New York's Best
My boyfriend and I are heading up to NYC from New Orleans. Anxious to show him the best of the city and experience great food (New Orleanians love great food). Would appreciate any recommendations -- seafood, mexican, italian, japanese? Doesn't need to be posh, just good!
With literally hundreds of restaurants to choose from in NYC, so many of which serve delicious food, it is difficult to narrow down the possibilities. So, presuming you are willing to travel to different neighborhoods, I'll make suggestions based on the four cuisines you mention and hope that the costs will fit your budget.
Pampano, on 49th St., b/t 2nd & 3rd Avs., serves excellent modern Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on fish and seafood (thus meshing two of the cuisines on your list). If the weather is conducive, you can sit on their very pleasant terrace. But if you must eat indoors, the interior space is very attractive, and the vibe is upbeat.
L'Impero, on Tudor City Place, b/t 42nd & 43rd Sts., serves delicious modern Italian cuisine in a dining room with lovely, romantic ambiance. There is also a small, charming patio with a park view for warm weather dining.
Via Emilia, on 20th St., just west of Park Av. S., is a very popular, casual Italian restaurant known especially for the terrific homemade pastas with the lasagna being a standout. They don't take reservations, and it's cash only.
In the Japanese category, if it's sushi you're looking for, one of the best in the city is Yasuda. Expensive but worth it.
Finally, you and your boyfriend might consider taking my (in)famous Lower East Side eating "tour," which offers a taste of some foods that New York and that neighorhood in particular are famous for. I'm 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. Also, Donut Plant is closed on Mondays.
I've been to New Orleans and it is, indeed, a great restaurant city. The same, of course, can be said of NYC. Hope you and your boyfriend enjoy your visit here and Bon Appetit!
that is a great post! i have to mention however that i found a pickle place far and away fresher, more crisp and more flavorful than gus's. it is across the street from kossar's bilay's. if you ask them they will tell you the name. trust me on this. i was actually disappointed in gus's in comparison. otherwise i have done this les tour and rgr captured it perfectly...
Thanks for the kind words, jsmitty. Glad you enjoyed the tour.
When I get a chance, I'll have to check out this new pickle place. However, a major reason I've included Gus's is that, even though it's no longer in its original location on Essex St. (the Pickle Guys are there now), it has been, like Katz's, Russ, & Yonah Schimmel's, on the LES since forever, and thus is, in my view, a NYC institution.
If I want an old style Italian restaurant in NY, great food, not nuevo italian stuff, what is the best of the best. I'm coming in from L.A. Next week and really want to hit the best spots.
Perhaps you can point me toward some other posts for people who have asked the same questions about other bests I should hit while I have 5 days in New York City. Thanks
ill have to try out carnegie's and see for myself on my next trip to the city. i also want to try sushi yasuda! i think i hear epic trip number 2 coming along..rumble rumble in my tumble
here is a report from my last trip: