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Feb 25, 2009 01:52 AM

Defining Manhattan Meals!

Gretings fellow chowhounds! For a special celebration, my wife and I are coming across from the cold gray drizzle of Scotland to Manhattan at the start of July! Having only partailly succeeeded in eating well the last few times I/we were there ( admittedly in my pre chowhound existence!), and fallen for the emptly lures of such places as Bleeker St, I am setting you a challenge. If we have 12 meals (4 x breakfast, lunch and dinner) before we move on to West Coast hedonism, what would be the defining Manhattan meals? Not necessarily expensive, not necessarily mainstream, but just sublimely, supremely, quintessentailly New York. Any contributions for one or all twelve would be massively appreciated. Get me salivating......

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  1. Hey, hungryscotsman,

    Presuming you are looking for a mix of casual and fancy places (?), it would be helpful to know your per person *food only* budget for lunch and dinner.

    But to get you started, for quintessentially New York food, you should consider taking my self-guided noshing tour of the LES. Here's the link:

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Youre right - I'm being vague again - blame the malt whisky and the endless rain. What I'm loooking for is not necesarily the self evident high end eating experinece - nice as that can be - but can get a lot of that stuff all over the globe if you have the cash - what I'm looking for are those meals/snacks/whatever that are essentail NY - something which might be either hard to find or inferior elsewhere in Obamaland. Like Calvin Trillin's sausage and roast pepper sandwich - I am going to hunt one of these bad boys down for sure. Does this make things clearer?

      1. re: hungryscotsman

        Yes, you have now clarified what you have in mind. Thus, I do think you should definitely consider doing my (in)famous tour. :-)

        Pizza is certainly a must, but where you should have it is open to huge controversy since every Hound has his or her favorites. Most agree that DiFara's, in Brooklyn, is truly the best. But sticking to Manhattan, I like the thin crust pizza at Posto, on the corner of 2nd Av. & 18th St.

        A great steak is another must, although for the very best, you will have to pay handsomely. My favorite steakhouse is Keens, which has been in its 36th St. location since 1885. Thus, in addition to delicious steaks, chops (their signature mutton chop is legenday), sides, etc., there is the unmatchable charm of the Old New York ambiance, i.e., walls filled with American memorabilia and row-upon-row of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings, as well as pipes belonging to famous people dating back to the 19th century displayed in cases in the vestibule.

        You should certainly have a burger. Since you will be here in July, you should definitely go to the Shake Shack, located in Madison Square Park, on the corner of Madison Av. & 23rd St. Plenty of outdoor tables where you can enjoy the tasty burger and the crispy crinkle-cut fries. And the soft ice cream is not to be missed! Since the lines can get frightfully long, to avoid what can sometimes be up to an hour's wait just to put in your order, it's best to go when they open at 11 a.m.

        Your mentioning Trillin's sausage and pepper sandwich brings to mind the fact that DeFonte's, the Brooklyn sandwich shop famous for their fabulous heros, has just opened a satellite shop in Manhattan, on the corner of 3rd Av. & 21st St.

        Even though Eleven Madison Park is a high end restaurant, I encourage you to go if for no other reason than its gorgeous Art Deco space. I recommend you do lunch-- 2 courses for $28 = a steal for French-inspired cuisine of such exquisite quality. Sitting in that room with the light and, hopefully, the sun streaming through the huge windows which face Madison Square Park is a truly magical NYC experience.

    2. What RGR said.

      Especially since you are coming from outside the USA, I would recommend trying:
      Chicken and rice at a halal cart
      Bagels and smoked salmon
      Egg cream
      Black and white cookies
      Halal chicken and rice
      Pastrami on rye with mustard at Katz's
      Pickles (including quarter sours, half sours)
      Recession special with papaya juice from Gray's
      A beer from McSorley's (it's a nice combination of atmosphere and history and decent, inexpensive beer)
      Cupcake at Sugar Sweet Sunshine (just to see what all the fuss is about I suppose)
      Egg and cheese sandwich from a street cart
      Freshly baked bread (Sullivan Street, Grandaisy, etc.)
      Steak at Keens
      A good burgers
      High end lunch on the cheap (Jean Georges or Eleven Madison Park
      Maybe a New American/farm-to-table/localvore-ish place
      Perhaps an Italian restaurant
      Chinese (Sichuan?)
      An indulgent NYC brunch
      Drink at a nice cocktail lounge
      Fried chicken and waffles?

      More on quintessential NY food

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        A Scotsman probably has probably had plenty of opportunity to eat halal Pakistani food in Britain. I know there's great Chinese food in London, but I don't know about Scotland and I don't know specifically about Sichuan food there. Otherwise I (still) like your list. :-)

        With enough time, I'd add pollo a la brasa for someone coming from over the Atlantic, but 4 days really isn't enough time to specially seek out a place for Dominican or other Latin-American rotisserie chicken. I'd say that Katz's is a must for our Scottish friend.