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Top 5 Most Underrated Restaurants in NYC

SO we have a most overrated list. Why not start a most underrated one also?

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    1. re: bbqdawg

      1. Del Frisco
      2. Paola's (amazing Italian on UES)
      3. Pera
      4. Azul (steak on LES)
      5. Public

      1. re: liztish

        Del Frisco would not even exist if there was no such thing as the business expense lunch. There is nothing special about this chain.

        1. re: KTinNYC

          While I agree there are better steakhouses, I'd disagree with you regarding Del Frisco's. I consider it a very high quality steakhouse. Is it pricy? Without a doubt, but it will still turn out a great meal and great service. Still, I don't know if I would say it belongs on an "underrated" list. Nonetheless, I look forward to more suggestions from everyone.... this will be a great way for us to hopefully discover some more of NYC's "hidden" treasures out there.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            The after work crowd is all expense accounts also(i would never spend my $ in there). The steak at Del Frisco is good, as are the sides, but the wine list is off the charts expensive. I get reimbursed for the money i spend, but i still hate feeling like i got ripped off.

            How about Red Cat on 10th? The food is always great, and the place is never hyped like Fat Mario s restaurants.

          2. re: liztish

            I'm with you on Del Frisco. It would be far better loved on this board if it were not part of an empire -- but the steak is undeniably good, I think.

            However... it's probably not one I'd pick for *most* underrated given that it is at least pretty well known and well frequented.

            1. re: liztish

              I don't know if I think Del Friscos is as underrated as other steakhouses? Went to Capital Grille twice and thought it was fine, but I think a lot of folks wouldn't be caught dead in that place. Or how about Michael Jordans another midtown steakhouse? Del Friscos may be better overall, but is it as underrated as these places? Del Friscos seem to do a fine business with a fair legion of fans

            2. re: bbqdawg

              BBQdawg, re: porchetta, that's a joke, right? there's no way that place can be underrated with all the press their average pork sandwich has gotten!

              i'm gonna drop Cafe Cortadito in for the underrated spot, i never see it talked about/written about and it's a pretty damn authentic cuban spot that serves nice sized portions that don't destroy your wallet.


              1. re: iFat

                No joke at all. I think its underrated because so may people on here slam it, and I think its delicious. To me underrated means people think its not as good as it really is.

                1. re: bbqdawg

                  The only thing underrated about Porchetta is just how bland and average it is. I think that opinion needs a lot more hype.

                  1. re: Slob

                    the potatoes at Porchetta are awesome.. Ennio and Michael;s is an underrated great italian restaurant. Viet Cafe is an underrated vietnamese restaurant. Katzs cheese steaks are underrated, and Jewel Bako sushi has been underrated in the last last year, the sushi is divine

                    Jewel Bako
                    239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Ennio & Michael
                    539 Laguardia Pl, New York, NY 10012

                    Viet Cafe
                    345 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                    110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        ive only tried it once but i thought the cheesesteak at katz was pretty average

                  2. re: iFat

                    I agree with iFat. Porchetta is a nice concept but for better or worse its reputation has far outpaced its offering. It's still a great spot to grab a quick bite but underrated it's not.

                    1. re: etherpopsicle

                      For what it's worth, I think Porchetta's pork sandwiches are magnificent, hyped or not.

                      I wasn't so into their potatoes though. Anyone else?

                      110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                      1. re: pork_buns

                        Porchetta is "underrated" because quite simply it is complete shit. E Village dentists, however, love it. The increased levels of patient tooth fractures encountered during the chewing process of the dry, borderline inedible "porchetta" have seen many retire early to lie on the beach...

                        Bravo Porchetta! The Dental Association of America salutes you and all that pay 10 bucks + for the privilege!! Doh!

                        110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                        1. re: Scotty100

                          OMG. Hilarious. Thanks for the post.

                          1. re: Scotty100


                            I've never been to Porchetta, so thank you for the warning, Scotty! I love my dentist (No joke!), but I'd just as soon keep my visits to regular cleanings.

                  3. im sure if i think about it i'll have a different list but the 1st ones off the top of my head:

                    york grill
                    naruto ramen
                    tatany 72
                    public and tailor (they tie because the fill a similar niche)
                    new chow ciao

                    and special mention to the myriad coffee shops and diners that churn out great simple breakfasts and hamburgers that put places like shake shack to shame

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: thew

                      I agree with Tailor. In fact, it's SO underrated that it had to close : - (

                      1. re: etherpopsicle

                        i thought it was a retooling, not a complete closure

                        1. re: thew

                          That might be the case. However, there have been cases recently where restarants that were supposed to be closed "temporarily" did not reopen. So, we shall see.... (I've never been to Tailor.)

                          1. re: RGR

                            i really enjoyed both the restaurant and the bar there. i hope it does come back, i really liked the place

                    2. Margie's Red Rose Diner , on 144th in Harlem, immediately comes to mind. It's my favorite soul food spot in the city (now that Carmichael's, in Queens, is long gone). They serve up cheap and wonderful breakfasts (pancakes/eggs/sausage/biscuit), thin-skin Georgia-style fried bird and gracious, personable service at a very low price. Margie's is a run-down crawlspace with a few tables, a juke that's chock full of blues and soul, and a lot of heart. It's never mentioned along with Amy Ruth's or Mamie's Spoonbread, but it should be. One of my favorite Manhattan eateries.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Polecat

                        Sorry, Polecat, but I think Margie's has closed.

                      2. Here's the place link for Margies.

                        Margie's Red Rose Diner
                        275 W 144th St, New York, NY 10030

                        1. Two that pop into my head are Apizz and Aqua at Peck Slip

                          1. El Faro in the far West Village. Old time Spaniard. Amazing paellas and waiters who have worked there for 40 years. Every one I take there immediately puts it on their "favorites" list. Great atmosphere.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Anicca

                              Oh, dear, no. As someone who eats in the place El Faro is named after (La Coruna), I can attest to the not greatness of the food. Downright awful, as is the space. I went once and put it on my "never again" list.

                              1. re: simetrias

                                simetrias... i agree with you. went there once about 5 years ago and never again. one of my friends wanted to get a group to go there a few years ago and i refused.

                                1. re: egit

                                  Go figya. I'm just aghast. Everyone I know loves El Faro.

                                  You guys must be plants from Cafe Sevilla doggin' the competition! :)

                                  1. re: Anicca

                                    Nope, not a fan of Sevilla, either, but at east the atmosphere is fun. For Spanish, the best these days is Fonda del Sol. Add that to the underrated!

                              1. Not sure if it would be classified as "underrated," perhaps "sleeper" would be a better word to describe Novita.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: LeahBaila

                                  I can't agree with you more. Food is good, and the wine list is one of the better ones I've seen.

                                2. I will say Craft and Gotham Bar and Grill are both overlooked when it comes to fine dining establishments mentioned on the board.

                                  In the steakhouse realm, I will also add in Uncle Jack's which makes a pretty damn good ribeye or as they called it the "fred flintsone chop". 30 oz of pure bliss.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: steakrules85

                                    craft? really? whose radar is it under? tom colicchio isn't exactly an unknown hermit, and i've had many a celeb sighting there (last was Paulina Porizkova and Rick Ocasek)

                                    1. re: thew

                                      I feel that Craft is often overlooked when mentioning the top restaurants in the city. Tom Colicchio is definitely well known by foodies, however you rarely see Craft mentioned in the same vain as other fine establishments in NYC. I think Craft is as good as they come in my personal experience.

                                      For instance there are tons of people hawking the Momofuku empire. While the Bo Ssam dinner we just enjoyed was very good, it didn't hold a candle to the meal I had at Craft. In my opinion, Craft is head and shoulders above Momofuku in terms of food, service, and ambience. But not just Momofuku, I am just using it as an example.

                                      1. re: steakrules85

                                        i agree, but i'd say momofuku is a fresher take, and thus generates more buzz, but when craft opened it had a similar buzz (though less, just because food buzz is more intense overall now than it was then)

                                        1. re: thew

                                          i want to add to this answer - for whatever reason, i feel craft as more of a palce to plan to go to, while i might just drop in at momofuku on a whim. so they are parts of different niches to me, rightly or wrongly

                                        2. re: steakrules85

                                          steakrules85, I've never been to Craft. Don't see many reports on this Board (did see one favorable report recently). Like Gotham, it's on the bottom of my go to list. Both are well known but appear to be underrated. Maybe this thread will give me some new dining options to consider :)

                                      2. re: steakrules85

                                        Yes, there's clearly been a backlash against Craft. Some of it is Colicchio's fault -- his food suffers when his empire expands too quickly. But Craft has always been one of my top high-end places in the city, and it really sounds like he's back on his game.

                                      3. Tocqueville. It really ought to be higher on the radar screen. The lunch and dinner prix fixes alone are worth the mention.

                                        Scalini Fedeli (in the old old Bouley space). Elegant, delish food, great service.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: simetrias

                                          I absolutely agree with you that Tocqueville travels way too far under the usual culinary radar. The food is excellent -- the $24.07 lunch is the bargain of the century! -- and the elegant space is one of the most beautiful in the city.

                                          I think Allegretti does not get nearly the recognition it deserves. Chef Alain Allegretti is extremely talented, and his Proven├žal French cuisine is truly delicious.

                                          1. re: RGR

                                            Never ate at Allegretti... just went to the website. They spell prix fixe as "pre fixe"... and they are French? hmmm. What's on the "pre fixe"? Site doesn't say. Reviews on menupages are mixed. But I tend to go with whatever RGR says!

                                            1. re: simetrias

                                              I hadn't noticed that faux pas, simetrias. Chef Alain Allegretti is, indeed, French, but his partner is not, nor are any of the foh staff. Not that that's any excuse.....

                                              We haven't tried the dinner prix fixe, though we have had several of the $28 3-course lunch prix fixes. Two choices for each course, generous portions, and all have been stellar. The reason that menu is not published is that it changes daily. Perhaps, the same thing is true about the dinner prix fixe.

                                              P.S. I never pay any attention to the reviews on MenuPages.

                                              1. re: RGR

                                                I went to Allegretti per CH suggestions and had the dinner prix fixe. Sadly, I was not incredibly impressed - the components on the plate didn't seem to mesh well and the dessert (strawberry tart) was a soggy disaster. Although my friend had some of the best chocolate gelato there that i have ever tasted.

                                                I won't be going back.

                                        2. Great topic.

                                          I can only think of two right now:

                                          Primehouse (kosher steakhouse... GREAT)
                                          Galanga Thai (authentic except that it's not very, very spicy hot... the food is excellent)

                                          There's a Dominican / Mexican place up in the upper 150s / lower 160s, where I used to get tamales when I lived in the area, that I've never really seen mentioned on Chowhound despite the quality of the food. I'll have to dig for the name...

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: cimui

                                            Cimui, please dig for the name! I adore tamales, and I am currently plotting a possible trip to the Big Apple. Although I suspect there will be no lack of places on my "must-eat" list....

                                            1. re: moh

                                              Hi Moh, it's pretty far off the beaten track (about 45 minutes from midtown Manhattan by subway), but if you do find yourself up that way, two good restaurants are:

                                              Margot Restaurant (Dominican; everything stewed is great. if you like goat, the chivo guisado is well made)
                                              La Fiesta (mostly Mexican, some Dominican; great tacos, good tamales)

                                              I wouldn't put La Fiesta on your must-eat list, but if you want to try good, authentic Dominican, Margot is probably one of the best places to find it in Manhattan. (I haven't personally explored much higher than about 200th St., where Alberto's Mofongo House and Mamajuana Cafe are.)

                                              La Fiesta
                                              3797 Broadway, New York, NY 10032

                                              1. re: cimui

                                                Oh, if you like tamales, streefoodenthusiast had a wonderful post about street vendors a while back: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514388

                                                (also added a post to Margot, below


                                                Margot Restaurant
                                                3822 Broadway, New York, NY 10032

                                                1. re: cimui

                                                  Awesome Cimui, thanks! I do love tamales, and street vendors too...

                                            2. re: cimui

                                              We are all entitled to our opinions and that is the great thing about this board. So as you know I will have to vehemently disagree with you regarding Primehouse being underrated. It is a subpar steakhouse IMO.

                                              1. re: cimui


                                                Primehouse is definitely *not* kosher! It's the Steve Hansen steakhouse on the corner of Park & 27th.

                                                I think you are confusing it with Prime Grill, on 49th, b/t Madison & Park, which is kosher.

                                                1. re: RGR

                                                  Oh, yes -- sorry! I was attempting to refer to Prime Grill. Phew. Good catch, RGR.

                                                  Steak, Primehouse is totally mediocre for ordinary steak, I agree -- but they do have a very nice 65 day aged ribeye that I loved. Wouldn't put the restaurant on my underrated list, though.

                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                    Prime Grill is excellent - I have taken many non-kosher diners there and they have raved about the steaks - you might also check Prime Grill's sister resteraunt and Solo - which I believe one of the Top Chef winners is the executive chef -

                                                    1. re: weinstein5

                                                      I do not keep kosher and really do think the dry aged steaks at the midtown location are among the best I've had in Manhattan. Cooked fish preps are also consistently well made (haven't encountered overcooked fish, there), and even the sushi is surprisingly good.

                                                      Thanks for putting Solo on my radar. I hadn't heard of it!

                                                      1. re: cimui

                                                        I am glad - here is alink to the web site http://theprimegrill.com/solo/media/s... and it looks like Hung is still the Chef - I have not been since he took over but it was very good when I went -

                                                2. re: cimui

                                                  I thought of a third place: Xe Lua. HLing wrote about it a while back, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/501852 (I don't know if she was the first, but she clued me in on it.) For some reason, it doesn't get the kind of mentions that Nha Trang does despite the pho being loads better.

                                                  Just stopped in for a bowl of the house pho at lunchtime and was again impressed by how good it was (and by how absolutely lovely the staff is, there). They even included Vietnamese coriander on the plate of herbs that comes with the pho, which is unusual in NYC restaurants.

                                                  Xe Lua
                                                  86 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

                                                3. OK... I am going to go out on a limb with these two. I am sure many people will disagree, but I would be interested to see if anyone shares my opinion.

                                                  Brasserie... I know it is famous and has been around forever, but the food is surely underrated. Their rib steak is the best non-steakhouse steak in the city.

                                                  Michael Jordan's Steakhouse... I'm not saying this is a top-tier steakhouse, but I have had very good steaks here. And when you consider the excellent Grand Central setting, it is really a great place to go. If it were called grand Central Steakhouse (and not Michael Jordan's) it would get much more respect.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Michael Ambrosio

                                                    You're right about the nomenclature, I think the Michael Jordan tag makes people think it's a glorified sports bar. Grand Central Steakhouse would have been a much better name. As far as underrated restaurants go I would add Firebird which is denigrated as it's on Restaurant Row.

                                                  2. My nominee is Carmine's at the Seaport. Their grilled whole fish is always perfectly done. I also like their old-school "Italian" salad and bread. Service is excellent - the waitstaff is charming. Last time we were there we realized that it is the one restaurant we have been patronizing ever since we came to NY in 1989 (I was taken there the first time by people I worked with on the 99th floor of WTC2).

                                                    1. Aroma in the East Village.

                                                      Saigon Grill. The beef cubes are a cheap-eats favorite of mine.

                                                      Alfanoose in the Financial District. I'm sure it's appropriately rated by many, considering the long lines, but I haven't heard it mentioned here once.

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: FiveDanFive

                                                        "Alfanoose in the Financial District. I'm sure it's appropriately rated by many, considering the long lines, but I haven't heard it mentioned here once."

                                                        Via the search function: http://search.chow.com/search?query=A...

                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          The search function is rather underrated.

                                                          1. re: FiveDanFive

                                                            Even so, you did say, "...I haven't heard [Alfanoose] mentioned here once." Though that may have been the case for *you*, the fact is, it has been mentioned many times.

                                                            1. re: RGR

                                                              I think FDF was making a joke, RGR. A kind of funny one, actually.

                                                              FDF, I hadn't heard much about Alfanoose and appreciate the mention.

                                                              1. re: cimui

                                                                Ah, I completely missed it, cmui. Thanks for pointing it out. Reading it again now, his comment is actuall quite punny. ;)

                                                        2. re: FiveDanFive

                                                          I too was thinking Aroma, but is it underrated or just under appreciated? I can't imagine people walk out of there and think "oh that wasnt as good as they say" I just think it deserves more attention, as evidenced by the many times I've rec'd it on here for people looking for private parties or quiet dates. I should now swear to you that I am not nor have I ever been a friend of the owners or an employee. I just really love that little place and want to make sure that they continue. They seem so content to keep it small and low key, I wonder how they afford it.

                                                          My vote for underrated goes to Pho Bang. I've gotten so many recs for "better" more obscure places, but this is it for me.

                                                          Pho Bang
                                                          157 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                                          1. re: 2slices

                                                            Which branch of Pho Bang do you rate highest?

                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                              I only ever go to the Mott street one, Grand/Broome I think. The fried spring rolls and the roast pork on shrimp chips are amazing.

                                                        3. Love this thread, though only one nominee so far really belongs IMO: Falai. I haven't tried Xe Hua though. Galanga Thai too packed with just-arrived NYU frosh and tourists to be worth your time. Here's my 4 other nominees (in addition to Falai). "Underrated" b/c aren't splashy, don't show up on 'best of' lists, aren't thronged with guidebookers, but totally satisfying every time.

                                                          Mas, W. Vill. Day in/out, transcends expectations.
                                                          Ushiwakimaru, just NoHo. I'm usually the only non-Japanese customer savoring their ridiculously fresh sushi.
                                                          Perbacco, LES (E. 4th east of Ave. A). Consistently spectacular.
                                                          SEA Thai, by HighLine's S/most entrance on Gansevoort. Used to be called 'Highline,' back when we climbed up there illegally. Best spring rolls in NYC.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. I have to agree: Craft. I think Tom C.'s business suffers because his empire is growing too rapidly and, although he's on tv, you never see him cooking, so watching him doesn't really make me want to go to eat at his restaurants.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Sparkling

                                                              I went to Frugal Fridays toward the end and he was actually eating there with friends. So he does go to his restaurants even if he isn't cooking there :)

                                                            2. Public and Perbacco get my vote.

                                                              1. I'll offer two:


                                                                I could, of course, come up with many examples on the counterpart to this thread.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: ulterior epicure


                                                                  Upthread, semetrius (8/20) added Tocqueville, and I agreed. I also agree with you about Veritas. It has not been given anything close to its due since Chef Pugin arrived.

                                                                  In case you haven't seen it, the counterpart thread is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/632535

                                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                                    @ RGR: Don't tempt me (with that other thread). I could go on, and on, and on... but why? :P

                                                                2. I've really enjoyed everything about my two dinners at Yerba Buena, which rarely gets mentioned on these boards. The bar is excellent, the staff are extremely helpful, and the food is stellar - the short ribs are what brought me back a second time.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                                                    It's been on my list to try for the longest. Thanks for reminding me!


                                                                    1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                                                                      What style of food do they serve, at roughly what price point?

                                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                                        Pan-Latin, Latin fusion...great, inventive cocktails...entrees maybe in the late teens-20s? They're also opening a west village outpost sometime soon i think. also- i recommend brunch, for $12 its unlimited drinks (mimosas, margaritas, sangria ...stuff like that) and the menu is pretty good. Good call on this one!!


                                                                    2. Le Gigot in the village. I stumbled upon it one random night and had a really incredible meal there- went a few more times and had the same great experience. Reasonably priced, too. It definitely gets overshadowed by everything else in the village.


                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: dailydankness

                                                                        Assuming most of you saw Frank Bruni's farewell Times column yesterday, in which he listed HIS five "most underrated." We got some of them (Perbacco, 'Cesca) and missed others: Degustation (completely agree--their 10-course prix fixe is a marvel), Soto (unless you like sushi--not great here), and 15 East (never been).

                                                                        Yerba Buena a good lunch/early dinner spot, but crazy loud & semi-nightclubby both times I've been for dinner later. Not recommended if you actually want to talk @ dinner....

                                                                        1. re: rk79

                                                                          I have always wondered and been curious about Degustation. They do not have a website and I assume their menu changed quite often. What type of food is it? Is it expensive? Formal? Etc.?

                                                                          1. re: steakrules85

                                                                            steak - you would LOVE Degustation (I think!!)
                                                                            Someone on another post just said he thinks of the food as modern tapas - (the menu is Spanish influenced) But I found it to be just very delicious, refined food.

                                                                            There are only 15 seats and you sit around the chef (like a sushi bar) and he serves your food directly to you.

                                                                            I went a few months back and it was $75 for a 10 course meal - amazing value!
                                                                            some of the portions were small, but others were quite substantial.

                                                                            1. re: steakrules85

                                                                              I'm surprised to find Degustation mentioned in this thread. In my mind it's not underrated at all. It's mentioned all the time on CH. It's under-priced, if anything.

                                                                              As NellyNel says, many people call it modern tapas. I'm not sure I'd call it that, but it is a bunch of very interesting and well-executed small dishes. It's *relatively* inexpensive, with each dish ranging around $10. They have 5 course and 10 course tasting options.

                                                                        2. Lazzara's pizza...great place.