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NYC recs for casual yet memorable food

I will be staying around the East Village this weekend, for a week. I've always wanted to try Prune, but I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions for well prepared, honest, casual/rustic fare. Thanks!

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  1. What's your budget? Do you only want American style cuisine?

    10 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      In the $5 to $100 pre fix menu category, so anything. I want: the best slice of pizza NYC has to offer, Italian, Streetfood, Fish (any influence), deli, Casual sweets (Brooklyn Cream?), Gastro-pub fare, Dumplings and more. LEt's start with that. I will def. hit Momofuku, Prune, some Batali joints, the Breslin. So maybe more cheaper eats from local places that are not that popular. Thanks, Oh and I need some good Indian.

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      The Breslin
      20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

      1. re: napolean

        If it's cheap and good, it's popular. If it's truly undiscovered, it's probably outside Manhattan, or it's just unlikely to get suggested here.

        Indian, you might try Dhaba. They have a buffet that's a bargain. There's cheap indian take out groceries in the East Village if take out works for you.

        You might try the Brooklyn Flea or Henry Street Fair for street food and casual sweets.
        Dumplings, Vanessa's or Prosperity seem to be the two standards.
        Italian, you'll have a number of choices local to you in the East Village...is there a style you prefer?

        The more specific you can get to your requests the more we can point you in the right direction. Otherwise, you're likely to just get links to Best Cheap Eats threads....which you should check out.

        1. re: sugartoof

          I think you meant Hester St Fair on the LES?

          1. re: kathryn

            Yes thank you, will correct it above. I make that error often for some reason. Thanks again.

        2. re: napolean

          $5-100 before tax, tip, and drinks basically covers a whole range of restaurants in NYC. Nearly every restaurant in NYC will fit your criteria save for the really expensive upscale ones like Masa and Per Se.

          For a great slice of pizza in the East Village, go to Artichoke and get the square and skip the other slices. I've heard good things about South Brooklyn Pizza, too. Or just go to Motorino, which is Naples style pie and one of my absolute favorites in the city. Love the proscuitto pie, spicy soppressata, or sausage and crimini. For the "best slice the city has to offer" you'll need to leave Manhattan and go to Di Fara in Brooklyn, though. :)

          For Italian, Otto is a short walk away if you want a cheaper Batali joint. Lupa and Babbo are close by as well. If you're just walking in without a reservation, you can dine at the bar or a walk-in table. All of them save tables for walk-ins and the bar essentially serves as overflow seating so you can dine there as well. For Babbo, this is often easier than trying to make a reservation. The other way to "do" Babbo is to make a reservation by walking in. That way you miss out on the busy signal problems.

          For street food, there's not that many savory options in the East Village but there's lots of sweet options. Dessert Truck, Wafels and Dinges, Van Leeuwen truck. They all park in the EV on a regular basis. Follow them on Twitter to find times/locations.

          For fish, are you talking just fish or all seafood? Not a TON of options in the EV but Luke's Lobster is great for a buttery lobster roll without a lot of mayo. Also in the EV, I like the grilled fish and octopus dishes at Pylos, and the fish/shellfish dishes at Prune are also pretty good. Go to Soho to Aquagrill or Blue Ribbon for oysters and shellfish towers. Pearl in the West Village has a very good lobster roll as well as great fried oysters and raw oysters. It really depends what you are looking for: fish, crab, oysters, lobster....

          For deli, go to Katz's for a pastrami on rye with mustard and half-sour pickles.

          For casual sweets, there's a ton of options in the EV. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is OK, but I think NYC does gelato better than ice cream. Butter Lane, Chikalicious Dessert Club, Abraco, Pinisi, or Birdbath (Build a Green Bakery) for baked goods and pastries in the EV. Butter Lane has very good, not too sweet cupcakes made from local and organic ingredients. Chikalicious Dessert Club has petite cupcakes with whipped frosting, good vanilla soft serve, cookies, and other items. They have a sit down restaurant across the street too. At Abraco, go for the olive oil cake or salty olive cookie (they close at like 3 or 4pm, closed Mondays, great coffee too, very strong and dark). Pinisi has good cake and cupcakes with oddball flavors like spicy PB&J. Birdbath has muffins, scones, pretzel croissants, and more, it's the same people who do City Bakery.

          And definitely walk over to Otto for their olive oil gelato, and then over to the West Village for the "gelato" corridor on Bleecker St. I love L'Arte de Gelato for their dark chocolate combined with olive oil, or a berry flavor with mascarpone. Other hounds like Grom or Cones. And they're all 1-2 minutes walk away from each other!

          Which Momofuku are you going to? It makes a difference...not all created equal.
          - Momofuku Ko is an upscale fine dining experience w/ a tasting menu and a tiny bit over your budget. Reservations only online and it's probably too late for you to grab one unless someone else cancels.
          - Ma Peche, the newest one, is located in Midtown and serves sophisticated French-Vietnamese food.
          - Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar is takeout/counter-service, but it's not a place to sit and have a meal as they have no seats, and very few savory items. There's one in the East Village and one in Midtown.
          - Momofuku Ssam Bar is a small plates restaurant. No reservations unless you reserve a large group meal called a Bo Ssam.
          - Momofuku Noodle Bar is a ramen focused restaurant, that also has some other small plates. BUT a lot of ramen-o-philes don't think highly of Noodle Bar's ramen. No reservations unless you reserve a large group meal of their signature fried chicken.

          > So maybe more cheaper eats from local places that are not that popular

          Ha, well, um, most local places that are cheap and good, quickly before popular, you know? See Xian Famous Foods on St Marks. Cumin lamb burger, liang pi "noodles" (actually gluten), or cumin lamb hand-pulled noodles. I'm willing to bet your don't have Xian food where you live!

          Also kinda new and cheap eats is Sigmund Pretzel Shop.

          You'll probably need to leave the EV for Indian. Curry Row on East 6th St is not that great.

          -----
          Per Se
          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

          Lupa
          170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

          Babbo
          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

          City Bakery
          3 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

          Aquagrill
          210 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

          Pylos
          128 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

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

          Abraco
          86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

          Pinisi
          128 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003

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

          Grom
          233 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

          Butter Lane
          123 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

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

          Ma Peche
          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          Xi'an Famous Foods
          88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

          Motorino
          349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

          Masa
          10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: kathryn

            Thanks for the recs! I will continue trying many of these places mentioned. So far I have been able to eat: Roasted Bone Marrow and Mozz/Anchovy stuffed Squash Blossoms at PRUNE; Kale Salad, Tomato Linguini and 3Bean Panzanella at MARLOW N DAUGHTERS; Artichoke slice at ARTICHOKE; Scallops, Pork Buns and Noodles at MOMOFUKU NOODLE BAR; and 5 dif. courses at CASA MONO. Overall, all has been very good! I want to check out XIAN FAMOUS FOODS, ENOTECCA, JUNIORS and LUPA next. Also want a classic Brooklyn Egg Cream----where do i get? Oysters at GRAND CENTRAL any good or overatted?

            1. re: napolean

              For oysters the Grand Central Oyster Bar is fine - sit at the counter and don't order food other than oysters.

              For egg cream go to Gem Spa (it's in Manhattan)

              Why Junior's?

              For your Italian wine/food bar fix, go to 'inoteca, Il Posto Accanto, Terroir...

              -----
              Grand Central Oyster Bar
              89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

              Gem Spa
              131 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              Il Posto Accanto
              190 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10009

              Terroir
              413 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009

              'inoteca
              323 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

              1. re: napolean

                I didn't find Junior's to be all that special. Try Two Little Red Hens uptown if you want cheesecake.

                Xian Famous Foods, 'inoteca (I think that's what you meant?), and Lupa are all great. Lupa is much more chill for lunch, BTW.

                -----
                Lupa
                170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                Two Little Red Hens
                1652 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                'inoteca
                323 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

                Xi'an Famous Foods
                88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

                1. re: kathryn

                  kathryn,

                  thank you so much for enumerating the various Momofuku establishments. I've been confused about the differences between them, and this is a big help!

                  Tony

            2. http://newyorkstreetfood.com/
              this site's twitter feed is a good resource for street truck foods. some of them are starting to experiment in the east village, so you never know.

              there's also an asian dumpling cart at astor place with 6 dumplings, and chow mein "spaghetti" for $6 w/ free drink during lunch and dinner hours. it's pretty good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sugartoof

                No ones mentioned Little Owl yet. So I will.

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                Little Owl
                90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014

              2. In your price range, some of my favorites in the EV/LES area:

                WD-50 (as memorable as it gets - but solicit opinions on what to order beforehand)
                Frankies 17 Clinton Street Spuntino
                Xian Famous Foods
                Apiary
                Degustation
                Schiller's Liquor Bar (go on a weeknight for a casual meal, weekends are too mobbed)
                The Orchard
                Motorino
                JoeDoe
                Stanton Social (see: Schiller's - skip the weekend crowds)
                Kuma Inn
                Shopsin's General Store (gotta do it once - but look over the menu online before you go, since there's, like, 8,000 items on it...)
                ...and, of course, Katz's.

                Wandering a little further South, into Chinatown, you could hit any of these for some amazing fresh seafood:
                Ping's
                Oriental Garden
                Fuleen

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                WD-50
                50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                Shopsin's General Store
                120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

                Frankies 17 Spuntino
                17 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                The Orchard
                162 Orchard St., New York, NY 10002

                Stanton Social
                99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

                Kuma Inn
                113 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

                Fuleen
                11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

                Degustation
                239 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                Oriental Garden
                14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

                Ping's
                22 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                Schiller's Liquor Bar
                131 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                JoeDoe
                45 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10003

                Apiary
                60 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                Xi'an Famous Foods
                81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                Motorino
                349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003