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Mar 15, 2008 05:10 AM

Help an Englishman?


I am an Englishman who loves New York and have been a few times. I know about great high end restaurants - but would love any chowhounders help on the following:

Where is the best place for:

A Chinese meal in Chinatown

An authentic Mexican meal

and an All American Diner (like the ones in the movies)

Many thanks to anyone who helps!!

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  1. For Manhattan Chinatown, NY Noodletown, just south of Canal on Bowery. Be adventurous in ordering. Look for previous threads here on it. Also, take a walk east on East Broadway -- usually some street carts to get some interesting stuff from.

    Authentic Mexican is still very tough in NYC, if you're talking about the no frills down home stuff, equivalent to Chinatown. The influx of immigrants has improved things but mainly in outerborough neighborhoods like Jackson Heights (Roosevelt Ave) in Queens and Sunset Park (4th & 5th Ave in Brooklyn). There are some decent places in East Harlem, north of E.96th St around 2nd Ave. For the middle class type stuff, I still like Zarela's and am very fond of Centrico (her son's place in Tribecca, which is absolutely NOT traditional.... frog's legs, jalapina margaritas, etc very nicely presented, for a price).

    "All American Diner" -- well, maybe you got us confused with the Midwest :-) In NYC, diners are owned by Greek immigrant families (not recent immigrants usually). If you want pseudo-retro-trendo, go to Brooklyn Diner on W.57th St near Carnegie Hall. It recreates it for too much $$. But, since the pound is virtually a "50% off everything" to the dollar, you may not mind.

    Not that you asked (&, if you're from London, you probably wouldn't), but Indian food here in NYC sucks. To get something even close to Tayyab's (White Chapel - London), you have to hit New Jersey. Dont be fooled by claims of good places on Lex/E.20s or E.6th St (although "Brick Lane" and Angon can be passable) or even in Jackson Heights, Queens. But, if you want a higher end interesting & creative Indian restaurant, go to Devi. Fried Chicken with Indian accents, great Manchurian Cauliflower, and an excellent tandoori master in the kitchen.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Steve R

      Mexican - Rosa Mexicano
      Diner - Red Flame (next door to the Algonquin Hotel)
      Diner that mimics Seinfeld's - Westside Restaurant - 68th & Broadway

      1. re: idia

        Rosa Mexicano is not even close to an authentice mexican meal although i do like their gucamole

        1. re: idia

          An absolute travesty recommending Rosa Mexicana for authentic Mexican. It defies good taste and common sense.

          1. re: idia

            The actual diner pictured on Seinfeld is Tom's at 112th and Broadway.
            The food is completely forgettable, but it is a classic old unrenovated New York diner and we used to think of it as a hoot when we lived in the neighborhood. Loved the waitresses. "Soup to start, honey?"

          2. re: Steve R

            generally agree with you on indian food that said i think saravannas is worth trying and is actually very good

          3. This might help with Chinatown. One of my favorite places there at the moment is Amazing 66.

            As for Mexican, I recommend Coatzingo in Queens (easy to reach by underground) and Tulcingo del Valle in Manhattan.

            Hope you enjoy your stay.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Brian S

              Brian -- been to Tulcingo lately? I dont think its good any longer. And some friends of mine, whose opinions I also trust, wrote the following after a meal there a couple of days ago:

              Friend #1 -"We had a seriously bad, bordering on repulsive, meal tonight at Tulcingo del Valle. The guacamole was like crisco with food coloring. The refried beans were canned dog food mush, the carnitas in salsa verde were awful. The rice was dried out and old. Disgusting. Never, ever going back there".

              Friend #2: "Mercifully, the ersatz guacamole was served in a small monkey dish (even though we asked for a large portion for the table), so there wasn't that much of it. A request for salsa picante to try and doctor the guac into edibility only resulted in the appearance of second little dish of canned salsa verde. I had a honeydew agua fresca which for some reason was brownish and had a thick soapy head that would not dissipate. My mixed enchiladas were a stolid study in unappealing tastes and textures: acrid pasty mole, desiccated beef, hard chicken, goopy beans, dried-out rice and -- oof -- a blob of that nasty guacamole. We had flan for dessert which was not bad. But this was definitely a never-going-back place".

              I'm also not fond of Rosa Mexicano. I think it's all show and little content. All of their sites (3?). My last meal at Rocking Horse was pretty good though. It was 6 months or so ago and it was just after another change in the kitchen, so I'm not sure that makes it recommendable but maybe...

            2. Rosa Mexicano is definitely NOT where you wanna go for authentic Mexican food.

              Check out either Mexico Lindo on 2nd Ave & 26th St - or Mama Mexico at 102nd and Broadway -

              Both are authentic and AMAZING

              3 Replies
              1. re: loquaciousmuse

                For the diner, I would bend what you requested a little bit and go the newly reopened Second Avenue Deli or Katz's Deli. These are similiar to what you are requesting (and better) and are quinticential New York Jewish fare....for the all american diner, like the one you requested you need to leave manhattan and go to some place like the Tick Tock Diner on Route 46 in New Jersey, New jersey pretty much invented the diner.

                1. re: loquaciousmuse

                  I have to vehemently disagree about Mexico Lindo. Authentic or not, the food is not anywhere near amazing. More like so-so.

                  I do agree completely about Rosa Mexicano. The one time we had dinner at the flagship location on 1st Av., with the exception of the guacamole made tableside, the food was horrible.

                  1. re: loquaciousmuse

                    I haven't been to Mexico Lindo in many, many years, but unless there has been a miraculous change, I would not recommend it. I do agree completely with your recommendation of Mama Mexico. Some are turned off by the raucousness, but if you can get a quieter table or just go with the flow, the food is excellent.

                  2. Unfortunately, most of the last remaining real diners in Manhattan have, within the past couple of years, been shipped out of town. The Moondance Diner was moved to a small town in Wyoming and Munson Diner was moved to upstate New York. About the only one left is Cheyenne Diner @ 9th and 33rd. You’re not going (necessarily) for the food, but for the 1940s exterior.


                    Are you interested in sushi? When my English (actually Scottish, but lives in London) BF comes to town what he wants more than anything is sushi and a pastrami sandwich. We do both of those pretty well here.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JoanN

                      For any future readers... the word on the street is that Cheyenne Diner will be moving to Brooklyn!



                    2. I have been hard pressed to find an All American Diner in this city myself.

                      My recommendations answer your questions while thinking outside the box. Both Katz's and 2nd Ave Deli have the movie-like Diner atmosphere (when Harry Met Sally was shot in Katz's). They are Jewish Deli style, but I think the food is better than a diner, try the giant Pastrami and a pickle. Also Jane restaurant has a tasty American-style burger, go on a Sunday for 12.00 burger, crispy fries, and a beer.
                      La Esquina is a glorified taco stand, in a good way. I always get the tortilla soup and the conchinita tacos and sit in their small seating area and people watch with a frosty Corona.
                      The Peking Duck House is a really good meal in Chinatown with a nice atmosphere. Go with a few chums and order the whole duck. They give you all the fixins (pancake, scallion, cucumber, hoisin sauce).