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Necessary NYC before moving away!

I've been living in NYC on and off for almost two years now...but its time to pack it in and move back to Southern CA! I want to try and eat in as many unique, ethnic, special, etc restaurants as possible before I leave this summer!
I'd love to get everyone's opinion about where they think is a not to be missed place!

Mainly ethnic restaurants I probably can't find in Southern CA (no sushi, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese) , best bakeries, and famous chefs that have restaurants NOT to be missed.


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  1. Not Manhattan:
    I bet you know these already but:
    DiFara's and Totonno's
    Nathan's (for the hell of it)
    Peter Lugar's
    River Café (for the view and the service, food is just very good, but not special)
    Spicy Mina's
    Christie's, the Islands, Ali Roti Shop for Patties and/or Roti

    Maybe you don't know these:
    The round lard bread from diNapoli bakery on Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburgh.
    The hand made mozzarella from Tedone's across the street from diNapoli (note that these are close to the last of their breed, come back in a few years and they will be gone)

    PS; We'll miss you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bobjbkln

      wow, so far so good! been to difaras a few times (oh how i'll miss it), sripraphai (but i might have to go again it was so good) and i've also been to spicy minas.
      i will look into the others you mentioned! you seem to know the goood spots! thanks! i'll miss ny a lot too. i don't really wanna go !

      1. re: junglekitte

        Left out Sicilian food at Ferdinando's on Union St. or Joe's of 86th St. And the prosciutto balls, 50¢ each, at Joe's Perette on Smith Street.

    2. Here are some things you won't get in Cali:
      Bagels from Terrace on PPW
      Blackout cake (or cupcake) from Ladybird (fka 2 little red hens)
      and a standout chocolate or cinnamon babka from somewhere. Anyone? I like the ones that the co-op stocks (Greene's?) but I don't know where to find them otherwise.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Budino

        Beg to differ on the bagels. No Terrace (how are they not generic?), no nowhere else, except Bagel Hole. And even there you gotta make sure to say well done. Brass tacks - freeze a couple dozen bialys from Kossars and put em in yr new freezer.

        Stuff not on your "I can find it in Cali" list: The plethora of Eastern European joints we have in Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, etc.

        1. re: Budino

          Bagel Hole is far superior to Terrace.Terrace is overrated with the same big puffy
          bagels as so many other places. Bagel hole has the original small, dense bagels that are the real classic bagel

          1. re: jason carey

            You know, I went to Bagel Hole after reading all the raves here, and wasn't impressed. that said, the bagel wasn't well done...perhaps that's the key.

          1. I'd go to al di la as many times as possible before departing for SoCal -- I don't think they have that kind of Italian food there!

            ditto on the roti and other west indian - I like Ali's

            I love Terrace Bagels. They make good whitefish salad too.

            I like the demure fig bar made at Joyce Bakery in Prospect Heights, and the chocolate layer cake, coffee/ice cream drinks, and wine pairings at The Chocolate Room on Fifth Ave in Park Slope. And Gorilla Coffee a block away!

            How's middle eastern in LA? Perhaps Tanoreen in Bay Ridge, and a stocking up trip to Sahadi's or Kalyustans

            And fresh mozz at one of the many purveyors . . .
            Bon Voyage!

            1. 1. difara's difara's difara's
              2. west indian--doubles and jerk--i like singh's on liberty ave for doubles, but ali's on flatbush is good, too, better than the one on fulton. peppa's on flatbush and ram's on church for jerk, and ram's for roti's. also have a few patties while you're at it.
              3. M&I international foods in brighton beach for russian/eastern european
              4. somewhere in astoria for greek food
              5. katz's--one of a kind
              6 peter luger's-ditto
              7. vegetarian indian--dosa house in jersey city or one of the ones on lexington in the 20s--tho there may be good veggie indian in LA--i don't know
              8. Sri Lankan on staten island
              9. indian-chinese, ie. tangra masala in elmhurst
              10. non-mexican latino food--ie. dominican, puerto rican, colombian, peruvian--i think there is more of this stuff in NYC than in LA but i'll leave other posters to suggest good places as i don't know enough.
              11. brazilian--malagueta or the other one whose name i forget in astoria
              12. bagels--tho i think you can get good ones in LA
              13. Andre's hungarian bakery on queen's blvd in rego park/forest hills queens. try the chocolate kugelopf and the rugelach.
              14. Russ and Daughters--another NYC institution

              2 Replies
              1. re: missmasala

                Missmasala's ideas are on the right track.
                1. DiFara's, or any good NY style pizza. While there are some decent places for neapolitan pizza, NY style pizza is sorely lacking in LA.
                2. West Indian is a good choice. While there is a community of west indians in LA around south LA and Inglewood, it's not quite as vibrant as going to Flatbush.
                3. Russian is another good choice. There's some eastern European available in LA, but few and far between, so that would be a good one to concentrate on. I'd add going for Polish food in Greenpoint as well. I usually bring a bunch of stuff from the Polish butchers when I visit my family in LA.
                On a similar note, I'd also suggest going for Balkan food in Astoria or Ridgewood.
                4. Greek is another good idea. There's some Greek in LA, but like the west Indian, there's more to choose from in NYC.
                5. If you haven't had Katz's in a while I'd say go and get it, and when in LA, go to Langer's because it's always good to get another perspective on which does a better pastrami. I like the one at Langer's myself. And also, if the rumors are true, Katz's will not be the same if/when it opens after the new development in that space.
                6. Peter Lugers is a good quintessential NY place to visit before leaving.
                7. There's vegetarian Indian in LA's little india, so that's probably not a priority.
                8. Sri Lankan in SI is something that's very unique to NYC, and probably worth visiting.
                9 There are Indian-Chinese places popping up in LA's little India, so it's available, but I've been going to Tangra Masala since they've opened, and they've been very good to me, so I'd give it a go, especially if you haven't been.
                10. Absolutely on the non-Mexican latino. Especially Dominican and Puerto Rican and Colombian. As far as my experience, LA's Peruvian is more varied and arguably better.
                11. Brazilian seems to be a toss-up for me.
                12. Get bagels in NYC. Like NY style pizza, good bagels are lacking. There's some decent places in the Jewish neighborhoods around Robertson or Fairfax, but if you have to compare them to the ones here, there's no question which is better.
                13. I guess I'll have to try the hungarian pastry place myself. I haven't been yet myself.
                14. I'd agree that Russ and Daughters is a very special and unique place.
                15. Get Egyptian in Astoria
                16. Get Turkish food in NYC. While there's some Turkish places, it's the underrepresented middle eastern cuisine in LA. For most other middle eastern, I think you're better off in LA.

                1. re: E Eto

                  I think that Eric (and some others) have got it right. It's the Eastern European stuff and the Spanish Caribbean that aren't well represented out there. I'm from OC and go back every year or two. Other than SriPraPhai, I'll take SoCal Thai any day. And Vietnamese - fahgeddaboutit - OC's Little Saigon has got NY beat by light years. Out there you have different Mexican (not much Pueblan), interesting Armenian in Glendale, Persian in Westwood and Hollywood, and nowadays a lot of Indian and many varieties of Chinese. I think that NY has more Fukienese food (Chinatown east of Bway in Manhattan). I have encountered Ukrainian in L.A., but they have no Brighton Beach, as far as I know. I would do Brighton Beach, especially now that it's warm, with the Boardwalk and the 3-story Russian store at the Western end of Coney Island Ave for take home and the Russian experience. Don't forget Washington Heights, or maybe someplace like El Viejo San Juan in Hell's Kitchen or El Gran Bohío in the Bronx. And how about a trip to Arthur Avenue before you leave. Astoria for the Greek experience or the Egyptian one are also special. These are some of the great New York Experiences - and certainly you could do worse than eat your way down the #7 train line. There's nothing quite like finding Irish-Filipino-Indian-Colombian-Mexican-Chinese-Korean almost within walking distance.

                  I am now about to celebrate 20 years in NYC (only planned to stay for a few) with a summer out for Sicily, and I only planned to stay for a few. But I must say that whenever I go out to visit I still love SoCal Mexican, especially the tacos at Tlaquepaque in Old Town Placentia, but there's also Tijuana and a lot of interesting places like El Indio in San Diego area. Don't worry, it's not a wasteland, and there are things you just won't find here.... as long as you've got a car.

              2. It's a sad day for NY that it is losing you. I don't know what advice to give because most of my time in NY is spent in search of food that you can apparently find in Monterey Park... Chinese, Thai and Mexican. You should check out the LA board, there are a lot of posts by ex NYers bemoaning the lack of NY food they like -- that should show you what food is unavailable in LA. Also, immerse yourself in the food-related experiences you won't find there: walking in Jackson Heights, watching Indian ladies in colorful saris glide past Mariachi bands playing outside Mexican restaurants; walking into obscure Chinese restaurants and being greeted with looks of stunned surprise by servers who have never interacted with someone who is not Chinese, and the little shops like the one in the photo, strolling around (and eating at) the little bits of China that are the malls at 41-82 and 41-28 Main St in Flushing.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Brian S

                  i'm not sure if indonesian food is prevalent in calif., if not...stop by minangasli in elmhurst for the heavenly candlenut sauce (i get the chicken dish w/ that - apor ayam i think it's called) and the jackfruit in the coconut/chili sauce. although i have been disappointed w/ the quality of the chicken the past few times, i would still visit a last time before leaving ny.
                  i definitely would also go to spicy mina's as well and burmese cafe in jackson heights.
                  also would visit greenpoint for polish (lomzynianka or basia's)
                  and brooklyn bagels in astoria for the fantastic 'whole wheat, raisin and oat' bagel
                  and elephant and castle for their amazing (and amazingly small portion) of breakfast items (particulary hash browns and spinach puree!)

                  1. re: daniellaczar

                    also forgot, i just tried il laboratorio del gelato yesterday. i was always skeptical of it b/c it just seemed to prissy. but, oh my, the black mission fig (i got it upstairs at whole foods where the juice bar is) is absolutely divine....much better than just about any ice cream or gelato i've ever had. Definitely worth trying! it's so rich and creamy and not overly sweet. it's perfect!

                    1. re: daniellaczar

                      I don't mean to be a jerk, but...okay, I'm a jerk. I'm sure in LA it would be quite easy to find so called "brooklyn bagels" such as whole wheat, raisin and oat. But, then, what's a Brooklyn Bagel anyway and why would you be able to find one in Astoria?
                      My appreciation for Bagel Hole is a given, but I think it's about time I scoured LI for some Jews making bagels. Cuz they sure ain't makin' em in Brooklyn.

                      1. re: noisejoke

                        Everyone always forgets about (or very few people on this site know about) the Bagel Spot in Boro Park. Those are some serious, old-fashioned Jewish bagels (made by Jews, even): dense and delicious. It's at

                        4305 14th Ave (and 43rd street)
                        Brooklyn, NY 11219
                        (718) 853-4450

                        I like Terrace and the Bagel Hole, but Outer-Borough-boarders need to venture outside of Park Slope/Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill once in awhile (beyond going to difara's). The OP should definitely check out the Spot and bring as many frozen bagels to L.A. with her/him as possible. As a former NYer and a former Angeleno, I can tell her/him that there isn't a real bagel to be found in the greater-L.A. area, and eating the puffy round bread they do have can be painful.

                        1. re: GDSwamp

                          Swamp - b'lee me! I don't love that Bagel Hole is in the Slop. I just figure it's been luck. Bagel Spot??? I'm so there!

                          1. re: noisejoke

                            Not to get down on the Bagel Hole (or Terrace, or the Slope, for that matter... I so miss the Slope). But I do think you'll really enjoy Bagel Spot. No need to ask for "well done" - those bagels look like they were smithed in a coal fire sometimes.

                            If you do get over there, noisejoke, and you happen to have time to explore around the neighborhood, please report back. I used to bike over from the Slope and I nosed around as best I could but never felt I'd uncovered much of what the area had to offer. I found some interesting glatt kosher butcher shops and a few bakeries, but I'm sure there was more to discover.

                            1. re: GDSwamp

                              I'm fairly close by! Will do asap (when that is, I couldn't tell ya).

                  2. Interesting thread. My personal only-in-New York faves:

                    1. Babbo. (Specifically, an organ-meat pasta, a quartino of inexpensive wine, and the free cookies eaten in the bar area. Don't bother with the entrees.)

                    2. One of the szechuan restaurants. I like Grand Sichuan on 9th Ave at 50th the best, but others prefer the East 50s Grand Sichuan or, in Flushing, Spicy & Tasty or Little Pepper.

                    3. The lobster roll or lobster pot pie at Mary's Fish Camp.

                    4. Double Shake Shack burger, fries, and concrete at Shake Shack in the park on a fine summer's night.

                    4. WD-50 (if you're feeling adventurous and don't mind spending $100 per person).

                    5. Bagel & lox. I like H&H with extra thin hand-sliced lox from Zabar's fish counter.

                    6. Try the fruit Danish at Ceci-Cela (French bakery) on Spring near Lafayette. Fantastically good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: KateC.

                      Oops, forgot: Raised glazed donuts at Donut Plant. Artisinal donuts, very chewy. Some people hate them, but definitely available only in New York.

                    2. I saw a few people mentioned that you should try Sri Lankan food, which i agree with, but I don't know where in nyc you are so i just wanted to say that you don't have to drag yourself out to staten island for good sri lankan. There's this place called sigiri on 91 first ave in manhattan. being sri lankan i have to say they have really good food there. I recommend trying a curry of choice with Aapa or Indi Aappa, there both very good and its a change from rice.
                      Also if you want to try a really good slice of pizza I personally recommend going to bay ridge brooklyn to L&B's Spumoni gardens and getting a Sicilian slice. It's not your typical thick softish crusted slice, this is excellent. It's nice and crispy with a perfect proportion of cheese sauce and dough.
                      If your in the city and want good food and to have a few drinks with friends i'd also recommend Son Cubano for Cuban food.
                      And I don't know if your willing to brave eating food from a stand there's a stand on the corner of 53rd and 6th ave in manhatten. They sell chicken and rice, lamb and rice, or combination, with salad and they have pitas with some kind of white sauce and a red hot sauce. I don't know it's really good and there's always a huge line down the block expecially late at night you could stand in line for up to a half hour wating for food. So you might want to check it out, I'm pretty sure t's halal food (not sure if i spelt that correctly)

                      1. Lucky you that you will be able to find good sushi, mexican and vietnamese. When I left NYC, I found myself overdoing it on Banh-mi and dumplings-- and my last evenings were spent eating sushi... possibly because I followed many of the suggestions on this board, especially with regard to DiFaras, patties from Christies, and doubles from Nio's. I also ate too many of my favourite calamari sandwiches at Catene's on 9th Street and 4th Avenue. I miss those still although it's probably for the best I can't eat them.