Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Aug 1, 2007 01:42 PM

First trip to NYC! Where to eat?!?!

I havent been to NYC since I was in high school (more than 10yrs).

I am visiting NYC and staying in Manhatten (maybe east village, havent booked anywhere to stay just yet, I just have my plane ticket so far) from San Francisco from 8/22-8/27.

I will also be by myself and would like to eat at more or less "communal" type places; aka solo-dining.

Also looking for more relatively moderate, to cheaper eats; no high-class dining needed.

So..first, please give me some recommendations on the BEST "quintissential" foods (pizza, bagels, delis, hot dogs, anything else Im missing) Manhatten's got to offer.

second: I love all kinds of foood, Im open to anything just as long as its awesome; this can be anything from asia, southeast asia, south america, central america, africa, european, thai, vietnamese, chinese, japanese (izakaya/yakitori, ramen), sandwiches, mexican, cuban, puerto rican, checkered-table-cloth italian, irish, indian, pakistan, jamaican, etc. etc

third: any other recommendations I forgot to ask, or that would interest me

Any help appreciated :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you want to go the "quintessential" route, you might want to consider taking my (in)famous Lower East Side eating "tour." Much has changed in that nabe during the past 10 years in terms of dining options. However, my tour mostly focuses on "old reliables" offering foods that are emblematic of NYC. I'm appending the tour here:

    For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup – though not mandatory, it is a tradition -- and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front, where it’s cash only. To pay by credit card, go to the counter at the rear where the salamis are sold. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.

    When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.

    After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.

    Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.

    When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).

    Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.

    Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. (
    Once you have finished the tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.

    If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.

    Note: It’s best not to take this tour on a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance. Also, Donut Plant is closed on Mondays.

    Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGR

      RGR's tour is FABULOUS. Follow it!

    2. If you're down for some burgers, I'd say check out Paul's Palace ( in the East Village. It's around E 8th street and St. Mark's Place. I also really liked Jackson Hole ( There are a bunch of locations, but the one I like is around Central Park West (85th and Columbus Ave)

      4 Replies
      1. re: jpdoogers

        i'm sure i won't be alone if i steer this visitor away from jackson hole.

        for burgers in that area, hit royale.

        1. re: harrison

          Really? I liked Jackson Hole. I've never been to Royale. I'll have to check it out.

          1. re: jpdoogers

            I thought my first (and last) Paul's Place burger was gross and dry. Cozy's and Veselka's burgers are pretty good. I like Mo Pitkins as well, but my #1 love remains Shake Shack.

          2. manhattan is solo-friendly.
            interesting bars where i've had a good meal include:
            shaffer city for oysters and small plates; molly's for a bacon cheeseburger and a pint (guinness); keens for scotch and the best steaks in town; esca for killer crudo and great grilled fish and pastas; casa mono - order everyting.
            these places are pretty good. you might want to check out lunch to pare costs.

            1. I gotta say, you can get some great Italian at Frank's at 2nd ave (spaghetti and meatballs, rigatoni and sausage ragu, black ink squid spaghetti) and on that same block, Mermaid In has great seafood.

              3 Replies
              1. re: skooldya1

                Thanks fellas!!!

                Keep em comin!


                oh yeah...i like to party till the wee hours (4am leavin the bar/club/lounge/underground). Soo, dont forget the 24 hours joints and also late night.

                  1. re: fooddudeone

                    Late night options abound but I like Blue Ribbon and 'inoteca best. And, of course, there's always the 24hr diners.

                    See also:

                    Note that Ssam Bar now closes at midnight, though.

                1. Lots of great suggestions already. Don't forget Momofuku ssam bar in East Village (EV). Do a search and you will find tons of recommnendations of what dishes to get. You can't find anything like this in SF, probably not anywhere in the country. In EV there is also a fairly new ramen ya called Setagaya for their shio ramen.

                  For izakaya, you can hit Aburiya Kinnosuke for seafood and robata grill, or yakitori tottos (both in Midtown) for yakitori. However, I think SF has great Japanese food, so I am not ure if that's what you want.

                  Don't bother with Chinese and Vietnamese. SF has much better options than NYC.

                  For Italian you can go to Babbo (owned by Mario batali). They have a bar that you can dine at. It is usually all booked, but you can show up at 5pm as walk in customer and dine at the bar. Best pasta in NYC IMO.