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Underrated Restaurants

The Overrated category seems to have touched a few nerves. Something tells me that this one won't elicit quite as much passion. We'll see.

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  1. Il Cortile: Great pasta, but the place gets lumped in with "touristy Little Italy."
    Westville: The burger is one of the best but barely gets mentioned, even in the endless and frequent "best burger" threds.
    Our Place II: It's a perfect combo of upscale Chinese but mid-scale prices, but Wu Liang Lee and the others get all the attention.

    5 Replies
    1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

      Going to have to respectfully disagree on Our Place--the one time I went it was gloppy, oily, bland Chinese.

      1. re: CobblerNYC

        I'm with Cobbler. If anything, Our Place is decidedly overrated. its just regular americanized chinese with more pretentious service to cater to UES types.

        1. re: jeanki

          Our Place II is in midtown, on 55th Street. Maybe the original on the UES is medicore, but I find the midtown version terrific.

      2. re: NAtiveNewYorker

        I agree on Il Cortile . Also think that Umberto's is underated .

      3. fresh...on duane street for seafood is aces and never really gets any notice.

        michael jordan's steakhouse is also totally excellent everytime i go.

        7 Replies
        1. re: sam1

          I actually think Michael Jordan's has one of the best burgers in the city. Its got great flavor and that nice steakhouse char. Love sitting at the bar and getting it during lunch.

          1. re: ESNY

            YES. One of the best burgers in the city.

            1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

              tigerland east village see my brief review!
              chinos (same owners as chow bar)
              posto pizza

              1. re: jsmitty

                Thanks for that review - it was on my to-go list in that area, I'll bump it up a notch or 2.

              2. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                People BLANCH when I tell them I love Michael Jordan's, and I can't quite blame them, but I think it's as good as any steakhouse in the city. I would go there just for the buttery warm garlic breadsticks stacked on a pool of gorgonzola fondue.

                But you know what? My boyfriend and I recently went to Morton's The Steakhouse and we were completely blown away! EVERYTHING was state-of-the-art.

                So much for chain restaurants being lousy.

            2. re: sam1

              Fresh is one of my favorites. My mom's office often takes over the back and does private parties there. They are very very easy to work with!

            3. Annisa gets a bad rap on this board, but I love it.

              8 Replies
              1. re: kiworan79

                annisa was a top 5 meal for me in nyc

                1. re: kiworan79

                  I went to Annisa with my Mom and brother's fiance about a year ago and we had an incredible meal! The soup dumplings with seared foia gras was spectacular, as well as the rest of the meal. It was a classy place to dine without being stuffy at all. I couldn't possibly imagine someone not enjoying their evening there. Our server was friendly and helpful and the chef came out to greet us after we mentioned we were there on a recommendation by her former sous chef---a nice touch.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    I didn't really care for Annisa. Probably belongs on the overrated list.

                  2. re: kiworan79

                    I had a great meal at Annisa last year also. The soup dumplings, as kiworan79 mentioned, were great. I also like the little Chinese dim sum styled sesame-covered fried dough ball dessert dish (clearly I can't describe it well).

                    1. re: eatfood

                      I loved my tasting meal there - and can say that it was one of the better restaurant experiences I've had in NYC. The plates were perfectly seasoned - showed restraint and finesse, and the service was tops.

                      1. re: kayonyc

                        i don't get the annisa bashing. i only express surprise when i have been to a restaurant and have sampled many dishes. i liked about 8 of 9 there!

                        1. re: jsmitty

                          wouldn't bash annisa, but i've never had a memorable meal there either. something in the service always goes amiss. pleasant enough, though in the long run. i thinking dennis foy is the underrated resto of the moment ... so i'll do a separate post on that.

                          1. re: psp

                            foy is on my short list... i await your comments

                  3. Paprika on St. Mark's, especially for brunch.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Andrew P.

                      Hmm... I've only been for dinner. While the manager was incredibly nice to us and even gave us free courses for our less than 30 minute wait past our reservation, food was not memorable.

                      1. re: Lucia

                        Try the brunch. It's a totally different menu, and is all very tasty and affordable. Also, the coffee is outstanding.

                        1. re: Lucia

                          What did you order? Paprika is one of my neighborhood standbys -- good Italian for the price point.

                          I really like the fettuccine with asparagus, grapes and shrimp, and either of the raviolis (Lobster or Artichoke).

                          1. re: kathryn

                            Had: goat cheese in truffle oil, polenta w/cheese, beet salad w/pecorino and pistachio, pappardelle w/veal and broccoli rabe, caprese salad, black linguini w/shrimp. To be fair, the black linguini was very good, but everything else was mediocre.

                        2. re: Andrew P.

                          Discovered Paprika by accident. Also enjoyed their brunch.

                        3. Pietro's. Excellent steak and ceasar salad with professional service.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bigredd

                            glad to see that pietros is still as good as i remember from 15 years ago ...

                          2. Urena. Without a doubt!

                            Chef/owner Alex Urena is serving some of the most creative and delicious cuisine around, and we've had two absolutely sensational dinners there.

                            Even after being open more than a year, I think the restaurant is still suffering the after effects of the lambasting it took from critics regarding the awkward space and, in particular, the horrid lighting. Well, the lighting was fixed quite a while ago and is now very mellow. As for the space, yes, it's a bit awkward, but the tables are nicely spaced (as opposed to the elbow-to-elbow situation so common in NYC restaurants), and the noise level -- thankfully! -- is conversation-friendly.

                            In my view, those who haven't tried Urena are missing a great dining experience. Obviously, there are a lot of you because it's still an easy reservation even on a Saturday evening.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: RGR

                              Agreed! I've been going for awhile and still can't believe how empty it can be during prime times. Also, for those who don't know - there is a tapas meal available at the bar reasonably priced and excellent

                              1. re: RGR

                                Great to know. I keep forgetting about this place, but I will make a special effort to go in the next couple of weeks. Alex UreƱa certainly has great credentials.

                                - Sean

                              2. I've had some great meals at OG Grill in the east village. The food is excellent, the staff is super friendly, and the vibe is very intimate and romantic.

                                1. This is a great thread...underrated sets the bar low so you are pleasantly surprised rather than set up to be disappointed.

                                  Le Grainne Cafe, 9th Ave/21st St. Eat there a lot, totally reliable mussels, sandwiches, crepes, great wines by the glass, great prices.
                                  It used to be a Le Gamin. I can't keep track of where all the Le Gamins are these days, they seem to keep moving around, but I have always been happy with them, too.

                                  1. Now why in the world would we share our secrets on the Internet??? Just kidding.

                                    My candidate is always Jean-Claude, although they've raised their prices recently, it's still a gem.

                                    1. I like the fish tacos at Florencia 13 on Sullivan St. Very good mole and guac as well. And the bartender knows how to make a margarita. Get the flaming one in the pint glass (I know, I know, but it really is great).

                                      1. Azul - my FAVORITE restaurant in NYC and it's fairly inexpensive. The atmosphere is charming and it's a great summer spot. Not in the best of locations Suffolk & Stanton (I think) but worth the walk over there. The steak for 2 is some of the best stead I've ever had.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: angieny

                                          www.KUMAINN.com in the LES, Chef King Phojanakong's Chinese sausage with sticky rice and sweet, garlicky green-chili sauce is worth the accolade alone.

                                          1. re: harlanturk

                                            i think kuma in is a tocuh overrated. tigerland which i reviewed was head and shoulders better.

                                        2. I agree about Westville. I am in love with this place.

                                          Soy: Nobody ever mentions this place, even now that the homestyle Japanese trend has taken off.
                                          Ukrainian East Village Restaurant: Guess it's stuck in Veselka's shadow. Much better, IMO.
                                          Elephant and Castle: One of my favourite brunches around.
                                          Ariana Afghan Kebab: Yes, it's small and flashy. But the food makes up for it.
                                          Swagat: While I'm generally a bit tired of Northern Indian food, Swagat does it so well. And the breads... Yum.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: piccola

                                            Ukrainian National Home is now open again and is the BEST for authentic Polish/Czech food like pierogis and hand-grated potato pancakes. Short on ambience and inexpensive/great value. If you can't get to Greenpoint this is the place - almost as good as Babci used to make!

                                            1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                              Uh.... Surely what you had meant was Ukrainian food, right?

                                              1. re: smrtazz

                                                Thanks for the follow-up. Polish/Ukrainian/Czech/Russian foods are quite similar. I go for their pierogis which are also a Polish staple.

                                          2. This restaurant gets beatened up alot on this board but Wo hop. This is still better than your chinese takeout restaurant and its opened till 4am.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: DarthEater

                                              I second the Tigerland nom. i tried it for the first time a few weeks ago (i think thanks to you, jsmitty!) and was impressed at the attn to detail and precise flavors. only bad thing was it was completely empty and silent.

                                              down the block, something i haven't found on the boards (or maybe i just have missed it?) is Takahachi Japanese grill -- great standby skewers and decent sushi too.

                                              also Rice on Mott/Prince -- this is always one of my standbys for the vegetarian meatballs or the thai yellow curry.

                                              i also have a soft spot for Excellent Dumpling House in Chinatown -- i know it ain't always authentic, but hits the spot.

                                              also, Good Health Restaurant on 74th and 1st -- they have a stellar brunch, esp their whole wheat baby blueberry pancakes or italian links sampler.

                                              plus Mangiarini, Rughetta, & Triangolo italian restaurants in the UES -- in a sea of mediocre, overpriced italian, they do quite well but never get much mention.

                                              1. re: emilia

                                                i agree sort of vibe-less, barren etc.. but the food is terrfic. i wish they would get a consultant in there to start bringing people in by changing something. out of my realm...

                                              2. re: DarthEater

                                                In what respects is Wo Hop better than your average Chinese takeout restaurant? And furthermore, while it gets beaten up a lot, I've seen people claim it's the best Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. They never seem to come back and support their claims in any way, however.

                                                1. re: Pan

                                                  I never said it was the 'best', I just said it was 'underrated' because it gets so many bashing on this board. And when I said better than your chinese takeout place, I meant the westernized ones. They do cater to a more westernized party and their menu does offer the same dishes as the westernized chinese takeout place, however its excuted far better. No, not everything is recommended in wohop and I am not comparing it to Big Wong, Hop Sing, Fuleen, etc...but they are competent with some dishes. When its 11 pm and you want something to eat without being rushed, this place hits the spot. I admit, In the daytime I go to other places such as Hsin wong, sanur, big wong, golden bridge, family noodle, boky etc and not to wohop but then again I dont order the same dishes.

                                                  btw, I did support my claim 1am last night thankyouverymuch. And the late night crowds are more local than your daytime.

                                                  1. re: DarthEater

                                                    I didn't say that you were one of the people who claimed Wo Hop was the best or that you wouldn't support your claims. My points were twofold:

                                                    (1) To the extent that there are people claiming Wo Hop is the best, that's relevant to whether it's underrated, overall.
                                                    (2) I wanted an answer to the question I opened with (in what respects is it better than...)

                                                    For the record, I found the food at Wo Hop stomach-turning and for several years have refused to go back. So I'd say it's inferior to average takeout food. We simply disagree.

                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                      (1)Same can be said for all of the establishments listed on this topic, so wo hop shouldn't be a questionable exception.

                                                      Everyone has different food experiences and expectations and I dont expect everyone to conform to one answer nor do I question or doubt their opinions and that is what this board is all about. Not facts, just opinions.

                                              3. let me be passionate about dennis foy. i've had a couple of completely amazing meals there. (church street in tribeca). this is really accomplished stuff. service is great, room is relaxing, price point is good. but above all else: wow, can this guy cook. frank bruni really didn't get it. run don't walk!

                                                1. Japonica! I always have great meals there and the service is wonderful. Fantastic fish and nice waiters are a great recipe for a fantastic evening. Plus, I LOVE the shumai...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Nikki NYC

                                                    shaffer city has the best oysters in manhattan. i like sitting at the bar late afternoon. definitely an underrated place in my book.

                                                  2. I would vote for Shimizu on 51st St. Time after time the fish has been amazing and the omakase is on par with far more expensive sushi dinners I have had. Chef Shimizu has been there each and every time I've been there and the experience has been superb overall. Not sure why it hasn't gotten more mentions on this board. A real find.

                                                    1. Tigerland is definitely underrated , in the lower east side.

                                                      Best Banh Xeo I've had, by far.

                                                      For the record, they serve organic thai/vietnamese. While these cuisines usually have heavy elements (grease, sweet + cloying sauces, et cetera) Tigerland does it incredibly well , and no element of any of my dishes seemed heavy handed.

                                                      They carry themselves like a neighborhood takeout joint so I hope their quality doesn't fall to match it. Give them business while they're good~!

                                                      1. Grano
                                                        Bar @ Etats Unis
                                                        Silver Swan

                                                        1. I was reading a post this morning about Union Square Cafe and got thinking about older restaurants, consistent, tried and true. For example, Vong or Montrachet. Montrachet is not new or trendy. Every time I have gone for business or pleasure we have had excellent food, wine and service.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                            I had a laughably terrible meal at Montrachet a couple of years ago. The food was good, but the service was preposterously bad. I will never willingly go back.

                                                            1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                              Montrachet has closed and, from what I've read (see link), will not be re-opening anytime soon.


                                                              1. re: RGR

                                                                Thank you, RGR! As always, you are a great and helpful resource.

                                                                1. re: Andrew P.

                                                                  Thanks for the compliment, Andrew P. :-)

                                                                2. re: RGR

                                                                  Thanks, obviously I haven't been there since February! In addition to biz dinners I got engaged there and went there for my 10th anniversary dinner. All good experiences. How ironic that their closure's timing coincides with my divorce!

                                                              2. Hakata Grill on 48 bet Bway and 8 is a great little no frills sushi joint. always fresh sushi, and their entrees are also very nicely prepared. pretty moderately priced as well, which is always nice!

                                                                1. The pierogies thread brough back my memory of this little polish place:

                                                                  Little Poland. A little Polish food place with authentic delicious polish food like cheese pierogies and meat pierogies, also in fried version.

                                                                  200 2nd Ave, New York 10003
                                                                  Btwn 12th & 13th St