retains its' divey charm, one of the bars that sets the standard. In an otherwise upscale area, this remains a lowdown drinking place.

            In Chinatown, Mei Lei Wah Coffee Shop, on Bayard, is another lowdown experience, an old fashioned tea house/ dim sum diner, what one regular customer once described to me as being a "Cantonese greasy spoon". The combination bun and coffee will keep you going for hours.

            If you're uptown, try a fried whiting sandwich at A Taste Of Seafood, on 125th and Madison, or chuchifritos at Sandy's on 116th and 2nd.

            Or, if you're way uptown, try the amazing garlic-laden Chicharron De Pollo at El Mundo Fried Chicken (B'way and 190th, I believe, in Washington Heights).

            Enjoy, and please report back.

        2. Add Cafe Edison and Margon near Times Square...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Unpossible

            Seconded. The counter at Edison is fun. Get the egg salad and an egg cream. The stools at the Margon counter are too small. So get there early for lunch and have a Cuban sandwich at one of the tables.

          2. little alley way in ctown - between elizabeth and bowery (right next to and i THINK south of Canal) ... yummy noodles - get the rice in pots (or casseroles) chicken with mushroom is good. the bbq items are great too.

            BIG WONG's in CTOWN - DON'T get anything along the lines of chow mein/general tsao's chicken. PLEASE DON'T. get wonton noodles/ ANY BBQ ITEM / congee (if you like that stuff) ...anything that you see chinese people eat around you in the restaurant. on Mott's, cross street of canal ...

            1. Tehuitzingo Deli has a spot in the back for tacos. Located on 10th avenue. It's really off the beaten path though. I like the pork skin tacos.

              1. Crosby Connection - it's a one-man sandwich shop in a former broom closet on Crosby, just south of Bleeker. Can't get more hole-in-the wall than this. His prosciutto sandwiches and his meatball subs are the best.

                1. I don't want to get stomped by the NYC hounds but I just returned and two places come to mind. Penelope in Murray Hill, 159 Lexington Ave, at 30th St for breakfast. Try the penny egg sandwich or pancakes. My friends and I loved this place and it is a typical neighborhood place - nothing fancy. People love the lunches too. http://www.penelopenyc.com

                  We also had excellent luck at a Times Square pub called D.J. Reynolds, 351 W 57th St,
                  Btwn 8th & 9th Ave . The drinks were reasonable and the food was solid and a great value - especially for the area. The ingrediants used were top quality and the service was excellent. Highly recommended.

                  1. best cuban sandwich at milanes in chelsea. 25th and 7th avenue.

                    wogies in west village is a great bar that has good cheesesteaks and wings.

                    1. La Taza De Oro
                      (Puerto Rican diner)
                      8th Ave & 15th st.

                      1. Castillo de Agua on the corner of essex and rivington. Great dominican rice and beans joint. Also a terrific cuban sandwich.

                        1. Wonton garden on Mott st off bayard in chinatown, open till 2am
                          soup with noodles & dumplings a must, also down the block bayard & Bowery
                          NY noodle town: crispy baby pig
                          enjoy nyc

                          1. Get an egg cream, the quintessential NYC drink, at the hole-in-the-wall candy store on Ave. A, b/t 7th St. & St. Mark's Pl. Its official name is Ray's, but there is no signage to that effect. Look for the overhead sign jutting out into the street that says, "Belgian Fries."

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: RGR

                              I think you mean Gem Spa. It's a newstand on the SW corner of 2nd Ave. & St. Marks...

                              1. re: romafan

                                Is this in reply to RGR? Because he doesn't mean Gem Spa. The place he describes exists as described.

                                1. re: Mazzer

                                  Yes, it does. My friend used to work there when we were in high school sweeping the floors and stuff. The old guy who owns it is awesome!

                                2. re: romafan

                                  Mazzer is correct. I was not talking about Gem Spa, which also serves an excellent egg cream. Because of its busy corner location and size, it's not in the hole-in-the-wall category.

                                  Btw, Mazzer, I'm a she.

                                  1. re: romafan

                                    no--Gem Spa is on 2nd Ave and their egg creams are not as good as Ray's ever

                                    1. re: marlie202

                                      Ray's happens to be one of the stops on my (in)famous LES food excursion, and I agree that the egg cream there is exemplary. However, I've done several back-to-back egg cream tastings at both place and have found them to be comparable. While Ray's is a better geographical fit for my tour, Gem Spa is certainly a fine alternative.

                                3. Dive Bar: Hmmm, I love many, but 7B and Blue and Gold jump out. I love Holiday Cocktail Lounge on St. Mark's, and Subway Inn on 60th as well.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: haleyjen

                                    Yes, the good old Holiday. Still cheap and good after all these years. Spent a few weeks there one night.

                                  2. Subway Bar - Lex & 60th - Try the Bud. They serve an amazing Jose Cuervoi

                                    1. Casa Adela on the Lower East Side. The best baccalau! Short on ambience, good, cheap eats. There is also a bar downstairs on John Street that has really cheap beer/drinks. It is close to Broadway and not far from Las Halles. Can't remember the name. Just wander around and ask someone . . .Also, the best potato pancakes (they still hand grate them) and pierogis are at Ukrainian National Home in the East Village. This place closed for awhile and I totally freaked out. They are open now.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                        the rotisserie chicken and pernil at casa adela are amazing. the tostones are a must-have as well.

                                      2. great post. try burger joint in the parker meridian hotel on w57th st. don't be put off by the fancy smancy hotel. walk in and find the burer joint behind a curtain. you'll be transported into good old dive heaven. great burgers. a true nyc experience and you can even write on the walls. for mexican, take a ride up to noche mexicana on amsterdam and w102 -w103rd. not a total dive but you get authentic mexican food for little money. can't wait until you report back to us natives!!

                                        1. ok dive bar -
                                          Down the Hatch on 4th street,
                                          McSorely's on 7th St.
                                          Havana Chelsea for cuban sandwich and solid strong coffee
                                          Roccos on bleeker for canoli and expresso
                                          Mamouns for falafel

                                          1. May Wahs before they close their doors on the 17th. I prefer their chicken thigh over rice. You can also order a porkchop on the side for 1.75. Salt fiends can request for extra meat sauce. Another recipe lost...