where do TO CHers go in NYC? [moved from Toronto]
bear with me, board-gods, and let this stand: i want to hear what my native countrymen can recommend uniquely for NYC...
dear TO CHers, I have noticed that a lot of you mention your pasts food-ventures in New York City, so, with a day-trip planned there for the Saturday of Easter weekend, I wondered if you could recommend any must-see foodie destinations like markets, stores, or any uniquely wdonerful ethnic cuisines that we don't have stellar access to here in TO, or any other destination restos, particularly with great fish, veggie or healthy options. and we all know i love a good wine store/affordable wine list.
Here is what the NYCers have suggested so far:
The city's accessible by subway so take a trip to Williamsburg in Brooklyn and hit up Boneshakers, Penny Licks and Foodswings. Vegan and vegetarian and good stuff. Also check out Baby Cakes in the W. Village in Manhattan. You can also drive over the Williamsburg bridge to get to Williamsburg.
If you're in Grand Central, check out the market- there's a Penzey's spices there. I also like stopping by Kalustyans on Lexington for spices and imports- found some Peruvian aji amarillo as well as some Indian sweets that I can't seem to find in TO.
I also recommend a stop at Dean & Deluca, (this is where I'll grab a Donut Plant donut for breakfast so I don't have to trek all the way to the LES).
If you're in midtown and want streetfood (not sure if he's only there M-F though), I like Papa Perrone's rice ball truck.
If you're on the UWS, I highly recommend the Levain Bakery's chocolate chip cookie (well, part of one, they weigh about a pound each). Not healthy, but we don't have any cookies that come close in TO. Also, Barney Greengrass for smoked fish- I splurged and ate in, nova with a schmear on a bagel. Amazing.
If you're closer to the LES/East Village, pick up smoked fish (or a bagel with smoked fish to go) at Russ & Daughters.
I started this thread last year for snacks & treats in different parts of Manhattan- might be helpful to you:
Taim for a healthy falafel sandwich with different salads and smoothies-it is in the west village I believe
Azuri in hell's kitchen has a good falafel, lentil soup as well-kind of a soup nazi type proprietor though.
Russ&Daugthers for some lox with a bagel and other interesting goods
If you're only looking for a quick lunch/dinner only then would I consider the Energy Kitchen or the Pump-Fresh in Toronto is better imho.
Westville in the village has some good vegetarian healthy fare. Grandaisy bakery has excellent pizza and some wonderful bread-there's one in the UWS and one in Soho on Sullivan street. Try the cauliflower or zuchinni pizza-delish.
I've heard really good things about Dirt Candy in the village-seems kinda like Fressen maybe for vegetarian fare?
Kyotofu- a japanese dessert bar in hell's kitchen with interesting desserts out of green tea, tofu, sweet potato etc.
Happy chowing...and of course if you have time hit up the market in union square and the chelsea market.
Personally, I had the most mediocre experience at Kyotofu and probably wouldn't go back. Not even for healthy tofu based desserts. Everything I had was pretty bland and tasteless even by Japanese standards. (Things where tasteless not subtly flavored) I would recommend P*Ong or Room For Dessert above Kyotofu and then Chikalicious above them all.
Don't take my word on Kyotofu though, I may have just gone on an off night.
From the Manhattan board I would definitely second Pure Food and Wine and I would second Candle Cafe. I would definitely second posters who recommend passing on Josie's, The Pump, and Energy Kitchen. I would also strongly suggest flaking on the salad bar at Whole Foods. It's basically the same thing as Toronto (with a Gelato bar) I would actually skip Whole Foods entirely. The only thing that they have that we don't have is a candied nut bar and an import beer selection.
As far as the Natural Gourmet friday night dinner goes, it can be hit or miss. Sometimes you get a really great class cooking you a dinner that they put a lot of thought and time into. Sometimes you get a class that doesn't care about their meal. Whichever of the two you get, the meal will either be great or just average, but never really bad as they do spend 4 months planning for it. There's also a third aspect to that dinner and it doesn't happen as often but sometimes a chef who went to the school will come back and do the three course tasting and that's usually a hit.
With regards to the Green Market and the Union Square area I would shop around to all the vendors and pick up what looks best to you. The only thing that I religiously pick up there is the Lemon Cupcake from Hawthorne Valley Farms. It's great and the icing is made from their in house cream cheese.
With regards to lunch, if I where you, I would just walk around Union Square and snack on things. There's so much great food in the area that can't be passed up. Some things I liked on a Saturday afternoon include but are not limited to the pretzel croissant at the Build A Green Bakery. Same owners as City Bakery but located at 223 First Ave just south of 14th St. If you're lucky you can find the Churro lady who sells fresh warm Churros from a shopping cart around lunch time. She's usually located around the Virgin Megastore or just East of there on 14th. If you walk on 14th and pass Trader Joes without seeing her you've gone too far and chances are that she's in the subway on the L Train platform. 3 Churros for a dollar. If you walk up to Madison park you can grab a portobellow burger from Shake Shack arguably as good or better than the Shack burger. I think the Custard of the day for Saturday is Coffee and Donuts. Also in the Union Squarea restaurant wise are Ippudo for some really good Ramen. (some would say the best in NYC) Located at 4th Ave and 10th St. and 11 Madison Park. located at 11 Madison Ave. They do a good brunch. I would recommend the smoked sturgeon and eggs since you're interested in fish. I know, some of these suggestions are unhealthy but c'mon, you can stray a little bit. Just for a day.
As far as your walking itinerary goes it all sounds good but may be a little bit much to cram into a day without feeling rushed. Would you consider maybe exploring certain areas as opposed to walking the length of the island? That would probably work out a bit more favorably. There's nothing I hate more than cramming when I travel. I feel as though I haven't truly seen anything.
Also, do you want to do dinner on the cheap or are you thinking of splurging a little for a meal? I have to admit that most of my Dinner recommends would be on the fine dining/japanese side or they would be in the outer boroughs which I assume you won't be visiting. Lemme know what you think.
I'll just throw out some places I like:
Sakagura. If you go, definitely order anything that is one of the specials of the day - last time they had shirako tempura and it was very very good. Plus an extensive Sake menu.
Zabar's to pick up goodies for a hotel room picnic (it's a tradition) and to H&H for bagels.
The bread at any Daniel Boulud restaurant or from Bouchon Bakery.
The cupcakes at Two Little Red Hens and the vegan carrot cake at teany.
Pure Food & Wine's ice cream . Holy crap I can't believe they do that without dairy! A good comparison of this place is our Live Food Bar but Pure is more upscale and very dark!
The Union Square Greenmarket is great to peruse. I will go when I'm there, even in Winter.
Think from the perspective of.....what you can't get in Toronto. That wipes out Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean etc....
Japanese - for sushi you go w/ either the big gunners like Masa, Kurumazushi, Yasuda or the secondary joints like 15 east, Ushiwakamaru, etc...If you think Kaji is good...
For cooked food, I love Tsukushi and places under the Totto empire (yakitori, soba, etc).
For ramen, there is Ippudo, Santouka (Mitsuwa in Jersey), Minka, Setagaya. Ramen in NYC blows Toronto ramen.
Fine dining, I would suggest you not miss Jean-Georges lunch special. Le Bernardin or my sleeper pick Eleven Madison Park.
Mid range eating I would recommend places like Dovetail (sunday supper), Prune. If you like charcuterie at Black Hoof, check out Bar Boulud.
Institutional eating would be Katz deli, Kossar's bialy, smoked fish (Murray's Sturgeon, Russ & Daughters, Barney Greengrass).
Burgers, shake shack for the in & out style or the black label burger...
Interesting one all stops would be Union Square Greenmarket, Chelsea market.
Pizza = Difara's, in Midwood, BK. The square pie will ruin pizza for your in Toronto.
Dessert would definitely be Chikalicious, good luck getting a seat.
Now if you're willing to travel to Queens, then it's a whole different story. Ethnic galore.....
While I agree that DiFara's is the sine qua non of pizzas, I don't think going there is a good option since the o.p. wil be here only one day, and it will eat up a substantial portion that Saturday. That's not only due to the travel time involved, but there are also the very long lines to contend with, to say nothing of the wait once the order is placed because Dom makes all the pies himself, and he's not exactly the swiftest worker.
With regard to Chikalicious, I have found that the best chance of getting seats is usually between 3 and 5 p.m. (They open at 3.) We prefer to sit at the counter so that we can watch Chika prepare our desserts. I'd also suggest a stop directly across the street for some treats at Chikalicious's Dessert Club.
I found Boqueria to be quite affordable- 5 tapas and some non-alcoholic drinks came to something like $65. They have a brunch during the day on Saturdays until 3, which has some egg dishes as well as a small selection of tapas, and some chalkboard specials iirc. I think I remember the server saying the regular tapas menu starts at 4 pm. Looked like they had an impressive wine/sherry list but I wasn't drinking that day so I didn't pay much attention to it.
Casa Mono is owned by Mario Batali, and is more upscale/polished looking than Boqueria. The atmosphere is a little more hip and laidback at Boqueria. Casa Mono takes reservations- it's possible to reserve in advance through their website.
Bar Jamon is the small tapas bar right around the corner from Casa Mono, also owned by Batali, which is more casual and more economical afaik- might be better for a quick bite. Bar Jamon only takes walk-ins.
52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
125 E 17th St, New York, NY 10003
53 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011
I haven't had a chance to dine at Casa Mono, but I think there would also be safe dishes.
The tapas I ordered at Boqueria were standard dishes- patatas bravas, boquerones (little anchovies in vinegar), croquetas (3 types, including ham, mushroom, salt cod), a serving of manchego with some breads and dried fruits. I was dining with a cousin who doesn't eat much, so I ordered less food (and maybe slightly less adventurous food) than I would typically order, in case I ended up having to eat most of it.
Here is my trip report from my last visit:
I haven't tried any other tapas bars or Spanish restaurants in NYC recently, but you might also want to check out Pamplona, Tia Pol, Txikito or Xunta's menus to see if they appeal more to your taste;
205 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011
37 East 28th Street, New York, NY 10016
507 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001
The wine list at Casa Mono is fabulous. Only Spanish wines. An acquaintance of ours works for the Spanish Wine Board (or whatever it is called), and she told me she thinks it is the best Spanish wine list in the U.S. Casa Mono is a favorite of ours, though we've only been for lunch.
I've been to Boqueria for lunch once - actually "brunch", but as another poster said, they had quite a decent list of tapas available, including a couple that weren't on the menu, once we inquired (we're not particularly interested in brunch). The mushroom croquetas there were so good that we had a second order.
More stuff you can't find in Toronto:
Korean fried chicken - Bon Chon @ 315 5th Ave. & 32nd St.
Yakitori and shochu bars (I started a thread about this on the Toronto board and Ematei was the only place suggested that had a decent selection of yakitori, but was not actually a yakitori place). - Yakitori Taisho @ 5 St. Marks Pl., and Village Yokocho @ 8 Stuyvesant (around the corner from Yakitori Taisho). Pop into Angel Share while you're at Village Yokocho.
Check out www.foodsofny.com
I did a food tour of greenwich village and it was indeed great fun.
There are other neighborhoods you can tour..but that one suited the dates I was looking for.
I also did a cheese course at Murrays Cheese Store. It was beyond-fantastic.
It was perfect.!!!
You cant find either of those events in Toronto!!
Have a great trip and please report back!!
Dean & DeLuca in SOHO
White Castle :-)
Blue Ribbon for the seafood platter
Blue Ribbon Sushi
Can't remember the name but there is a 'southern BBQ takeout' place on 8th Ave by Times Square that always has a lineup - we go for the BBQ brisket, beans and ribs
In most cases, we pretty much hang out in SOHO
While I recommend avoiding Chinese and Thai (New York can't hold a candle to Toronto in general) you should definitely go for good Mexican and Indian food, which I don't think Toronto has in great abundance. Especially Mexican.
MEXICAN - here are chowhounders debating which is best:
INDIAN - you could make this one a two-fer. Go up Lexington to 28th street and stop in Kaluystan's. It's on Lex between 28th and 29th and it's the most amazing spice store in the city. Really incredible - like an Indian version of Russ & Daughters (which you should also check out). Then go to 28th Street between Park and Lexington for Tiffin Wallah which is the best Indian vegetarian food in the city, as far as I'm concerned. Innovative and different from what you get elsewhere.
PIZZA - how can you come to New York and not have really good pizza? Again, Chowhounders debate the merits, but Artichoke is pretty great:
COCKTAILS - go to PDT and either arrive early and sit at the bar, or see if you can get a reservation. Nothing like it in Toronto. If you can't get in there, then try Apotheke. Not nearly as good, but a similar vibe and pretty good cocktails as well. I don't think this whole gourmet cocktail trend has hit Toronto yet and these two places are a lot of fun.