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Manhatten/NYC Food in the Bay Area?

There's places like escape from ny or a slice of ny pizza, izzy's brooklyn bagels, etc but where's the cream of the crop?

best ny style pizza?
best ny bagel? (i've yet to find one comparable)
rice pudding?
hot dog?

anything else?

NYC is a city I remember for 'junk' food, everytime I touch down at JFK I find myself running toward the nearest bagel shop no matter what time of day it is.

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  1. For a good hot dog, try Burgermeister. For a good bagel...the 6am United flight from SFO can have you at JFK by about 2:30 in the afternoon...

      1. Theres a really good NY style pizza place on Broadway across from Showgirls... ;)

        5 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Yes! I couldnt remember the name! Thats yummy ;)

            1. re: fyoulady

              Previous reports here haven't been generally enthusiastic but they might have improved.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                i fondly remember cable car pizza, but i was drunk, starving and it was 2 am.

        1. You probably won't find a comparable bagel around here. I do the same thing you do and hit all the fave NYC eats like bagels, pizza, hot dogs, etc. everytime I'm out there.

          3 Replies
          1. re: VirgoBlue

            hah...but i'm eternally optimistic. at least H&H and Rice to Riches shipments give me something to look forward to.

            1. re: wchane

              Delancey Street Restaurant on the Embarcardero (at Brannan) and their smaller Crossroads Cafe at 699 Delancey Street both serve H&H bagels brought in fresh from NYC.


              1. re: wchane

                IMO, H&H ain't much better than Noah's...

            2. I lived in Manhattan for 6 years and haven't found anything comparable to Grimaldi's or Lombardi's (my personal favorites) in SF. The closest pizza I've found to Grimaldi's is Delfina Pizzeria, although I'd be the first to admit it's not that close.

              As far as bagels, my favorite is Holey Bagel on 24th street (they do boil them unlike many other places).

              5 Replies
              1. re: asimqadir

                Grimaldi's and Lombardi's, like John's of Bleeker St., the original Patsy's, and the original Totonno's, use coal ovens, which if used properly can give a unique crust. There are no coal ovens in SF or so far as I know anywhere in the West.

                Closest we have are Italian-style wood pizza ovens in use at A16 and Tommaso's in SF, Pizzaiolo in Oakland, and Nizza la Bella in Albany, among others.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Also try Gioia for pizza, its on Hopkins Street in Berkeley. It is literally a hole in the wall, but its absolutely amazing and authentic.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    One of the pizzaioli at Pizzaiolo used to work at Grimaldi's. Pizzaiolo's crust can be very much like a smaller version of Grimaldi's (coal and wood fired pizzerias are rarely super consistent), though the sauce, cheese, and other toppings are quite different.

                    1. re: ElApuesto

                      Pizzaiolo's probably my current favorite pizza in the area, but as far as the crust goes, to me it's sort of in between Rome and New York.

                  2. re: asimqadir

                    I ate at Lombardi's last fall and decided I like Nizza La Bella's Gennaro Lombardi-inspired pizzas better. However, I may be operating on different criteria than New Yorkers.

                  3. Top Dog for hot dogs -- better than anything I ever had in NY.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: a_and_w

                      but it's not a NYC hot dog...and i've had my fill of top dog through college.

                      1. re: wchane

                        I love hot dogs and I love Top Dog too. Unfortunately though, SF just can't compete w/ NY and the east coast in general when it comes to hot dogs, not to mention pizza and of course bagels. That being said Tomasso's has great pizza and House of Bagels on Geary has some pretty damn good bagels (which are elusive in NY too nowadays). For hot dogs I've been buying Nathan's kosher in the supermarket, I think they're new out here and (the kosher variety) and they're just like the one's they sell on the steet in New York.

                        1. re: virtualguthrie

                          I lived in NY for some time and was often outraged by what passed for "hot dogs" (not to mention sausage) out there. When a Top Dog clone briefly opened in Manhattan, I actually let out whoops of joy. No offense, but I find Nathan's to be nothing special -- food court fare at best. Again, I would place Top Dog's selection of quality grilled sausages and superior toppings (don't get me started on that nasty mustard/onion mix in NY) ahead of ANYTHING I tried in NY. And that includes the hot dogs at Katz's, which are pretty much the only dogs I enjoyed in NY.

                          That said, I'm with you 100% re the bagels, which aren't so hot out here...

                          PS: Do they sell Sabrett's out here? IMO, better than Nathan's. Make sure you get the natural casing.

                          1. re: wchane

                            Yes, it's not a NY dog -- if, by NY dog, you mean sitting in dirty water or on rollers for hours with zero choice of toppings. You asked for the cream of the crop -- that's Top Dog.

                            1. re: a_and_w

                              Carvel's in Berkeley is now selling Nathan's hot dogs in a countertop hot dog cart. It has one side to throw the dirty water in to heat the straight-from the package Nathan's dog ... and the other side to steam the bun ... there's even a little umbrella on top of the microwave-sized 'cart'.

                              Unfortunately my attempt to get a dog was foiled by a worker who I have to guess no longer works there based on my experience ... after 20 minutes and two failed attempts to boil a dog (she put the bun in the water side on one attempt) I grew frantic about being illegally parked and departed.

                              I understand that Carvels is now selling lemon ice ... haven't got over there to try it yet.

                        2. Doesn't it have something to do with the water? I'm a former NYer and I agree--you just can't find pizz and bagels to compare. I do love Little Star's pizza but don't even bother trying to find a bagel I like. Too many carbs anyway ; )

                          2 Replies
                          1. When I think of New York City food, I think, not of bagels and junk food, but of high-end dining and excellent food from every nation of the globe. You can get this in San Francisco. French Laundry is as close as you can get to New York's Per Se. And your Chinese, Indian and Mexican restaurants equal ours.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: Brian S

                              Doesn't Keller own both French Laundry and Per Se?

                              1. re: Brian S

                                Excuse me, the Bay Area's Chinese, Indian and Mexican restaurants are BETTER than NYC. (vbg)

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I wonder how the Bay Area's Japanese food (sushi, ramen, izakaya, yakitori) compares to NYC.

                                  Oh. Vietnamese food (I'm mostly thinking of pho) is probably better here too.

                                  1. re: Cary

                                    Vietnamese food is definitely better, low-end Japanese might be too, and judging from the recent post on Maharastran food Indian is too. Chinese... except as regards Shanghainese and perhaps Taiwanese, I think New York is underrated. The problem is getting it. I've never seen as big a gap between the best food a restaurant is capable of and the food you will be served. See http://www.chowhound.com/topics/328296

                                    I wrote what I wrote because I am always stung to see the city of my birth identified with what I perceive (though others vehemently disagree) as greasy low-class junk food. (I admit that bagels are fat-free and the best pizza is a work of art.)

                                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                                    Being a Bay Area native who's grown to adore Manhatten, here's my take.

                                    Pound for pound the Bay Area has better quality food FOR A FAIRER BUCK. NYC may be just as good, I doubt better, but you're paying a someone's monthly rent for the experience. Per Se is good, but not better then Laundry. Yama and Jewel Baka is good but not as good as Kaygetsu. The one thing that NYC surpasses the Bay Area in my opinion, after all it is my thread =P, is its 'junk food.'

                                    Great Chinese food for $$ >>> Great Chinese food for $$$$ = all i'm saying.

                                    1. re: wchane

                                      Yes it's your thread and I'm sorry for diverting it. If someone ever opened a place in SF or LA that sold those things you like, they'd have to set up police barriers to control the hungry mobs that would show up daily to buy their food.

                                      1. re: Brian S

                                        That's basically what Amici's East Coast Pizza and Miller's East Coast West Deil purport to do. How well they've done is debatable.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I was actually impressed with Amici's. Nothing to go out of your way for, but a solid choice if you're nearby.

                                      2. re: wchane

                                        Whoa whoa there. I think the Bay Area native in you still adores your roots more.

                                        Comparing Kaygetsu (the best and only kaiseki in the bay area) to Yama (medium range sushi chain with big portions in NYC) is an unfair comparison. You would have to compare Kaygetsu to Kai, Sugiyama, Rosanjin, or Masa. Kaygetsu is just as good as Kai or Sugiyama but Masa is in a league of its own. As for sushi, nothing in the area compares in quality to Sushi Yasuda or Kurumazushi for straight nigiri or sashimi.

                                        Regarding price, Kaygetsu is pushing $95 pp which is more than what Kai charges and on par with Sugiyama. One could spend just as much at Sebo or Sakae as one would at Sushi Yasuda but you would not get the variety or quality.

                                        In terms of high end, Mina, Dining Room, Manresa's tasting menus are about the same price as their NYC counterparts Jean Georges, Daniel, Le Bernardin. I think Manresa does as well as any NYC restaurant cuisine-wise (more casual service and shorter wine list) but I think Mina and The Dining Room fall well short (cuisine and service wise).

                                        As for medium range, I spend as much at Oliveto as I would at Babbo and as much at Incanto as I would at Lupa. I think I do get a better deal at Bar Tartine though. But comparing true medium range to true medium range, the price/quality ratio is probably the same.

                                        NY has plenty of pizza, hot dogs, bagels, french fries, cupcakes, cookies, grilled octopus balls, etc. so yes, maybe junk food goes to NY.

                                        The bay area does win for chinese food, easily. That's one area where it's simply cheaper and better in the bay area (Flushing or not). Japanese cuisine probably goes to the south bay. Indian food, may be a tie (especially if you count Jackson Heights). Vietnamese easily goes to the south bay. I'm not sure about Thai food though. Too close to call. Mexican obviously goes to the bay area but that's just a function of distance from Mexico.

                                        French goes to NYC. Italian...that's tricky since it's a loaded question. Most places in SF are cal-italian or cal-influenced to some degree and NYC is more Italian-american or American-italian. I do find myself leaning towards NYC for pasta though (especially for pappardelle, carbonara, orecchiette, gnocchi alla romana) even though I really enjoy the pasta at Oliveto, Incanto, and Quince. I would say that the Italian question is impossible to answer. Eastern european goes to NYC.

                                        Dominican and Puerto Rican go to NYC. Peruvian? Probably New York. Great pollo a la brasa even at chains. Spanish? Not sure. There are places in NYC that serve baby eel (the real $50-60 per portion kind), I don't know of any in SF but my tapas experience here is non-existent.

                                        The bay area is unique for its Cal hyphen cuisine and there's no comparison there. Take cheese for example. Cowgirl is great because they offer an unrivaled Californian selection. If we start talking french or italian cheeses, the scale tips back towards NYC with Murray's and DiPaolo's.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Porthos, that strikes me as a fair and reasonable comparison -- I agree with most of your points.

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            Nice post, Porthos. I agree with what you said, as far as I am able to given my lack of experience with the NYC scene -- not having experienced a great deal of it, but having read lots about it, especially to plan an upcoming trip.

                                            As far as I can tell, Thai might not be that different from here. Bay Area there's a huge overwhelming number of more Americanized places (still with a rather wide range of quality), but really only a few places you could point to as being more traditional in terms of dishes and flavors. Those restaurants come up repeatedly simply because there are so few of them. As far as I can tell, it seems to be a somewhat similar situation in NYC, based on what I've read on those boards and elsewhere, but unfortunately I don't have first hand experience to go on here. This seems quite different from say, the sushi niche, in which the list of names that come up repeatedly seems to not only be much longer, but also flesh out various price ranges.

                                            1. re: shortexact

                                              Just post on the Manhattan and Outer Boroughs board before you arrive in NYC, tell us what sort of places you want, and we'll steer you to some good places.

                                    2. I believe someone said that Izzy's had closed.

                                      1. Not even going to get in the bagels and pizza thing because it's as pointless as asking about a good burrito or guac in NYC. Although a few NYC friends said House of Bagel get close.

                                        Now about the hot dogs -- are you talking about the steamed street vendor one with the orange sauce? Yeah, total junk food and good on a really cold day or super hungry...otherwise...eeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww... I know, I just insulted half on NY.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: ML8000

                                          Hot Dogs are everywhere in New York. Grey's Papaya is awesome, Nathan's is great and most of the street vendors (steamed and grilled can both be good depending on the vendor) are good too (I don't know the orange sauce you speak of). Not to mention places like Max's in New Jersey where the hot dog is king.

                                          As far as Amici's it's ok but doesn't hold up to places like Patsie's and Lombardi's... MIller's, not so much...

                                          Funny thing is I'm a west coast native so don't get me wrong I love the food here, I've just spent enough time in the east to know better about some things.

                                          1. re: virtualguthrie

                                            the orange sauce is esentially chopped up onions mixed w/ maybe ketchup or something. It unfortunately looks a lot better than it tastes. And the comparison of NY burritos and guac to CA bagels and pizza is spot on. And a philosophical question: How can you call it a bagel if it hasn't been boiled?

                                              1. re: Gary Soup

                                                The Bagelry in Santa Cruz has boiled bagels. Grab a couple and head to the beach for a nice breakfast.

                                              2. re: polyhymnia

                                                I noticed today that What's Up Dog features a "New York Dog" with Sabrett's Red Onion Sauce.

                                          2. Ok, the water is very, very different in New York. Bagels and Pizza, anything that relies on water content is different from place to place. Let's face it California water is not that good. There is no way you can get New York Pizza or bagels anywhere in California. I have lived in both places. Rice Pudding?? Buy it in the store..

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: dawnfawn

                                              Most of San Francisco's water comes from Hetch Hetchy, which (assuming it's not polluted by corroded old lead pipes) is some of the best tap water in the world.

                                              But the water has no significant effect on bagels or pizza. If it did, bakers could easily adjust by adding minerals.

                                              The big differences in our pizza crusts are (1) at all quality levels, most Californians think a properly baked pizza is burned, so at most places they're not properly charred unless you specially order them so, and (2) our top pizzerie have wood ovens, not coal.

                                              1. re: dawnfawn

                                                Yeah, sorry Dawn. The water in the Bay Area is as sweet as can be straight out of the tap. However, I can't really compare it to the water in NYC as I've only ever been served filtered or bottled.

                                                1. re: dawnfawn

                                                  actually nyc and sf are 2 of the half dozen or so cities in the entire nation which secured relatively pristine watersheds long ago. for this reason, these cities are not required to filter their water, just disinfect it. consequently, our waters are actually quite similar. they are both almost pure precipitation. rain and snow.

                                                  the difference is that our watershed is a great granite basin high in the sierras, protected by federal law as the jewel of the national park system. there is very little of anything up there, you should go and look for yourself.

                                                  upstate new york is comparitively much lower in altitude and much higher in population. which do you think is better?

                                                  let me point out that los angeles, san diego, sacto, stockton, etc etc are NOT part of the hetch hetchy system. their water comes from the delta, the colorado river, or wells. their water is nasty, or as you say, "very very different ... not that good"

                                                  1. re: echo

                                                    I had read the water in New York is softer than in most cities and makes for better bagels and pizza. Maybe our water has too many minerals in SF?

                                                2. Two more thoughts. First, a lot of this food is hard to find in New York today and people who want it are searching in a Proustian fashion for a vanished world. There's a post going on the NY boards posted by a guy who grew up in Queens and is now looking for these foods. It's called something like "where can I find the foods of my childhood?" http://www.chowhound.com/topics/400324

                                                  Second, the reason NY is king of junk food is that NY is king of high pressure jobs. The kind where, if you're lucky, your lunch break is 5 minutes to grab a slice of mediocre pizza and eat it as you are walking back to your cubicle. You don't want that.

                                                  1. I like Fatt Dog NY style hot dogs. They are all-beef, have casings, and are grilled. The toppings include sauerkraut and deli mustard, but not the tomatoey onions -- I don't like those, anyway. There are also hot peppers, raw onions, pickle relish, and a few more different mustards including my husband's favorite, the hot Russian.

                                                    There are 3 locations in the SF financial district and one in the Tanforan shopping center in San Bruno.


                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Nancy Berry

                                                      Aha! I was annoyed that I couldn't make it out to Berkeley when I was in SF this past weekend. Next time, I'll be sure to hit Fatt Dog -- thanks for the tip, Nancy!

                                                      PS: I hope you Bay Area folks realize how blessed you are to have these types of establishments (i.e., Top Dog and Fatt Dog). They don't exist in LA, either...

                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                        Yes, but LA has Pink's which, even if it is a little overrated/overhyped, is still pretty good at 2am. You could go simple with the chile topping or crazy with some of their other toppings. Never been to Top Dog so I don't know how you would compare the two in terms of topping.

                                                        Dittmer's (Mountain View) hotdogs/frankfurters have an excellent snap and a well seasoned inside. I'd take them over Nathan's any day.


                                                    2. I'm originally from NY. The pizza at Nizza La Bella in Albany is better than anything I ever had in NY. I never looked for "the best" pizzerias in NY, just the average good neighborhood joints. There may be some slightly better boutique pizzerias in NYC, but NLB is definitely in the same league as the best pizza anywhere. It compares very favorably with the best we had in Naples, Italy. NLB should satisfy your pizza craving.