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Foodie's First New York Trip

I live in SF and I'm going to New York for the first time in my life in early March. I'm excited about the never-ending food selections, but I don't really know where to start.

We're staying in the Gramercy Park 'hood for about four days. I don't mind venturing anywhere in the outer boroughs for something delicious.

There are a few things I want to accomplish gustatorily on this trip. A nice mid-to-upper price range dinner at someplace fairly intimate (maybe a little cutting-edge, too). Authenticity in both Little Italy and Chinatown. A kick ass Jewish Deli. My palate is wide open and any other great suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks!

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  1. If you can, Gramercy Tavern is one of the best restaurants in NYC and it's right on East 20th!
    Many neighborhood favorites, first that come to mind are Casa Mono (on Irving Place) and Chino's (on 3rd Ave). Delicious!

    1. For soup dumplings, shanghai noodles, scallion pancake, etc. head to Joe's Shanghai or New Green Bo in chinatown. I would think you have better in SF though? You might try instead Momufuku Noodle Bar which has delicious ramen soups and pork buns.

      Stay away from Little Italy....it's a tourist trap. Instead, head to Cacio e Pepe, Hearth, Beppe or if you can get in...BABBO.

      If you want sturgeon and a bagel head to Barney Greengrass. If you don't care about the fish head to Essa Bagel. Sarges is a good Jewish deli as is the renowned Katz's.

      There's a great place for drinks...very city-ish.....called Flatiron Lounge.

      For your highend place you should look into Eleven Madison Park.

      Oh and since you are in the area make sure you grab a hot chocolate at City Bakery and a cupcake from the Cupcake Cafe across the street.

      Have a great trip.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jenniebnyc

        Jennie is right...I would probably skip Chinese (and sushi) while you're here. It's fresher and cheaper in California. Although New Green Bo is a very good choice (I'm fairly certain that soup dumplings aren't as big in SF as they are here), as is any of the Grand Sichuans (there's one in Hell's Kitchen, one in Chelsea, and one in the East Village).

        Make sure you get a bagel (with salmon) and a slice of pizza. If you can't hit up Barney Greengrass, go to Russ & Daughters instead. They'll do take out and make you a bagel sandwich to go. Search around for RGR's noshing on the Lower East Side tour around here! That way you can hit up all of the quintessential New York foods.

        Little Italy is definitely a tourist trap -- I'd eat elsewhere, away from the big sunglasses and imitation purses. Bianca is often mentioned as a good place to eat Italian which is NEAR but not IN Little Italy.

        I like the Flatiron Lounge, but it can get expensive if you order the signature cocktails, and also very crowded.

        Eleven Madison Park is a good choice. If you're going to be visiting the Museum of Modern Art, try to stop by the Bar Room, which is by the same restauranteur, Danny Meyer. (Alas, his hot dog and burger place, Shake Shack, won't be open for the season yet.)

        FWIW, the cupcakes at Cupcake Cafe have superheavy buttercream frosting, which may not be what you're looking for. They're gorgeous but I've always found the cake part to be too dry. My favorite is at Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery.

        Make sure you get a big NYC weekend brunch somewhere. I like Balthazar (reservations recommended) for a good "scene" for visitors from elsewhere. Otherwise, choose Prune, Clinton St Baking Company, Cookshop, Five Points, Sarabeth's, ...there's a whole lot of threads devoted to brunch in NYC.

        And research steakhouses and the infamous Peter Luger if you like red meat.

        Don't forget about street food while you're here: NYC has kimchee dogs, halal carts, German sausages, arepas, dosas, and more. Check this out:
        http://www.chow.com/stories/10203

        1. re: kathryn

          Kathryn, Thanks for the mention of my tour.

          AnthonyF, I'll make it easy for you by appending it here:

          Lower East Side Food Excursion

          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 a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance.

          Although it's not part of the tour, Tides is a fish/seafood "shack" on the LES. The food is excellent, and the teensy, cozy interior has attractive decor, including a very unusual ceiling. Steven, the owner, is one of the nicest guys around and goes out of his way to make sure patrons have a first-rate experience. Be sure to tell him that a Hound recommended it.

          http://www.tidesseafood.com

          Regarding options in the Gramercy Park area, since the Shake Shack will probably not be open yet, you can find an excellent burger at Molly's, a convivial Irish pub, on 3rd Av., b/t 22nd & 23rd Sts. Skip the mediocre fries in favor of the tasty onion rings.

          Enjoy your stay in NYC and Bon Appetit!

          1. re: RGR

            Wow! Sounds great. I know how I'll be spending one of my afternoons when I get out there this summer.

        2. re: jenniebnyc

          jennie,

          thanks for this post. we have reservations for babbo on Sunday. i'll let you know how it turns out.

          best,
          anthony

        3. lots of good lunch opportunities: lupa, gramercy tavern (tavern side) are no-brainers. molly's pub (burgers, shepherds pie, soup AND a fireplace) is solid. casa mono is a favorite. pete's tavern has its moments. shaffer city is a favorite of mine if you like oysters (very interesting if your point of reference is hog island).

          dinners? eleven madison park, peasant, babbo are noteworthy and won't send you running to your broker screaming, "sell." on the whole, i'd recommend keens steakhouse because sf has no counterpart. le bernardin knows fish better than sf but it's pricey. esca, on the other hand, knows seafood and is more approachable.

          enjoy your trip.

          1. I third Babbo. I had one of my most memorable meals EVER there. Make the reservation now.

            1. doing a search for recent posts on chinatown will be of great help to you. there's a ton of good info on what can be an overwhelming topic.

              as steve h. has mentioned, since you'll be in the gramercy area you should grab a burger (with onion rings) or the shepherd's pie at molly's (3rd ave & 22nd). try katz's on the corner of ludlow and houston for pastrami, salami, great steak fries, and one of the classic nyc experiences. a bit further down houston is russ & daughters, which sells wonderful smoked fish, dried fruit, caviar, herring, etc. also noteworthy in that general area is il laboratorio de gelato (orchard st just below delancey). it's not to be missed, in my opinion.

              1 Reply
              1. re: wleatherette

                Here's one Chinatown post. http://www.chow.com/topics/342344 I think Chinatown will be of interest to you because it is the thriving hub of the Chinese community. Yes, people move to the suburbs ... but they come back for feasts and celebrations. Enjoy!

                Oh, and you might want to try the $25 lunch at nearby Fleur de Sel. The same meal at dinner there is over $60. What a deal!