Manhattan for 5 days over New Year
I'm off to New York on the 29th of December with my family for a 5 day holiday. I just finished college exams a few days ago and have been really busy since so I haven't got to do much research yet, so any suggestions and help are much appreciated! I'm coming from Ireland and staying in Midtown west on 10th Avenue/36th Street.
So far I've worked out I'd like to try a pizza place, a Mexican, BBQ, a steakhouse, and I'm open to suggestions to anywhere really for the last dinner (as long as it's relatively reasonably priced).
I was in NY a couple of years ago and went to Grimaldi's which was amazing, I'd certainly be happy to return there for the pizza. Went to Blue Smoke as well which I also really liked but I've since had better barbeque. Would Dinosaur be a better bet?
For the Mexican I'd love somewhere that has good Mole. The "Best Mexican" threads seem to throw up a lot of conflicting opinions. Given my Mole craving I was looking at the obvious option of Mole on the LES, but I've also heard good things about Baby Bo's in Murray Hill and La Esquina in SoHo
Haven't got to do any looking at steakhouses yet. I'll post back when I do find some potential choices but for now could people recommend their favourites?
On my previous visit I also visited Katz's deli. I'll certainly be going back for another pastrami fix! I also plan on getting to Burger Joint and/or Shake Shack for a burger. Definitely want to try a couple of good hot dogs as well. Maybe Gray's Papaya? Any other lunch/snack/street food recs?
We're also all big cheesecake heads. Where'd be the best place for authentic New York cheesecake? Eileen's?
Apologies again for all the questions and lack of preparation. I'll peruse the Manhattan and The Best boards soon but any suggestions to get me going would be great!
And Happy Christmas everyone!
Any true cheesecake head in NYC must go to the Two Little Red Hens...its up in Yorkville on 86th/2nd - - well worth the swing there - go have hot dog and papaya around the corner first and take the cheesecake back to your room! If you just want a slice - might as well go to Juniors........I think there is one in the food area of Grand Central Station.....just dont go there at rush hour...............Eileens cakes are fine...a little too "airy" for me - so its just OK to me, but a contender when in a pinch
dinosaur is absolutely better than blue smoke
i'd go w/ few's suggestion of papaya king on 86 over grey's papaya
there are some good taco trucks for street food, and i hear good things about the jamaican truck by new york hospital
Pizza -- I am not a fan of Grimaldi's, also that's in Brooklyn, and we're technically not supposed to comment on Brooklyn restaurants on the Manhattan board.
For pizza, it depends what you're looking for: gas oven style, coal oven style, Naples style? A slice? A pie? IMO, Grimaldi's is actually not as good as other places in town (too soggy/wet).
There are a few distinct styles of round pizza found in NYC: New York style (gas-oven), Neopolitan style, and a hybrid style of the two (usually coal oven). And Di Fara is kind of out there, Dom at Di Fara is definitely doing his own thing with the olive oil drizzle and multiple kinds of cheeses and lots of fresh basil. Then to throw another wrench into things, some places are known more for square pies (like Artichoke). Note that lot of famous places like John's of Bleecker, Grimaldi's, and Lombardi's are pies only. John's, Grimaldi's, and Lombardi's are famous, a bit touristy (and most likely suffer from inconsistent oven temperature and oversaucing), and I think some newcomers are kicking their butts lately.
My favorites in Manhattan are:
Motorino (pies only, but they do takeout and delivery now too but only to a very very limited range). Neopolitan style. Tasty, beautifully charred crust. Very flavorful. Really nice service. Love their spicy soppressata pie (what pepperoni aspires to be) as well as the white pie. The brussels sprouts one with pancetta is no slouch either. There's a Brooklyn branch, too.
Co. aka "Company" (pies only, no takeout). Neopolitan-ish style with nouveau toppings, similar to Mozza in LA but less broad/puffy crust. 7-8 pies to chooses from. Very popular. Lunch and dinner. Lunch is much more chill than dinner. However, my last meal there was only OK, I think they are inconsistent. And I think they try to rush you in and out.
Patsy's of East Harlem (117th street location only, pies and slices, there is a dining room and takeout area). Coal oven. A NY classic. Their toppings aren't that great but when the crust is good, it's heavenly.
Artichoke (I recommend the square slice only, takeout only). Tasty, they are from Staten Island, but I feel like they are kind of doing their own thing since the crust is VERY thick for NY pizza. DON'T get the artichoke slice or regular slice. Repeat: DON'T get the artichoke or regular slice. Please. And they have no seating or atmosphere to speak of. It's a slice joint, really.
(NB: I haven't tried Keste just yet.)
My favorites outside Manhattan are Di Fara and Totonno's Coney Island.
Di Fara is extraordinarily popular/chaotic/there is no line system/also no AC in the summer and who knows if Dom will actually be open over the New Year (he's an old man who makes ALL the pies himself and has sometimes odd hours). IF you go, AND they're open, show up first thing when they open (noon), and guard your place in line.
Totonno's suffered from a fire and are in the process of fixing the place up. In Brooklyn, Lucali is quite highly (I haven't tried yet). Franny's is good but the crust is a bit too thin (though that pizza bianca is great), and frankly the apps/pastas are better than the pies there (no offense to Franny's, I really do like it there, but the appetizers, pastas, and sides can outshine the pies). I wasn't impressed by newcomer Veloce either (too heavy/buttery, gets too soggy too quickly).
Mexican -- I'll let others comment.
BBQ -- depends what kind of BBQ you are looking for: pork ribs, beef ribs, pulled pork, brisket. If you want brisket, I'd go to Hill Country (ask for the fatty style, and keep away from their sauce). If you want pulled pork, I'd go to Dinosaur. If you want a gigantic caveman-like beef rib, go to Daisy May's (I like their sweet ribs but skip the dry rub ribs, the brisket and the pulled pork).
Steakhouse -- my favorite one to take out-of-towners is Keens for the atmosphere, decor, history, and food. History buffs and scotch fans particularly like it.
Gray's is an NYC standby, and I like it a lot, but it hasn't even blown me away like the dogs at Crif Dogs have (deep fried, no batter, NJ style).
For street food, I really like the "famous" halal cart on 53rd and 6th (southEAST during the day, southWEST at night, southWEST has imposter during the day).
The only thing I really see missing on your list is Jewish appetizing/bagels/smoked salmon meal (Russ & Daughters or Barney Greengrass) and a big brunch.
For cheesecake, as someone else mentioned above, the STYLE you want really matters. See also:
Don't leave NY without eating these foods
I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:
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