did my homework first, but still need some help with trip itinerary
We are a 30ish couple coming from Montreal for a five day trip. We'll stay around 1 E and 1st, but will be walking around all day. We don't have a limited budget, but frankly multi-course white tablecloth dining doesn't wow us that much. We are in desperate need to fix our hankering for Japanese, seafood and pizza (three food groups that are not well represented in our otherwise fair city). In our trips, we'd like to have a set list of candidate restaurants in hand but no fixed itinerary, and rather decide as the day progresses. So places with no reservation policy or bearing the possibility to get last minute reservations are ideal for us (so no Babbo unfortunately). Traveling to other boroughs is an option (we are planning a trip to Brooklyn and Queens anyway).
I've started working on a master list to take with us, but there are gaps to fill and choices to make. Do I have any duds in the below list, or missing anything else that I won't regret eating? Spicy cheap food from obscure regions of the world and all forms of pork/seafood are always welcome.
Russ & Daughters
Espresso (Cafe Grumpy and Abraco and Gimme! and Ninth Street and more. I LOVE coffee, please give me more coffee suggestions. I'll drink them all)
Sripraphai (during our excursion to Queens)
Food cart/ street food
New Green Bo (eaten there and have fond memories, but open to alternatives)
Di Fara (on our trip to Brooklyn)
Southern food (Amy Ruth or Miss Maude?)
Some midtown lunch (suggestions welcome)
Zabar (provisions for a post Moma picnic)
Japanese beer food (Totto or Otafuku)
Japanese (Yasuda or Sagakura or Gari, but which one?)
Momofuku ssam / Milk
Una Pizza Napoletana
Indian (Saravanaas or Devi or Dawat?)
Sullivan Street Bakery
Grand Central Oyster Bar (snacks as in oysters)
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Cake (Sugar Sweet Sunshine or Crumbs)
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Need more salty snacks
Missing in my list: I am still in search of non churrasceria Brazilian (requested by boyfriend) and Burmese (requested by me).
I also inquired about bars in another thread, but suggestions about intimate neighborhoody bars where you can actually converse are always welcome.
very nice homework...a few notes:
definitely get the french toast at blue ribbon...its the best ive had.
coffee? also check out la colombe on lafayette in soho and on church in tribeca...best espresso in the city in my opinion. also good is jack's on 10th street and joe the art of coffee with various locations in the city. if you make it to park slope, check out gorilla coffee. and if you are in park slope on a sunday, the brunch at applewood is insanely good.
i grew up in brooklyn and i dont have the patience for dealing with difaras anymore. i actually think the sicilian slice at artichoke pizza on 14th street is actually better. i stand by that claim.
midtown lunch? for cheap and awesome, check out margon on 46th off 6th ave. great cuban served by dominicans. wed is pernil day...get extra garlic sauce on it.
i cant really share any great izakaya in nyc but sakagura across the street from yasuda on 43rd is a great cooked japanese spot...located in an office basement...youll like it...get the chocolate souffle for dessert.
yasuda is my pick for best sushi but only eat at the bar. if you can only get a table, id skip yasuda completely. also great is ushi wakamaru on houston off sullivan in the west village.
i think the momofuku places are overrated...ippudo's akiomaru (sp?) ramen is insanely better. and get their hirata buns...miles better than momofuku.
una pizza nepaletano is a total ripoff in my opinion. i just dont get it nor do i want to. mediocre pizza with attitude and high prices...biggest scam in the city to me.
id add shake shack for burgers, keens for steak, perilla for new american, moustache for cheap middle eastern, and barbuto for their chicken. also check out inoteca for great italian and freemans for brunch only.
as for bars, im a scotch guy and i dont like lame scenes. i like keen's bar, brandy library (getting lame though), smith and mills, walkers, tavern on jane, blue ribbon wine bar, angels share, and johnnys bar on greenwich.
NB: the Blue Ribbon Bakery french toast is made from challah. I prefer mine made from brioche and it didn't seem that amazing to me. Good but not excellent.
For Yasuda and, Ushiwakamaru, if you want to sit at the bar, reservations are highly recommended. I've definitely seen people turned away from Ushi, thinking they could just walk in.
ive been to noodle, ssam, and milk...not ko...
the food is merely ok...i just find it to be so hyped that it turns me off completely. for ramen, ippudo beats momofuku...same with pork buns. the one thing i loved...the ssam banh mi...they took off the menu.
the milk bar and the desserts are ridiculously sweet but they are good for what they are.
Your list looks pretty good to me. I'd make a weak argument for Shanghai Cafe on Mott between Canal and Hester for Shanghainese - weak, because I don't really like any of the Shanghainese places in Chinatown that much. New Yeah Shanghai on Bayard has nicer decor in the back, but I was disappointed with the food on my last visit or two. New York is stronger in Cantonese, Sichuan, perhaps Chao Zhou, and many hounds claim, Fuzhounese cuisine (I have yet to really explore that much).
There is no Burmese food to speak of in Manhattan. If you have your heart set on Burmese, check the Outer Boroughs board (which you should do, anyway).
For your Midtown lunch, how about a spicy Sichuan-style lunch at Szechuan Gourmet, 39th between 5th and 6th?
Also, since you like spicy food, consider getting a banh mi or/and banh mi ga at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery, Mott St. between Hester and Grand. It's one of the best value sandwiches you can find in New York. [Edit: I forgot to mention: Lunch only; closes around 6 PM.]
As for bars, you really are going to be in bar central. Just walk around and check out any bar that doesn't seem too crowded. There are so many all over the East Vilage/Lower East Side that you'll find places that are OK with you, even on weekends.
I forgot to mention:
If you have any interest at all in a good neighborhood mainstay that serves Moroccan-, Middle Eastern-, and French-influenced food and has excellent breakfast/brunch every day, you should go to Cafe Mogador, on St Marks between 1st and A. I'd really recommend going there on a weekday, not for weekend brunch, which is overly mobbed unless you go really early (like before 10 or so, I guess).
Have a look at Kathryn's annotated brunch list, too:
russ & daughters has no place to sit or anything - it is a shop not a restaurant.
i don't know miss maude, but i like amy ruth's
yasuda is better for top notch traditional sushi, gari for modern creative sushi. I have not been to the west side gari, but like the one on 78th st.
i love ippudo, but it is costly- as far as ramen goes, but not by any other standard.
the latest indian place to tickle my fancy is dhaba in curry hill
Miss Mamie, Miss Maude, and Spoonbread are all the same folks - it's been a few years since I was in NYC so I don't know if all are still going. We were at the place on 110th on the West Side and the food was wonderful - bountiful portions, everything utterly delicious. Never been to Amy Ruth's - we learned about the sisters from the Martha Stewart show and think what you want of her, she looks for the best of everything.
I'd also suggest a brunch, lunch or afternoon coffee and pastry at Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie, a relatively new German/Austrian-focus art museum on 5th Avenue a few blocks south of the Met(ropolitan Museum of Art). The pastries are the sort of thing that used to be available farther east when the Yorkville section of Manhattan was still dominated by German immigrants.
In general, I'd take advantage of the opportunity to experience cuisines NOT available in my home area. Where else are there as many options as in NYC?
To replace Grand Central Oyster Bar for your oyster fix, I would suggest Aquagrill in Soho. Very good selection of oysters including $1 bluepoints at the bar from 4-6. Also, since you are looking for seafood, you could always stay for dinner, as it has always been a very solid restaurant.
cafe mogador (moroccan) suggested by the other poster is a wonderful selection. get the lamb tagine with charmoulla and the spicey carrots and eggplant/tahini tapas. dine in the evening- i do think they take reservations. i only eat here in fall/winter, but i know you'll enjoy. this is my wife's favorite spot in the city (she opts for the apircot/prune tagine).
skip momofuku ssam unless you have the requisite group to do the pork butt (you can stretch it with 6 people, they suggest 8-10) - its 200 bucks and youll def need to call ahead. i cant imagine eating there and not getting the pork butt. but boy is the porkbutt good stuff.
for savory quick snack consider the fish or shrimp tacos at pinche taqueria (the fried baja kind).
for pizza, another poster mentioned already but you MUST try the artichoke slice at 'artichoke' on 14th st. just get one for starters even if you're a big eater. its a little rich and one slice is pretty hearty. havent tried the sicilian, but i cant imagine ordering anything but the artichoke slice here (want to try the crab slice).
for ramen, try the mabo tofu ramen at sapporo (49th and 7th ave) if youre in midtown. the mabo tofu over rice is good there as well if you're not feeling the noodle onslaught. thats good japanese food, usually 70% inhouse diners are of asian decent (only place i see this outside of chinatown).
for southern, if you like cajun- consider mara's homemade. very close to where youre going to stay (6th st at 1st ave). their crawfish pot pie is one of my absolute favorite things in the city. great new orleans beer selection (i prefer the abita rootbeer with my food though) and they mix a killer hurricane. jack, the owner of jewel bako (skip jewel bako imo) can be seen here eating here alone, having fried chicken with martini and bouncing from cell phone to cell phone. they're cajun-bbq shrimp is pretty killer too. the crawfish boil is too much work imo though. this place is SUPER casual mom-and-pop.
for sweet, try the banana pudding at magnolia bakery (multiple locations but try to goto the original in the west village). their cupcakes are still great, but there are a lot of newcomers in that category (crumbs etc) -- but they're banana pudding... wow.
my intimate sleeper conversation bar is the north square lounge underneath the washington square hotel.
good luck finding a good breakfast in nyc. i still cant find it, been looking since 1996.
I think the artichoke slice is really overly heavy and odd -- basically artichoke dip on a big piece of bread. The square is MUCH better.
The cupcakes at Magnolia are terrible. Butter Lane, Chikalicious, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Tonnie's Minnie's, Two Little Red Hens, Sage American Kitchen (available at Dean & Deluca), and 'wichcraft's faux Duncan ones are ALL better. Crumbs are OK, they are moist if you get one that is filled, otherwise dry, dry, dry. Billy's can be hit or miss, as can be babycakes' cupcakes. Sometimes dry, sometimes moist. I prefer all the ones I mentioned above more.
you would send someone to artichoke to not get their artichoke slice? seriously? their artichoke slice is brilliant. i agree its rich, but arent we talking about melted cheese on bread anyway?
kathryn, youre spot on in all your other threads ive read- on this though, i just think youre wrong. obviously, artichoke isnt nyc pizza. if you want nyc pizza, there are great slices all over the city and surrounding (i think its best in the burbs)- you dont need to consult chowhound to find one. the mass availability of the classic ordinary ny slice (done well) is part of the glory of ny pizza. anyone who takes there ny pizza too seriously, probably isnt from ny..... as far as non-classic ny style pizza (the coal/wood oven stuff) in nyc, it hardly competes with whats out there in most ordinary american cities. sad, but true.
as far as your hit on magnolia. 'terrible' isn't a word i use to describe cupcakes in general. same with Pan below... 'gross'? people, its a cupcake- if you think a magnolia cupcake is 'terrible' or 'gross' i think you need to ask yourself if you take your cupcake eval too seriously. besides, the people that know what they're doing when they goto magnolia get the banana pudding which is a triumph in the world of desserts. an attack on their banana pudding is basically a forfeiture of any credibility imo. their cocunut cake is pretty awesome also.
American bananas, which are never tree-ripened, upset my stomach, so I can't comment on any banana puddings. I found Magnolia's molten chocolate cake OK, but it wasn't worth waiting on a long line. As for taking good taste "too seriously," this native New Yorker proudly pleads guilty. If you aren't taking taste seriously, why are you on Chowhound, anyway?
I've found the artichoke slice at Artichoke to be gloppy, heavy, creamy, and overly large, and the crust is too thick. Creamy is not always the same as cheesy. I'm just calling it as I see it -- people can judge for themselves.
Magnolia's cupcakes are often too dry. The recipe does not call for salt, which I find a crucial ingredient in baked goods. There is too much frosting on the cupcake, so it's out of proportion to the cake itself, and the frosting is way too sweet. It looks pretty, but that's about it. Overall, I find it a waste of money, hence I think it's terrible, from a taste standpoint. I have a sweet tooth and ever can't finish a Magnolia cupcake.
re: Peter Cherches
I usually prefer muffins, myself, but I've had some really good cupcakes. Last summer, there was a cupcake baking benefit that was held at a bar in Williamsburg. To me, a good cupcake has to have a delicious, sufficiently moist body as well as a delicious but not excessively thick icing. My feeling is that I like really good cupcakes and would like them as much as or more than good muffins, but seldom find them.
i disagree about SSam - the pork buns, the apple kimchi, the small plates of seafood, and the off menu stuff are all worth trying.
as to artichoke - i like the place, but it is not typical NYC pizza, if that's what your out of town heart desires. that said, the margharita slice is good, and the crab slice delicious. just not prototypical NYC.
forgot the part where you ask for seafood...
i had a great experience with BLT fish for a chef prepared fish dish. the accacia cod, another dining partner had a salmon (not sure if its the same prep is as on the menu but it was insane and i never order salmon at a restaurant). red snapper cantonese style was good also. any fresh fish served with their caper-brown butter would be good though. this place is more white table cloth as you self described though- but its good.
marys fish camp does pretty decent clam shack seafood fare. youll need to goto eastern long island for the real deal though. oyster/clams app is quite good as is their version of the banana pudding dessert. their fries suck though which takes away a lot from a potential fish and chip experience. eds lobster bar is really disappointing. youre ok at pearls oyster bar also (do this ahead of oyster bar in grand central).
i would skip salt and battery for fish and chips although no harm in trying it once i suppose. their batter lacks. they do have an east village location though not far from you.
if you really want the high brow seafood treatment though, dont leave montreal and just goto milos there for the fresh fish!
> Barney Greengrass
Be prepared to wait a bit, this is a pretty popular place on weekends. I'd go on a weekday. Note they are closed Mondays.
Weekends only, be prepared for a long wait unless you get there before they open at 10am.
> Blue Ribbon
There are several Blue Ribbons around town. Blue Ribbon BRASSERIE does not serve brunch. Blue Ribbon BAKERY does. Be sure to note down hours.
> Russ & Daughters
I think on CH, the gaspe has been hailed as the best smoked salmon choice. Mmmm, bagel sandwich. Note that it's more of a gourmet store, there is no seating available. If the weather cooperates, you can eat it on the benches in front of the store, or back where you're staying, or the park on 1st and 1st.
> Espresso (Cafe Grumpy and Abraco and Gimme! and Ninth Street and more)
Those are great, definitely check out La Colombe, Joe the Art of Coffee, and I've heard good things about Kaffe 1668.
Take a peek at this awesome espresso tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn, too:
> Food cart/ street food
The halal cart on 53rd/6th is one of my favorites. They are on the SE corner during the day and SW at night. Look for the bright yellow bags, ROUND containers, and yellow sweatshirts, are there are many copycats.
> Southern food (Amy Ruth or Miss Maude?)
I love the chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth's!
> Una Pizza Napoletana
I might consider going to Co aka Company instead, Keste has been getting a lot of traction, too.
> Japanese beer food (Totto or Otafuku)
I'd make reservations for Yakitori Totto...the wait can be murder. Note that Otafuku is not a sit down restaurant, more of a takeout place. Weather can change quite quickly here.
I like Rack N Soul better than amy ruths,miss mamies/maudes et al...can't really explain it, their fried chicken is just better. All of these places are inconsistent, especially when you go when it is really slow or really busy. Sometimes they are great..... A little blasphomy here, but I would skip Barney Greengrass, unless you are in the area. I would rather go to Shopsins or Clinton Street Baking Co....I think Chinatown Ice cream closed, go to Il Lab, Otto, Milk bar, Shack Shack, maybe Grom for ice cream...you mentioned babbo. you can easily eat at the bar there, no reservations, do a search it is discussed here almost daily....a great expresso in midtown is at a tiny place Zibetto (56th & 6th)
Focusing entirely on the sushi question alone, between Yasuda and Gari, you are looking at two entirely different situations. Having been to Japan, and myself a sushi purist, I prefer the traditional sushi served at Yasuda, and I think the freshness AND selection of the fish in itself justifies the high prices.
On the other hand, if you prefer "fusion" type sushi, you can't get much better then Sushi of Gari. It will include some tried and true combinations (yellowtail w/ minced jalapeno) but also some really interesting options (deep fried small Japanese mountain trout).
Atmosphere alone, in my opinion, Yasuda wins with simple wooden surroundings. Both locations are truly only worth it if you sit at the bar, and I would suggest showing interest to the chefs to elevate the experience.
In the end, both can set you back up $500.00 for dinner for two, obviously depending on how much you eat. Still, they are two entirely different experiences, and the choice should strictly be for what type of sushi you are looking for.
--Sripraphai (during our excursion to Queens)
-New Green Bo (eaten there and have fond memories, but open to alternatives)
I think Shanghai Cafe is better.
-Di Fara (on our trip to Brooklyn)
Go on an off hour and still be prepared to wait.
-Some midtown lunch (suggestions welcome)
Chola, Tadka, Ariyoshi, Wu Liang Ye (though you do have Niu Kee in Montreal)
-Japanese (Yasuda or Sagakura or Gari, but which one?)
I'm not really a sushi person, but if you have time for another Japanese dinner, I highly recommend the kaiseki at Sugiyama
-Una Pizza Napoletana
Yes! Liquid pork!
-Indian (Saravanaas or Devi or Dawat?)
Definitely not Dawat. Devi is great, and Saravanaas is the best southie veg, at the other end of the price spectrum. For upscale multiregional Chola is MUCH better than Dawat (same block)--they also do the best lunch buffet in the city.
--Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Absolutely. Also, try Sedutto's ice cream. You can get it at a candy shop called Myzel's, on 55th between 6th & 7th--mocha almond fudge is my favorite.
-Burmese (requested by me).
There has been no good Burmese in NY in many years, ever since Irene Khin Wong closed Road to Mandalay.
If you get to Park Slope, get a bagel from The Bagel Hole, the best NY-style bagel I know of.
I haven't seen the bar thread, but I'm sure dba has been mentioned.
re: Peter Cherches
A few more thoughts. To out-of-town foodies I often recommend Vostok in Brooklyn, since Bukharian cuisine (Jewish Uzbek) is not something you'll find outside of NYC and maybe Israel. However, if you ever went to the now-defunct Uighur Restaurant in MTL there's a lot of overlap.
If you're interested in soba add Soba Nippon to the midtown lunch list. If you don't book you'll probably sit at the bar, but the bar is very nice.
For snacks or breakfast, a cafe cardamomo or anisado with an arepa de choclo or pan de bono at Juan Valdez Cafe. If you weren't coming from Quebec I'd recommend breakfast at Bar Breton for buckwheat galettes, but you can probably find them closer to home.
re: Peter Cherches
Jewish Uzbek? Wow, what a specialized cuisine. I did make my way to Uighur in Montreal shortly before they closed, so I have an idea of what you're talking about. For the OP to reinforce a thought in the thread, don't waste a meal on New (now Nice) Green Bo. Plenty of better places to have lunch in Chinatown--maybe Cantoon Garden if Cantonese is OK or Shanghai Cafe on Mott if Shanghai stye is a must.
If you are going to be in New York on a Monday, you may well be able to dine at Babbo, if that is one of your wishes.
We arrived at about 6:15 last evening and decided it would be worth the 45-minute wait. The food was phenomenal. The noise level, not so much.
Ice cream: I like Emack & Bolio's, a Boston transplant with several locations throughout the city. The ice cream there seems sweeter and creamier to me than other places in the city.
Sushi: If you prefer fusion-style (like Gari) vs more traditional (like Yasuda), I would go with Sushi Seki. I think the omakase there gives you the same stuff that you would get at Gari plus some different and tastier creations. The price and quality are comparable.
Non-rodizio Brazilian: I would venture out to Astoria and try either Malagueta or Sabor Tropical. Don't think you will find that quality in Manhattan.
Wow - quite an exhaustive list. I think for breakfast, I would do Clinton Street Baking Co. on Houston and Clinton - if you are there on a weekday you won't have as long of a line for their blueberry pancakes. If you make it to Brooklyn - Stone Park Cafe on 5th Ave. in Park Slope is also a good choice.
For dinner I think Max or Mercadito in the East Village are good options. Also Porchetta if you like pork - 7th and 1st. Mara's Homemade is good if you like New Orlean's cooking as well. For ramen, I prefer Menchanko-Tei to the other suggestions but it is up in midtown.
For snacks - cupcakes - I would try Butter Lane (on 7th street in east village) and Chikalicious Dessert Club. For ice cream you could also try Grom or Cones Artisans.
131 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017
51 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
Stone Park Cafe
324 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
203 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
172 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009
123 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009
293 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002