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tourist in NY

quachb76 Jun 20, 2010 06:51 PM

Hi All,

ok so i've read through a number of posts and taken in varying tips and people's favourites about where to eat whilst in NY - manhatten.

i guess the problem is that there is just so much information, and particularly when everyone voices their own different opinion. ultimately what you get is hundreds of recommendation to different places. and ultimately for a first timer to NY, im left just as directionless as i was before i started researching.

just wondering if there is a top 20 or so list of places to eat in NY. has one already been created on this website or other websites? I understand everyone has their favourites and hence one person's top 20 might differ from another's. but i guess unanimously, there would be a handful of restaurants/eateries/cafes/..heck even a hot dog cart...that people would agree upon as a must try

my partner and I are arriving in NY from Sydney, Australia, in late july and leaving early August (13days) to be spent solely on absorbing what NY city has to offer. 13 days means around 40 meals! so it'd be great to have some sort of comprehensive foodies list to tick off.

open to trying out everything - from street food to high end restaurants.
we've got the frommers NY guide and the Lonely Planet guide, but in addition to these, it would be great to have a list (if one exists) voted upon by locals or even those who ferquent NY city enough, to say... if you're in NY, you must try this place....


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  1. c oliver RE: quachb76 Jun 20, 2010 07:09 PM

    We live in California and only get to play tourist in NYC also. Let me suggest that you start by breaking it down into cuisines, i.e., Chinese, Italian, etc. and read the board that way. Manhattan (not to mention the other boroughs) is overwhelming and we'll never scratch the surface.

    1. s
      sam1 RE: quachb76 Jun 20, 2010 07:31 PM

      this is not a great list but its not bad either.


      other small dishes not on this list that are musts:

      shake shack

      and a bunch others but im tired.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sam1
        quachb76 RE: sam1 Jun 20, 2010 08:34 PM

        hey sam thanks for the list! very good indeed! will definitely use that

        oliver - thank you also. yes, as you pointed out, there is just so much information that only a local resident i think, could give you the best picture. the lonely planet guide (2008) was written by 4 co-authors all living in manhattan, so that im sure has to have some credibility. it';s like if someone came to Sydney, i could instantly point them to my fav top 10. but again it's very subjective

        1. re: quachb76
          c oliver RE: quachb76 Jun 20, 2010 08:40 PM

          You can subscribe free to the New York Times online and then read reviews. Are there particular cuisines that you like? Also scroll to the bottom of this page and you'll see related topics. It's a worthwhile project :)

      2. e
        edwardspk RE: quachb76 Jun 21, 2010 10:45 AM

        See if this helps. I don't necessarily always agree with Time Out NY, but they're pretty consistently a good source of information - just just for restaurants, but also things going on in the city.


        1. f
          fm1963 RE: quachb76 Jun 21, 2010 11:47 AM

          The NY Times food critic, Sam Sifton, has his share of detractors, but for what it's worth here are his fifty current favorites in the city:


          1 Reply
          1. re: fm1963
            Simon RE: fm1963 Jul 8, 2010 07:47 AM

            Sometimes i think Sam Sifton doesn't really eat out, he just remembers meals he had in the 1980's and hasn't bothered to check and find out that places like Shun Lee Palace and Il Cantinori are awful, tired restaurants...sad for the state of the NYTimes: fwiw: not much...

            But i don't mean to criticize you for posting the link!...i enjoyed scrolling down through his list and shaking my head in amused dismay :)

            Shun Lee Palace
            155 East 55th Street, New York, NY 10022

            Il Cantinori
            32 East 10th Street, New York, NY 10003

          2. g
            Geo8rge RE: quachb76 Jun 21, 2010 12:45 PM

            You might search the internet for 'best of new york' and similar. There will be various top # lists.

            You could spend the day hitting various street vendors. (note: Cab fare will add up, July will be humid)

            hot dog cart - The quality of cart hot dogs has declined, I would suggest Gray;s Papaya or similar. Did I mention hot and humid?

            An interesting excursion would be to take the #7 train out to Queens were it is elevated to rooftop height. See posts on queens. You can just get out around 82nd Street – Jackson Heights and walk under the tracks back to Manhattan, plenty of places along the way.

            Quality of pizza various tremendously so you might want to check various lists.

            See posts on BBQ. Pastrami. To see which restaurants are still on the approved list.

            Caribbean: see posts for Jerk Chicken
            Upscale and fairly deep in Brooklyn is

            If you go to Coney Island (Cyclone Roller coaster) It is near Brighton Beach with it's Russian/slavic food. Very deep inside Brooklyn.

            1. m
              metfan630 RE: quachb76 Jun 21, 2010 01:04 PM

              Another list is the Michelin list of NY restaurants that have earned stars: http://www.michelinguide.com/us/2010_...

              I agree with the poster who suggesting breaking it out by cuisine, it makes things easier.

              1 Reply
              1. re: metfan630
                uwsister RE: metfan630 Jun 25, 2010 02:09 PM

                I find Michelin Guide in NYC to be totally unreliable.

              2. c oliver RE: quachb76 Jun 21, 2010 01:11 PM

                Also if you read the board every day starting with the most recent, you're going to get a sense of various posters and their taste in food, their budget, etc. And feel at peace with the fact that you WILL miss some jewels. Even those who live there and dine out very, very often can't hit them all.

                1. l
                  Littleman RE: quachb76 Jun 21, 2010 07:31 PM

                  I am not quite as far away as you are Quachb76 but I have my own list of great NYC restaurants. Our friends in NYC will have many more but my top favorites of all time are Daniel, Aureole, Jean Georges, Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, Gotham Bar and Grill, Le Cirque, Harry Cipriani's, Cafe Boulud, Eleven Madison Park, Central Park Boat House, River Cafe, Water Club, Felidia, Inoteca, Del Posto, Keen's, Sparks, Balthazar, Craft and Union Square Cafe. Good luck.

                  1. q
                    quachb76 RE: quachb76 Jun 21, 2010 10:55 PM

                    thanks to everyone for you contribution!
                    busy busy compiling all the info together and creating a hit list! :D

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: quachb76
                      Geo8rge RE: quachb76 Jun 22, 2010 02:06 AM

                      Or for money you can let this guy do the thinking.

                      Famous Fat Dave's New York cabbie food tour

                      And you get to ride in a Checker Cab, which will let you one up most New Yorkers younger than 30. Make sure it is air conditioned.

                      1. re: Geo8rge
                        quachb76 RE: Geo8rge Jun 23, 2010 05:34 PM

                        quite an interesting offer... and entertaining viewing, but i dont think spending a day eating/sampling as much as i can is all that appealing :P
                        but thank you ! anyway Geo8rge!
                        but its nice to see a different take, away from the tourist and well known hot spots

                    2. b
                      Brian W RE: quachb76 Jun 25, 2010 03:05 PM

                      Even as a native I find it difficult to organize a list of places to eat at. My idea for tourists on a schedule would be to compile a list of possible eateries and organize them by neighborhood. That way you can do your sightseeing and then, by maybe 5pm, take a look at where you are and what are the local possibilities for dinner. I know this doesn't work for restaurants that require reservations but it may be a good way to keep the rest of your trip flexible. Keep in mind that if you eat early, other than in the theater district, you will be able to get a table just about anywhere.

                      1. b
                        Blacken RE: quachb76 Jun 27, 2010 04:35 AM


                        I'm an ex Sydney - (now in Hong Kong), and did a similar foodie trip to New York in Oct 08.... Absolutely loved it.

                        Its going to be tough to isolate things down to top 20 as there are soooo many choices over there...

                        What I do recommend doing is doing alot of research for the types of things YOU like. I found it was so much fun finding out and making a list of places that suited my interests

                        Here is a fantastic site, but I also looked around egullet, eater, nymag, and even google maps for the foodie maps that you can see that some people make (they cross link a bit :) )


                        Keep in mind that some reviews are old, and things change, but after reading ehre a bit leading to your trip you will get some good insight to what the places will be like.

                        A few of the places I particularly liked were: (in no particular order


                        Shake Shack - best casual food - all over town
                        Degustation - spanish tapas style food - well worth it
                        Momofuku Ko - Very hard to get into. But jsut check the web site and you may get lucky. I nearly wet myself after seeing a free spot one morning on my little Iphone (those card details are hard to key in quickly on the little screen :P) Got a lunch setting and it was the highlight of our three weeks there.
                        Sushi Yasuda - if you like sashimi/sushi - head on down....
                        Keens Steakhouse - didnt go that trip but have been there before. As a spectacle for a tourist its very interesting - you wont see anything like it in Sydney... please check it out
                        Joe the Art of Coffee (Yes it is possible to get Sydney quality coffe in NY :)
                        Ippudo - get there early , then get the abolutley fantastic pork buns. I could have had three servings and still dream of them. Ramen is good too :)

                        If it assists below is what I posted in this forum orginally - theres alot of advice given there too


                        And on the off chance that you do happen to head to DC - make sure you go to Komi..... that place was amazing, food - atmosphere, and an amazing night out of high quality and fun - without pretentiousness. Really Really loved it.....Oh and go the goat... One of the best dishes I have ever had - and I I wouldn't normally eat goat, but its was amazing

                        I should have posted about what we went to...... so please do for your trip.... :


                        Finally, I recommend planning ahead what you want to do in each area if you want to see alot of things, and organise a bit. There is alot to do, and you will get tired :)


                        Shake Shack
                        Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                        Sushi Yasuda
                        204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

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

                        65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Blacken
                          quachb76 RE: Blacken Jul 1, 2010 05:57 PM

                          thanks Blacken! great post.
                          (nice dig about the coffee :P)

                        2. q
                          quachb76 RE: quachb76 Jul 7, 2010 10:34 PM

                          ok so after going through the Frommers guide, the ny.eater.com (their 38 essential for Mar 2010), the Top 50 from NYTimes (http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...), the best of 2009 from Citysearch by cuisine (http://newyork.citysearch.com/bestof/...


                          ...i've come up with this list. would be very grateful for opionions and replies for glaring omissions!
                          where there are multiple entries for same cuisine, i would appreciate feedback as to which to not bother with
                          (oh and i need recommendations on pizza's :)
                          many thanks!

                          Restaurant - Food
                          Home - American
                          Norma's - American Breakfast
                          Diner - American Diner
                          Balthazar Bakery - Bakery (French)
                          Almondine Bakery- Bakery (French)
                          blaue Gans -Bavarian/German
                          Dinosaur Bar-B-Que -BBQ
                          Fette Sau -BBQ
                          Blue Smoke- BBQ
                          Virgils Real BBQ -BBQ
                          Shopsin's -Breakfast
                          Shake Shack -Burger
                          Great NY Noodle Town- Chinese
                          Cafe Habana -Cuban
                          Bagatelle -French
                          Le Bernardin- French
                          Jean Georges- French (fine dining)
                          Ouest -French / American Traditional
                          Balthazar -French Bistro
                          Le Bilboquet- French Bistro
                          Degustation- French/Spanish Tapas
                          WestVille -Hot Dogs
                          il Laboratorio del Gelato- Ice Cream
                          Devi -Indian
                          Babbo -Italian
                          Del Posto -Italian
                          Locanda Verde- Italian (Rustic)
                          Peasant -Italian (Tuscan)
                          The Spotted Pig- Italian and British
                          Zenkichi -Japanese
                          Ippudo NY -Japanese
                          Momofuku Ssam Bar -Korean/Global/Eclectic
                          Maz Mezcal Mexican -Mexican
                          Agave - Mexican Fusion -Mexican
                          Tanoreen -Middle Eastern
                          Lombardi's -Pizza
                          Aldea -Portugeuse
                          Mermaid Inn- Seafood
                          Socarrat -Spanish (paella bar)
                          Casa Mono Menu- Spanish (tapas)
                          Strip House -Steak
                          Keens Steakhouse -Steak
                          BLT Steakhouse -Steak
                          sushi yasuda -Sushi
                          Pam Real Thai Food -Thai
                          Momofuku Ssäm Bar

                          Cafe Habana
                          229 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

                          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                          Casa Mono
                          52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

                          Momofuku Ssam Bar
                          207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

                          Shake Shack
                          Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                          Spotted Pig
                          314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

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

                          Le Bernardin
                          155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                          Mermaid Inn
                          96 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                          2315 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                          Pam Real Thai
                          404 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

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

                          Maz Mezcal
                          316 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028

                          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                          259 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

                          31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                          Locanda Verde
                          377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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

                          Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
                          777 W. 125th Street, New York, NY 10027

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: quachb76
                            Phil Ogelos RE: quachb76 Jul 8, 2010 05:37 AM

                            A fine set of choices, ben -you'd be hard-pressed to go wrong with any of them. That said, someone more fastidious than I will help you pare down your list by at least half [I'd remove the (MadSq.) Shake Shack forthwith, for example, and replace it with the Gramercy Tavern.] Collectively, those establishments will gorge on your wallet, but I suppose you know that already. And coming when you do in midsummer, the rolls of regular clientele will be at least 20% smaller -making reservations (a little) easier to come by.

                            All that really compelled me to write this morning, though, was your casual aside asking for recommends on pizza. You must know that that subject's a hornets' nest here:) & you'll end up with another 50 choices. Ben's in SoHo actually is among the best, but others may differ ...

                            Have a nice visit; we'll make sure and turn up the heat for you, so that you feel right at home when you come.

                            1. re: quachb76
                              nyctripper RE: quachb76 Jul 8, 2010 06:09 AM

                              For pizza, Keste would be my choice.

                              1. re: quachb76
                                Phil Ogelos RE: quachb76 Jul 8, 2010 06:19 AM

                                Speaking of reservations, ben, you would benefit from knowing about this site:


                                It demands that you commit beforehand to one or another place -even if only a couple of weeks in advance- but it makes getting into the finer places (of which your list is full) a little less chancy, a little less stressful; and it can all be done from a distance.

                                EDIT: Use it to get into Daniel or Eleven Madison Park ['EMP' on these boards], neither of which is on your list, for example -nor any of the outer borough hidden gems.
                                (Sorry, had to mess with your head there!)

                                1. re: quachb76
                                  bookhound RE: quachb76 Jul 8, 2010 06:31 AM

                                  It's not a bad list but there are a few clunkers. Virgil's shouldn't be on the list any of the other BBQ places are much better. Mermaid Inn is really just a neighborhood restaurant, I wouldn't go out of my way to visit. It can be replaced by Aquagrill.

                                  Mermaid Inn
                                  96 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                                  210 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                                  1. re: bookhound
                                    thew RE: bookhound Jul 8, 2010 08:05 AM

                                    i disagree about mermaid. i live nowhere near it, and happily go there for dinner.

                                    but then i like "neighborhood" restaurants, whatever the neighborhood happens to be

                                  2. re: quachb76
                                    daveena RE: quachb76 Jul 8, 2010 08:52 AM

                                    There’s a lot of good advice upthread – it’s really, really important to understand the tastes of the list-makers you’re referencing, and to figure out if they have similar preferences to yours. The reason just about every restaurant worth eating at in NYC is named in the “Top 5 Overrated List” post is because people disagree on what’s delicious. For upscale restaurants, especially, I think it's really important to read through reviews and people's reports and take note when a particular dish sounds delicious. One person's divine is another person's deathly dull.

                                    That said, here are my votes:

                                    One vote yes:
                                    Shake Shack -Burger
                                    Le Bernardin- French
                                    Jean Georges- French (fine dining)
                                    Degustation- French/Spanish Tapas
                                    Babbo - Italian
                                    Locanda Verde- Italian (Rustic)
                                    Ippudo NY -Japanese
                                    Aldea -Portugeuse
                                    Casa Mono Menu- Spanish (tapas)
                                    sushi yasuda -Sushi
                                    Momofuku Ssäm Bar

                                    Have not been to, but would vote yes based on overwhelmingly positive feedback from board:

                                    Substitutions based on opinions of posters I trust:
                                    Rhong Tiam instead of Pam Real Thai
                                    Txikito instead of Socarrat

                                    Have not been to, but would not go based on generally underwhelming feedback from the board:
                                    Mermaid Inn

                                    Was personally underwhelmed by:
                                    Spotted Pig

                                    Too many recent downhill reports to recommend:

                                    Obvious omissions:
                                    Eleven Madison Park
                                    Per Se (if you’re working with an unlimited budget)
                                    15 East
                                    Halal cart at 53 and 6

                                    Cuisines to consider:
                                    South Indian
                                    Regional Chinese (Szechuan, Taiwanese, Xi'an)

                                    A couple of pizzas:
                                    Artichoke's square
                                    Motorino's Neapolitan-style
                                    Patsy's uptown, for a classic NY pie
                                    Sullivan Street Bakery's Roman-style rectangular, sauceless white pies

                                    Personal faves otherwise not named:
                                    Bar Boulud
                                    Kee's chocolates
                                    Matsugen (for soba)
                                    SHO Shaun Hergatt

                                    You'll need a bagel at some point. Unfortunately, my previous fave, Absolute Bakery, fell short on my last trip and I'm looking for a replacement. Of the places I’ve been to, Ess-a Bagel is probably the next best.

                                    You'll also need some pastrami. My last visit to Katz's was a little disappointing and recent reports have been mixed, but it is the classic. RGR’s classic Lower East Side tour covers pastrami, appetizing, bialys, pickles and egg creams: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4933...

                                    Per Se
                                    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                                    170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                                    9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

                                    15 East
                                    15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

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

                                    Sullivan Street Bakery
                                    533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                                    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                                    Casa Mono
                                    52 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003

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

                                    Shake Shack
                                    Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

                                    Spotted Pig
                                    314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

                                    Le Bernardin
                                    155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                                    Mermaid Inn
                                    96 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                                    Pam Real Thai
                                    404 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

                                    Bar Boulud
                                    1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

                                    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                    241 Church Street, New York, NY 10013

                                    259 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011

                                    239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                    240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                                    31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                                    Locanda Verde
                                    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                                    SHO Shaun Hergatt
                                    40 Broad St, New York, NY 10004

                                    349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                                    1. re: quachb76
                                      sgordon RE: quachb76 Jul 8, 2010 01:11 PM

                                      First, the most obvious (to me) omissions / overlooked: Eleven Madison Park & WD-50

                                      WD-50 has been on a roll as of late, they seem to be really inspired these days and putting out food that's as delicious as it is playful and fun.

                                      11MP - well, you'll probably find any number of people on Chowhound that'll tell you it's simply, pound-for-pound, the best restaurant going in the city right now. And while I'm sure others will debate that, very few will deny it's greatness.

                                      As to the rest of the list, here are a few of my thoughts:

                                      Norma's - overpriced

                                      Great NY Noodle Town - Meh. There's so much better in Chinatown.
                                      For fancier Chinese I'd go with Fuleen's, Oriental Garden, Ping's, or Amazing 66. See posts on Chinatown for more info, but those tend to be the big names for the freshest seafood.
                                      For cheap Chinese, Vanessa's Dumpling House is legendary, and worth it. For noodles, I'd go with one of the hand-pull noodle joints - Super Taste and Sheng Wang are both very good and easy to get to.

                                      Cafe Habana - doesn't excite me. For Cuban food, I prefer something a little more hole-in-the-wall. Cubano Sandwiches with a side of Mofungo at Cibao on Clinton St do it for me.

                                      Le Bernardin - Still great, but a bit fussy.
                                      Jean Georges - Boring, corporate. Just doesn't excite me.
                                      Balthazar - It's good, but you've probably got bistros where you come from. It won't be anything you haven't had before, is all I'm saying. Might as well stick with "only in NYC" kind of places.
                                      Degustation - Always good, but I always leave hungry.
                                      il Laboratorio del Gelato - I prefer Cones on Bleeker St, but there's no reason you couldn't hit them both during your visit.

                                      Devi - excellent, probably the best for more "traditional" (whatever that means) Indian Cuisine. For a more modern take, Tabla is a great option.

                                      Babbo, Del Posto, Locanda Verde, Peasant:
                                      All great choice for Italian. I'd add Falai, which is Florentine with an avant-garde bent - he's down the street from WD-50 and their influence shows. They've really been on a groove lately, and it's vastly improved since the last time the NYT reviewed them, back in '06(?) I think.

                                      Momofuku Ssam Bar - awesome. A no-brainer.

                                      Maz Mezcal, Agave - nothing special. I find we've got better "street food" Mexican than we do fancified Mexican in NYC. But for higher-end Mexican (or Pan-Latin) my choices would be: Rayuela, Toloache, Yerba Buena, and Centrico. But I'd also stop by Tehuitzingo for tacos & cerveza.

                                      Lombardi's - there's much better. Not worth the waits by any stretch. Go to Totonno's out on Coney Island, or the Patsy's in Harlem on 1st Ave, or John's on Bleeker St.

                                      Aldea - I wasn't terribly excited about, to tell the truth. Nothing especially Portuguese about it, either.

                                      Strip House, Keens, BLT - I assume you have steakhouses where you're coming from. While these are all good (and if I had to pick one, I'd probably go with BLT Prime or Peter Luger's), I don't see the point in going to one when you're only here for a limited time. You can get good steak nearly everywhere.

                                      Okay, if I were here for 13 days... what would my itinerary be, splitting it up between high-end dinners and cheaper eats for lunch?

                                      My personal 13 dinners would include:

                                      Oriental Garden, Ping's, or Amazing 66 for Chinese (they're good to do with a larger group, since most everything is served family-style)
                                      Gramercy Tavern, Craft, or Collicchio & Sons for American / Local Seasonal
                                      Marea or Esca for Italian seafood
                                      Del Posto, Babbo, or Scarpetta
                                      Soto, Kyo-Ya, or Morimoto for Japanese (composed dishes)
                                      Sushi of Gari or Sushi Yasuda for (obviously) Sushi. Or, hell, Masa if you can afford it.
                                      Momofuku Ssam
                                      ...and one night in Brooklyn: Henry's End (better food & atmosphere) or The River Cafe (better view if you can get a window table), followed by a walk on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with a cup of hot cocoa from Jacques Torres.

                                      Other possibilities:
                                      Rayuela (Pan-Latin)
                                      Centrico, Toloache, Suenos, Crema, or Itzocan Cafe (Mexican)

                                      ...I'd leave a couple nights open to wing it, though. Maybe one would stand out so much it'd warrant a return visit to try more. WD or 11MP could very well inspire that - try them a la carte, you might want to go back for a tasting menu a week later.

                                      My lunches & brunches would try to include:

                                      Vanessa's Dumpling House (dumplings and stuffed pancakes)
                                      Xi'an Famous Foods for lamb and pork burgers
                                      Super Taste, Sheng Wang, or Lam Zhou (on East Broadway) for hand-pulled noodles
                                      Pho Grand or Cong Ly for Pho / Vietnamese
                                      John's Pizza on Bleeker, followed by ice cream at Cones.
                                      Momofuku Noodle (for the classics - Ramen and Pork Buns)
                                      Prune, JoeDoe, Craftbar or Braeburn for brunch(es).
                                      Tacos Matamoros or Xochimilco in Sunset Park on your requisite Brooklyn Day.
                                      Shake Shack
                                      Russ & Daughters for bagels & lox
                                      Katz's (because it's as classic NYC as it gets, so you just kinda have to... and the corned beef and pastrami are still great, no matter what the haters say...)

                                      Places that have been mentioned that I'd personally skip:
                                      Per Se

                                      50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                                      170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                                      Russ & Daughters
                                      179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                                      695 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                                      Vanessa's Dumpling House
                                      118 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

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

                                      Cong Ly
                                      124 Hester St, New York, NY 10002

                                      Sushi Yasuda
                                      204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

                                      251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                                      Amazing 66
                                      66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                                      11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

                                      Super Taste
                                      26 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002

                                      165 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002

                                      370 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                                      402 West 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036

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

                                      Oriental Garden
                                      14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                                      68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                      111 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                                      88 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                      Itzocan Cafe
                                      438 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009

                                      311 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

                                      Maz Mezcal
                                      316 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028

                                      72 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                                      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                                      Yerba Buena
                                      23 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

                                      45 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10003

                                      239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                      117 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014

                                      Shake Shack
                                      366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                                      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

                                      211 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                      Cibao Restaurant
                                      72 Clinton St Frnt 1, New York, NY 10002

                                      349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

                                      10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

                                      1. re: sgordon
                                        RGR RE: sgordon Jul 8, 2010 01:55 PM

                                        "Devi - excellent, probably the best for more "traditional" (whatever that means) Indian Cuisine. For a more modern take, Tabla is a great option."

                                        I've always loved Devi, but right now it's a giant question mark with regard to the state of the food. Chef Hemant Mathur, who was also a partner, has left to open his own restaurant (in the fall). There is a new owner, and while Chef/partner Suvir Saran remains, he has been mainly involved in recipe development and is very often out of town. It was Hemant who ran the kitchen day-to-day and produced the extraordinary food. He has been replaced, but until we get some current reports -- thus far, I have seen none -- I would hesitate to recommend Devi.

                                    2. groover808 RE: quachb76 Jul 8, 2010 07:57 PM

                                      I had the same dilemma when I was researching NYC places too. I went a few weeks ago in early July, it was my second trip, so I was really on a foodie hunt first and sightseeing second. For your lower end options, may I suggest you share and hit up a few places? I noticed you'll have your partner. I went with my bf, and it worked beautifully. We maximized on tasting so much!

                                      For example, lunch would be share a sandwich at Katz, then walk over to Mamoun Falafel and share a falafel sandwich. For one dinner, shared a slice at Artichoke Pizza, then hopped over to Luke's Lobster to share a divine lobster roll. Another dinner consisted of an arepa from Caracas Arepas, sandwich from Porchetta, and order of french onion soup dumplings at Stanton Social. Just group your interests by neighborhood and walk around, I loved just walking around NYC's different neighborhoods.

                                      As far as the options you outlined, Habana is famous for their corn and I'd say maybe just pick up some pastries from the bakery at Balthazar. It's good, but not something you can't find elsewhere. Also, the 53rd and 6th ave halal chicken and rice cart is fantastic and cheap eats late at night. My friend describes it best, you don't "plan" to go, you just go after you've been out all night...

                                      Here's a link to my short reviews of this last trip:

                                      Stanton Social
                                      99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

                                      Caracas Arepa Bar
                                      93 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                      110 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                      Luke's Lobster
                                      93 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: groover808
                                        Simon RE: groover808 Jul 9, 2010 03:48 PM

                                        groover, you did it right! (imho)...glad you enjoyed...cheers

                                        1. re: Simon
                                          groover808 RE: Simon Jul 9, 2010 05:09 PM

                                          Thanks, it was damn tasty...can't wait for my next trip!

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