My favorites food in Manhattan..
After reading this message board religiously for the past year, I thought I would chime in with some of my favorite restaurants and dishes in Manhattan...
Italian: 'inoteca (cheese plates, truffled egg toast) and Vespa (homemade pasta-UES)
Pizza: Totonoos (margherita with fresh garlic); best slice is the place on the Northeast corner of 33rd and 3rd Avenue (margherita with proscuitto)
Indian: Chola (Ragara, Mirapakai Kodi chicken), Brick Lane Curry House, Bukhara Grill (lunch buffet), Vatan, Tabla (crab cake appetizer)
American: Penelope (spinach artichoke dip & Nutella stuffed french toast); Blue Ribbon in the W. Village
Brunch: Clinton Street Baking Company (pancakes with amazing butter maple syrup), Penelope (see above), Great Jones
Chinese: Shanghai (garlic shrimp and juicy pork/crab dumplings)
French: Cafe D'Alsace (goat cheese tartine)
Upscale Mexican: Pampano
Mexican: Los Dos Molinos and Mexico Radio
Mediterranean: Beyaglu (vegetarian sampler)
I'm still in search of a decent Thai restaurant in Manhattan. Any suggestions for spicy authentic Thai?
There's a newish restaurant on the UWS called Thai Market that I think is excellent (and better than both Pam's Real Thai and Wondee Siam). The mixed drinks tend not to be all that great, but you're there for the food--particularly the appetizers and small plates. If you want it authentically spicey, all you have to do is ask. I assume you know what you're getting yourself into!
Thai Market is on Amsterdam at 107th St.
If you want to check out Thai Market, do read cimui's great post first: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/408564
On my one trip there, I didn't love it. Then I went to the other newish UWS Thai place, Charm Thai which I also learned about from cimui: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/398231 and loved it. I enjoyed beef larb salad, studded with ground roasted rice, which provided a great textural contrast. Went back to Charm a second time, and found it totally disappointing. Sigh. They're both close to me, and I want to like them both--we'll see where I end up next!
Well Ed Levine seems to swear by Pongsri and/or Wondee Siam II, if I'm not mistaken, though I haven't eaten at either. I can get by decently on the Too Much Sugar School of Thai cookery, but when I'm in the mood for real Thai food, I usually head to Chelsea Thai at the Chelsea Market.
The cooks at Chelsea Thai do not hold back on the fish sauce or dessicated shrimp to cater to American palates. They would rather punch your palate into submission with the strong flavors of kaffir lime leaf, galangal, tamarinds and chilies (which they don't skimp on). I thought that after I had grown accustomed to the spicyness of their food, I could tolerate kicking it up a notch and asked for them to make my Laab Na "Isaan spicy." Never again. I was so delirious from the heat, I could see through time.