NYC TRIP/ YOUNG FOODIE ON BUDGET
I will be traveling from LA to New York for a week and I'd like some recommendations on great places to eat! I am a soon-to-be college graduate who grew up with foodie parents and thus inherited their great taste in food and atmosphere. But I'm on a much different budget ;( being thrifty is creative!! I am staying in the East Village but I don't mind trekking somewhere else. I like creative, adventurous, delicious food in a restaurant with a hip, up-beat, neighborhood-y feel. I'm a stickler for great service (having perfected my own actress-by-day, waitress-by-night skills). If you're interested press 3 after the beep. no, i'm kidding.
I'd love recommendations for
quick, tasty lunches throughout the city (italian delis, hot dog stands, etc)
some places good for a large group
a good romantic dinner place
a tapas bar
a coffee shop(s) throughout the city
good dim sum
sushi that doesn't break the bank, or make me barf
a wine bar
any great bar a normal gal (and her friends) could get into without being a movie star
a scandinavian restaurant
(i know those last two are random- i have a swedish boyfriend who loves pho. who knew?)
any other suggestions are WELCOMED!
Here is a list of some favorites. most are on the cheaper end of the spectrum... Some may have been mentioned already:
Tapas-Boqueria, Casa Mono
lunch: Clinton st bakery, momofuku (check the website as they have a new reservation system), the lobster place in Chelsea market, Bouchon can be reasonable if you order properly.
Spotted Pig still has a great burger despite the critics.
For Pizza try Terroni in LA! Much better than Mozza.
Quick Lunches: Tuck Shop, Sea, Momofuku, Faicco's, Westville, Moustache, Ramen Setagaya, Crif Dogs, Highline, Restaurant Florent, 'inoteca, Chelsea Market, The Lobster Place
Large Groups: The Smith, Otto, Becco, Landmarc, Korean BBQ
Coffee shops: Caffe La Lanterna, MUD, Joe
Tapas/Small plates: Alta, SavorNY, Jeeb, Kuma Inn
Dim Sum: Grand Harmony, World Tong (unless you're used to the chaos of dim sum, Jing Fong might irritate you with the lack of service)
Sushi: Kirara, Aki, 1/2 price sushi in the East Village
Wine Bar: Bourgeois Pig, Angel's Share
Burger: Shake Shack!!! Or to a lesser degree Stand
East Side Bars: Libation, Pianos, Death & Co, 7A, 7B, Iggy's, Meet the Johnsons, Blue Owl, most of the bars on the East Side aren't particularly exclusive. Evelyn's on the UWS is a great find if you decide to travel.
Pizza: Pizza Napoletana, Vinny Vincenz
Scandinavian: Scandinavian restaurants in the city tend to be very expensive. My advice would be to visit the Norwegian Seamen's Church for their Wednesday smörgåsbord. You have lots of homemade options for the same price as a couple appetizers in Aquavit.
For lunches, there are some good lunch specials in the east village, try SEA on Second ave or Royal Bangladesh on 1st ave...or go down to Dumpling House or Prosperty for some delicious and unbelievably cheap dumplings.
For cheap sushi in the east village, we always go to New Ashiya on 1st ave. Good for groups, though it can get noisy later in the night due to large groups doing all-you-can-eat-and-drink.
My favorite romantic dinner spots are Supper and also Frankies Spuntino on Clinton St. Go down and put in your name and grab a cheap beer at Barramundi while you wait. At Frankies Spuntino (not to be confused with Little Frankies, Franks, etc) be sure to order the cavatelli with faicco's sausage. Carafes of house wine are quite decent for the price.
As far as bars in the East Village, Angels Share is a beautiful spot, upstairs from St Marks Books (look for the awning) and through the japanese restaurant. I don't think you can come in groups larger than four. The japanese spot outside it is good too, and has reasonably priced pitchers and nice waitresses. Other bars worth checking out are DBA, if you're serious about beer, and if you're just looking for a neighborhood spot, the 11th st bar (it may be unmarked) is a nice place to see where villagers go with their dogs for a weeknight drink. I like the music, too.
Search the boards for debates on burgers and pizza.
Go to brunch at The Smith (for french toast only, really.) or get up early for Clinton St Bakery. Or get a reservation at Five Points.
Scandinavian...isn't there a little place on the street just north of Bloomingdales called [somebody's] Place. I'm blanking. But I used to work with Christer Larson, who was the original Aquavit chef, and this woman was one of his favorite cooks from Sweden. As of a few years ago she had a really delightful small restaurant with less expensive and casual but authentic and delicious food. Her name...was it Ulli? or...does anybody know? This is going to bug me now. I don't live in NY anymore.
For an inexpensive, romantic dinner place near the East Village, I'd suggest Bianca (on Bleecker near Bowery). It's small and they don't take reservations, so you may have to wait if you go at prime time, but there's a nice bar next door (Von) where you can hang out in the meantime.
For dim sum, I like Jing Fong (a large, bustling banquet hall), but there are lots of varying opinions on this board.
Re: Scandinavian cuisine. As others have noted, Aquavit is upscale, and even the adjoining cafe is not exactly inexpensive. However, there is a more thrifty solution. AQ Cafe, in the Scandanavian House, on Park Av., b/t 37th & 38th Sts., is a satellite of Aquavit. Thus, Aquavit's chef, Marcus Samuelsson, is responsible for AQ's menu which includes hot and cold plates (Love those Swedish meatballs!), soups, salads, and sandwiches. It's a cafeteria-set-up with lots of tables and chairs in the attractive lobby space.
quick, tasty lunches throughout the city (italian delis, hot dog stands, etc)--Dominick's sandwich shop at 60th and 1st is a pretty awesome italian sandwich place; papaya king for hot dogs is the NY standard; crif dogs in EV is good/ our version of Pink's and you should call PDT which is the attached bar that you need a reservation for. PDT is fun. You can eat at the chicken and rice stand at 53rd and 6th. That's cheap and pretty good. Arepas Place in the EV has awesome arepas which are Venezuelan corn cake sandwiches. Dumpling House downtown has five pork and chive dumplings for $1, sesame pancake sandwiches for $2, etc. It's pretty cool.
a good romantic dinner place--what places do you like in LA? what's the budget?
good dim sum--go to Chinatown on a weekend morning...there are TONS of places
sushi that doesn't break the bank, or make me barf--Poke on the Upper East Side is pretty good, reasonable, and BYOB which makes it even cheaper
a wine bar--Centro Vinoteca, Vero on the UES is tiny, romantic and has food.
any great bar a normal gal (and her friends) could get into without being a movie star--what kind of bar and how many people? Death & Co., Little Branch, East Side Company Bar, Pegu all make ridiculous drinks...that's a theme in the city right now...I prefer East Side Company Bar. You will NOT meet people there because everyone sits at tables, but you will have amazing drinks. Get there on the early side and just be gracious with the doorman. Tell him you're with a local, got some friends in from out of town, yada yada...they'll take care of you. Bemelman's is great for a classic drink with your girlfriends if you want to dress up. There's a place called Trout in Carrol Gardens that is easy to get to that I love. Kind of a food shack/ beer joint and afterwards you can walk up Smith Street and hit any of the bars there. You'll have fun and it won't be a madhouse which downtown Manhattan can be.
a burger--the recs are legion on this board, but I like PJ Clarke's and Burger Joint which is tucked away in the Mondrian and kind of fun because it's a "thing"
pizza--Patsy's or Grimaldi's
vietnamese pho--not sure if they have pho, but he can get good banh mi sandwiches at Nicky's which is by you guys.
a scandinavian restaurant--I only know of Aquavit which is good, was kind of expensive, but had a reasonable prix fixe.
(i know those last two are random- i have a swedish boyfriend who loves pho. who knew?)
For hot dogs with inventive toppings, I suggest Crif Dogs in East Village, just be warned it's not for the healthy minded...
In terms with large group dinners, I did have a really good experience at Alta in the West Village (it's a tapas bar) on a Friday night (about a month or so ago) and it came out relatively inexpensive per person (we had 12 plates and it's $23 pp with tax & tip). The only problem was that once they start serving, they keep churning out the plates from the kitchen, making you feel a bit rushed. Make a reservation for a large group and they'll take you to their private party room, which feels a bit different compared to the main dining areas.
Another good tapas bar I suggest is Tia Pol, I heard Quinto Pinto's pretty delicious but I never been.
Coffee shops: Abraco (tiny place but great energy), the newly opened the Mercury Dime on E 5th St (laid back, boutique-y feel), Joe (my usual go-to for great drip and they have three locations around Manhattan), Ninth Street Espresso, Everyman Espresso, and Sicaffe.
A good, inexpensive wine bar I suggest is 'ino in the West Village, Bar Boulud might tread on the pricey side depending upon how much is considered expensive to you.
Burgers you can search the board - many different preferences on what's a great burger but my personal fave is Shake Shack in Madison Sq Park.
The only Scandinavian restaurant that I know of is Aquavit. Their affordable side is the Cafe section and I their food is very delicious. I think there is Fika, a coffee house in Midtown that also serves sandwiches and sweets but I haven't been there yet.
Have a great time in NYC!