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East Coast Pride - HELP

Hey guys,

I have 6 cousins visiting from California and they are trying to claim that LA has better food than NYC! They've thrown down the gauntlet so I have 3 days (Sun, Mon and Tue) to convince them they are completely absurdly wrong. But I've only lived in the city for a few months and I don't know the best places!

So this is where you come in. What are the must-try places in Manhattan that I can use to WIN this thing? Nothing too pricey (like Gramercy Tavern is out of the question I think). Quintessential East Coast/NY food would be great. Especially:

1) Best pizza (Ray's right? I heard the one on 11th St and something Ave.is good... I tried Lombardi's and wasn't that impressed. Any other place?) - preferably in Manhattan.

2) Best fried chicken

3) Best bagels

4) Best moderately priced lunch place

5) Any other fave winners you can think of (burgers, etc.)

Thanks in advance for any help you guys can provide!

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  1. Moderately priced dinner stuff is cool too if you have faves. These guys love flavorful food btw, even if it's greasy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rivergazer

      I think I'd skip all the Asian and Mexican recc... They have that, and lots of it, in LA.
      Maybe try some uniquely New York places.
      Hop a train to Coney Island. Grab some NY style Pizza along with the Owner's NY style attitude, at Totonno's on Neptune Ave and 15th St. Then take them on a short walking tour of the decaying, but still cool, Coney Island boardwalk and various curiosities . Walk just enough to work up an appetite to stuff yourselves silly with Nathan's hot dogs, fries and whatever else they want to try. Just the locals alone should make for an interesting experience.If it runs to Coney Island,
      Take the "N:"train back. That will give all of you the 'poor man's' overhead tour of parts of Brooklyn and let them experience the packed density that makes it so...NY. If you can handle more food, get off at the stop closest to 8th Ave and 45th St (check a subway map) and have an incredibly inexpensive (AKA: Cheap) and outstandingly delicious meal at Theresa's Polish American Restaurant
      4503 8th Ave
      (between 45th St & 46th St)
      Brooklyn, NY 11220
      (718) 438-2845
      This entire day of cheap but very good and very NY eating, will allow you a lot more $ to spend on more upscale places in the city. If you you can fit it into your budget, I'd also recc going to an Eastern European Restaurant/Supper club. I don't think you'd be able to handle a place like Rasputin, but Sammy's Roumanian, while a bit touristy is delinitely a NYC kind of experience. You'll leave completely blasted (hopefully, you're all over 21) but you'll have a great time! I don't think they have anything like it in LA. At least not at affordable prices.
      I hope whatever you do that you have a wonderful time! :-}

    2. Lots of info for you here! Many of your requests have already been discussed....
      The best thing is to search this board (click on "search this board" at top of the page), or search "The Best" board under "NYC metro" on the home page.
      But here are some links to get you started:
      1) Best pizza (not Ray's! Stay away)
      2) Best fried chicken
      3) Best bagels: Ess-a-Bagel, Murray's, H&H Bagels
      4) Best moderately priced lunch
      Best to specify your food type preference. Here are some favorite diners and streetcarts:
      Diners: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/258344
      Steetcarts: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/375827
      5) Others:
      Best steakhouse (could get pricey
      Best burgers:

      And lots more options when you search (try "best cheap eats" for example). You can post your food itinerary and have people comment on it when you're done...

      Good luck, it should be an easy win.

      1. My fave pizza in the city is Angelo's Pizza. For a real "New York" experience, check out Grimaldi's on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

        Fried chicken...can't help you there.

        Best bagels: Empire City Bagels on 24th and 6th...huge, crusty, chewy, soft and delicious.

        When I think of East Coast/NY food I also think of lobster rolls...perhaps someone on this board can point you to the perfect spot to get one.

        Make sure to add Katz's Deli to your list.

        1. Quintessential NY: pizza, bagels, old school deli, street carts. It's going to be hard to "win" the NYC vs. LA food war if you can't try anywhere on the higher end though.

          I'd say avoid Mexican or Chinese, unless you guys are going for super spicy Sichuan food or going for street food/5 dumplings for $1 places. Impressive Japanese will be hard to do on your budget unless it is an izakaya.

          For an impressive lunch, I would reserve lunch at Jean Georges (weekdays only), get dressed up, and try to dazzle them with an upscale experience at an affordable price. Two-course lunch, $28; each additional course, $12.

          For NY pizza, I'd recommend Patsy's of East Harlem. It's an easy ride on the 6 from Grand Central. If you're more adventurous, consider going to Brooklyn for Di Fara (probably #1 in the city) or Totonno's (check on the Outer Boroughs board for more).

          For street vendor fare, check out the Dosa Man, Hallo Berlin cart, Sammy's Halal, "the cart" at 53rd and 6th ave (across from the Hilton, but only go after sundown). There's tons more outside of Manhattan, too (like the Arepa Lady). See also: http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...

          For your old fashioned deli, it's Katz's all the way.

          For steak, I love taking out of towners to Keens, but price may be an issue.

          Definitely check out RGR's famous Lower East Side noshing tour:
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40793... (there's a bunch of other recommendations in that thread, too


          For more quintessential NY foods and restaurants check out these threads:

          They may or may not like Shake Shack dependent on how staunchly they love In'n'Out.

          1. I'll give a second to Ess-a-Bagel...they're so fresh they don't even have a toaster cuz it's not necessary. Also think about Momofuku Ssam Bar; everything my wife and I have eaten there has been great--the pork buns, the burrito, the hangar steak. Also, the Bo Ssam, a $180 piece of pork big enough to feed you and your cousins, gets rave reviews although I've never had it. You might also consider a ride out to Queens--your cousins might get a kick out of the 7 train and it will take you to the Arepa lady that someone mentioned earlier. Also in that general area are Spicy Mina's and the Burmese Cafe (get the peanut salad). It's hard to go wrong with anything in that area for the genuine-ness and the price.

            1 Reply
            1. re: douglas525

              The Bo Ssam is awesome but pricey unless you have the 8-10 people required to eat it all. It's 8 lbs of meat!

              Momofuku Ssam Bar is awesome, overall, but might be out of the OP's price range. It's $40-50/pp for dinner.

            2. I'd avoid showing people from LA Mexican food in NY, cause almost all Mexican I've had here pales in comparison to California's. I might say the same about Chinese or other Asian, besides maybe Sripraphai in Woodside. There are plenty of foods that New York excels at, but I wouldn't say those two, having lived in both places.

              Bagels, pizza, and sushi are definitely much better here.

              For bagels Ess-a or H&H I would second.

              For pizza try Una Pizza Napolepana on E 12th st and 1st Ave. (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=l&h...


              Moderately priced lunch could be had at the Savoy (higher end) or Union Square Cafe.

              Otherwise I love Itzocan (one Mexican place that kicks butt in NY, maybe cause it's Atzec, not your standard taqueria), Nyonya (Malaysian on Grand st.), Yasuda (Sushi in midtown), Takahatchie (E. Village Sushi), Tomoe (multiple sushi locations), Banjara (Indian/Gujerati on 6th st.), Saravannah Dosa Hut (South Indian on Lex & 26th), and Gobo (veg on 6th ave).

              1 Reply
              1. re: ephramzz

                Skip Union Square Cafe; its menu hasn't changed in years, and isn't impressive any more.

                Una Pizza is great Naples style pizza, but it's not NY style. I'd probably be showing CA visitors NY style.

                Sushi Yasuda is also good but I'm not sure it's in their price range. Ushiwakamaru or Kanoyama are also excellent, and more moderately priced.

                For Indian, I'd do a prix fixe lunch at Devi instead of Banjara. The Curry Hill places tend to be better than the EV joints.

              2. Take them to 99 Allen St for Fried Dumplings ($1 for 5) and pork buns ($1 for 4).

                Joe's Pizza or Bleecker St. Pizza for the Nonna Maria slice.

                La Nacional for Paella ($16 per person)

                Otto for Italian wine by the glass, a plate of mixed cured meats (salumi) and a fun young crowd.

                Chola on E 58th for an outstanding Indian food lunch buffet.

                Yatagan on MacDougal for a gyro.

                Giorgione for oysters, wash 'em down with their house prosecco.

                Small Italian plates at Bar Stuzzichini.

                1. A friend of mine who lives in LA always laments the lack of Turkish restaurants - take them to Ali Baba for excellent pide and kebabs.

                  I'd also go to Sullivan Street Bakery/Grandaisy for a slice of potato pizza.

                  I'm not sure how the South Indian scene is in LA, but I love the dosas at Pongal.

                  I'd take them to Katz's as well, but be warned - Angelenos seem to have a different idea of what constitutes an excellent pastrami. I recently had pastrami at Langer's, which a lot of LA posters tout as "better than Katz's" - I took one bite, and thought "tasty... but tastes like corned beef." When I posted my impression, only one person (also a former New Yorker) agreed with me.

                  Do you have a specific price range in mind? "Moderate" means different things to different people.

                  FWIW, I think it's unfair to pit Manhattan against the giant sprawl of LA, especially if you're focusing on inexpensive food. Including the outer boroughs would put you on a more even playing field.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: daveena

                    Totally second Ali Baba...that place rocks.

                  2. Have to fight for Daniel's Bagels, on 3rd Ave. between 37th and 38th. I think they're unbeatable.

                    1. Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions, guys! I think we put up a great fight. I took them to Bleecker St. Pizza, L'arte del gelato (which was really good), Nick's pizza, Ali Baba, H&H Bagels, Theresa's Polish American Restaurant, and Jean-Georges for the prix-fixe lunch. Everything was so great and I learned a lot about this new city of mine. They loved the food here, and didn't want to leave :D