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TOP "essential" New York Restaurants $ to $$$$

I'm visiting from LA towards the end of March for 5 days and I'm looking some "essential" New York eats. What i mean by essential is a place reflects New York in an unusual way? That showcases New York and it's diversity. Price doesn't matter. From the best street carts to the Masa's and Per Se's. I think we got ya beat in terms of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Mexican. Places that are rolling around in my head right now are one of the Momofuku's, Peter Lugar, Morimoto, Spotted Pig, wd 50? What's the best French place besides Le bernardin since my GF had a bad lunch there? What's the best Italian place besides babbo since we have osteria mozza here? Best Puerto Rican, Jewish deli, Jamaican? Pizza, hotdogs? I'll eat anything.

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  1. Eleven Madison Park, Babbo, Craft, Keens, Old Homestead, Strip House.

    1. hi...i'd recommend searching through some of the many "i'm visiting NY from LA" threads (it's a question that's asked about once a month) and then asking specific questions based on the things that seem most appealling -- i.e. if you want Puerto Rican, ask specifically in a separate post: you'll get more detailed and helpful responses than you will in a general question...but offhand:

      -- skip Spotted Pig...imagine a CAA-watering-hole transplanted to the West Village...i always feel like i'm smack in the middle of LA when i'm there...

      -- consider some of NYC's Sichuan options (it's one regional Chinese cuisine that's more easily and authentically available in NY and than LA)

      -- consider some Italian options like Scarpetta...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Simon

        thanks for the advice..should've probably done more research....as far is sichuan goes there's actually a few really great options in the san gabriel valley where I live...

      2. Well, there are many places (esp. high end) that you can find similar ones in LA. But if you have not eaten at Katz's, then you have not eaten the best in NY. So make sure you get the pastrami at Katz's or else you are missing out history!

        Look for kathryn's posts as she has listed multiple times on the best of every single category that you can imagine. Also remember partake RGR's Lower East Side Food Excursion.

        You can keep Momofuku, Peter Luger, Spotteod Pig, WD 50. They are quite unique to New York and hard to find a "replica" in other cities. Keens is another good place for steaks and old time NY charm

        For French. Jean Georges' lunch bargain is hard to beat. If you can do Per Se, then that's your French place.

        I think you should keep Babbo. It's not the same as osteria mozza which is more like Otto / Lupa here. Babbo is a bit more upscale and the pasta are different. So I still think it is worth a visit.
        If you want more contemporary Italian, you can consider Scarpetta.

        You should also try tapas here. Casa Mono for rustic and bolder flavor, or Degustation for open kitchen French-inspired tapas.

        Don't forget pizza. My suggestions are Company (Co.), Motorino, and the old standby Una Pizza Napoletana.

        Other places that I don't really think are essential are: Morimoto (it started at Philly, and honestly, you have better Japanese in LA), Craft (again, got one in LA)

        5 Replies
        1. re: kobetobiko

          I completely second the rec for Katz's, Momofuku Ssam and Peter Luger (you could do Luger's for lunch and spend the afternoon in Bklyn).
          For Italian, check out one of Joe Campanale's places: dell'anima or L'Artusi.

          www.thelunchbelle.com

          1. re: LeahBaila

            Well if your gunnabe in brooklyn might as well go to Di Fara's also. Unbelievable....

            1. re: LeahBaila

              is l'artusi really 'destination worthy' or essential? the food is meh and the scene is like eating in crate and barrel.

              1. re: 45yearheelfan

                24th & 9th.

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                Co.
                230 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

            2. Was at both Babbo and Osteria Mozza in the last month, and IMHO comparison pales. Babbo is so wonderful, osteria was fun and good. Try Lupa in NYC, yes Batali but oh my.
              While l give you Korean, Japanese( NYC is equal but a LOT more money), and certainly vietnamese. NYC chinese, again IMHO, blows LA away. l loved Spotted Pig, Luger's, maybe not best French but Chanterelle does a wonderful job, every time, every time. l am not a Le Bernadin fan either, two times with a lot of people and we did not get it. BARNEY GREENGRASS is a must also.

              14 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                NYC Chinese in no way blows LA away. What do you think is so much better here? By the way, I'm asking you to please mention specific Chinese restaurants in Manhattan that are superior to anything equivalent in LA. I don't want your reply to be LA-focused.

                1. re: Pan

                  Go to 8 or 9 in Chinatown and find them super. Have never found anything in LA Chinatown or anywhere else in LA that l like, granted do not know LA as well as NY, but have tried. If you have great suggestions in LA, be glad to try them.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I've only been a visitor to LA and won't make suggestions for places outside of New York in this thread (or, frankly, any other, because I'm not current enough). I can only suggest that, if you've found LA-area hounds' suggestions not to coincide with your taste, you check other online resources. However, you can do all of us a service by specifically mentioning the 8 or 9 places in Manhattan's Chinatown that you've found super. Thanks in advance.

                    1. re: Pan

                      Please do not chastise for my choices, this is for my mouth only. Joe's Shanghai for dumplings and braised bean curd with baby spinach; New Yeah Shanghai for honey pork;Great New York Noodletown for baby pig and Chinese chives; Shanghai cafe for spicy fish head casserole; Amazing 66 for Roast chicken with preserved vegetables;congee from Congee Village, the others are lesser supers for me. With good people showing me where to go or good reports in LA, have eaten Chinese about 6 times and none compared favorably to NY, Phila, SF, or anywhere else l eat Chinese food. For me Thai, Japanese (only due to far less cost ), and Vietnamese are better in LA, Korean is about a split in my limited experience.

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        You aren't touting Wo Hop, so I feel no impulsion to chastise you whatsoever. I've enjoyed the places you mentioned to different extents at different times, and I'm a regular at several of these places. We've just had different experiences in LA and environs.

                2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  I totally agree, you MUST go to Barney Greengrass. You will be transported to a time when deli ruled New York. And the ambiance is classic old New York Jewish deli. It is a piece of NYC that hopefully we can keep alive. It sticks out like a sore thumb among all the chi-chi boutiques and trendy restaurants of the UWS. Try it, if you like deli, you won't be sorry.

                  1. re: bistro66

                    And while you're in Barney Greengrass neighborhood, you could check out Hampton Chutney Company (Amsterdam btw 82nd and 83rd) for delicious indian fusion cuisine -- the dosas are the specialty. Light and thin, crispy indian crepes with a variety of delicious fillings to choose from (such as jack or goat cheese, avocado, spinach, portobello mushrooms, grilled or curried chutney chicken)-- all served with your choice of six home made chutneys. AND some of the best home made chai in NYC.

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                    Hampton Chutney Co.
                    464 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                    1. re: rasanyc10024

                      Yes, those dosas are very light and delicious, and you can't find them in LA. There is another branch in SoHo on Prince St.

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                      Hampton Chutney Co.
                      68 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

                      1. re: rasanyc10024

                        I've never been to Hampton Chutney, but if I could go anywhere in Manhattan for masala dosas, I'd head straight to Saravanaas, 26th and Lexington. And without looking at prices, I'd be willing to be a good sum of money that Saravanaas is cheaper, too.

                      2. re: bistro66

                        Barne Greengrass is a classic old New York Jewish "appetizer" store. Dairy. Smoked fish. Lox & eggs.

                        Classic New York delis are meat places like Katz's. Pastrami, corned beef.

                        There used to be dozens of good and sometimes great NY Jewish appetizer places is Manhattan. They all closed years ago except for Barney Greengrass and Barney doesn't live there anymore. Skip it.

                        1. re: RichardW

                          there is still russ & daughters. which kicks greengrass ass as far as i'm concerned

                      3. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        NYC Chinese doesn't blow LA away. My family and I are from Hong Kong and they live in LA (I've lived in NY for 7 yrs and was raised in LA). I can't find a single Chinese restaurant in Manhattan (Flushing is a different story) that comes close to what LA offers for Chinese food. And when I say LA, I mean San Gabriel Valley, not Chinatown LA. Chinatown LA is downright awful, but go 20 min east to Alhambra and some places are pretty darn close to Hong Kong. To be fair, Szechuan food in NY is definitely better than Cantonese.

                        1. re: kim e

                          true, but if you live on the west side, like in Santa Monica, going to the SG Valley is as far (or farther during rush hour) than going to Flushing from Manhattan...

                          in Manhattan, you can get very yummy Cantonese at Amazing 66 or Cantoon Garden in Chinatown or Sichuan at GS Chelsea...those are far better than most places within the LA basin...

                          so, in terms of urban living/geography, say Manhattan is analogous to the LA basin (and nearby parts of Brooklyn to nearby parts of the SF Valley), and Flushing is analogous to the SG Valley ...so you could make the assertion that Manhattan has better Chinese than LA if you are talking about places that are easy to access from the city centers...

                          all depends on how widely one roams and what one considers the city boundaries...(the LA Chowhound Board could easily be split into an Outer Valleys and Beaches board and an LA Basin board, the same way NY is split into Manhattan and Outer Boroughs)...

                          not disagreeing, just giving the discussion an alternate framing...

                          1. re: Simon

                            How do the best in flushing compare to the best in san gabriel valley?

                      4. obviously, stick with what nyc does better than your amazing food city...

                        keens chophouse im beginning to feel is superior to peter lugers but i guess you should do lugers first...get some pieces of bacon, steak for 2 medium rare, well done hash browns and a glass of cabernet and yr set...oh, holy cow sundae for dessert.

                        if you do keens, get the porterhouse for 2 and the creme brulee...they also have an insane scotch selection though i usually stick with the lagavulin distillers edition.

                        pizza...on manhattan, the only place for me is artichoke on 14th street...get the square slice only...everything else there is mediocre...they have no seating.

                        not sure about puerto rican but definitely check out margon on 46th street between 6th and 7th ave...its a dominican spot making cuban food. little hole in the wall but it gets packed at lunch. great cubano sandwich but on wednesdays, they have pernil...roast pork...get it with garlic sauce...its awesome. if you cant make wednesday, their lamb stew and roast chicken are insane.

                        momofuku sucks...go to ippudo instead on 4th ave...get the hirata pork buns...insane...like japanese big macs...

                        we do italian better than you guys...for inexpensive yet amazing italian, my first choice is da andrea on 13th between 5th and 6th...get the paparadelle with sweet sausage ragu...and the warm octopus salad...insanely tender and cheap.

                        babbo sucks...all batali places blow...for upscale, try scarpetta or convivio in sutton place.

                        jewish deli? carnegie is insane...katz's isnt kosher but definitely a necessary stop.

                        other gems? 'ino, perilla, blue ribbon bakery on downing street for chocolate bread pudding, moustache for merguez sandwich, mary's fish camp for lobster roll and steamers and an anchor steam, freemans for brunch...get the cheddar sandwich, get a bistro burger at corner bistro but only ultra late in the evening...like 2am on a tuesday...otherwise they suck. go to shake shack...it actually beats in n out burger.

                        enjoy...i adore LA's restaurants...

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: sam1

                          thanks for all the rec's...I will have to try shack shack but IMHO i can't imagine that it can beat in n out...and i can't agree that "all batali places blow" given that I adore mozza (both osteria and pizzeria) although i think the magic there is more nancy silverton than batali

                          1. re: sam1

                            the carnegie deli is not kosher either

                            1. re: sam1

                              Just a quick correction, sam. Convivio is in Tudor City, not Sutton Place. I happen to think that Italian nouvelle is an oxymoron, but, living next door to it, I can tell you the room is almost always full.


                              P.S. On another chow-thread I read earlier today, an out-of-towner asked for a 'destination salad bar' in NY. The request was so surreal I had to bite my tongue, but the in n out v shake shack argument doesn't strike me as much different: who wants to argue whose junk food is better? Honestly!

                              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                ain't nothing wrong with striving for a destination salad bar if it's what gets your foodie love goin!

                                1. re: LemonLauren

                                  You're right, Lauren, and inasmuch as I eat (happily) at salad bars 3-4 times a week, I regret writing what I did.

                                  My mind in fact was on another phenomenon that I conflated with the "destination (food) station" question: namely, taking advantage (or not) of the serendipity that walking through New York allows for finding good food. I know my feeling runs counter to the raison d'etre of this site, and that exhaustive critiquing can be tremendously valuable to people on a deadline or visiting from out-of-town, and that foodies (and yes, I am one) love to share the joy. But I really do believe that, in a place where one doesn't have to commit to a given place because that's where the car is pointed, one really does miss a crucial part of the New York experience -culinary and otherwise- by scheduling dining tours down to the minute. (end of rant)

                                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                    exactly. my best food experiences abroad (in London) were those that happened when i had my walking shoes on and followed my nose through the back streets of berwick market. that's why i asked (in another thread) for foodie 'hoods to explore :)