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Apr 9, 2010 02:42 AM

Oddities and unique eats in Manhattan?


Visiting from London next week, staying where China Town meets the Lower East Side.

Intrested in some unique eats, your best finds and any oddities anywhere in Manhattan.

The only firm plans we have is a gig at the Jazz Standard, so can't miss a chance to nibble on some Blue Smoke. Is the burger still highly rated? And suggestions for good value prix fixe lunch would be tickity boo too.

Thanks in advance


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  1. We go to Jazz Standard/Blue Smoke often and the food has always been excellent. Never tried the burger but the appetizers, ribs, BBQ and chicken have never let us down.
    For a "Unique" NYC experience try Katz's. Another "unique" NYC place is B&H dairy on 2nd Av just South of St Marks. We go there for breakfast. Blintzes, eggs and kasha.
    S'mac for out of this world Mac and cheese is another place that comes to mind. Enjoy your visit!!

    127 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    345 E 12th St Frnt A, New York, NY 10003

    3 Replies
    1. re: Motosport

      Oooo I just googled S'mac. We have nothing, nothing like that here. Thanks so much Motosport.

      Where would you recomend for a reasonably priced taco feast and a margarhita?

      345 E 12th St Frnt A, New York, NY 10003

      1. re: peasouper

        If the weather is nice go to El Rio Grande on 3rd Av bet 37 & 38. They have a great outdoor patio, excellent food and potent margueritas!! Not cheap but not expensive. On a beautiful NYC night we'll sit out on the patio and get a pitcher of margueritas and appetizers. The "steak" nachos are out of this world.

        El Rio Grande
        160 East 38th Street, New York, NY 10016

        1. re: peasouper

          Personally, I have never had better Mexican than Mole on Allen & Houston. Any one of their taco selections are amazing and the fresh squeezed margarhitas cannot be beaten. Oh, you must get their guacamole as well.

      2. What's your budget? Be sure to include tax (almost 9%), tip (15-20%), and wine/drinks.

        Luckily you're going to be pretty close to some neighborhoods with many dining destinations (Lower East Side, Nolita, East Village, Soho, etc.).

        Are you thinking fine dining or cheap and casual eats? Given that your trip is next week, a lot of the nicer places may be fully booked, you might have better luck with places that don't take reservations.

        Re: Blue Smoke burger, I think it's great but a little big for one. You can ask them to split it and they've always said yes to me. And I also love their deviled eggs, potato chips, iceberg wedge salad, peanuts, mac and cheese, and pulled pork.

        Good value prix fixe lunch: Del Posto, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges. They book up fairly quickly and typically only serve on weekdays, with the exception of JG which adds on weekend lunch.

        Previous threads that may help:

        Don't leave NY without eating these foods

        Pizza in NYC

        For cheap eats, try out some street food (do you guys have halal chicken and rice carts in the UK?):

        I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:

        Best brunch:

        Best foodie shopping:

        Best mixology:

        Top Ten Bars for Beer Snobs

        Manhattan for 5 days over New Year

        Other hounds' itineraries/reports:

        Additionally, you can peruse the menus of many restaurants on And is handy for making reservations. However, not all restaurants are on Open Table, and for the ones that are, they don't put up every single available table, so call if you can't find the time and date you want. The good ones will try to accomodate you or put you on the waitlist.

        Restaurants in NYC take reservations usually 31, 30, 28, days in advance or similar. Sometimes restaurants take them by phone 28 days in advance but ALSO limit OpenTable to 27 days in advance. So the OT limit might be different from the phone limit. It's not a perfect tool but extremely helpful if you're not dead set on the MOST popular places.

        The most popular places will book up the day they open up their books. BUT you can ask to be put on the waitlist or call day on the day of and ask about cancellations.

        The hardest restaurants to get into are Babbo (one of the most popular in the city), Momofuku Ko (they only take reservations online and have only 12 seats), Rao's (every table "belongs" to a regular), Waverly Inn (did it ever officially "open"?), Minetta Tavern (non VIPs usually get stuck with the 6pm or 10pm slots), Gramercy Tavern (democratic but VERY popular), and Union Square Cafe (ditto). Places that recently opened and have gotten good reviews can also be hard to get into if you don't call early enough (like 4 weeks in advance or 10am on the dot 1 month in advance). Also, there are only a handful of places left in NYC that are jackets required, and very few require ties (not sure how much upscale dining you wish to do).

        Eleven Madison Park
        11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

        Gramercy Tavern
        42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

        Jean Georges
        1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

        Del Posto
        85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

        Minetta Tavern
        113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

        Blue Smoke
        116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

        Momofuku Ko
        163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        Waverly Inn
        16 Bank St, New York, NY 10014

        1. Saigon Bakery on Mott Street for Banh Mi
          Katz's pastrami sandwich
          Keste on Bleecker for pizza
          Corner Bistro for burgers
          Bagel and any smoked fish at Russ and Daughters and an egg cream (no table service)
          Lobster rolls at Pearl's Oyster Bar (nice for lunch)
          Momofuku Noodle Bar/Momofuku Ssam/Momofuku Milk Bar
          Dim Sum A Go Go
          Peter Luger for steak dinner
          Nougatine prix fixe lunch
          Joe's Shanghai for soup dumplings (Chinatown)

          Corner Bistro
          331 W 4th St, New York, NY 10014

          Momofuku Noodle Bar
          171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chuck Lawrence

            I actually thought that the dough at Keste was a bit heavy and wet. I prefer Motorino for that style of pie and like the room there a bit better as well.

            Good call on Shopsins, though. "Oddities" is putting it lightly! Make sure you research the "rules" and hours if you decide to go!

            349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

          2. Blue Smoke's burger is very hit or miss these days as is most of their food. When it's good, it's very good. It's a large pub style burger, and a hefty meal but you shouldn't plan on splitting it. Give it a shot though. Oddity wise, look into the burger nights at RUB.

            Gray's Papaya where you can get 2 hot dog and papaya juice is an East Coast oddity.
            Doughnut Plant donuts are exotic.
            Kossar's Bialeys
            Led Zeppole for various fried Italian American items.
            If it's warm, an Italian ice
            Chicken Parmesan sandwich at Torrisi, or a Defonte's sandwich
            Cuban sandwiches
            Egg creams
            Polish/Ukranian diner food (blintzes, pirogies)
            Moishe's bakery
            localvore pantry items from Northern Spy Co.
            Coffee from Stumptown, at the Ace Hotel, close to Jazz Standard
            Various picks for old fashioned high end cocktals
            Strip House steakhouse, avoiding the filet it's a safe in between choice in the steak wars.
            Faicco's Pork store, rice balls
            Murray's Cheese
            Despana for Spanish imports, may or may not fit the bill
            Lan Sheng, chinese
            Sugar Sweet Sunshine, pudding, or cupcakes
            Oyster Bar, Grand Central
            Campbell Apartments, punch drinks, wine

            Murray's Cheese
            254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

            408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

            Doughnut Plant
            379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

            Blue Smoke
            116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

            Sugar Sweet Sunshine
            126 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

            Gray's Papaya
            539 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018

            Jazz Standard
            116 E. 27th St., New York, NY 10016

            Strip House
            13 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

            18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

            Lan Sheng
            60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

            Led Zeppole
            328 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

            3 Replies
            1. re: sugartoof

              Thanks so much Kathryn. Oliver, Chuck and Sugartoof, fantastic suggestions. Such a lovely community on here ready to help. Part of my job involves social media and I don't normally see such harmonious community cohesion!

              I'll report back next week.


              1. re: sugartoof

                > It's a large pub style burger, and a hefty meal but you shouldn't plan on splitting it.

                IMO Blue Smoke also has great appetizers and sides, and it would be a shame if you missed out on them.

                I tried to eat the entire burger for lunch once and ended up in a food coma for the rest of the day. YMMV.

                > Doughnut Plant donuts are exotic.

                Not sure exotic is the right phrase here. They use a lot of local and fresh ingredients. The flavors are very creative: carrot cake, tres leches, Brooklyn blackout, rose petal, PB&J, etc. A lot depends on what's in season. They offer two kinds of donuts. Cake donuts and yeast donuts (which are a bit chewy and fluffy). I prefer the cake ones since they are often filled and much more moist. Donut Plant does run out of popular flavors so earlier is better than later.

                > Coffee from Stumptown, at the Ace Hotel, close to Jazz Standard

                Their mocha is fantastic. They roast the beans in Brooklyn. Use Brooklyn made chocolate syrup. Local milk. Pricey but delicious.

                > Despana for Spanish imports, may or may not fit the bill

                I would assume it's fairly easy to get Spanish food and drink products in London?

                408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

                Doughnut Plant
                379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

                Blue Smoke
                116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

                Jazz Standard
                116 E. 27th St., New York, NY 10016

                18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

                1. re: kathryn

                  Are you normally wiped out from larger pub burgers? I don't recall Blue Smoke being gigantic the way Molly's is, so I'm wondering if they've added some weight to their burger lately. I wouldn't plan on adding 2 more big meals on top of a Blue Smoke burger though.

                  As for Despana, you may be right, that a bunch of imports from Spain are old hat for a Londoner. It's still very NY in it's approach, and they've opened up a room for seating with more sandwiches and other bite sized snacks. It's a couple blocks from Little Italy, and DiPaolo's, plus the pasta shop, and butcher in between. They're not uniquely New York like an egg cream, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

                  408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

                  Blue Smoke
                  116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016