London Chowhound needs a little help (kinda long)
Hello NYC 'hounds, London 'hound here needs some advice on choices and help narrowing down a pretty long list. I'll be visiting in late August for a bit longer than a week with my girlfriend, we are both 20 years old so cannot drink, therefore we are looking for places that don't mind us not drinking alcohol and are pretty easy going with it. Budget is...well, we can spend a lot when we want to but we would also love five dumplings for a buck, as you can probably see from the list I've compiled from reading the boards. I'm not sure where we'll be staying and it's not really that important to us that the places are local, we enjoy traveling - might seem preposterous to NYC natives but your subway system is so much better than the London tube in our eyes.
I've only been to NYC once before and visited and enjoyed: Katz's, Gray's Papaya, BLT Burger, Nathan's in Coney Island, Yola's Cafe in Williamsburg, Momofuku Ssam, Halal Cart, Joe's Pizza. Didn't enjoy: Grimaldi's was the only duff note. Also to note that I'll be in Maine for a couple of months before coming to NYC so am thinking of ruling out any seafood places in the assumption that I'll be sorted out for the rest of the year from my time in ME...Oh, and that's the reason I'm posting this so early, I won't have much internet access for the next couple of months.
I hope this thread doesn't look too long but a list of places that have interested me or seem interesting:
RGR's lower east side tour, maybe add on a short visit to chinatown to get some prosperity dumplings if we can manage it
korean chicken places - we have nothing of this sort in London
momofuku ssam - set lunch
shopsins - breakfast/brunch/lunch
clinton st - brunch
barbecue joint of some sort - RUB, fette sau, dinosaur bbq, hill country
steak place - peter luger, keen's, blt, minetta tavern
burger - shake shack
hot dogs - papaya king, crif dogs, hot dog co.
bagels - H and H/ absolute bagels - any others?
mexican food - fish tacos in particular
japanese - sushi yasuda - how much are we looking at for omakase with yasuda? i'm not really a sushi guy but apparently this guy's the best so i'm thinking if anyone can change my mind it may be him...but it can be dropped in favour of another option.
street food - halal cart
dessert places - chikalicious/two little red hens cupcakes
dim sum in flushing
pizza - di fara/lucali/patsy's harlem/artichoke (we'll see how we're feeling as i understand any of these are good choices)
otafuku for takoyaki and okonomiyaki
jean georges lunch
per se salon menu - ever since I read the review on here from the user 'roze' I have been dreaming of going
madonia brothers bakery in the bronx for canoli - worth it? i think i saw a video with 'famous fat Dave' or Bourdain or someone and they looked pretty good...
places with good root beer. our favourite drink.
In fact, I can probably do a few of those with Kathryn's suggested itinerary to another poster:
- Start at with a pork bun at Momofuku Milk Bar - Get some Gnocchi at the bar at Hearth - Square slice of pizza at Artichoke - Chips and dip, bacon peanut brittle, and/or mushroom flatbread at the bar at Redhead - Egg cream at Ray's on Avenue A (an egg cream has neither egg nor cream, it's more like a chocolate soda with milk) - Grand Sichuan for an order of soup dumplings - Split a banh mi at Baoguette - Deep fried NJ style hot dogs at Crif Dogs, I like mine bacon wrapped with cucumber and jalapeno - Otafuku for okonomiyaki and takoyaki if you're still hungry - Vanilla soft serve, cookies, or cupcakes at Chikalicious Dessert Bar
Apologies for the length of this and a couple of Outer Borough points, any help is appreciated :)
Ok, so I'm finally back from the USA and it's time for my write up. I've decided to just write about all the places I went in a random order, with some in more description than others. It is quite long...
Katz's - I actually visited Katz's twice on this trip, taking my total number of visits to three and each time I've got the same thing: a pastrami on rye. The first time I went, didn't specify how juicy I wanted the meat and got a great sandwich; second time I specified really juicy and got an incredible sandwich; third time specific 'quite juicy' and got another incredible sandwich. Such glorious meat. The first time I visited was in 2008 and I don't know if it's my larger gut but the sandwich didn't fill me up as much this time…it didn't even look as big as it did before. I wasn't intimidated by it. I could have even taken down a plate of fries and some extra gherkins, all washed down by some Dr Brown's Black Cherry. Aside from that the pastrami was as fantastic as ever and I will definitely go back whenever I visit NYC.
Kossar's Bialy - Oh dear…I really wanted to like this, and I was so excited to try it, especially with all the testimonies that suggest it's a quintessential New York food, one that cannot be missed. I ordered a garlic bialy and when it came it looked quite nice, but with the first bite I was instantly disappointed. Stale, hard, flavourless - ultimately rather pointless. I understand from what people have said in this thread and elsewhere that you need to eat it straight out of the oven, but we went at about 1.30pm as it was part of the LES tour and we were the only ones even showing an interest in the place; no fresh bialys were coming out. I'd love to try a fresh one, but I doubt I'll take the risk again. The garlic centre was rather nice tasting, but past that it was just a rock and I threw most of it away.
Yonah Schimmel's Knishery - The second stop on the LES tour and another food I'd never tried before. We got a potato knish to share after seeing how big they were (much larger than I expected) and it was still hot out of the oven. I really enjoyed it, though it was quite heavy for a hot August day. Great tasting, and the bottom was particularly good as it was quite crispy and had that well done flavour. I want to try other varieties but the potato knish was a pretty good starting point.
Economy Candy - Amazing candy shop. So cluttered and full of great candy memorabilia. Much cheaper than others we went to, like Dylan's Candy Bar. I ended up spending 30 bucks on candy to bring home and I could have probably spent a lot more if I didn't restrict myself to candies I absolutely loved or hadn't yet tried. My favourite new candy is perhaps the sour cherry balls, which were recommended by a guy from New Jersey in the store. A great end to the LES tour.
Prosperity Dumplings - Five dumplings for a dollar, fantastic value. Unfortunately these weren't as good as the ones I tried at Vanessa's. They were crispy on the bottom and the filling was pretty good, but they were just so insanely greasy that they were hard to enjoy fully. I'd try this place again as it is so cheap but Vanessa's was better. One note though: the dumplings do fall apart very easily at both places, don't they?
Halal Cart - Went twice to the halal cart on 53rd and 6th (avoiding the fake one across the road on the SE corner and heading straight for the SW corner, with the huge line). First time I got the chicken and lamb over rice, with the bread and lettuce and white sauce. The chicken was alright, a touch dry, but the lamb and rice were fantastic, as was the white sauce. The lettuce was unnecessary and the next visit I made I asked him to cut out the lettuce from my lamb over rice. Delicious, cheap and I had a nice chat with the guy manning the rice about their origins (Egyptian) and other subjects. Will visit again next time I visit NYC.
Shake Shack - Perhaps the place I was most excited to visit on this trip, as we missed it last time. Friends have recommended it, people on here and blogs too love it. It didn't disappoint at all. We actually went three times - twice for hot food and once for a concrete. I tried the Shake Stack, which was perhaps a bit too much, but still tasted fantastic. The mushroom thing was delicious, the meat was lovely tasting, the shack sauce quite nice and the bread…oh the bread. So great, I could eat that bread by itself. The second time I went for a Double Shack burger, to give a bit more focus on the meat and I enjoyed it a lot more than the first visit. The fries were okay, not the best (I don't really like crinkle cut fries anyway) but the Abita root beer was fantastic. For our visit for concrete we both got the Shacky Road, which didn't seem to actually include all of the components it suggested on the menu, but it was still very good. Very big too! That must have been a pint of "fro-yo". I prefer the look of the concretes available at the Madison Square Park location, but you can't have it all, eh?
Donut Plant - My girlfriend and I shared a banana pecan glazed cake donut from this place, and loved it. Not overly sweet, with a great banana flavour and the pecans added a nice bit of texture. We wanted to try a few more things out but at that time we were completely stuffed as we were nearing the end of the LES tour.
A couple of stands in Flushing - Got a couple of sticks of xianjiang style kebab from a man in a street in Flushing. Good flavour from the stuff he dusted it with and also the open coals. Not overly chewy, quite juicy. Very enjoyable, and only a buck. Then we were walking along and went into a bakery and got a bun with tuna in it. I guess I'd call it 'tunapan' from previous experiences in Japanese bakeries and such. We carried on and came upon a whole host of hectic places selling pieces of fried chicken and fried bread that looked like roti prata or something. Got a bit of the bread for a buck and it had scallions inside. Quite nice and flaky, though rather difficult by itself. Unfortunately we didn't have time to go into any restaurants or visit the mall or other places, though we will give the area a lot more attention the next time we visit as it was fascinating and everything we got was great quality and cheap.
Five Guys - My first foray into the world of 'five napkins' burger and I was rather bemused by the place, if I'm honest. I ordered a cheeseburger with everything on it, and it tasted of…nothing. It had very little flavour. It was horribly greasy too, and not in an enjoyable way. I also ordered a regular portion of fries and got enough fries to feed three people for forty days and forty nights. They were pretty good though, so not too many complaints. All in all it was a pretty average meal and some really good fries. Free peanuts were good.
Corner Bistro - Bistro burger, fries and a root beer. Perfect. Bistro burger was requested medium rare, came medium but still very juicy and very tasty. My girlfriend found hers a little too juicy though and it all fell apart, in one delicious mess. I really enjoyed it and can see why a lot of people do say it's the best NY burger. A great contrast to the Shake Shack style thin patty. Both were very enjoyable and I'm unsure as to which was my favourite burger of the two. I'll definitely hit the Corner Bistro again, for the great burger and great root beer.
NY Pizza Suprema - I really enjoyed the regular slice I had from this midtown joint. In quite a strange and touristy area, right near Madison Square Garden, it didn't fill me with hope but fresh pies were on the go the whole time and the slices prepared were great. Perhaps a bit overdone on the cheese side, with the flavour of the grana padano overpowering the other components, but overall very nice.
Joe's Pizza - Second and third time I've been and consistently a good slice. Not much else to say apart from that. Exactly what I imagined before I tried an NY slice for the first time.
Patsy's East Harlem - Wow. When the pie came out of the oven it looked like something you'd get from the frozen section of a supermarket, but you could see the amazing oven roaring in the back and the man at the front making pies nearly as quick as the hoards of people were taking them down. I paid my $1.75 (the price was nice) and immediately wolfed down my first slice. With a scorched mouth I ordered another two. So good. The crust, the sauce, the ratio of cheese to the previously mentioned tomato - all fantastic. I loved this place and everything about it.
2 Bros Pizza - Purely out of curiosity, we had to try this place. Every time we passed one we noticed that slices were 99 cents each. You can see why when you take a bite, huh? Terrible crust ruins the whole thing. The cheese and the tomato were passable, but on that crust it was a rather difficult task finishing it off. Bland and cheap, we made the mistake of eating it sober.
Adrienne's Pizzabar - Knife and fork pizza type place, with "old style" pies. We got half a plain and half a sausage rectangular/square pie, which wasn't bad. Unfortunately it was cooked in the pan and that meant that after the first few slices the rest were just soggy as they were sitting there. The first couple of slices were pretty nice, but I doubt I'd visit again. Not the style of pizza I like at all.
Mad For Chicken - Probably the loudest restaurant I've ever been to. When we entered I asked (shouted) at the lady behind the desk where on earth we were. She informed me that we were, as we had hoped, in 'Mad for Chicken' and after seating us explained how everything worked. We ordered just a large mixed chicken plate, with a soy and garlic coating as we weren't feeling that hungry. The food came out a lot quicker than I expected it to, suggesting it perhaps wasn't freshly cooked? I'm not sure, as it was quite hot and exceptionally crispy. The chicken inside wasn't juicy at all though, and it was quite a struggle to finish the whole lot. The Korean pickles provided were delicious though. I'd like to try another chain, perhaps one that doesn't play Europop as loud as this one and I'd like to try the spicy glaze, but I enjoyed the crispiness of the chicken, but obviously not the dry nature of the actual chicken meat.
Vanessa's Dumplings - Great, cheap dumplings that unfortunately fell apart very easily to reveal the delicious filling. Crispy bottom and well cooked skin was good though. The sesame pancake filled with roast beef was incredible, I really enjoyed it a lot. I could eat a couple of those and be satisfied. In fact, I was satisfied with four dumplings and a sesame pancake for lunch. Two bucks! I wish we had more of this in London, though it is definitely something I associate with NYC: cheap and quick ethnic foods that are worth eating.
Bleecker St Pizza - Supposedly Tuscan thin style pizza, and definitely one of the thinnest crusts I've enjoyed in my 20 year pizza career. It was perhaps a little too thin and crispy, though it certainly was enjoyable, but it didn't cut the mustard in comparison to other slices I had in NYC.
Cafe Con Leche - Walking along Amsterdam Ave on one of my first days in the city after a bit of time in the park I came across this place. I noticed it mentioned a lunch special and was intrigued to try out some Peruvian grilled chicken with rice and beans. Quite enjoyable. The chicken had a very nice barbecued flavour and the sauce that came with it was absolutely mind-blowing. I nearly licked the plate. The yellow rice and red beans were pretty good and accompanied the rest of the plate well. Not bad for $7 or so.
Yogurtland - You guys seem to be as obsessed with frozen yogurt as we are in London with burritos right now. We went with this place as it always seemed reasonably popular and we can see why. Pretty cheap and pretty nice tasting variety of frozen yogurts. I particularly enjoyed the Irish Mint flavour, although it was a fine line away from eating toothpaste in the flavour stakes.
Momofuku Ssam - Oh my, I do love this place. Rolling up at around 2.30/3pm on a Sunday afternoon, we weren't that hopeful that they would still be serving lunch, and if they were they perhaps wouldn't let us take our time, but they were very accommodating and we got a great meal for a relatively small fee. We decided to go with a couple of the prix fixe menus to make life easier, and would share the items that came out. For starters we ordered the Sichuan beef tendon and the famed pork buns. The Sichuan beef was absolutely wonderful. I don't think I've ever eaten beef tendon before and I don't really know why, if it always tastes like it did here. The dish came with shredded green mango and had peanuts scattered around, which added texture and another dimension to the flavour. The peppercorns were not overpowering but added a slight heat to the proceedings. One duff note about this dish was how greasy it was, though that is only a slight annoyance to a great plate of food. Secondly we had the pork buns, which everyone knows all about. They were absolutely brilliant. I could eat those things for days in a row and wouldn't be bored of them. The mains came next and we got the grilled branzini and the braised beef brisket. These were two of my favourite dishes of the whole trip. I hadn't ever tried branzini before this visit and I wasn't so sure what it even was, in my ignorance, but consider me a fan. Nicely grilled fish, tomatillos, jicama, pepitas, zucchini - oh my, all brilliant. I honestly nearly licked the plate. It was smoky, zesty, earthy and above all delicious. A beautiful looking plate of food, also. Up next was the braised brisket, which came in a bowl of noodle soup with thai basil and cilantro and garnished with bean sprouts. Basically, beef brisket is my absolutely favourite cut of beef and perhaps even thing in the entire world, so I adored this dish. Great tasting beef, expertly cooked with fantastic noodle soup, with so many dimensions and unexpected flavour combinations. Brilliant. The desserts were also absolutely great. Ice cream pie with strawberries was great but the ice cream on the pie was a little too hard, but had such an incredible buttery taste to it that it didn't matter. The Thai iced tea parfait, absolutely gorgeous. The lemon mascarpone and almond tea crunch and mint all worked so well together. Great food. Oh and they had Sprecher root beer, which was so wonderful that I nearly looked on craigslist Wisconsin for places to rent so I could enjoy this stuff at my leisure. All of this cost us 72 bucks including the tax and tip, and everything was spot on. Totally fantastic. I believe in Momofuku Ssam Bar.
Momofuku Milk Bar - After our success at Ssam Bar, we had to try out a few of the baked goods at Milk Bar. We decided to go with half a dozen of their cookies, trying the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow, compost and blubbery cream cookies. The cornflake etc. was great, but perhaps too sweet. The compost was my favourite. The coffee added a great flavour that offset the sweetness and the saltiness of the others. Great texture too; they all had a great texture. The blueberry was perhaps my least favourite of a good bunch, for no particular reason apart from the other two being great and interesting cookies and this being a rather straightforward biscuit. I'd like to try a few other things there, so will definitely have to go back.
Crif Dogs - A rather strange little place, with pretty much everyone who came in during our time inside going straight for the 'secret' bar. Anyway we quite enjoyed it. I got a bacon wrapped hot dog, while my girlfriend ordered the chihuahua, which was a bacon wrapped dog with sour cream and avocado. We shared some tater tots. Everything was pretty good, but the buns were a little stale. Perhaps they should have deep fried those too?
Otafuku - I loved this place. We need one in London. I got the combination B, and that was some takoyaki and an okonomiyaki (I had mine with shrimp). The takoyaki weren't the best I've ever had, but they were great tasting and big. The bonito flakes thrown on top were really good, I should have found out which brand they used. The okonomiyaki was very good, well worth the wait time. One sour note was that the takoyaki being cooked fresh was then put into a little warming rack instead of dished up to order like the okonomiyaki, which meant that it arrived warm rather than hot. Despite this it was cheap and very enjoyable, I'll definitely visit again.
Yola's Cafe - Nice little Williamsburg joint that has definitely become more popular since my last visit: the prices have been jacked up by a couple of bucks on every item. $8.50 for a burrito I paid $6 for last time. Worth the price though, with good flavours on display and a completely filling wrap.
Daisy May's BBQ USA - I liked this place a lot, I thought it had some pretty good BBQ and Southern style fare. Good brisket, pulled pork, cajun dirty rice, mashed potatoes and baked beans. The mac and cheese was alright…a bit Kraft-like. Really cheap too. They should give complimentary bread rolls though.
Fette Sau - Not a bad little Williamsburg spot, but certainly not what I was expecting. Taken there by my pal who loves it, I thought it would be a nice restaurant but instead it was a few benches in a garage. So far so good. The food was okay. The boneless beef rib was perhaps the best thing we tried - shredded off the bone, and it melted in the mouth. The brisket was not bad, with a variety of juiciness in the slices we got. The sausages were big and had a good flavour to them, but unfortunately for me were waaaay spicy. The baked beans were also overly spicy. An alright place but I doubt I'll visit again. Seems better for drinking than eating.
Baoguette - We tried the BBQ chicken and the pork banh mis from this place. Not bad at all, though I don't really remember it that well. The fillings were quite nice but the bread was a little too crumbly for my liking, despite being a bit stale at the same time.
Banh Mi Saigon Bakery - A lot better than Baoguette. The fillings were better proportioned, the bread was better and the whole thing just seemed a lot nicer tasting. Would go back again. I liked that it was in a jewellery shop.
Two Little Red Hens - We got two cupcakes to share between us - the red velvet (which we get at every cupcake place as the standard comparison) and the Brooklyn Blackout, which was recommended by the girl behind the counter (perhaps cos it was the most expensive at FOUR DOLLARS or perhaps because it is their most popular at the moment, according to her). Anyway, the red velvet was fantastic, up there with the best we've tried. Soft cake, buttery topping which wasn't overly sweet. A real triumph in cupcakery. The Brooklyn Blackout was basically chocolate, with chocolate on top and chocolate inside and all around the cupcake within a four inch vicinity. I loved it. So sugary and such a treat, the cupcake was edible alone, but topped with fantastically chocolatey icing and filled with chocolate pudding, it was enough to satisfy any chocoholic, or perhaps even a Chowhound. It was a little too pricey though, and I wouldn't really want to pay that much every time I fancied a cupcake. The red velvet was a little more reasonable at around two and a half bucks. Really glad we paid this place a visit.
Pommes Frites - I really liked this place. Tiny, cramped and absolutely busy, the initial smell of fried potatoes is fantastic when you first get in to this place. We both got a poutine; we couldn't resist the temptation of frites, chicken gravy and cheese. It was delicious. Hot, warming and absolutely wonderful. The fries that didn't have gravy on them were really good and crispy and the ones that had the sauce on them weren't particularly soggy, but were a real treat to eat.
Absolute Bagels - Good onion bagel with cream cheese. Not mind-blowing, but a very good bagel. Up there with the best I've eaten.
Papaya King - Bun was a little stale, but the frank had a good snap. Good chilli topping too.
Ramen Setagaya - I liked this a lot. I got the salt based ramen and it was definitely a step above anything I've eaten in London with regards to ramen. The egg in particular was very nice, with the yolk still quite runny. The broth was delicious.
Popeye's - I had to try this place to compare it with the Korean fried chicken, and I quite enjoyed it. Good fries and very crispy and juicy chicken. We need this chain in the UK.
Eisenberg's Sandwiches - Tuna salad sandwich and a lime rickey, the classic order according to this thread. Brilliant sandwich. Huge and great tasting, despite being so simple. The lime rickey also fantastic. First time trying one, and I honestly have no idea what was in it, but it tasted kind of like cherry…it was absolutely delicious. I need this drink every day. My girlfriend had the tuna melt, which was also very nice.
Junior's Cheesecake - Not bad. I thought the base would be crumbly though, and instead was kind of cakey, which I didn't enjoy that much. Pretty pricey too.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory - An alright chocolate ice cream, but they store it at too high a temperature or something because when I got my cone it was dripping all over the shop.
Lastly, thank you all SO much for the help you provided. It was absolutely wonderful, and sorry if I ignored any advice given, there was just far too much to get through. You guys are so lucky to live in a wonderful city where you can eat pretty much anything and it will be of a very good standard. Hopefully you will visit London and think the same thing. See you guys again soon, I hope.
FWIW, my husband and I ate an omakase lunch at Yasuda late last year and spent well under $300 ($265? $275?) for the two of us and we were stuffed. I'm small but my husband can put away sushi like nobody's business and was taking more from Chef Yasuda long after I'd stopped. Every time we're in NYC we do the same--lunch in front of Chef Yasuda--and we always end up in the $200 range.
To add to this - I've never eaten at the sushi bar at Yasuda, though I keep meaning to. When we've eaten at a table there, the check is usually about $225 before tax and tip, and well worth it. This includes several glasses of white wine and some sake, so the OP's bill could well be less. Much as I love Gari, Yasuda is my favorite place to have sushi.
We ate at the bar, shared the Sushi Matsu, ordered some a la carte, and ha the chef choose some pieces. 13 pieces of nigiri each (plus 1/2 roll) for just over $100 TOTAL (yes you read that right) before tax/tip. We were not stuffed but were very satisfied. I imagine the omakase is even better, but (esp for the money) we had an absolutely fabulous meal. I think if you don't drink, it would not be difficult to have omakase for $100 each (just specify). Basically, you can spend $70 pp all in or double that (or less if you stick to the more basic combos, but I wouldn't) and either way it is well worth it.
As others have said, your pre-trip planning is truly impressive. You're a total breath of fresh air from the ubiquitous, "I'm coming to NYC. Where should I eat?" If only they did even a tiny percentage of the research you did!
Of course, I'm glad to see you're including my LES tour in your plans. :-)
Re: Bialys. The only good bialy is one that is fresh out of the oven or nearly so. They must be eaten almost immediately because after a very short while, they become like rocks. And they do not reheat well.
You can learn everything you wanted to know about the bialy + see some photos on Kossar's website here: http://www.kossarsbialys.com/bialy%20making.htm
Do keep in mind that Kossar's is Sabbath observant, so they close early on Friday and are closed all day Saturday.
In addition to Ray's, you can get an excellent egg cream at Gem Spa, which is not a "spa" at all, but a corner "candy" and magazine store, on 2nd Av. & St. Mark's Pl. (two avenue blocks due west of Ray's).
Thanks RGR :) Great link there re: bialy making, very useful. Looks a little like a Lebanese pastry I can't remember the name of. Is there any way to guarantee you get it fresh out of the oven, or is it trial and error?
Gem Spa looks exactly my kinda place, will definitely pay it a visit if I find myself enjoying the egg creams I plan on drinking before I go there. Thank you :D
> We are both 20 years old so cannot drink, therefore we are looking for places that don't mind us not drinking alcohol and are pretty easy going with it.
The law is pretty strict in NYC, and you will get carded at a lot of bars. Many places are afraid of losing their liquor license (especially since it is now harder to get a new license granted in lots of neighborhoods). There are also insurance concerns. I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you.
> RGR's lower east side tour, maybe add on a short visit to chinatown to get some prosperity dumplings if we can manage it
Definitely do this! But mind what day you do it on, as some places might be closed.
> shopsins - breakfast/brunch/lunch
I love Shopsin's, but I hope you know what you're getting yourself into! :) I'd definitely go on a weekday rather than Saturday. Note the hours and days they're open.
> clinton st
Love this place, I'd definitely go on a weekday rather than Saturday or Sunday.
> steak place
Seconding Keens. It's worth a look for a little piece of NYC history. And the food is good, which you can't say about a lot of famous/historical spots here (unfortunately).
> places with good root beer. our favourite drink.
Momofuku Ssam Bar serves a variety of root beers. Sprecher (made in Wisconsin) is my favorite root beer and they have it there.
That's right. A few places in London seem to look down on customers who aren't drinking £60 bottles of wine with their meals, and I wanted to gauge if high-end restaurants in NYC were similar. My thinking on it though, is that it is my money and I can drink if I want. I hope they share this opinion...
Anyway thank you Kathryn. Shopsin's does sound quite an experience but I think we'll be able to handle it - his Mac and Cheese pancakes sound too great to pass up on.
What would be the best day to do the LES tour? Any day except Friday, Saturday and Monday?
I've heard of Sprecher. Wasn't it voted the best root beer by a magazine or paper of some sort? We'll give it a go, thank you.
Impressive research, Ibrahim!
Not everyone thinks that Artichoke is a good choice, and based on the one time I had an artichoke slice and tried some of a crab slice, I don't.
Your best bet for a banh mi in Manhattan is Banh Mi Saigon Bakery on Mott St. between Grand and Hester, which is a lot better than Baoguette St Marks (though I have to say, the banh mi is probably the best sandwich Baoguette makes, and I do see that it's part of an East Village itinerary).
If you want to go for any full Sichuan meals, check on some possibilities in Flushing on the Outer Boroughs board. There's also an excellent Hunanese restaurant there. If you prefer to stay in Manhattan, there's Szechuan Gourmet at 39th between 5th and 6th, which is quite good. But the places in Flushing are cheaper, better, and have longer menus and more varied cold dishes.
Remember that you can always access the internet at public libraries in the U.S. Different systems have different rules, but I do believe that the New York Public Library would let you use a terminal for free for 30 minutes; you'd just have to wait for your turn.
Thank you Pan.
I remember reading the square at Artichoke is pretty good? I think I'd give that a try if we happened to pass it, but I'll bear your comments in mind. I saw a picture of the crab slice and to be honest it didn't look the best... You guys have so many great pizza joints, I'm sure I'll find one that I enjoy.
Excellent, thank you for the recommendations on banh mi and sichuan food, I was keenly stalking an OB board thread about a tiny place in a mall - Chengdu Heaven, I think? We'll definitely hit Flushing so will check out one of these places.
Thanks for the tip about the New York Public Library. Funnily enough I went there the last time I came to NYC, partly to see where Ghostbusters was filmed (I know...) and also to get some free internet access. Was very useful. I think I'll print out or write down the lists of where I'll be headed beforehand.
For what it's worth, I dont like Artichoke either. DiFara's and Lucali are well worth the trips and wait. I'd change dim sum to World Tong in Brooklyn... yes, there are good places in Flushing, but this is better. I went out of my way to hit Tayyab in London, even though there's plenty of Indian/Pakistanian places better than NYC throughout London, and was glad I did. Same theory here... World Tong is worth it. However, I'd still go to Flushing and hit the stalls at the indoor malls written about on this board. And dinner at Spicy & Tasty. I'd also change out H&H bagels for somewhere else... H&H uses too much sugar and doesnt represent NYC bagels at their finest. As suggested above, Murray's is better but, if you're going to be in Brooklyn for DiFara's, World Tong or anything else, just stop by the local places and taste. As an aside, there are food places that arent restaurants that you might like to hit as well: Zabar's on Broadway and W.81 St., Murray's Cheese on Bleecker and especially Sahadi on Atlantic Ave (in Brooklyn, closed Sundays). All are great for buying things to snack on.
Nice research... especially Kathryn thread's gnocchi at Hearth and bar nuts/bacon brittle at Redhead.
re: Steve R
Wow, more places to add to the list and now H & H has been dropped. Thank you very much for the World Tong suggestion. How busy is it on a Sunday afternoon? Difficult to get in to? I think I will still go to Flushing as it sounds like it will remind me of a place we used to have here in London, called Oriental City, with a range of Asian grocers and stalls.
Zabar's is on the list too :) Thanks
World Tong is busy Sunday afternoons and it'll be somewhat of a wait. However, if there are just 2 of you, it wont be long since they do communal seating and will put you at a large table with 6-8 others. The down side is that, although they're near a train, they're not near anything else of major interest (unless you like walking thru residential and small business neighborhoods) whereas Flushing is wall to wall interesting.
If you plan to go to DiFara's, then I'd suggest that you come back toward Manhattan from DiFara's with a stop at Sahadi's on Atlantic Ave (off Clinton/Henry Streets). You can then go to Sahadi (open till 7pm, except Sunday) and the other places around it, walk to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and see the Manhattan skyline, then walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan, leaving you by City Hall and all the trains (or Chinatown, only 7-10 short blocks away).
Szechuan Gourmet in Manhattan has a much more extensive menu than any Sichuanese place in Flushing and plenty of cold appetizers. I'd skip Chengdu Heaven and opt for Little Pepper in Flushing instead, or Spicy and Tasty. Chengdu Heaven is a food stall to be precise, in a basement with a more limited menu and it is proving hit or miss based on my past two visits within the past 6 weeks.
Szechuan Gourmet has a more extensive menu than Spicy & Tasty? I didn't think so. But even if it does, I find Spicy & Tasty much more consistently good, including their non-spicy items. And though they do have a good number of cold dishes, Spicy & Tasty has a bigger and better selection.
first of all i have to say....wow! dude you are all over it!
i love you man for doing your homework -- i can't wait for your post trip report!
first of all, you have time for the outer boroughs, so arthur in the bronx is worth it if you might like old school italian. tie it with a bronx zoo or botanic garden visit. flushing is another grand idea and i'll add in a jackson hts under the 7 train stroll too. scan the ob board for details/tips.
a few remarks on your list:
RGR's lower east side tour - yes, do it!
korean chicken places - BON CHON is one in koreatown so that's convenient. i like this style fine, but i like usa popeye's chain better.
shopsins - breakfast/brunch/lunch - eh, but he is an institution & essex market is worth a look if you are on the les
barbecue joint of some sort - RUB, fette sau, dinosaur bbq, hill country - tried'em all and eh. but you should prob have some bbq. flip a quarter.
steak place - peter luger, keen's, blt, minetta tavern - KEENS. you're a tourist - i mean that in a good way & in my book KEENS=nyc.
burger - shake shack. sure i like ss fine, but i like the bigger ny style burgers at CORNER BISTRO even better (go mid afternoon and get a rare bistro burger).
hot dogs - papaya king, crif dogs, hot dog co. -- pick any you happen to be near.
bagels - H and H/ absolute bagels - any others? MURRAYS are the best.
mexican food - fish tacos in particular. haha, good luck on the fish tacos. sorry. otherwise i'd go with LA ESQUINA, ROCKING HORSE or MEXICANA MAMA as you get good mexican & good people watching too.
japanese - sushi yasuda - how much are we looking at for omakase with yasuda? - if you want to do it be advised you can set your price.
street food - halal cart - kwik meal cart in midtown & the dosa cart man on wash sq park are cart favorites. this link will help: http://streetvendor.org/vendys/past
pommes frites - sure, but i like the frites at BRUXELLES belgian resto better.
pizza - di fara/lucali/patsy's harlem/artichoke (we'll see how we're feeling as i understand any of these are good choices) - pick any as you have the time! i'll add that FRANNYS in bklyn and UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA in the ev are upscale/sitdown restaurant pizza favs.
otafuku for takoyaki and okonomiyaki - absolutely. on the little tokyo e9th st strip in the ev.
eisenberg's sandwiches - tuna sandwich & a lime rickey is the classic order.
hope that helps a bit -- ask away if as you want more.
and thx again -- us older 'hounds really appreciate a well prepared guy like you!
agree with mrnyc that you *rock* for doing so much research first! if only all visitors were so thorough...
i really only have a couple of suggestions to add:
- if you decide not to do RGR's entire LES tour (since you've already been to Katz's), definitely keep Kossar's on your list - you're really missing out if you don't try one of their bialys.
- NYC has an incredible selection of gourmet markets, if that's something of interest to you & your GF: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/439954
Wow, those lists are brilliant MMRuth! I'm printing them out; so much better than any guide I've consulted. One question that may be a bit difficult to answer: what sort of stuff should I be looking to buy from these places, considering I will have to transport it back across the Atlantic, so they will be subject to a bit of travel and also immigration? Reckon I should just wing it and see what takes my fancy? Thank you again.
Thank you goodhealthgourmet for the link to that thread, also very helpful. I will definitely hit Kossar's - never had a bialy before, not entirely sure what one is, but certainly wish to try it. Also I think Katz's has to be done again as I've been dreaming about a pastrami on rye since we went last (last May) :D
a bialy is a type of roll. it's not boiled like a bagel, just baked. and instead of a hole, it has a dent in the center that's usually filled with diced onion & garlic, and sometimes (if you're lucky!) poppy seeds. the texture is slightly drier/crispier and the taste is a bit yeastier and more savory than bagels because they don't contain sugar or malt. personally, i'd take a bialy over a bagel any day! Kossar's makes the best bialys you'll find anywhere.
Ditto re: Kossar's. RGR's tour (Economy Candy, Essex Street Market, etc.). I'm not a Clinton Street Bakery fan (long lines, overrrated and not that special, especially if you cook). Shopsin's is fun. I like the slutty pancakes.
We went to Keen's and I love the atmosphere. We sat in the Lillie Langtry room. My SO is a Luger's guy and rated their steak below Luger's. At a minimum it's a great place to check out the history, pipes and have a non-alcoholic cocktail :)
I'm sure it's in one of the links below (MMRuth and/or Kathryn have it covered) but just in case Union Square Greenmarket and Chelsea Market are fun.
NYC is not really a seafood town (Le Bernardin may be the exception) so it's good you're going to Maine.
Haha, thank you for the kind words mrnyc, a post-trip report will definitely be on the agenda. Might give me some impetus to start up another blog, even. Thank you so much for the pointers on each of my choices, very very helpful indeed. One quick off topic question: is the 'free day' (Wednesday?) at the Bronx Zoo hellish? Should I go on another day and just pay up?
I think Keen's is definitely in the lead for a steak joint, but I'm not sure if the manliness of the place will put off my gf. Forget that though, she loves meat as much as I do, so I'm sure she'll enjoy the place! Thank you once again, I've updated my lists to include your choices and will be doing a bit more research on each.
Not for beer, but I'd skip Corner Bistro because the burger is not very good and hasn't been in years. There have been tons of recommendation on this board for burgers, and this is a very sensitive subject with lots of disagreements.. Some of my favorites are as follows (in no order)
Michael Jordan's Steakhouse
Waterfront Ale House
Burger Joint in Parker Meridien
Also, for bagels, I'd add Ess-a-bagel on 21st and 1st to the list. I dont like H&H as their bagels are way too sweet
For pizza: Di Fara, Lucali, Patsy's *East* Harlem :), Artichoke, Franny's, and Una Pizza Napoletana -- nearly all of these except for Patsy's all have long waits if you go nights/weekends.
If a place is open for lunch, I'd try to go for a weekday lunch (exception: Franny's only has weekend lunch, and UPN isn't open for lunch at all-- note hours for UPN, they are only open for dinner a handful of nights a week).
I'd also write down Di Fara's hours, Dom's been taking a 2 hour break in the late afternoon after being in a car accident, and people on the OB board have reported trying to show up at 7-8pm on a weekday, and finding it *still* closed. The hours can be...flaky.
> eisenberg's sandwiches - tuna sandwich & a lime rickey is the classic order.
PS if you can find clips from Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show, specifically the "Disappearing Manhattan" episode, Eisenberg's is prominently featured. Actually, I recommend a viewing of that episode for any food savvy explorer of NYC.
I think we'll go to Di Fara for a slice (perhaps a square if it's available) on an off hour, otherwise it sounds too long a wait. I think we might go with Patsy's in East Harlem (thanks for the correction) :)
Oh and I saw that episode of No Reservations - it was brilliant, and was what introduced me to Eisenberg's actually. Will get what he got - tuna melt, tuna salad, lime rickey and an egg cream. Thank you.