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What do you love best about your neighborhood, food-wise?

  • c

I moved up to Washington Heights in the 150s not too long ago, to a heavily Dominican neighborhood -- and I have to say that it's a wonderful food neighborhood to be in, in so many ways. Those standard, packaged tortillas you see in stores everywhere are somehow much fresher, here. And sometimes you can even catch them still warm in the package, so tender and fragrant I eat them straight, with no accompaniment at all. There are many small cafes, addendums to even smaller grocery stores, that sell wonderful tacos, overflowing with juicy carne enchillada, tender lengua. Tamales are plentiful -- generally tamales rojo, both spicy and subtle. And there are wonderful seafood shops with very fresh fish and scallops, where you can order anything you point to cooked just how you want it, to be either eaten in, at the bar with a cerveza while watching a game of round football, or taken home.

I've lived in the W. Village, in Hell's Kitchen, on the UWS. In each of these places, I've found something really special and unique to that area, and I have fallen in love with each place I've lived, for different reasons. (You can really eat great, late, in the WV -- and not at Wendy's! Hell's Kitchen has a beautiful array of cuisine choices on 9th ave. The UWS has Fairway and Zabar's.)

What do you love most, food-wise, about the Manhattan neighborhood where you live or work?

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  1. UES (in no particular order):

    york grill
    land northeast thai
    etas unis
    buzino pop
    paty's taco truck
    papaya king
    naruto ramen
    shanghai pavilion

    2 Replies
      1. re: thew

        someday we are going to have to drag you -- either physically or through verbal coercion/persuasion -- to thai market on the uws. it's but a short crosstown bus ride away and i think you'd really like it!

      2. Kossar's, the Pickle Guys, Congee Village, Saxelby Cheesemongers, and that Zafi's delivers breakfast on Saturday mornings in 90 seconds flat! Or so it seems.

        1 Reply
        1. re: small h

          i should mention that you are REALLY lucky to be able to walk out in your neighborhood and run into a good, inexpensive restaurant on just about every street. i almost moved to your parts just for the food, but the greater square footage up-up town beckoned!

        2. Little Chitaly:

          Saigon Bahn Mi So 1
          Mei Li Wah
          New Green Bo
          Pho Grand
          And a little bit of a hike, but a current obsession: plantano con carne in this little stall on the corner of delancey and Clinton

          5 Replies
          1. re: Crepe Suzette

            Mmm, platano con carne sounds really good. Is it plantains stuffed with meat or something else?

            Very jealous of all the Vietnamese options you have...

            1. re: cimui

              Sorry, forgot about this post and just checked it! The platano con carne comes in two ways. My favorite is basically a fried plantain ball stuffed with sauteed beef. My boyfriend prefers the other option - basically a grilled plantain, whole, split open and stuffed with the same meat. Naturally, I prefer the greasier option!

              There is no name on this place, it's just a tiny place on Clinton, near Delancey, with a bar and stools. Delicious.

              1. re: Crepe Suzette

                this sound intriguing. tiny, unnamed places are my very favorite places to eat. thanks for the tip!

            2. re: Crepe Suzette

              We must live fairly close to each other!

              My favorites:

              Pho Bang
              Saigon Bahn Mi So1
              Congee Bowery
              Pinche Taqueria
              La Esquina
              a lil farther east, Kampuchea

              1. re: StellaArtois

                we must be neighbors! I haven't tried Bun yet - but perhaps I should. What do you like there?


            3. Carnegie Hill (and slightly farther afield):

              Square Meal
              Kitchen Arts & Letters
              Cafe Sabarsky
              Two very well stocked 'Korean delis'
              Zebu Grill
              Papaya King (great before a movie)
              Schaller & Weber
              Wu Liang Ye

              2 Replies
              1. re: MMRuth

                Ooh, can you provide more details about the Korean delis? Now that I live so far up, I'm getting down to Han Ah Reum a lot less frequently. It'd be nice to have a closer option.

                1. re: cimui

                  Oh - that is a misnomer I think, on my part. I mean corner markets ... aka convenience stores elsewhere. For some reason I always think of them as 'Korean delis' ... probably not very pc of me.

              2. I love being able to get off the train and get a bagel and lox at Barney Greengrass (something I never used to do) before stopping at Zabar's for the mid-week sale and loading up at Fairway where I can experiment with new ingredients. I love the cheap beer at Pioneer. Though it is considerably downmarket, I'm still young enough to frequent free wine Chinese restaurants and the pizza parlor down the street for the aftermath. Or the taco truck if things get especially messy.

                Perhaps the thing I love most about my neighborhood is how easy it is to leave to try something new. Dominican pastellitos within walking distance. Mole a quick bus ride. Senegalese just a few train stops. 3 years in what was known as a culinary black hole has done more to expand my horizons than 8 years in NYC.

                5 Replies
                1. re: JungMann

                  wow -- where are you getting dominican pastellitos within walking distance? do tell...

                  1. re: cimui

                    Malecon No. 2 on Amsterdam between 97th and 98th. I've been meaning to also go next door to La Rural to try their empanadas. All in all, that is a very unhealthy block for me.

                    El Malecon
                    764 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025

                    1. re: JungMann

                      wow, all that time i lived right there and didn't know...

                      my new nabe is a very unhealthy nabe for me! there is very good, inexpensive dominican everywhere you look up in washington heights. i just picked up a plate of amazingly tender, well flavored chicken gizzards over rice from a place called tropical spanish. i'm a little irked that they overcharged me a dollar--the outsider to the neighborhood tax--but i still liked the food.

                  2. re: JungMann

                    Yes, the cheap beer at Pioneer is nice. I haven't been there in ages (drink more wine than beer ...).

                    Barney Greengrass is sit-down only, right - you can't get something to go, can you?

                    What is Zabar's mid-week sale??? This is news to me!!

                    1. re: uwsgrazer

                      Barney Greengrass is a fully functional appetizing store, so they're always happy to pack up chopped liver or whitefish salad for me. The only trouble I've encountered with them is that afternoon bagels are sometimes not so fresh and unless I specify every single item I want on that bagel, I get a dry, untoasted bagel with fish slapped onto it.

                      I often find items discounted mid-week at Zabar's (if only Fairway would do the same!). I usually buy my cheese there on a Wednesday when I can find a full display of 99 cent Cambozola or $2 wedges of brie.

                  3. Murray Hill is a tough neighborhood food-wise, but I love Curry Hill to death. Also the 2nd Ave Deli and Brick 33 for pizza.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: heWho

                      Are you close to Todaro's (sp?)? I'd be happy to have it in my neighborhood.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Murray hill has it's bright spots. I agree on Todaro.

                        While not everyday affairs, having Artisanal and Wolfgangs within a short walk is heaven.

                        I Love the pastrami at Sarge's, and the Bagels at Daniel's. We also love the fact that on any given night Cosette, Ethos, Rare, and Trattoria Alba are all within a short walk.

                        I agree we're also very lucky to have quick delivery access to curry hill.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Good call! I am within ear shot of Todaro's. They're really great, I was just thinking more along the lines of restaurants.

                          Todaro's is definitely a gem, though I am not blown away by the cheese selection. Their produce is excellent though, and I love the whole feel the store has to it, right down to the long white coats the employees wear.

                      2. I live in Hell's Kitchen, and the sheer range of options is why living here is so great. Within a 10 minute walk of my apartment, there is fresh homemade pasta, brick oven pizza, Greek food, several Thai places, German beer and wurst, greasy spoon diners, fun Japanese desserts, cheap burritos, wine bars, etc. All literally within a 10 minute walk.

                        I also love the mix of people that come through here: theater goers, nice old neighborhood couples, bachelorette parties, families, loud bankers , my super and his family, snooty wine tasters, tourists, young first-daters, etc. It's a bit of a culinary and social whirlwind, which I find rather exciting to walk through on a Saturday night strolling with my beloved. Good times.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: corgette

                          yes -- corgette, i really miss those aspects of hell's kitchen!! i still sneak over there every chance i get, esp. for kyotofu, empanada mama and hallo berlin.

                          1. re: corgette

                            Love the neighborhood too. Which pizza spot do you favor?

                            1. re: Mike M

                              You know, I don't actually have a favorite, but I'm up for suggestions. The 9th ave. Pizzaria is near my house, and it does in a pinch, but I also like the personal pizzas they have at the Amish Market on 9th. I've heard good things about Joe G's (the place next to Patsy's on 56th), but I don't actually get pizza here often (I know I'm a bad New Yorker). Am I missing a gem?

                          2. Can you please give me the names and addresses of these wonderful places (in Washington Heights)?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: inmybackpages

                              You can use the Places function (Link to a place in a post) to find them, or search in Places.

                              For example:

                              Zebu Grill
                              305 E 92nd St, New York, NY 10128

                              1. re: inmybackpages

                                are you asking me (re: washington heights) or corgette (re: hell's kitchen)? or someone else?

                              2. Meatpacking / WV - excellent markets for foodies and great restaurants for straightout eating! chelsea market (with manhattan fruit exch, lobster trap, amy's bread, bowery kitchen, boun italia, etc etc), balducci's (not so economico, but good ingredients) and western beef (for down and dirty) all within a couple block radius. ottomanelli's and florence meat market very close and omai, philip marie, fatty crab close too! hungry just thinking about it!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: frankki

                                  i actually love western beef in all its ghetto glory. when i lived in hell's kitchen, i went there for masarepa, really inexpensive, decent-quality meat, and at that location EXCELLENT, inexpensive produce. it's crowded and a bit grungy (about on par with the nearby gristedes), but maybe i have a soft spot in my heart for that kind of thing.

                                  btw, i'm usually the last person who'd notice this kind of thing b/c i'm awful at proper names -- but the lobster trap you're talking to is, i think, the lobster place. i agree it's great!

                                  1. re: cimui

                                    Great question. I'm so lucky to live in the west village. My favorites are Batch, Bar Balanc, Alta, Grano, Bleeker St Pizza, Joe's Pizza, Wogies, Yogurtland, Murray's Cheese Amy's Bread, Cones, Babbo, Gobo, Patisserie Claude, Gray's Papaya, Jack's Coffee, Cafe Asean, and Murray's Bagels

                                2. Well, we cook more than we eat out and our neighborhood definitely "enables" that. Here's a what I'm sure is a non-complete list:
                                  --W. 97th St. greenmarket (esp. Bialas & Ronnybrook)
                                  --fruit/veg vendor on 96th & Amst. who has the best avocados
                                  --H&H and Silver Moon
                                  --Scharffenberger (and J. Torres too)
                                  --Buceo for wine and Dive Bar or George Keeley's for beer selections
                                  --Columbus Wines & Spirits for friendly staff, good prices (esp. specials) and good selection
                                  --Malecon for chicken
                                  --Caridad for beans, rice, platanos, etc.
                                  --Bruno ravioli
                                  --my new fave: Pinch & Smac (wow is that stuff good)
                                  --Gabriela's for great drinks, lovely outdoor seating, good food.
                                  Many more casual places to eat out too.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: LNG212

                                    yes, the excellent grocery stores are what i love most about the uws. this really is one of the best parts of town for buying ingredients for home cooking.

                                    btw, your avocado vendor on 96th and amsterdam is on the northwest corner of the street, right?

                                    1. re: cimui

                                      The south - east corner of 96th & Amsterdam (there's a bank, HSBC maybe, Roma liquor store and New Amsterdam Pharmacy right there). He's a really nice man and I just ask him for an avocado that will be "good for tonight" or "good for tomorrow" or what have you and he's never been wrong. And he always tells me if it's bad to just bring it back. DH calls him "Mr. Bananas" because he usually has bananas at 5 for $1 (and DH can eat all five in one sitting too).

                                      1. re: LNG212

                                        Ah, thanks! I'll be on the lookout. I was actually a bit muddled and thinking of the vendor on the northwest corner of B'way and 96th (who is very, very nice, but sells just ok fruit, about on par with what you'll find at a grocery store).

                                        p.s. Eating five bananas in one sitting? Tiddlywinks. ;)

                                        1. re: cimui

                                          Five bananas, I know I know. :)

                                          I don't actually ever buy fruit from the street vendors (I prefer to get most of my fruit from the 97th St. greenmarket) so I can't speak to that. But I had been having just terrible luck with avocados from Fairway. So I gave him a try (maybe a year ago) and he's great. Never buy my avocados anywhere else now.

                                  2. Agreed, Fairway and Zabar's are great on the UWS. I have been increasingly frequenting the greenmarket at 66th & Broadway on Saturday mornings (also open Thursday but I have to be at work then...) The fall apples are absolutely amazing!! Last weekend I was basically able to do all of my food shopping there. Not only is the quality better (admittedly, pricier too) but there aren't really lines so paying takes much less time than in traditional markets. I've actually found it quite efficient, plus it's so nice to enjoy the outdoors on Saturday morning.