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Nov 16, 2008 01:17 AM

First time! Food-lovers tips wanted!

Hi everyone,

I'm Italian but I live in London. I'm a food-acoholic, I love trying new places and foods and I write restaurant reviews both in London and in Italy.

I am coming to NY for the first time, and I'm willing to make the best of the gastronomic heaven that it seems to be! I'm stayin in a cheap hotel in the Upper West side and I'm looking for tips on places where I can get good food without spending a fortune (that I don't have, unfortunately)

In particular....

a) Sushi! I am a Sushi-freak, so please help me! I have MY sushi place in London I adore, I'm looking for tips on NY's best cheap sushi places (not so cheap it'll kill me, obviously). Restaurants and take away, both welcome

b) Pancakes! I want to finally have REAL pancakes, blueberry are me favourite...any ideas?

c) American Burgers and knowledge goes ad far as Hard Rock here...sorry! I want THE real thing now!

d) Dim-Sum: is china-town good? Any other locations?

e)Mexican food...well, enough said!

f) Cheescake....which is the best place in NY?

And really, anything else I might want to try before I leave...something you consider to be special, cool, worth-going...

thanks so much in advance guys,


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  1. a. Go to Sushi Azabu, make a reservation in advance, be sure to sit at the counter. I think they have one of those ten pieces for $50 deals or something. It's excellent, and the chefs sauce each piece individually, and serve you one piece at a time.

    b. Clinton Street Baking Company. They are uber fluffy because they whip the egg whites separately and then combine. They also make their own maple butter. It's great. Lines are long. Go on a weekday or for dinner. Yes, they have pancakes at dinner.

    c. for burgers and steaks...well, it depends on your budget. Steak is naturally expensive. Do you want a place that does BOTH well or separate recommendations? What's your budget? What kind of burger (thick vs. thin) or steak cut do you like best?

    d. Chinatown Manhattan is OK but Chinatown Flushing is best. It is cheaper and higher quality. But dim sum will naturally be hard if you are dining alone. You won't get to try as much unless you waste food.

    e. NYC is not huge in Mexican so I'll let other hounds chime in.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Hi Kat,
      thanks for your tips!

      Clinton St is on my list, and the Sushi place as well: any other cheap alternatives? Take away maybe?

      Burgers....well...I like thick ones and Steaks-wise...anything you think it's worth trying. Yes I'd like to go to REAL American places where they do BBQ stuff as well as fried chicken..

      Any other suggestion for cool places that I didn't consider?

    2. Flushing's Chinatown is even more polyglot and diverse, with much more food offerings than Manhattan's Chinatown. That said Mary, you'll have to do a time-benefit analysis. Do you want to spend the 25-40 minutes it can take to get there from Grand Central one way? If you are with a group of 2-4, great then. But how much can one eat solo? Especially dim sum, which by nature requires having a large deliciousness-devouring posse. (There is the faster but more expensive LIRR train from Penn Station to Flushing - and Penn Station is a zoo most of the time.) Otherwise if you want stay in Manhattan....

      For Dim Sum try Chinatown Brasserie (which is not in Chinatown) Dim Sum Go Go or 6 Chatham Square which are. CB is all made to order and more expensive than DSGG or 6 Chatham Square.

      1. a) Ushiwakamaru is a good value, and should be an even better value with pounds. The sushi happy hour at Bamboo 52 is also a pretty good deal for some interesting sushi pieces.

        c) Near your hotel, you can get burgers or hot dogs at Shake Shack, but there is more to American food than just burgers and steaks. Try Shorty's .32, Whym, Freeman's, Five Points, Friend of a Farmer or The Smith for an idea of what else Americans are eating when they're not dining on fast food.

        d) Red Egg is a very good choice in Chinatown.

        e) For authentic Mexican, I think divey is usually best. Taco trucks have specialties beyond just tacos (mole at Super Taco, tortas at Idolo), but you can also try a meal at a place like Tehuitzingo or Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana. For just tacos, SoHo has a lot of good options like La Esquina or Pinche.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JungMann

          I would choose Sushi Azabu over Ushiwakamaru actually. The selection is not as deep, and it's a little bit pricier, but it's easier to get into, and the ambiance is nicer. Ushi is great, don't get me wrong, but right now I think Azabu is a little more special.

        2. Thanks so much guys....I'm so confused! I want to go to all these places now!

          My budget is...well...the cheapest, the better, really....I'm a young working-girl trying to survive on the minimum wage...:(

          Said that as long as it's not TOO expensive I am open to suggestions!

          I've been told there are good and cheap Sushi places in NY so that's what I am looking for at the moment...there's an amazing Japanese restaurant in London which is also very cheap but the owner himself told me the sushi in NY it's the best out of Japan! So...

          It's me and a friend coming you guys think Flushing's it's worth going? I want to have food-experiences, not just eat....that's why I am glad to know Americans eat more than Burgers and Steaks! Which of the ones you talked about you'd advice to go to?

          So, Clinton Bakery is a must, apparently, so is Shake Shack, what about Red Lobster i've heard about?

          Which one is closer to the Upper west side between Shorty's .32, Whym, Freeman's, Five Points, Friend of a Farmer and The Smith?

          SORRY!I am a total pain...but I'm kinda over-food-exited and I am just worried to come and not try the best places....

          Said that I'm 1,70 and I weight less than 50 kgs but I eat like a farmer after a day in the don't worry! I can handle it! :P

          7 Replies
          1. re: MaryUk82

            what ever you DO NOT GO TO RED LOBSTER.

            1. re: MaryUk82

              For a great cheap burger, go to Corner Bistro in the West Village (very close to the 1 train, which you can take from the UWS). It's a bar/pub, very crowded but super-thick, juicy delicious burgers for $5 with reasonable pints of beer.

              I think Flushing is worth it, especially if you're trying to save money. Do a search on here for one of the Queens tours. You could do dim sum in the late morning in Flushing and then work your way back on the 7 train for Mexican street food (super-cheap) in the afternoon. There's also a cheap Mexican on 107th & Amsterdam if you're that far up on the UWS called taqueria y fonda - it's pretty good i think.

              Do NOT go to Red Lobster!

              1. re: bronxmom

                Ok. No red lobster. I swear on my Cat's soul.

              2. re: MaryUk82

                Haven't read the whole thread but since you appear to be looking for American/comfort food near the UWS....Shake Shack has a location near the Museum of Natural History so that's a good bet if you are looking for something in the area. (None of the other places you mentioned are all that close to the UWS...) You also made mention of BBQ and fried chicken -- around 110th street is Rack & Soul, which has both and is quite good.

                Red Lobster is a chain sit down version of fast food (often fried and "all you can eat," so low quality)...I wouldn't recommend it. If you want to explore New England style seafood try Mary's Fish Camp or Pearl Oyster Bar. Neither is cheap but both are far, far more worthwhile.

                1. re: MaryUk82

                  Whym is the closest New American restaurant to the UWS. Harlem, however, has a generous number of traditional Southern and Soul food restaurants that are very reasonable. Amy Ruth's, Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too are good choices, although Sylvia's is also popular among tourists. If you want American food on the UWS, it is best to go for lunch or brunch where you can get deals at restaurants like Neptune Room, Telepan or Isabella's.

                  Flushing is worth going for Korean and regional Chinese food. Even in London, you will find nothing similar. But for cheap sushi, however, you will find your best bets in the East Village and LES. Cube 63 is a popular BYOB sushi spot and there are plenty of "50% off" sushi restaurants on St. Mark's Place. I have heard others swear by the sushi at Whole Foods, but it seems somewhat depressing to eat at a grocery store during an international vacation. Most of the better sushi in this city is not cheap, though there are plenty of middling places, which is why I think deals like the sushi happy hour at Bamboo 52 are worth trying.

                  But do not try Red Lobster.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    The Whole Foods on Houston street actually has a conveyor belt sushi bar on the upstairs loft which is an area of just restaurantsso you aren't actually eating in a restauarant. As the largest (so far) Whole Foods it it interesting to see and is conveninet to LES. Nolita and Soho all good tourist areas.

                  2. re: MaryUk82

                    Not a fan of Friend of a Farmer . . .

                    Clinton Street Bakery might be pricey for a working girl with a tight budget.

                    You might want to go to Union Square Greenmarket, enjoy the Spring and farmers (it's where the best restaurants in the city shop) and grab an inexpensive breakfast from one of the bakery stands.

                    Also do a search of this Board - there are many, many threads on the best food for a tight budget and top restaurants offering prix fixe deals.

                  3. Thanks again. Well, I'm looking for many things, actually. And they don't necessary have to be on the UWS, actually, I'm willing to explore the city as much as I can so don't worry about the location as long as it's not too far!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MaryUk82

                      Since you are staying on the UWS you might want to consider lunch at Telepan ( for New American. It's $28 for three courses.

                      Or lunch at Jean-Georges which is, I believe $28 for two courses. J-G is generally considered one of the best restaurants in the city.

                      Lunch is a bargain at either place.

                      Also a bargain is the three-course, $38 Sunday Supper at Dovetail (

                      Enjoy your visit.

                      1. re: floretbroccoli

                        Note that Jean-Georges only serves lunch on weekdays. Reservations recommended. Make sure you don't end up at Nougatine, the casual room.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          And Telepan lunch is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday only.