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San Francisco 22 : New York 0

On my last trip to New York (live in L.A.) I was dissapointed with the restaurants I tried. I've alway understood that New York had a great culinary landscape, yet it disappointed. While every time I go to San Francisco I'm blowen away by everything.

Hounds help me run up some points for NYC on my August trip. Last trip didn't like Norma's (breakfast), Craftbar(brunch), Prune, Blue Ribbon, Gusto, or anything else. Nobu was fine but we have one in Malibu as well as the flag ship Matsuitsa.

Casual great food is my preferance. I don't want to wear a suit during August in New York. However, I'll wear a clown costume and a heavy winter coat if it will insure me a great meal. Also, I prefer meals that take less than three hour to eat.

Price no object. Anywhere in the city is fine. I'm comming to eat.

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  1. gotham bar and grill. jacket/suit not required.

    1. I've never been to New York, but if I had one trip with an open budget and a guaranteed reservation, my short list would include -

      Peter Luger's Steakhouse
      Carnegie Deli or Katz' Deli (California delis are just so chintzy...)
      Babbo (c'mon, it's Mario!)
      Patsy's Restaurant

      13 Replies
      1. re: Bunson

        Do you mean Patsy's in East Harlem?

        Gotta be Katz's, not Carnegie. I mean, it's been years since I've been to Carnegie Deli, but so many people have complained about it. Katz's is great!

        1. re: Pan

          I like Carnegie and think it gets knocked for being a tourist trap. That being said, Katz's is much much better.

          I'd add yasuda (at the bar, in front of yasuda), patesserie claude, barney greengrass - soft scrambled eggs with nova and two untoasted plain bagels (breakfast).

          If you are really coming to eat - I'd highly recommend doing the RGR eating tour of the lower east side. I did it recently and enjoyed it. It is something that you can't match in either LA or SF.

          1. re: tpigeon

            What is RGR eating tour? I'll add Katz's to my list for lunch but we have Nate and Al's, Greenblats, and Langer's here so it will have to be fantastic to impress me.

            1. re: HitTheBall

              You should probably read my short weekend in manhattan thread - has RGR's tour and what I thought of it. I have not been to the great deli places in LA but you really need to try Katz's anyway just to compare - as I would if I were in LA. Katz's is easily the best pastrami sandwich I ever had.


            2. re: tpigeon

              I know O.P. said he would be in New York in August, but for those reading along who are unaware, The great Patisserie Claude is closed in July. When I walked up this morning to grab a choc. crois I was upset to see the gate down and the sign up.

              1. re: tpigeon

                don't forget russ and daughters. get a bagel and sit outside. better than greengrass!

                1. re: tpigeon

                  Ditto the RGR LEs tour. It's where I shop and eat.

                2. re: Pan

                  Yes! Patsy's in East Harlem...old school Italian would be a must. Them or Rao's/Baldoria.

                  1. re: Bunson

                    Rao's is nearly impossible to get a table at.

                    1. re: Bunson

                      Bunson what is your favorite dish at Rao's?

                    2. re: Pan

                      Katz's if it's not closed. Second Avenue Deli if it has re-opened. Carnegie doesn't even come close, but that's only one woman's opinion.

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        Believe me, if it had closed, we'd know about it. Katz's is not closed, thank God!

                        1. re: Pan

                          It is supposed to close temporarily. There was a thread. Maybe it's just a rumor.

                  2. i'm not a fan of any of the ones you went to on your prior trip...

                    Some of my favs:
                    -- Il Giglio (old school Italian, a little bit like a fancier Dan Tana's, which is my fav LA place)
                    -- Ushi Wakamaru (i know you have good LA sushi but at the bar in front of Hideo-san is a great meal)
                    -- Lucien -- nice French bistro in East Village: great bouilabaise, filet mignon, endive salad, escargot, chocolate cake, etc
                    -- Grand Central Oyster Bar -- only at the counter, only order oysters both raw and fried
                    -- Malatesta -- simple low key Italian in the far W.Village w/ some outdoor tables
                    -- Grand Sichuan -- either St.Marks or Chelsea location
                    -- Russ&Daughters -- get a bagel and smoke gaspe salmon to go

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Simon

                      The food at Lucien is rather ordinary.

                    2. for the most part, i didnt like your previous choices either.

                      my recommendations:

                      freemans for weekend brunch...get the grilled cheddar sandwich and a bloody mary.
                      'ino (not 'inoteca)...get the cheese plate, truffled egg toast, and quatro panini.
                      veritas...upscale but comfortable...no suit. stick with meats...his foie gras is my favorite.
                      telepan...you can go to dinner but lunch here is too stupidly cheap to ignore. get the smoked trout on potato cake and his lamb dishes are excellent.
                      katz deli...of course.
                      yasuda...even if you're in LA, i doubt you have a place this delicious for sushi...at the bar of course.
                      keens for porterhouse steak...also get the steak tartare for an appetizer (they let you order it from the bar menu)...great...great scotch.

                      if you take a trip to brooklyn, i recommend lugers of course, dumont, noodle pudding, al di la, and definitely applewood.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sam1

                        Why not 'inoteca? Do you think the food is noticeably better at 'ino?

                        I ask only because I like both but inoteca is just so much larger and more comfortable.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          personally, im not a fan of the location or the space of inoteca...sure, the food is relatively the same...but something is missing. i do love bedford street and i loathe ludlow street...

                      2. Do not leave NYC without stopping at Momofuko Noodle Bar in the east village. Skip the noodles, very good, but the real gems lie in the apps and small plates on the menu. Be sure to get the pork buns. Also Chang's other place Momofuko Ssam bar is also excellent.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gerry1980

                          id go to ssam bar over noodle bar any day of the week.

                          1. re: sam1

                            I'll put Momofuko Ssam Bar on the list.

                        2. Like the other posters stated your previous choices weren't that great. For casual great food I'd suggest Little Giant on the Lower East Side, Home on Cornellia St., Momfuku Ssam (innovative and amazing), or any number of East Village spots. The problem with your first trip is you went to places with a "name". The real gems of the city are located in the villages and below.

                          1 Reply
                          1. You've been going to places that are overrated-overhyped it seems. Also, there are "gems" in EVERY neighborhood of this town. OP--Why not "keep it real"? Here's are some of my personal favorites in no particular order and all over the place in terms of price, location etc:
                            Pearl Oyster Bar--seafood
                            Amy Ruth's -- soul food (chicken & waffles)
                            La Bonne Soup or Petit Auberge --bistros
                            Rack and Soul--BBQ & Soul
                            Compass -- New American
                            Clinton St Baking-- great pancakes in NYC
                            Brawta--Brooklyn Caribbean
                            Amy's Bread --Scones, baked goods
                            William Greenberg--rugelach
                            Wondee Siam --Thai
                            Devi or Tamarind --Indian
                            Silver Moon Bakery -- baguettes etc
                            Buttercup Bake shop --cake & cup cakes
                            Levain Bakery -- Scones
                            Cones or L'Arte Del Gelato -- gelato
                            Burger Joint
                            La Taza de Oro-- inexpensive Puerto Rico
                            Azuri Cafe or Chickpea--falafel

                            I have many other faves--but maybe this can get you started in a new direction?

                            Edited to Add:

                            Keen's -- steaks & chops
                            Artisanal -- love the cheese fondue

                            32 Replies
                            1. re: Ora

                              Wow! Great looking list and I've never herd of any of them. I'll definately have to do some research. What restaurants that get alot of national press are worth the hype?

                              1. re: HitTheBall

                                peter lugers does...bouley does...yasuda does...

                                babbo does not...gramercy tavern does not...craft does not.

                                1. re: sam1

                                  Disagree re Babbo and Craft, which are totally worth it, imo.

                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                    A branch of the Craft chain is going to open here in L.A. soon. I think I'll just save it until then. More so because craftbar was a dissapointment on my last visit.

                                    1. re: HitTheBall

                                      Yep, Century City -- you can skip Craft, too. To clarify, however, Craft is a very different experience that Craftbar.

                                      BTW, try Arturo's in the Village for coal-fired pizza and live jazz.

                                2. re: HitTheBall

                                  Hmm, I'd have to think about that one. My first instinct was to say "none", but that just doesn't sound "right" to me. Truthfully, I tend avoid many of those places for a several reasons--they tend to be crowded, hard reservations to get, plus sometimes they don't meet "expectations" which may have been overhyped to begin with. In terms of the high end, many on this board will say Babbo or another Mario Batali place like Del Posto. Some may say Per Se--a Thomas Keller place. Perhaps Daniel or Le Bernandin or Masa. I just don't think of those places leave you with a "New York State of Mind" if you are in town for a limited amount of time--and I think this was your original problem with NYC. When I travel, I prefer to eat "local". In NYC, local eating ain't at Per Se, Babbo and others (well, not all time anyway). In NYC local means, a bagel in the morning w/ fresh squeezed OJ and great pancakes on the weekend. Or, hitting great food shops like Despana, Murrays Cheese, Zabar's and Amy bread and cobbling together an amazing array of food spread on a table for a meal--you can't do this in most other US cities. I think you are missing out if you stick to places features in movies like Prune--which at the end of the day, isn't really all that special.

                                  I've dined in SF, Napa and Sonoma many times (places like Foreign Cinema etc.). And yes, the food is very good there, but sorry, SF doesn't have the ethnic variety of NYC--period! SF is all about Asian and New American--a 2 trick pony. There's great food here, but not where you were looking for it. So, to have a better time in NYC, spread your wings and break out of tourist mode :)

                                  1. re: Ora

                                    It sounds like your right and I'm going to have to change my mind set about New York food. My ideal was to dine at places I had heard of but were also endorsed by New York Hounds. Now I'll just focus on the food and not worry as much about name recognition.

                                3. re: Ora

                                  Ora, I appreciate the effort you put into that list, and I haven't been to a number of the places you mention, but a couple of comments:

                                  I gave up on Chickpea months ago. Has their shawarma become moister and tastier again? (I'm also still mad at them for no longer having the spicy mixed-vegetable pickles.)

                                  I also would highly recommend for a San Franciscan to skip Thai food in New York, unless perhaps s/he wants to go to Queens. I haven't been to SF for two years (a situation I'll remedy shortly), but I used to have better Thai food than anywhere in Manhattan at a humble neighborhood restaurant on Market St. near the Safeway.

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    Hey Pan--Chickpea has never been about Shawarma for me--I stick to the basic falafel on wheat pita. If I were coming here from SF, I would skip Asian food generally. The list was just to demonstrate that restaurants featured in TV & movies aren't necessarily NYer's personal faves. OP seemed to be following "trend" & hype as opposed to real personal preferences to find great food in a town that truly has something for everyone everywhere.

                                      1. re: Ora

                                        Ora, have you tried the falafel at Taim? Not as good as Azuri, but puts Chickpea to shame, imo. Azuri, btw, is a must-visit for the OP. I'm realizing that there's nothing quite like it anywhere else in the United States. Also, for shawarma, I'd go to Olympic Pita over Chickpea -- make sure to get the Laffa bread.

                                        I agree with Ora and Pan that Asian food generally can probably be skipped -- with two exceptions. If the OP is willing to shell out the bucks, NY has some of the best high-end sushi in the US. Another exception is Korean food, which isn't spectacular in NY, but is surprisingly awful in SF.

                                        PS: I just realized, the OP is from LA. You can skip the Korean food...

                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                          Yes, I have tried Taim, its good. I think its a difficult location to find for an out of towner though. Frankly its a bit expensive for falafel and given the increased cost at Taim and limited seating, Taim's flavor is not that much better than Chickpea's falafel. An out of towner will likely visit St Mark's vs Waverly Place. BTW, Falafel isn't really done in SF, so we are splitting hairs for OP.
                                          I don't know where you have had Korean in SF, but it likely wasn't at a place called Brother's. Brother's beats Manhattan Korean all day long.

                                          1. re: Ora

                                            LOL! I'm Korean and grew up eating Korean in the Bay Area. I haven't been to Brothers (we don't usually do bbq) but I've heard it's decent. I'm usually a bi bim bap guy and was always satisfied by the versions they offer at Woo Chon. Kunjip does decent chigaes. Again, however, the OP appears to be from Los Angeles, which has the best Korean food in the US, so the question is moot.

                                            As for falafel, I'd actually go to Olympic over Chickpea. Absolutely infuriates me that Chickpea pre-mixes their salad. Plus, Olympic has that delicious fried eggplant and the laffa bread.

                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                              How did you miss Brother's then, LOL? SF Koreans come from miles to eat there--seriously--the line goes out the door most nights around 7pm. Interesting, because my Korean friends in SF say that SF has the highest Korean population in the US. Not sure if this is true, but they seem to think SF has the lock on the "best" Korean food. You get FAR more pan jun items in SF than in NYC where costs are much higher. I always feel slighted in NYC in this regard. BTW, in NYC, I like Won Jo for BBQ. There's good falafel in many places in NYC--no doubt, depending on whether you like lebanese vs Israeli etc. Though again, we are splitting hairs for OP. The point is OP should try to break out of the tourist box.

                                              1. re: Ora

                                                Having lived for many years in the San Francisco area, imho, Korean restaurants in SF and in the East Bay, specifically in Oakland, are vastly superior to any that I've been to in NYC.

                                                Brothers on Geary used to be a staple for my Korean-descent co-workers and we'd trek down once a month from the Financial District just to have our fill.

                                                1. re: RCC

                                                  Yup RCC--agree. Honestly, I have never even heard of any suggestion otherwise until now. There's a first time for everything :)

                                                  1. re: Ora

                                                    I've known and heard of Koreans visiting from Korea who'd ask their hosts to take them to Brothers for the good stuff.

                                                  2. re: RCC

                                                    Ora: We missed Brothers because we don't do bbq. I know it sounds crazy, considering what awful smelling things we do eat, but my Mom adamantly refuses because of the smoke smell!

                                                    RCC: I'm referring to San Francisco proper, not the East and South Bays. My relatives sometimes go all the way to San Jose for the good stuff. If that's your comparison, then you have to consider Queens and New Jersey, where the Korean food is excellent.

                                                    Where, out of curiosity, have you both tried in NYC?

                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                      A couple of restaurants (I forget the names at the moment) on 32nd Street, and another one in Jersey City (I know, I know, it's not in NYC).

                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                        I state above my preference in Manhattan is Won Jo.

                                                    2. re: Ora

                                                      Ora: Perhaps your Korean friends haven't spent much time in LA, where the Korean food is unparalleled. Neither SF nor NY can compare.

                                                      I also disagree with your falafel comment. We should send the OP to the very best Manhattan has to offer (i.e., Azuri, Taim, and Olympic) not some compromise that's convenient (i.e., Chickpea). This is chowhound!

                                                  3. re: Ora

                                                    How would you compare St. Marks Mamoun to Chickpea? I think it's comparable if not better, and it's cheaper. Am I off the wall?

                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                      You're not off the wall--its a matter of taste. You're entitled to your opinion. This part of the read is kind of off topic. People should be offering new suggestions to OP--we all have our faves for falafel :)
                                                      It doesnt matter if any one agrees with you or not...

                                                      1. re: Ora

                                                        Yeah, but I was asking you how you would compare the two places! I think it's OK to go on tangents in threads, within reason.

                                                    2. re: Ora

                                                      Ora, I completely disagree with you on your comparason of Chickpea to Taim. Chickpea falafel is comparable to a brick, while the Taim's smaller falafel balls are lighter, crunchier, and more flavorable. Also, I know that Chickpea makes there own pita but the Taim's storebought is the best I have ever had. Taim is a bit of a walk from St. Mark's but well worth the few extra minutes, IMO.

                                                    3. re: a_and_w

                                                      I absolutely agree about Taim (especially after visiting again last night). While it is somewhat difficult to find, it is by no means impossible. And although it is pricey for falafel, it is still an under $5 meal. IMO it is siginficanly different from most other falafel places in the city and certainly worth seeking out for an inexpensive lunch.

                                                      1. re: a_and_w

                                                        I also agree with the azuri suggestion. I used to work in the area and I really miss going there. Aside from the falafel, the shawarma and combo salad is amazing. Plus the guy running the place is a character.

                                                  4. re: Ora

                                                    That's the first time I've seen La Bonne Soupe mentioned anywhere! It's a great little place!
                                                    Last time I was in NY, I went to Zabar's daily. I love their bagels,and their market sells amazing sable, and rugelach.
                                                    We found that we preferred the less hyped places, versus the neighborhood gems.
                                                    A lot of the expensive places we had reservations at turned out to be disappointing.

                                                    1. re: amandabeth

                                                      Yup--my point exactly. I am relived at least a few people "get it." I was starting to wonder reading parts of this thread :)

                                                    2. re: Ora

                                                      Ditto Amy's Bread. Chelsea Market can be fun. I think Clinton Street is overrated - $15 for three light and fluffy banana or blueberry pancakes and coffee? I just don't get it. I liked the slutty pancakes at Shopsin's (in Essex Street Market) better (also NOT cheap).

                                                      NYC has so many overpriced, overrated restaurants!

                                                      Try Degustation.

                                                      1. re: Ora

                                                        Artisanal (my friend enjoyed the $35 prix fixe dinner), Balthazar, Pastis - all lively, noisy French bistro's. Been to them all. Nothing spectacular. Schillers on LES is owned by Balthazar and is a lower priced version of the same with inconsistent service.

                                                      2. i think the best casual great food you're going to find is at momofuku ssam bar for dinner and casa mono for lunch or dinner. if you want to take it up a notch and have a nice-ish dinner but still somewhat casual, go to hearth, the bar room at the modern or perilla. all of these places are putting out innovative food that you simply don't find in LA. the list of places you went last time in NY aren't what i would consider the cream of the crop by any means. better luck this time. oh, and being from LA myself, i can tell you to stay away from any sushi, burger and mexican restaurant. it's a waste of time.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: MBShapiro

                                                          I haven't been there, but is Upstairs Bouley as good as some have said? It might also be a 'casual gourmet' type place.

                                                          1. re: jeanki

                                                            I've been several times and have always had a great meal at a remarkably low price.

                                                          2. re: MBShapiro

                                                            The Mexican food in NYC is sad when compared to San Diego . . .

                                                          3. Bay Area CH here - I think one reason you did really well in SF is because the kind of food you seem to be drawn to (local, seasonal, 3-star food in a 2-star environment) is the kind of food that SF Bay Area excels at, and the kind of food that gets the most press in the Bay Area. I think that if your preference was for multi-course tasting menus, the score would be different.

                                                            Anyway, on my last trip to NYC, I was blown away by Degustation, Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Sushi Yasuda. You probably have comparable sushi in LA, so don't necessarily need to go there... Degustation and Momofuku Ssam Bar are doing food that I've never seen in the Bay Area - a little bit avant garde, but still deeply soulful and delicious. However, MSB requires careful ordering - I think the deeply divided opinions on this restaurant can mostly be attributed to different ordering patterns (I have yet to see a post from someone who ordered the brussel sprouts and veal head terrine who was unimpressed).

                                                            Lupa is still one of my all-time favorites - I know opinions are also divided on Lupa - although it's not as consistently excellent as it once was, I still love it. Most Bay Area Italian is at least somewhat California-ized - which I like too - but sometimes I crave pure Italian, and we don't have any good Roman restaurants.

                                                            Also love Peter Luger and Katz's.

                                                            Other things I try to get when I'm in NYC
                                                            Pizza from DiFara's (I've lost track of whether or not it's open now - best to double check if you're going to make the trek out to Brooklyn)
                                                            A bagel (usually Ess-A or Bagelry)
                                                            Potato pizza from Sullivan Street Bakery (original branch now called Grandaisy)
                                                            A pretzel croissant from City Bakery
                                                            A caramel cream puff from Patisserie Claude
                                                            An almond croissant from Taralluci e Vino
                                                            A masala dosa from Pongal (tons of South Indian restaurants in Bay Area... but this is still my all time favorite)

                                                            9 Replies
                                                            1. re: daveena

                                                              DiFara is reopened, but should be discussed on the Outer Boroughs board.

                                                              I may consider going back to Tarallucci e Vino for the croissant, but I've soured on them since the last time I got a panino to go, a few days ago. The panino was good as usual, but some of the salad greens were already literally rotten.

                                                              Since I'm seeing a lot of mention of Lupa in this thread, count me as someone who's skeptical, because the trend I've experienced is that my first meal there was fantastic, my second was good, and my third was mediocre. My third was probably my last, and it was some time ago, so the place might have improved, but I remember having a good meal in SF in 2005 at Delfina, which is hardly totally different from Lupa. I'd sooner recommend a trip to Park Slope to go to Al di La, but that's a topic for the Outer Boroughs board...

                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                Delfina is very, very different from Lupa - more Italian-inspired Californian than Italian. Lupa has a lot of pasta dishes and contorni that I never see anywhere else... which is why I ate there twice in two days the last time I was in NYC.

                                                                1. re: daveena

                                                                  I see your point for sure, but I think of them as both restaurants that are fundamentally based on cooking good ingredients relatively simply but with some imagination. Also, both restaurants have a fairly relaxed atmosphere for the diners (dunno about in the kitchen).

                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                    Daveena's got the right idea--track down great food (everywhere) that is special to NYC.

                                                                    1. re: Ora

                                                                      I totally agree on that strategy. Special and different from SF.

                                                                  2. re: daveena

                                                                    I have to agree with daveena on this -- Lupa is a very different vibe from Delfina. Lupa is more traditional, like Oliveto. Regardless, the OP should definitely try some Italian (I'd suggest Lupa or Babbo) since Italian seems to be a weak point in LA dining.

                                                                2. re: daveena

                                                                  want to second the degustation recommendation...totally unique...and a really special "only in new york" experience...

                                                                  1. For casual great food, go to Lupa. Perhaps not as mind-blowing as Babbo, but a hell of a lot easier to get a table, and a more laid-back atmosphere. If you go for lunch or early dinner on a weekday you won't need a reservation. If you go on a weekend night ask for a table in the backroom, away from the bar. Get the apician spiced dates with marscapone for dessert.

                                                                    1. I agree with the others -- Momofuko Ssam Bar's dinner menu is amazing. I was also very pleased with Resto.

                                                                      1. just a quick second (or third) on clinton street baking company. and not sure if you are looking for totally unique experiences that you wouldn't be able to find in SF or even LA, but I'd look into hill country for great bbq, westville for very casual food (but I usually only get their market plate of vegetables which is always excellent), boqueria for decent spanish small plates.

                                                                        also, check this thread (20 most visited restaurants) which will give a nice mix of high and low, and probably all casual:


                                                                        1. I can’t read this whole thread, it’s making my eyes hurt and my stomach grumble, so I’m not sure if anybody has mentioned Blue Hill yet. If not, you should check it out. It’s a small place in the West Village that does the whole “local” and “sustainable” thing very well. They have a farm upstate where they sustainably raise the beef, pigs and chickens and also grow all their own produce, which they truck to the resto daily. So you can’t get any fresher than that. They actually have something on the menu called “This Morning’s Egg.”

                                                                          Stylistically, I guess it would be called New American. You know, the usual meat and veggies thing but done in a more modern, gastonomically unique way. But don’t think that this is a crusty, hippie sort of joint because it’s very much an upscale and fancy place. I don’t think they have a dress code but I would feel like an idiot if I went in with the typical tourist outfit of white sneakers and sweatpants. (not implying this is your style, OP, I’m just saying)

                                                                          1. Thanks for all the advise! In order to be sure to hit a lot of the great true New York food I booked a 'midnight munchies' tour (10-2am) with famous fat dave. I'm confident he will lead me to some great food. The places that have made my personal list to try are:

                                                                            Momofuku Noodle Bar
                                                                            Tia Pol
                                                                            Casa Mono
                                                                            Room 4 dessert
                                                                            Fatty Crab
                                                                            Bar Jamon
                                                                            Red Cat

                                                                            Thanks again!

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: HitTheBall

                                                                              didn't room 4 dessert close or did it reopen again? try dessert tasting at wd-50 instead.

                                                                              1. re: HitTheBall

                                                                                Bar Jamon is next door to Casa Mono. Its basically the same place--its like like going to two different rooms in the same place in the same night...

                                                                                1. re: Ora

                                                                                  Good Tip. I'll stick to Casa Mono. Add Little Owl.

                                                                                  1. re: HitTheBall

                                                                                    Casa Monowould be tragic to miss. :)

                                                                              2. HTB, I'm a LA gal myself and if you've been to Langers for their awesome pastrami then I strongly suggest you don't do Katz *unless* you are only going there for the NY experience. Langers is trully great and I have eaten there many times. I've also done Katz, I really think Langers is much better. But the NY experience and history is there at Katz so it's really your call. I wouldn't go out of my way for it personally.

                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Brooklyn Mamacita

                                                                                  Katz's pastrami is great and the rye bread is always fresh, but it's definately not a life-changing experience.

                                                                                  1. re: LeahBaila

                                                                                    Not a life-changing experience? Wow, I disagree! It was for me, and every time I go there (which is about once every 2-3 months - it's too rich and filling for me to go more often) is an absolute joy!

                                                                                  2. re: Brooklyn Mamacita

                                                                                    Thanks. It off the list it was hard for me to beleave that it would be better than Langers anyway.

                                                                                    1. re: HitTheBall

                                                                                      Then, you'll never know. Having been to Katz's numerous times, yet never having been to Langer's, I would definitely hit Langer's if I were in LA. If there is something out there better than Katz's, I want to try it. Conversely, if Katz's is, indeed, #2, it's as good and as juicy a number #2 as you'll ever have.

                                                                                      As to whether it's a "life changing experience", it certainly was for me. And for others as well. My mother-in-law, a Korean who lives in Japan, still talks about her first time at Katz's, some years back.

                                                                                      1. re: HitTheBall

                                                                                        I have never been to the delis in LA area (because when I am in LA I always go eat Chinese food!) but I have been to Katz's. The sandwich was good but the setting was a bit weird for me because it looked really "old". However, I think that's part of the attraction at Katz's (which I do not know how to appreciate, I will have to admit).
                                                                                        I am more of a "suburban" type so I tend to like newer buildings and newer settings. An "older" setting like Katz makes me feel kind of uncomfortable but it is an experience in itself perhaps.

                                                                                        I also agree with one of the earlier responses that you may want to skip Thai restaurants in NY (I think you already have). In addition to that, you may also want to skip Chinese Dim Sum, Vietnamese and Mexican places too because they are probably going to be better in LA.

                                                                                        Please let us know of your thoughts on the NY places you visit in August. I am curious to hear about what you think of food in NYC.

                                                                                          1. re: bearmi

                                                                                            La Esquina might be Mexican worth trying in New York...

                                                                                            1. re: jdream

                                                                                              The previous poster who advised to skip Mexican food in NYC was right – La Esquina is a nice option to have in NYC, but since you are a Californian (I was too at one point), La Esquina will not pass your muster.

                                                                                              But it looks like the list you've compiled now will take you far - that's a great asortment of unique food. Between Fatty Crab, Momofuku and Tia Pol, expect to find some thrilling flavors.

                                                                                              1. re: janejane

                                                                                                I repeat and agree w/janejane, do not eat Mexican in NYC. It's better out West.

                                                                                            2. re: bearmi

                                                                                              [quote]The sandwich was good but the setting was a bit weird for me because it looked really "old". However, I think that's part of the attraction at Katz's (which I do not know how to appreciate, I will have to admit).
                                                                                              I am more of a "suburban" type so I tend to like newer buildings and newer settings. An "older" setting like Katz makes me feel kind of uncomfortable but it is an experience in itself perhaps.[/quote]

                                                                                              Yes, that's precisely the point, or at least part of it. Going to a longtime institution in a city IS a very different experience from going to a new restaurant in a strip mall in the suburbs.

                                                                                              However, if it didn't have great food, the ambiance, for good or ill, would not matter much at all to a Chowhound. :-)

                                                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                                                Katz' takes you back in time . . "send a salami to your boy in the army . . ." Plus they filmed When Harry Met Sally there. I can't wait until Second Avenue Deli (IMO the only real deli in NYC) re-opens so I can get some decent chopped chicken liver on rye bread.

                                                                                        1. The goham bar & grill was a good suggestion, and I would also include San Pietro (Mid-Town - 52nd str across from Rothmann's steak house). Stop at the Monkey Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail then walk West another block to San Pietro. It can get a little tight when crowded, but worth the trip. I would also include Iso in the East Village (10th str) for well priced - excellent sushi. Problem with Iso is that you wait in line (no resv).

                                                                                          1. In Manhattan go for Freeman's (brunch or dinner) on the Lower East Side. If you think you can do Brooklyn (it's just two stops in) go for Moto (go after 9 pm for the live music)

                                                                                              1. re: rmcase13

                                                                                                I haven't been to Turkish Kitchen in awhile. It's good. IMO it's not fantastic. I do not use great and fantastic loosely.

                                                                                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                                                                  Even though Turkish Kitchen one of our favorites, I totally agree with you, fdr! I'd probably modify your assessment slightly and say the food's very good. However, too many people tend to indiscriminantly use words like "fantastic" and "fabulous" about restaurants that truly do not deserve to be described that way.

                                                                                              2. I see a lot of people mentioned Sushi Yasuda.
                                                                                                Based on my experience in 2006, it's not worth it.
                                                                                                I did an omakase with Chef Yasuda in front of me at the sushi bar.
                                                                                                14 pieces of nigiri in 35 minutes. Yup, that's how fast he served me.
                                                                                                Speed aside, I agree that the fish is very fresh, but that's about it.
                                                                                                A good sushi chef is supposed to know his/her fish so well that he/she can work on how to bring out every ounce of flavor out of the fish. That's where the artistry of sushi making lies, not just about how fresh the fish is.

                                                                                                Any chef with money can spend a ton of money on obtaining the freshest, most organic, most seasonal, most etc. piece of fish possible. Only a master chef knows how to take the natural flavors up to the next level, whether it be the traditional zuke technique or an extra dash of ponzu juice with the exactly right amount of wasabi.

                                                                                                Those things did not happen in Yasuda. For the price that Yasuda charges, I'm not satisfied with a piece of raw fish slapped on sushi rice, fresh as it might be.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: lucieluce

                                                                                                  What's wrong with the prices that Yasuda charges? It averages out at about $4.50 per piece, I'd like to know where you can do better than that in a high end NYC sushi restaurant. In fact I'd like to know where in NYC you have found the kind of sushi you say you are looking for.

                                                                                                  1. re: oonth

                                                                                                    Yasuda is expensive but SF and LA are hitting that per piece price range (and more) for much much less quality. There's no need for additional ponzu or truffles oils or gold flakes or embelishments at Yasuda. The correct amount of wasabi is applied, just the right amount of shoyu is brushed, and the perfect amount of sudachi and sea salt is added to accent sweetness. Yasuada's rice is unmatched even by Masa and Urasawa. As for seasonal, Yasuda's selection changes with the seasons like all great sushi restaurants do.

                                                                                                    Yasuda obtains quality rarely matched and in the country, there are probably around 5 places or so with as good or slightly better quality. As for art, Yasuda has it in spades. He scored japanese ika and halibut about 30 times and served them to me side by side. It forced you to focus on the difference in flavor since the texture was now rendered the same. Genius.

                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                      I gotta agree with Porthos and strongly disagree with lucie. I have not been to japan but Yasuda is the best sushi I ever had by a good margin.

                                                                                                      Porthos, just out of curiosity, which 5 places match or better Yasuda in quality of fish? I am assuming Masa and Urasawa are 2 of the 5...

                                                                                                      1. re: tpigeon

                                                                                                        Kurumazushi, Masa, Urasawa to match and on some days may beat by the slimest of margins (I have not been to Masa or Urasawa but have been to Kuruma). Mori and Sushi Zo just a notch below. Maybe Sawa if you're a VIP. It's a short list.

                                                                                                2. Stop into Murrays Cheese Shop around lunchtime, taste a lot, buy a few. Grab some bread at Amy's bakery (2 doors down from Murray's). Walk to a nearby park (washington square, father demo square or sheridan square) and eat.