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May 1, 2007 09:36 AM

NYC vacation - "Ethnic" food? Vegan/vegetarian? Cocktail bars?

Second post from me on this board, but here is my "background info" again just in case...

In about two weeks, my boyfriend and I (Swedish, 30 yo) are going to New York for 10 days. We will be staying in Harlem near Marcus Garvey Park but plan to go everywhere in Manhattan(posted these questions on the Manhattan board too) and some to the outer boroughs as well. A big feature of our trip will, of course, be FOOD. I have a lot of questions, so have broken them down into two posts. !

I am a "pescatarian"(no meat other than fish or seafood), but my boyfriend eats everything. We don´t like overly touristy places, but as long as the food is fabulous they´re OK.

In any of the outer boroughs, what would you recommend for...

1. Italian? How is Borgatti´s, other places around Arthur Ave in Brooklyn?

2. Dim Sum (with carts)? In Flushing or elsewhere?

3. Other Chinese (Szechuan, Shanghai preferred)?

4. African (east or west)?

5. Russian/Ukrainian?

6. Sushi/Other Japanese?

7. Other "ethnic" food not to be missed?

8. Vegetarian or Vegan (something a bit out of the ordinary)?

9. And finally... not exactly food but... great cocktail bars?

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  1. Welcome. First of all, if you can edit your post to write something in the title line, that would get you better results. I'll just comment about a few of the things you mentioned.

    2. You can have a nice dim sum experience in Manhattan Chinatown or Flushing. There are huge dim sum palaces in both places. It all depends on your logistical needs and whether you are interested in seeing Flushing or prefer Manhatten.

    3. There are regions of China that are better represented in Flushing. Fuzhou is best represented in the eastern part of Manhattan Chinatown, but I believe that Northern Chinese, Taiwanese, Szechuan and other cuisines are better in Flushing. (There are greater experts on these topics than I.)

    4. I believe that the best African food in New York is West African, mainly Senegalese, which is mostly found around 116th Street in Harlem. There is African in the Bronx and Brooklyn, but I haven't found any places there to be better than the ones in Manhattan.

    5. Russian and Central Asian is found in Queens. (I haven't found Ukrainian to be as big as other ex-Soviet groups here, just a few places in the East Village.) The largest Russian enclave is Brighton Beach, where you can eat and also explore exotic markets and bakeries.

    7. Other ethnic food: In the Outer Boroughs, we have areas representing all sorts of regions. You do not say where you live, so I don't know what you would appreciate most and what would be similar to, or surpassed by what you have at home. In Astoria (Qns), we have many interesting Greek restaurants, along with some Brazilian andEgyptian places. There is a big cluster of Arabic restaurants, stores, bakeries, etc. on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. We have all sorts of Latin American food, but it may not be anything you can't find at home. We have a lot of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi restuarants in Jackson Heights, but they're not really superior to many others in the country. In other parts of Queens and Brooklyn, there are some good Caribbean restaurants, if that interests you.

    Give a little more guidance, and we can help you out more.


    2 Replies
    1. re: JH Jill

      Oops, forgot to copy and paste the title when reposting this from the manhattan board...

      Wow, what a great reply, thanks Jill!

      We live in Stockholm, Sweden. I´ve been to New York before, six years ago. IMO, save Scandinavian, any ethnic food we can find in Stockholm at the moment is average at best, so would probably be better in New York.

      When I´ve been to New York, I´ve spent most of my time on Manhattan and in Brooklyn, so this time I really want to see other parts of the city as well.

      I myself am partial to Chinese and Japanese, also very interested in trying out African food as it is not that common where we live. But anything really, from anywhere in the world, as long as it is good!

      1. re: JH Jill

        Make sure to visit Burmese Cafe in JH and the jewel of Queens - Sripraphai.

        Re: Ukranian, actually half of the vendors and people shopping in Brighton beach I find being Ukranians. There are few shops and restaurants that were definitely Ukranian owned or had something distinctly Ukranian on the menu (can't tell the names and addresses off the top of my head). There was a recent post of Cafe Glechik on this board. Glechik is a definitly Ukranian word. Ukranians in East Village in Manhattan have migrated here pre-post Revolution, so I find their food very Americanized.

        As for Middle Eastern food, you can probably get much better fare in your neighboring Denmark with big Lebanese population. I find NY Middle Eastern from average to below average.

        IMO, Queens has strong Argentine, Peruvian and Balkan representation.

      2. 1. There are many great Italian places in Manhattan, but if you want to try the outer boroughs check out Trattoria L'Incontro in Astoria. Piccola Venezia is also held in high regard, and has an old school New York feel that doesn't really exist anymore outside of a few places in Queens and Brooklyn. The food at PV is hardly old school Italian-American though, it is classic Istrian, the area of Italy that borders Croatia.

        3. Spicy and Tasty, Little Pepper (both Sìchuān) and Waterfront International (Liáoníng) are the best Chinese in Flushing, Queens. I feel that all 3 are far far better than any sit down place in Manhattan's Chinatown (or Manhattan for that matter).

        7. See my reply to your other thread about Brazilian in Astoria. Definitely check out Malagueta for excellent authentic Brazilian food, forget the hyped steak places in Manhattan.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Astoria Lurker

          "Vegetarian or Vegan (something a bit out of the ordinary)?"
          I recommend this place often: Tangra Wok in Rego Park (Queens). They serve delicious Indian-Chinese food. The gobi (cauliflower) Manchurian (appetizer) is WONDERFUL. There are many vegetarian options, as well as dishes with chicken, seafood or lamb. Steps away from the 63rd Drive subway stop. Here's the link:

          1. re: Anne

            Wonderful tips everyone, thank you so much!

        2. Russian/Ukrainian? M&I International food. There are some outdoor cafes on the Coney Island boardwalk, near enough to the Cyclone Roller Coaster. The food is not as good per $ as M&I but you are in a real restaurant.

          Other "ethnic" food not to be missed? South American. Check the Pupusas (which are vegetarian) postings for an idea as where to go. You might post about Mexican suggestions. The "red hook ballfields" (many posts).
          Vietnamese - Binh Mai sandwich (many chowhound posts already).
          Jewish - Cheskel's Shwarma King
          Pizza - There are already too many chowhound posts about pizza. Avoid the temptation to go to Di Fara's as it has been a mad house lately, unless that's what you want to see.
          BBQ - Blue Smoke, R.U.B., Dinosaur (in Harlem) near Fairway market which might also be worth seeing.

          great cocktail bars? - Sugar Cane on Flatbush Brooklyn might fit the bill for upscale ethnic food and cocktails.

          Look through old chowhound posts, Zagat's and Time Out NY.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Geo8rge

            You should have dim sum at World Tong in Brooklyn!
            do a seach on the board, there's a ton of topics.
            It gets insanely busy after 10:30am on weekends but since you are on vacation you could go during the week around noon and have a very relaxing lunch.

            I just noticed you are a pescatarian, that might limit what you can eat at World Tong, but there's sauteed greens, rice noodles, shrimp dumpling, etc. Although you should read up and decide if it is "safe" for you.
            If you are stringent about your pescatarianism, I would stick to Dim Sim GoGo in Manhattan because it's easier to avoid accidental pork there.

          2. If you are brave, I'd suggest going to Flushing for Sichuan and go to J&L mall right across the Post office on Main st, walk all the way to the end, and then try stuff from the chengdu stall. The recommended restaurant, Spicy and Tasty, is more formal and has good food too, but IMHO the stalls are more fun. There are numerous other vendors there too, including one from NE China who makes the biggest buns I know of.
            For vegetarian, if you never tried it before, the Chinese vegetarian fake-meat thing is interesting. And if you go to Buddha Bodai in the afternoon, you can try their veg dim-sim (no carts). Guaranteed no chicken stock or pieces of pork. I do like their fake roast pork bun, it taste fatty and yummy.
            The other thing to try out in Flushing is Taiwanese. Gushine is the place I recommend for home dishes, and they have a veg menu. Another Taiwanese bakery I like (can't remember english name right now), on Roosevelt, is Taiwanese and they serve taiwanese pastries with mung bean fillings and such. Also, if you never tried it, the hot pot place is fun too, and I believe they have a seafood option (correct me if I'm wrong).
            Brooklyn has some nice Carribean places along Flatbush Ave and Church Ave. I'm not the expert in this but I do know that Veggie Castle on Church feature pretty good carribean food. Further down there are many roti shops, each roti can feed two people.