New Comer to Town
I am not sure if I am posting this in the right place BUT I will be visiting for the first time the middle of June. I am planning on doing the regular sightseeing stuff but need some help on places to eat. Looking for the places where locals eat and NOT the tournist traps.
We will also be taking in a basketball game at the Garden and need a place to eat either before or after the game (this is on a Friday night). Any ideals???
We are also looking for a hotel to stay at. It does not need to be close to Garden but looking for reasonable and clean place to stay.
Any help you can give would be appreciated.
It would be easier for us to offer suggestions about where you should eat if you would be more specific about what you are looking for. Cuisine preferences? Anything you won't eat? Casual or fancy? Budgetary restrictions?
Also, how long will you be here? And where are you coming from?
But to get you started....
Since this will be your first visit here, you might want to consider taking my (in)famous Lower East Side food "tour." It will give you the opportunity to walk the streets of this interesting, historic neighborhood while you sample foods that are emblematic of NY. Here's the tour:
LES Food Excursion
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. ( http://www.tenement.org
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.
For your meal before the game, I highly recommend Keens Steakhouse, which has been in its 36th St. location, b/t 5th & 6th Avs., since 1885. Thus, in addition to delicious food and excellent service, there is the wonderful charm of unmatchable old NY ambiance, i.e., walls filled with American memorabilia, and rows of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings, plus pipes belonging to famou people dating back to the 19th century in display cases in the vestibule.
As I said, once I know what you have in mind, I'll be happy to provide more suggestions. And, hopefully, other Hounds will chime in.
Note: The moderators prefer that we "stick to the chow," so we cannot discuss hotels.
I keep it pretty simple at L'asso, generally ordering the Margherita D.O.C. pie. My pizza wishlist isn't complicated, and they do a good job of hitting the important stuff: thin, crispy crust with some char; fresh sauce; quality cheese (the buffalo mozzarella they get is lovely stuff); and good seasoning (i.e. salt).
It's a lighter pizza-eating experience than most -- definitely quality over quantity -- and I know people who've been disappointed that it wasn't the greasy belly bomb they had been hoping for. But, alongside the Pianura salad (greens, fennel, orange, pine nuts) and an Aranciata, it's one of my favorites.