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Looking for restaurant advice in NYC

Hi New York food lovers. We are looking for some restaurant advice for our upcoming visit. We live in Charlotte, NC and haven't been to NYC is over 10 years (horrors!). We always use our NY visits to dive into foods we absolutely cannot get at home.

I've been doing searches on TripAdvisor...but also wanted to through this out to the chowhounds for some additional "sound" advice. Here are the types of cuisines we are looking for and some recommendations that I found on TripAdvisor. Can you guys confirm, deny or recommend other options for these catagories? By the way, we will be staying in the Time Square area. We also know our way around the subway system pretty well.

Afghan (Bamiyan on 3rd Avenue)?
Middle Eastern (Turkish Kitchen on 3rd Avenue, Nomad on 2nd Avenue ilili on 5th Avenue, Taboon on 10th Avenue)?
Russian (Firebirds)?
Vietnamese (Siagon Grill on Amsterdam Avenue or Pho Viet Huong on Mulberry)?

Also, I've heard a lot about 9th Avenue and the wide variety of international cuisines offered....any top 3 suggestions for this area?

Thanks so much for your wise words of wisdom!

Nha Hang Pho Viet Huong
73 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

773 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10019

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  1. Firebird is awful. You should ask on the outer boroughs board for Russian food advice...

    In fact you should ask about all of these cuisines on the outer boroughs board.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Totally concur with GoS re: Firebird. Terrible food. Stay away from it.

    2. As re 9th avenue, there are 2 different Afghan spots in that area; Ariana Afghan and Afghan Kebab House. I have to admit I haven't tried out either but have heard they are both pretty decent picks. My husband liked Ariana Afghan House when he tried it out.
      Great picks along/near 9th Avenue include Kyotofu (Japanese) and Azuri Cafe; Zigolinis Pizza is good for the area though not as good as some spots downtown.
      By Middle Eastern, what specific cuisine are you looking for? There are many different types of Middle Eastern cuisine to be found, each with representations both in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. If you make your request more specific it may help people steer you in the right direction.

      705 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

      Azuri Cafe
      465 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

      Afghan Kebab House
      764 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

      Zigolinis Pizza Bar
      675 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036

      1. i don't know about Pho Viet Huong, but Saigon Grill is a bad idea. Vietnamese is generally not great here, though I have always had enjoyable meals at O Mai.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          Ditto about Saigon Grill. They were really convenient for speedy delivery when I lived on the UWS. But their food isn't so hot. Pho Viet Huong is a much better choice.

          I consult with the tripadvisor forums when I'm researching things to do. But Chowhound is a ton better for food advice. If you use the search feature on the upper right hand corner of the screen, you'll find tons of info on this board for the things you've asked about.

          Nha Hang Pho Viet Huong
          73 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

          Saigon Market
          91 University Pl, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: rrems

            Another negative for Saigon Grill. Mediocre food, horrible treatments of their workers.

          2. xe lua for vietnamese - best pho in town

            1. For Middle Eastern, you may want to dine on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. There are some great restaurants there. Then you can go by cab or car service (approximately 5 minutes by car but hard to walk) to The River Cafe for a nightcap: http://www.rivercafe.com/ (It looks like one of those bad water-side restaurants that just gets tourists in there and overcharges; but it's got very good food).

              I might suggest that you stay somewhere besides Times Square for future trips. You will get more of a feel for the life of the city.

              Have fun!

              1. For Turkish food I am fond of Ali Baba's on 34th St off 3rd Ave. Fun if somewhat loud atmosphere. Good if not great food, with decent prices.

                1 Reply
                1. re: visciole

                  I'd concur. Good and tasty, though not great.

                2. Bamiyan is rather good. I go to Ariana on 9th Av. more often, but the menus are different. Both are good.

                  I think my favorite Turkish place at this point may be Istanbul Cafe on 57 St. between 8th and 9th, but I also liked Zeytin on 85th and Columbus quite a lot the times I went there. I haven't been there for a few years, though, because Kefi - my favorite Greek restaurant, and one of my favorite sort of low mid-priced (c. $35/person) restaurants in Manhattan - is a block away. I have had some very good meals at Turkish Kitchen and some not that great.

                  I gave Nomad several tries in the months or so after it opened and had mixed though mostly positive experiences and should give it another try.

                  I haven't been to Taboon yet.

                  I wouldn't really look for Russian food in Manhattan. If you want Russian food, your best bet is to make an adventure out of it and go to Brighton Beach or Coney Island. Ask for recommendations on the Outer Boroughs board.

                  Vietnamese food is not a great strength of Manhattan, but I have never been impressed with Saigon Grill. Pho Viet Huong and the various places on Baxter St. are all decent, last I checked (which, truth be told, is not recently at all, so take that with a grain of salt) and so is Pho Nha Trang Centre, but if you really want good Vietnamese food, you're best off going to Brooklyn or Queens or at least considering limiting yourself to a banh mi at Banh Mi Saigon (lunch only).

                  If you ask for advice on the Outer Boroughs board, post a link to the thread here. I'll be happy to recommend several Southeast Asian restaurants in Elmhurst, which is only about a 25-minute subway ride from Midtown Manhattan.

                  9th Av. - My favorite restaurants are Wondee (only the original, on the east side of the avenue between 52nd and 53rd Sts. - right across the street from Ariana Afghan - and for best results, order off the "Secret Thai" menu and ask for the food to be spicy and Thai style), Gazala Place (delicious Israeli Druze food in a cramped little place on the west side of the avenue between 48th and 49th Sts.), the aforementioned Ariana, Uncle Nick's (honest Greek food at cheap prices), Pam's Real Thai (again, just the original on 49th west of 9th), and on the strength of one brunch so far, Marseille.

                  There are also some good places on and near 10th Av. For example, I like Meskerem very much, especially when they aren't out of mead (Tej), like they were the last time I was there. :-)

                  Banh Mi Saigon
                  198 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

                  Nha Trang
                  148 Centre St, New York, NY 10013

                  Gazala Place
                  709 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                  630 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY 10036

                  787 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                  505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

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

                  519 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                  468 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                  Uncle Nick's
                  747 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                  325 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

                  1. Thanks so much for all of the great advice! We are looking forward to our trip...and I know our dining choices will be great based on your feedback.