San Francisco Chowhound coming to NY for a week. What can't I find in San Francisco that's really unique?
I'm an adventurous eater with a week on my hands in October, and I'm looking for interesting ethnic and otherwise eats in Manhattan and the boroughs. I get plenty of Mexican, Thai and Cantonese in SF. I'm looking for things that are really hard to find out West. This includes oddities such as Montreal Smoked Meat, A real Pastrami Sandwich, obscure great bagels and things like Albanian, African and other far-flung spots on the globe. Not to mention that perfect NYC pizza slice that hasn't been overrun yet.
Thanks for your help.
Having been to SF this year and doing pretty much what you're doing in the opposite direction, here are some things (some are repeats of others' suggestions) I'd recommend:
-Mile End for Montreal Smoked Meat. (Brooklyn)
-food stalls in the downstairs Flushing (Queens)Mall for various ethnic Chinese (non-Cantonese & worth going)
-Brighton Beach (Brooklyn) for Russian food
-Kebab Cafe (Astoria Queens) for unique food by Ali ($40 or so... have him tell you what to order)
-Katz' pastrami (Manhattan)
-Russ and Daughters (next door to Katz'... get "appetizing" and eat outside)
-read Dave Cook's "Eating in Translation" blog... he's ferreted out everything you'd want in obscure hole in the wall and storefront ethnic foods.
Go for the real NY "jewish" food - deli and smoked fish:
Katz's - pastrami sandwich
Russ and Daughters - smoked fish (retail but can take out bagel sandwiches, they also make egg creams)
Barney Greengrass - the sturgeon king - smoked fish breakfast/lunch
Hotel Edison Coffee Shop - matzoh ball soup, cabbage soup, mushroom barley soup
Zabar's (market/take out), one block away from H&H Bagels
New York steakhouse (not cheap/ethnic but authentically unique):
Peter Lugar (Brooklyn) - porterhouse
Strip House - NY strip, truffle spinach
541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
13 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003
re: Chuck Lawrence
Oh my... can't believe I just saw Hotel Edison on Chowhound! Many years ago, I stayed there on my first ever visit to NYC. I'll never forget how kind they were to a young, sorta lost young Southern girl. On the morning I left, in the wee hours for a very early flight, they sat me down in that coffee shop and plied me with coffee and a roll whilst I waited for the car service to collect me. If I recall, my coffee/roll was "on the house"! I don't think the coffee shop was even officially open. They just took pity on me. I probably looked like I needed pity... I'd had a whirlwind good weekend with friends who were trying to "make it" in the theatre biz.
I don't know of many places to get Montreal style smoked meat except for Mile End in Brooklyn.
For a proper pastrami on rye, I prefer Katz's Deli. I pulled up a thread called "Don't Leave New York Without Eating" that should also help.
I think NYers are so obssessed with pizza it's hard to find a pizza place that "hasn't been overrun yet." Also it seems like a lot of the high quality places nowadays are pies only. My pizza recommendations are in one of the threads I linked to below.
You said you get a lot of Cantonese in SF, what about Sichuan? We have some great Sichuan restaurants here like Szechuan Gourmet. As well as some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Xian and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Flushing (Shangdong/Qingdao, Henan, Dongbei to name a few).
List of Ultimate Chinese food dishes in NYC
For really interesting ethnic food, I would recommend a trip to Queens. The Edible Queens "World's Fare" blog is a good read:
Here are some threads on things I think NYC is good at, like brunch, bagels/smoked salmon, pickles, egg creams, pastrami, pizza, mixology, "ethnic" niches, street food etc.
Best breakfast and brunch:
Please help me eat during a month in new york
Don't leave NY without eating these foods
Pizza in NYC
BTW, I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles:
Foreign Street Grub
totally obscure, odd, and intriguing menu items
Great upscale dining
Union Square Greenmarket
Broadway and E 17th St, New York, NY 10003
49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002
21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018
Not innovative (that's for sure) but I bet you can't get hot borscht or matzoh brei the way B&H makes it (2nd Ave/7th Street) and the Ukrainian restaurant across the street with its stuffed cabbage isn't likely to be SF fare...
127 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003