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Are you making a specialty food?

Seeking NYC restaurant recommendations

Ani Feb 14, 2007 04:31 PM

Hi all,

I am a Montreal foodie who's planning a trip to your city in April. That's how serious I am about food, I am starting my research months ahead. I have been to NYC numerous times but always failed to try out any restos. I have mainly eaten in Chinatown or grabbed a quick bite somewhere. This time, I am hoping to find some really delicious restos and watering holes that you guys always go to.

I am looking for places that serve:
a) fresh seafood ie. lobster roll since we don't really have that in Montreal
b) fine french dining since there's so many places here
c) local favourites that you think it's worth a visit
d) a good bar/pub for food and drinks
e) japanese

I am keeping an open mind so the price range can vary. I am not really looking for famous nor trendy places, the only requirements I can think of are a comfortable atmosphere, unpretentious service and obviously, food to write home about!!

I am looking forward to seeing your suggestions, thanks again and if you ever pass by Montreal, I will be happy to help.


  1. h
    hungry_fox Feb 18, 2007 12:40 PM

    Be warned, I've heard many many negative reviews of "One if by land, two if by sea" because the food was good, not great; and it was extremely pricey.

    1. gonzo99 Feb 17, 2007 07:37 PM

      No sorry- it's the same place. I forgot to put the whole title, "One if by land, two if by sea" on Barrow st. Oops

      1. gonzo99 Feb 17, 2007 03:44 PM

        I am probably repeating the amazing suggestions already given but these are some of my favourites:
        For seafood I love Two if by sea and Mary's fish camp.
        My favourite high end sushi is Jewel Bakko and Blue ribbon sushi but my favourite sushi which is low key and pretty affordable is Marumi in the west village.
        I tried Alias on clinton st. for brunch when Clinton St. baking co. was packed out and their menu is really fun and different and tasty! I also love Great Jones St. cafe for brunch but it's pretty tiny.
        My favourite splurge restaurant in Manhattan is The Tasting Room.
        Cafe Habana has great cuban food (random, sorry)
        and I love Kasadela on 11th st and Ave.C for small cooked Japanese dishes and good sake.
        I am really partial to Pizza Gruppo on Ave.B too for kind of different pizza- not your typical NY slice though. Lombardi's is good too.
        And lastly- I think Corner Bistro in the west village has the best burgers in town! But that's just my opinion ;)

        1 Reply
        1. re: gonzo99
          Pan Feb 17, 2007 05:54 PM

          "For seafood I love Two if by sea"

          Is that different from One if By Land, TIBS? If so, where is it?

        2. h
          hungry_fox Feb 17, 2007 03:03 PM

          I don't know, maybe it's because I don't have as much funding as most people who post on this website; but I'm really surprised that no one mentioned St. Marks. You said you're a foodie, you said you're up for a varied price range, and you said you want Japanese, just go down to St. Marks Place.

          There's this amazing restaurant Japanese restaurant called Yakitori Taisho. It doesn't have servers in nice clothes, it doesn't have a massive wine list, it doesn't have this gorgeously decorated seating area with multiple rooms; pretty much it is the opposite of any expensive sit down "ecclectic/fusion/anything" japanese restauarant.

          BUT!!! If you want a place where you can try amazing realistic japanese food, this is the place for you. It's a place where you can order all sorts of alcohol and all sorts of food that most restaurants in NYC won't even go near. The meals mostly consist of small dishes so you can just order one thing after another, if you don't like something, order something else.

          It's not fancy, it's not elegant, it's not pretty, you can walk right off the street in whatever you may be wearing, but it's very very good and also pretty cheap.

          Be warned there is a chance that there will be a wait of some kind, it's not a very big place but there're multiple Yakitori places within just a couple of feet from eachother on the same block; they're all very good and any research you do will say the same.

          1. steve h. Feb 16, 2007 12:35 PM

            april is a great time to visit nyc. it's also a great time to try some touristy stuff. here are a few suggestions:

            walk the brooklyn bridge from the manhattan side to grimaldi's pizza. time your visit to arrive around 11:30 a.m. and order a cheese pie. slowly retrace your steps to the ritz carlton at battery park and head to the Rise Bar for much needed drinks, small plates and killer views.

            consider exploring central park's bridal paths (http://www.centralparknyc.org/thingst...). head over to bouchon bakery for a late lunch when finished. extra tourista points if you snack at the boathouse.

            assemble a dream picnic basket (with wine!) and take the three-hour circle line boat tour of manhattan island. sit on the port-side, next to a window.

            some random thoughts include: a burger at "21;" a bloody mary (red snapper) at king cole bar; the duck at four seasons; and a concrete at shake shack. you can gild the lilly by grabbing cheapo tickets to a yankees home game. try roberto's (off arthur avenue in the bronx) beforehand if a night game, dominick's (on arthur ave.) if a day game. go with the specials at roberto's. chow down on the baked clams if dom's.

            1 Reply
            1. re: steve h.
              s44 Feb 16, 2007 06:43 PM

              Grimaldi's is a great suggestion: pizza in Manhattan doesn't compare. You could also try the water taxi from Fulton Ferry Landing afterwards. (Or hit a cool bar in DUMBO.)

              Tamarind is OK but no place in the city measures up to Indian food in New Jersey. You can try Jackson Heights for some ethnic atmosphere, though the vibe seems more Pakistani than Indian.

            2. r
              rjm Feb 16, 2007 10:48 AM

              As a born and bred New Yorker, I'm not in love with many of the above reccomendation.

              1. Japanese - Bond St. (exceptional quality sushi/fantastic cooked options/and deserts) (d)
              2. Steak - Peter Luger's in Brooklyn (the best bread, tomatoes/onion appetizer, shrimp cocktail, porterhouse for 2,3,4,etc people (shared steak not individuals), hash browns ..and if you still have room cheese cake) (d)
              3. Burger - Melon's (3rd Ave/74th) best burger & chill - very old school classic spot (l)
              4. (Haute) Indian - Tamarind (great dining experience) (d)
              5. Italian - San Domenico (central park south) (d)
              6. Italian Casual Lunch - Bar Pitti (l)
              7. Pizza (slice to go) - Joe's on Carmine and/or Two Boots on Greenwich Ave (l)
              8. Mexican - Rosa Mexicana (Across from Lincoln Center - Guacamole freshly made tableside) (d)
              9. Greek - Avra (d)
              10. Frozen Yogurt - 40 carrotts (at Bloomingdales) THE BEST !!
              11. "Fine Dining" - Jean Georges, Le Cirque and La Grenouille
              12. Seafood & raw bar - Dock's

              Stick with my list and I promise you will leave NY having had all the best the City has to offer. Let me know if you need further info or want other specifics.

              10 Replies
              1. re: rjm
                matt Feb 16, 2007 11:10 AM

                Two Boots? Their pizza should not be mentioned in the same line as Joe's.
                Go to Joe's and skip Two Boots. Its ok but far from the best the city has to offer.

                Just to be argumentative (not sure why I am in that mood) but I think Bond St. is overrated and mroe of a trendy scene than top notch Japanese food. I always think of it as a Nobu wannabe.

                And for a raw bar nothing beats Aquagrill. The oyster selection alone is worth a trip.

                As for fine dining I would add Per Se to the list if you can get a table, although if you've been to French Laundry I would pick one of the others. Le Cirque is still living off its reputation from before I cared about food and not up to par these days. Perhaps Bouley or Cru.

                1. re: rjm
                  jsmitty Feb 16, 2007 06:02 PM

                  I also have to chime in about Two Boots. That's amateur pizza. Sorry... Rosa Mexicana is perfectly fine, but not in the league of Maya on the upper east side and Mexicana Mama on Hudson St. And Dock's.. no...

                  1. re: jsmitty
                    Ani Feb 17, 2007 07:19 AM

                    Hi again, would any of those mentioned Mexican restos serve fish tacos? We definitely do not have that in Mtl so I want to try them. Been doing some research and they seem to pop up everywhere. The name Mercadito's tend to always surface. Let me know.

                    1. re: Ani
                      jsmitty Feb 17, 2007 07:47 AM

                      I know mercadito has two spots. east and west village. it is a tiny restaurant. if you go on menupages.com you can read the menu..maya is a more refined place, but comfortable. they serve authentic mexican fish dishes. not tex/mex mediocrity you see all over nyc, but flavorful regional stuff.

                      1. re: jsmitty
                        RGR Feb 17, 2007 08:31 AM

                        Richard Sandoval is the chef at Maya and Pampano. The latter is also more upscale. Creative, modern Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on fish and seafood. Delicious! Very attractive atmospherics with an upbeat vibe.

                        Pampano's Tacqueria has fish tacos on the menu. It's a take-out place, but it's located in a food court where, I believe, there is seating. (I haven't tried the Tacqueria.)


                        1. re: RGR
                          jsmitty Feb 17, 2007 08:34 AM

                          thanks! shall i try pampano?

                          1. re: jsmitty
                            RGR Feb 17, 2007 08:42 AM

                            I haven't been to Maya, but if you have and liked it, then I can't imagine you wouldn't like Pampano as well. As I said, the food is creative and delicious.

                      2. re: Ani
                        ballulah Feb 20, 2007 10:03 AM

                        Fish tacos aren't really done very well in NYC. I keep trying them, and they're not as good as California, as much as I hate to admit that. If anyone wants to refute, I will gladly go and try them. I do like the fish tacos at Uncle Moe's on 19th Street off of 5th Ave, but they're not traditional. A traditional fish taco usually features a batter fried white flesh fish, Uncle Moe's does a grilled salmon.

                        1. re: ballulah
                          Polecat Feb 20, 2007 10:09 AM

                          Glad you mentioned Uncle Mo's; they also serve up excellent - again, non traditional - burritos, with very fresh ingredients.

                    2. re: rjm
                      financialdistrictresident Feb 19, 2007 06:10 AM

                      I found Avra overpriced and the service slow. The decor/atmosphere is lovely.

                    3. m
                      matt Feb 15, 2007 04:33 AM

                      For Japanese Sugiyama or Sushi Yasuda if you want sushi.

                      Personally I would skip the high-end french and go to Babbo instead, I have always been disappointed with the french places.

                      Although you can get steak anywhere in the world you should go to Peter Luger's.

                      Finally Degustation is a truly unique experience.

                      1. nyufoodie Feb 14, 2007 11:06 PM

                        I am looking for places that serve:

                        a) fresh seafood ie. lobster roll since we don't really have that in Montreal
                        Pearl Oyster Bar or Tide's
                        b) fine french dining since there's so many places here
                        Daniel or Le Bernardin (French Seafood)
                        c) local favourites that you think it's worth a visit
                        Katz' for pastrami, Russ and Daughter's for smoked fish and other appetizers
                        Doughnut Plant - for doughnuts
                        d) a good bar/pub for food and drinks
                        the Spotted Pig for burger and gnudi etc. and Molly's for burgers and onion rings
                        Pravda - not a pub - for homemade potato chips served with creime fraiche
                        e) japanese
                        Sushi Yasuda - Best Sushi, Yakitori Totto for cooked food/Japanese skewers et al., Sakagura - for cooked food/tapas style and good sake selection
                        f) lunch - Casa Mono, Lupa, Inoteca,
                        g) brunch - Clinton St. Baking co. pref on a weekday - super long lines on the weekends
                        h) desserts - Veniero's for NY Cheesecake and Pignolli cookies, Patisserie Claude for palmier's, pain au chocolat, eclairs, fruit tarts, sugar sweet sunshine for cupcakes and banana pudding, il labrotorio gelato for gelatos, chinatown ice cream factory - for ice cream with exotic flavors, st. alp's place for bubble tea (taro is good), Schiller's for Sticky ,
                        Toffee Pudding, Cafe Sabarsky for Apple Strudel and other Vienniese treats.
                        i) fun cheap eats (every city has these places)
                        Nicky's for Bahn mi
                        Dosa Cart in the Washington Square Park
                        Chinatown: Nha Trang (Vietnamese), Nyonya (Malaysian)
                        Congee (98 Bowery - Cantonese).

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: nyufoodie
                          Pan Feb 15, 2007 12:27 AM

                          I haven't gone to Nicky's, but does anyone think they're better than Banh Mi Saigon?

                          I also prefer Skyway to Nyonya.

                          We agree on the taro green milk tea at Saint's Alp.

                          1. re: Pan
                            rose water Feb 15, 2007 03:50 AM

                            No. Saigon Banh Mi is stratospheres better than Nicky's. Nicky's has the advantage of having a portabella mushroom sandwich, but now Saigon has a vegetarian sandwich (which I haven't yet tried).

                            1. re: rose water
                              Pan Feb 15, 2007 06:27 PM

                              And since most people who've tried both seem to agree with your assessment, it's shocking how many recommendations of Nicky's there are in this thread. Perhaps some of the recommenders will come back to this thread and express a dissenting opinion about the relative deliciousness of Banh Mi Saigon Bakery.

                            2. re: Pan
                              nyufoodie Feb 15, 2007 10:07 PM

                              I don't think I've been to Bahn mi Saigon. Where is it located? I've been to the bahn mi place by the Manhattan Bridge and the one off East Broadway and Market St. and find Nicky's the better tasting one. I also like the fact that the food prep area of nicky's is a lot cleaner than the others I've been too. Don't think I can vote on which one I think is the best one in the city till I'm able to try the other contenders. But, Nicky's may not be the best but, it is surely a well made one and saves me a subway trip down to Ctown for a cheap wich. I've been to Skyway, and didn't really find the food there better than Nyonya - considering that I've already noted a slight decline in the food quality of Nyonya the last few times I've been there. My favorite Malaysian stuffs are satay and char kway teow (sp?) as those were the dishes I was eating a lot of in Kuala Lumpur and both these dishes where better in Nyonya vs. Skyway. The shrimp used in the Skyway kway teow were not fresh too. I went on an off hour - like between lunch and dinner so, I was suprised how mediocre the meal was then and this was during the time that everyone was raving about it online. Maybe, I'll give it another chance if, I'm nearer that part of Ctown.

                              1. re: nyufoodie
                                Pan Feb 15, 2007 10:51 PM

                                I actually agree that sometimes, things aren't completely fresh at Skyway, but I don't think I've found that true of anything but bean sprouts, which can be a little muddy-tasting there. I've never had any problem with their meat or seafood.

                                Banh Mi Saigon Bakery is on Mott St. between Hester and Grand, in the back of a jewelry and crystal shop.

                                1. re: Pan
                                  Polecat Feb 16, 2007 07:40 PM

                                  For the record, Banh Mi Saigon Bakery, in its' previous incarnation having been a crawlspace built right into the side of the Manhattan Bridge, is what I'm guessing nyufoodie is referring to as "the banh mi place by the Manhattan Bridge".

                                  nyufoodie, if this is the case, I would recommend that you try the newer digs on Mott, as they have added another three or four sandwiches to their previous repertoire of one.

                                  1. re: Polecat
                                    nyufoodie Feb 17, 2007 11:14 PM

                                    When the weather warms-up I'm going to try and hit the other bahn-mi places and check-out the difference amongst them.

                            3. re: nyufoodie
                              financialdistrictresident Feb 19, 2007 06:07 AM

                              Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for dessert. Ginger and red bean curd ice cream are 2 of my favorites.

                              1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                Pan Feb 21, 2007 05:32 PM

                                Is there any ginger in the ginger ice cream anymore? I gave up on it when it started tasting like pure vanilla to me.

                            4. s
                              s44 Feb 14, 2007 10:00 PM

                              Fine French: Le Bernardin. This is also fish. ;)

                              In Brooklyn I'd go to Saul or Applewood before Al Di La.

                              And one of the tofu stew joints in Koreatown. (There's a second-floor place on 32nd St. that's rather confusingly labeled.)

                              1. 280 Ninth Feb 14, 2007 06:11 PM

                                You're looking for many different things, and it's a big city, so you're bound to find both happy and unhappy accidents along the way by simply following your nose.

                                Besides the above, I can recommend several bistro-type French places (comparing w/Montreal?), Lucien, on First and First, and La Luncheonette on 10th Ave. around 19th St. Not the best in the city, mind you, just good places to relax and enjoy a good meal. Some on this board are partial to Le Gigot on Cornelia St., but I found it a bit too cramped for my liking. I'd recommend going to Brooklyn, and checking the outer boroughs board as well....River Cafe is a fun place to go if you're from out of town, and a more modest but still ok place id Five Front St. nearby. On Fifth Ave. in Bklyn is Al di la, among other places, and in Prospect Heights is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, the Garden Cafe...not the best food in the city, but a wonderful dining experience....sort of like La Brunoise in Montreal, small, cozy, friendly, good food.

                                There's plenty of high-end places and no doubt you already know their names.

                                Check out Menupages.com for restaurant menus in nyc...you can see what the restaurants are serving.

                                1. j
                                  jsmitty Feb 14, 2007 05:32 PM

                                  i needed to add something. get, if you can, donuts from the doughnut plan ,downtown. as far i know that don't have seating, but perhaps they will sell you some. they are superb.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jsmitty
                                    voodootrane Feb 15, 2007 08:36 PM

                                    Sorry, jsmitty, one correction: Gray's Papaya is NOT all over the city. Gray's Papaya is at 36th and 8th Avenue, 8th St and 6th Avenue, and 72nd and Amsterdam. That's the NY original on the grilled hot dogs, they're great.

                                    For what I thought was a pretty tasty omlette, check out popover cafe on Amsterdam in the 80s... you can get a cheddar omlette with sauteed onions and mushrooms, quite tasty.

                                    It's a big city with a lot of great food, including many many choices in the outer boroughs. For an old school New York diner, check out Tom's Diner in Brooklyn. They have delicious egg creams, great pancakes and crab cakes.

                                    1. re: jsmitty
                                      financialdistrictresident Feb 19, 2007 06:05 AM

                                      There is another post on DP. I love their pear donuts, they melt in your mouth. DP donuts are NOT like KK and DD. And pick up some bialies from Kossars while you are there!

                                    2. j
                                      jsmitty Feb 14, 2007 05:27 PM

                                      fatty crab(can go for dinner, but i love it for lunch)
                                      bouchon bakery (the best bread you willever have)
                                      brunch-barney greengrass
                                      good enough to eat
                                      (i am partial to upper west side)
                                      union square cafe
                                      cafe sabarsky (views of central park from 5th avenue and an austrian museum inside) get the streudel. to die for
                                      payard (upper east side)
                                      chickalicious( i thought it to be a little prenetious, some like it)

                                      nicky's vietnames sandwiches
                                      joe's pizza(carmine st)
                                      mamouns falaffel
                                      an israeli tiny joint on macdougal st.who makes little sandwiches i wish i remember the name
                                      it's called something press. can someone help me here? it is literally a hole in the wall where they serve you from a counter.
                                      grays papya( a very ny thing if you like hot dogs) they are all over the city

                                      good luck again

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: jsmitty
                                        Polecat Feb 16, 2007 07:32 PM

                                        "an israeli tiny joint on macdougal st.who makes little sandwiches i wish i remember the name it's called something press"

                                        Press Toast

                                        1. re: Polecat
                                          jsmitty Feb 16, 2007 07:54 PM


                                        2. re: jsmitty
                                          yumyum palace Feb 3, 2008 01:19 PM

                                          Are you sure that it is Israeli? There is shawarma place there called Ali Baba, could that be what you're thinking of?

                                        3. a
                                          Ani Feb 14, 2007 05:04 PM

                                          Hi all,
                                          Thanks for your replies, will update you on my visit. I forgot to ask for recs for:
                                          -fun cheap eats (every city has these places)
                                          Thanks again and I really appreciate it.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Ani
                                            Burnzes Feb 16, 2007 03:20 AM

                                            Lunch- go to nice restaurants with cheap prix pix menus. you can save a buck or two
                                            Brunch- Clinton St Bakery, Balthazar, Barney greengrass, Cookshop
                                            Cheapeats- of course grays papaya, anywhere in chinatown, havana chelsea has pretty good cuban sandwhiches for $5

                                            And make a stop at Blue Ribbon for dinner if you have a chance

                                          2. j
                                            jsmitty Feb 14, 2007 04:59 PM

                                            yes megu is good. big ny event

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: jsmitty
                                              roze Feb 14, 2007 06:58 PM

                                              I have to say all the above recs are great except Megu. Very overpriced for the food quality and size. Better Japanese- En Japanese Brasserie (little upscale) Le Mui ( great sushi no atmosphere)

                                              Cafe Sabarsky- great for the desserts, atmosphere and view.

                                              For a pub experience I suggest McSorley's for an old school atmosphere and then onto Jimmy's No. 43 on the same street for food and good beers or up a couple blocks to everything else mentioned- Casa Mona,Union square, Gramercy.

                                              If you really want a casual good burger- Molly's on 3rd avenue-- great!

                                            2. ChefJune Feb 14, 2007 04:50 PM

                                              Japanese is 'way more than sushi. May I suggest Mégu?

                                              1. j
                                                jsmitty Feb 14, 2007 04:45 PM

                                                some of my favorites. by the way i love montreal. ate at aix which i loved on my last trip.
                                                lobster roll- ranking
                                                1. pearl oyster bar
                                                2.mary's fsih camp
                                                3.mermaid inn
                                                fine french dining-not my thing. i would defer to others
                                                you may like picholine on uws
                                                1. sushia yasuda -wow
                                                2. sushi of gari(small, but great!)
                                                1. spotted pig-don't be fooled by the place. the chef is for real. "gastropub" . of many places that opened with pub feel and serious food
                                                others non categorized i love!
                                                casa mono
                                                the tasting room
                                                gramercy tavern
                                                prune(tiny "foodie" haven with creative menu)
                                                a voce
                                                cafe gray(time warner bldg. with views)
                                                degustation (tapas that are filling and creative. sit with wesley the chef and he'll serve you with his wife. trust him). I really love his cooking and his place. also a very nice guy)
                                                i have many more spots if need be.
                                                it's fun to share my passion with montreal a city i love.
                                                good luck
                                                i think this list should start you. interested to see others submissions
                                                please follow up and tell me where you go

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: jsmitty
                                                  Burnzes Feb 16, 2007 03:16 AM

                                                  jsmitty couldnt be more on the money. my favorite breakfast is at Barney Greengrass though. great liver, smoked fish and eggs

                                                  1. re: jsmitty
                                                    Ani Feb 17, 2007 11:28 AM

                                                    I am sorry but I keep on bombarding you jsmitty, with questions. Sushi Yasuda sounds great for raw fish but how about Aburiya Kinnosuke for low-key cooked japanese? Is it a good place? Or do you prefer another place?

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