HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >

Discussion

What were you eating in Manhattan in the late 90s? Are you still seeking out/ordering those foods today?

Here's a list of foods/dishes/restaurants that were new to me in the late 90s:
soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai
Krispy Kreme Donuts-travelling out of my way to 8th & 23rd to try my first Krispy Kreme
Starbucks Chai Tea Latte-this was what I ordered before I became a coffee drinker circa 1999. I used to walk 10 blocks to get to my closest Starbucks
the mantoo at Bamiyan
upscale dim sum at Shun Lee- the current Shun Lee thread triggered this trip down memory lane
upscale Cantonese food at the now-defunct Jimmy Sung's
Balthazar- mostly went because I was curious, after hearing Madonna had dined there
noodles at Republic
Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and papa a la huancaina at a place in SoHo- blanking on the restaurant's name
Pizza at Patsy's
Godiva chocolates
the now-closed Vong- my first visit to a JGV restaurant, and quite impressive
the now-closed Florent
I Trulli, which was the first time I ordered grilled cuttlefish

These were the dishes I was eating frequently, and trying all over town:
penne with vodka sauce
pad thai
tapas
empanadas
enchiladas suizas

These restaurant foods/restaurants were on my regular rotation:
the spinach and mushroom slice at my neighbourhood Famous Original Ray's
the goulash at Veselka, usually very late at night
noodles at Mee
enchiladas at Gabriela's
tuna melts at coffee shops around town
veal or chicken parm sandwiches
the now-closed Comfort Diner- think I kept returning for the faux-retro atmosphere, because I can't really remember the food tasting good

Where were you eating in the late 90s?

Which places are you still frequenting?

While I still seek out empanadas, soup dumplings, tapas, Peruvian and Mexican food, I don't think I've ordered pad thai in the last 5 years, and I can't remember ordering pasta with vodka sauce since the late 90s.

Can anyone recommend a restaurant that still serves a good pasta with vodka sauce, in case I decide to give it a try for old time's sake?

I ordered a mushroom and spinach slice at a Famous Original Ray's last year, and it was pretty bad. Not sure if my tastes have changed, or whether their slices used to taste better. Or both.

Haven't had a craving for a Krispy Kreme since I tried my first Doughnut Plant donut.

Amazing how tastes can change over the years.

-----
Joe's Shanghai
9 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

Gabriela's
688 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10025

Balthazar
80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

Florent
69 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014

Veselka
144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

Bamiyan
358 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

I Trulli
122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

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

Patsy's Pizzeria
509 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

Republic
37 Union Sq W, New York, NY 10003

Vong
200 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022

Comfort Diner
214 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017

Mee Noodle Shop and Grill
922 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10017

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. In the late 90s I was goint to;
    69 bayard at 2AM for Chinese food (not sober)
    Hitting White Castle for a ton of burgers and chicken rings. Remind me what part of the chicken is the ring shape
    7A diner on 7th and A
    Sotto Cinque for cheap pastas
    Circa on 6th and 2nd for awesome Lobster Rissoto. This was a great first date place. DJ came on at 11 and the place turned into a lounge
    OG on the LES for dumplings
    Piazza on 86th and 2nd
    Mustang on the UES
    Really into Chic Parm heros then, and I cannot find a good one today. Every place uses strips not cutlets and way too much sauce and cheese
    Thai at Pongsri by the courthouse downtown
    Always ordered Fried Calamari for an appitizer. Never order than now, just not good. Would rather it grilled.
    Sushi at Avenue A. Great music, decent Sushi. I was just a rookie then.
    Suprisingly enough Vodka and Club Soda was my drink then and still is.

    -----
    Pongsri
    244 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036

    Sotto Cinque
    322 East 86th Street, New York, NY 10028

    White Castle
    351 E 103rd St, New York, NY 10029

    5 Replies
    1. re: princeofpork

      Nice list. Sad to hear that it's so hard to get a good Chicken Parm in Manhattan these days.

      I used to eat a lot more take-out economical sushi & nabeyaki udon, usually from East Japanese restaurant. Rarely eat economical sushi these days, just treating myself to the good stuff once in a blue moon.

      -----
      Yakitori East
      210 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017

      1. re: princeofpork

        Tse Yang- lots of stuff, on and off the menu, especially their Peking Duck, which I believe to be the best in the city. It's still my go-to special occasion Chinese restaurant.

        Koh-i-Noor- now closed, one of the few good Indian places (I'm probably remembering it mid- '90s more than late) on East 6th. They had the kindest staff and, believe it or not, no twinkling lights. They also had the best Tikka Masala (scoff if you must!).

        Veselka- still going, still ordering the fried potato pierogi and the occasional stuffed cabbage. Still love their mugs of American style coffee It's been about 20 years now since I was a high school student taking a Ukranian Easter Egg decorating class at Ukranian home next door and my teacher introduced me to Veselka. I'll never forget it.

        John's Pizzeria (Bleecker) (again, more in the early-mid '90s than late). Still go occasionally, still enjoy myself immensely :)

        Joe's Pizza for slices- Enjoy them less than before, but hey, so few things stay the same. I still like their slices, but miss the classic corner store.

        The Saloon (Lincoln Center)- sadly, closed. The food wasn't nearly as good during the later '90s as it was earlier, but at one time they had great everything, especially people-watching.

        H&H- no longer my favorite, but still THE bagel store to visit when buying lox next door.

        Bagel Bob's on University- still great, though my current favorrite is Murray's on 6th ave. It will take a lot to top Murray's.

        Ruby Foo's- boy, did I frequent this place (original UWS location) throughout the '90s. Also closed.

        Il Forno (Little Italy)- it was actually pretty good, as was da Nico. Da Nico is still open (don't bother) but Il Forno is gone.

        Rosa Mexicano- UES. Awesome margaritas and guacamolem but I haven't been in a long time. I'm sure it's still enjoyable, but I've definitely moved on in terms of going out for Mexican food. If I were to go today, I'd probably choose the Lincoln Center location.

        Katz's- yes, and the same: corned beef on rye with extra spicy mustard.

        Arezzo- Tuscan food in Flatiron. Closed, but they had great flatbreads, salads and risotto to die for.

        Mei Li Wah- the one and only late night spot for steamed pork buns and coffee in Chinatown. Officially closed, but sort of taken over. Or not. It's complicated.

        Magnolia Bakery- Frequent layer cake slice customer (preferred these to the cupcakes). Summer of '97 will forever remain the summer of Magnolia banana pudding to my memory.

        Assorted "Szechuan" Chinese joints on the west side of Manhattan. I think they're all gone now.

        Sam's falafel on Thompson- good cheap student food. As far as Manhattan goes, I have only eaten Taim falafel since I first tasted it 3 or 4 years ago. Seriously, it's that good.

        I'm sure I'll think of more as soon as I hit "post"...

        -----
        Bagel Bob's
        51 University Pl, New York, NY 10003

        Rosa Mexicano
        9 E. 18th St., New York, NY 10003

        Ruby Foo's
        1626 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

        John's Pizzeria
        260 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

        Arezzo
        46 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

        Da Nico
        164 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

        Tse Yang
        34 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022

        Veselka
        9 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: vvvindaloo

          Used to go to Rosa MEX all the time and after all these years now I go there with my kids as they love the table side guac

          1. re: princeofpork

            Where do you go these days? I'm all about Toloache and Mercadito. Can't seem to tear my self away! But, to my palate, there's really nowhere else worth going for Tacos (I also love a quick bite at the La Esquina taqueria).

            -----
            Toloache
            251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

            La Esquina
            106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

            Mercadito
            179 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

          2. re: vvvindaloo

            Great list. Pretty sure I visited Koh-i-Noor way back when ;-)

            Nice to hear you're still seeking out some of the same foods, and still visiting some of the same establishments ;-)

        2. Prince of Pork and I overlap on a few... Pongrisi on Bayard, Ave. A Sushi always a fun place to start the night, also Sharaku on 9th, 7A for eggs benedict brunch special, White Castle, then I was so happy when the opened one in NYC... First on 1st ave. I miss the smores, and fresh baked pretzels, Milon for Indian on 1st, imho the better of the 6th St. fare, El Quiojote 23rd st. still my favorite NYC restaurant, nostalgic reasons and great garlic bread, Telephone for great shepards pie, 2nd Ave Deli on 2nd Ave & E10th pastrami, chopped liver, matzoh ball soup, Velselka for periogi,(these are way too highly priced these days) and Teresa's for blintzes, Ukrainian National Home for chicken cutlet, NY Noodeltown, Joe's Shanghai, Goodies, many of the mentioned are gone, some are still here, and I still go to some of them just for nostalgic reasons. If the others were long closed were still around I'd do the same as well. I just realized not only did I frequent most of these places in the 90's but the 80's as well...

          -----
          Joe's Shanghai
          24 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          White Castle
          525 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018

          9 Replies
          1. re: michele cindy

            I remember eating at Telephone back then. Haven't visited in a long time.

            Edit: Didn't realize it closed until I added the link.

            -----
            Telephone Bar and Grill
            149 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

            1. re: michele cindy

              OK, we must have hung in the same neighborhood, your list reminded me of a few. The tiny martinis and smores at 1st, the periogi at Velselka. Never enjoyed the food at Telephone.
              Remember Cucina de Pesce and Three of Cups?

              -----
              Three of Cups
              83 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: princeofpork

                Yes remember them all it was my old neighborhood. Cucina De Pesce had the free mussels while you waited for a table, they had a prixe fixe that was decent when you were trying not to spend too much, was a good suggestion back then for a date. Yes the tiny tinis, I really loved 1st.

                1. re: michele cindy

                  Did 1st serve chicken lollipops (small drumsticks that were cut so the chicken ended up at one end)? I remember eating at a place serving casual, innovative American food on First Ave, on a very small patio during the summer, but can't remember if it was 1st.

                  1. re: prima

                    They sure did. Also, waited too many hours past my reservation at Il baggatto for years until I wised up.

                2. re: princeofpork

                  I disliked food at Telephone too.

                  Cups is still around - friend used to waitress there so we would go all the time and get a free app or dessert. We still go sometimes and get that tartufo pizza.

                  Teresa's was one of first places my native NYer husband took me. Also first place I've ever had Polish/Eastern European food. RIP.

                  Spinach salad w/ carrot dressing @ Yaffa Cafe, almost never before 2 a.m.

                  Ox-bone soup @ Gam Mee Oak. Still great.

                  I'm surprised to see no mention of Florent! Another "almost never before 2 a.m." spot with food you can count on. Way before Meatpacking became unbearable.

                3. re: michele cindy

                  Oh, Sharaku, the memories... remember being told by a very emphatic 2nd floor staff member, "NO MORE RICE!" (with both hands making slashing X movement)

                  Shockingly, I've been back over the years. Recently "rediscovered" this place for reliable quality and service.

                  -----
                  Sharaku
                  14 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

                  1. re: nooyawka

                    I remember Sharaku well too. I was very fond of the sushi chef. I can't recall his name back then but I remember his son's name was Neil, I think he named him after Neil Young.

                    -----
                    Sharaku
                    14 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

                4. Love this topic! I was seeking out and eating way too many carbs! Lived on the UES...

                  Bella Donna was a staple for great, inexpensive pasta dishes and AMAZING bread. Loved the farfalle with peas.
                  Boyfriend used to love to go to Yuka for AYCE sushi...even back then, I thought that was just wrong!
                  Pick-A-Bagel for late-night carb fix
                  Pig Heaven or Our Place for Chinese in the 'hood
                  Hong Fat for late-night Chinatown fix after the bars
                  Fujiyama Mama was a big date place...sushi and a DJ mixing tunes!
                  Sedutto's for Tasti d Lite, which I considered one of the food groups back then
                  EJ's Luncheonette--used to get the Tuna Nicoise salad or an egg white omelette
                  Centro Vasco for Spanish--great prices for lobsters
                  Docks for seafood
                  Candle Cafe when I felt like being virtuous...LOVED their pumpkin pudding
                  Delizia for great slices

                  -----
                  Our Place
                  242 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10028

                  Delizia
                  1374 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021

                  Yuka
                  1557 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: mom22tots

                    Broke up with a girlfriend at Fujiyama mama. LOVE that memory

                    1. re: princeofpork

                      Too funny because I caught my boyfriend taking another girl there on a date!!

                      1. re: mom22tots

                        I loved their fried ice cream. At one time it seemed as if it was the go to date restauarnt in NYC.

                    2. re: mom22tots

                      Haven't been to Docks in ages ;-) I remember being asked how I'd like my tuna prepared (rare/medium rare/etc), and I didn't know how to respond ;-)

                      -----
                      Docks
                      633 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10017

                      1. re: prima

                        Thats hyterical. That was the first place I ever had a martini. Had 2 and was smashed.

                        1. re: prima

                          That's really too funny...there used to be one on the UWS too--I think that one's closed.

                          1. re: prima

                            I was introduced to Docks in the late 80s/early 90s, more recently went specifically to try the New England Clam Chowder, major disappointment, haven't been back since.

                        2. I lived in kips bay during the 90s so my regular spots:
                          Tatany and Mishima for sushi and cooked Japanese
                          Jaiya thai
                          Aiellos wings
                          Moonstruck diner breakfast
                          Todaro Bros. for sandwiches, prepared foods and pasta
                          Fratelli raviolis
                          Sarge's deli
                          Live bait for the veggie burger and the tupelo wings
                          McCormacks for pub food
                          Bao noodle for the baguette sandwiches and pho
                          The whole enchilada for cheap mexican
                          Sam's noodle for Chinese

                          Food out of the neighborhood:
                          Shabu Tatsu
                          Woo Chon
                          Hatsuhana
                          Homura An
                          Lugers
                          Basta pasta
                          Bond St. (Hiro Nakamura was a friend, so we often went to have his omakase)
                          Great Jones Cafe for brunch
                          Temple bar for martinis

                          Most of these places are still open, and I would probably be eating much of the same things if I still lived there today. I now live in westchester-restaurant hell.

                          -----
                          Woo Chon
                          8 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018

                          Hatsuhana
                          17 E 48th St, New York, NY 10017

                          Mishima
                          164 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Great Jones Cafe
                          54 Great Jones St, New York, NY 10012

                          Jaiya
                          396 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          McCormack's
                          365 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: AdamD

                            Jaiya Thai is still good.

                            -----
                            Jaiya Thai Restaurant
                            396 3rd Ave Frnt 1, New York, NY 10016

                            1. re: vvvindaloo

                              Yeah, but I hate the "updated" room.

                              1. re: AdamD

                                The portion size is quite small as well. Try Reserve across the street. Much better.

                          2. Interesting post, and a test on the memory.
                            For Italian Food:
                            Joe's on MacDougal St had amazing home style Italian food ( now closed), Many of the waiters from Joe's opened their own places and I also frequented those i.e. Ennio and Michael's, Il Mulino, Bocconcino, and more.
                            Il Cantanori I continued to go to ( closed now for renovations), Ponte's I still occasionally go to.
                            Basta Pasta I've recently gone to and love it, it has been around since the 90's
                            D'Andrea was really good back then , on Hudson St, I still go there now on 13th , and it is excellent still.Here is a NY Times review on it from 2002, that you might find interesting
                            http://daandreanyc.com/The%20New%20Yo...
                            Lombardi's I used to go to in the 90's
                            Forlini's always was consistently good, I havent been there in a couple of years but they are still there
                            Sushi
                            Hatsuhana has always been good, I've gone there in the 90's I still go today and I went there in the 80's.
                            Iso (closed)was good and one of the sushi chefs remained at the same location and opened the great Kanoyama.
                            Taka on Grove St ( closed ) was great and possibly the first female sushi chef.
                            Hasaki (9th St) was a good place back in the 90's when the sushi chef was Dave, it is still there and I was considering trying it again.
                            Jewel Bako missed this list by 2 years, they opened in 2001 I think. 15 East chef came from there.
                            American
                            Big Nick's I still go to. Their menu is great, it has everything on it. The burgers are the best
                            Shopsin's I used to frequent when they were on Bedford St. I still go occasionally
                            Odeon I still go to and it hasn't changed much since the old days

                            Vietnamese
                            Indochine I went to back in the day, and I still go, and the food is still good, the decor is the same , maybe needs a renovation.
                            Mee Kong moved from Prince St. to 6th ave. I still go on occasion

                            Dim Sum:
                            I used to go to 30 Pell St ( many names it has had originally Hong Gung) they still have dim sum
                            Golden Unicorn I still go to and I still like it
                            Hop Shing ( back to their original name) was my take out dim sum place then and still is.

                            Thai
                            Toon's ( closed on Bleecker, closed on greenwich st) now open on Park Ave South , and in Grand Central Station. Toon cooks great thai food.
                            Polish
                            Teresa's was my go-to spot on 1st and 7th. Now it is located in Brooklyn Heights, I go there occasionally. Veselka I also still go to.
                            Dairy
                            B& H dairy , still there, amazing it still survives.I go occasionally

                            Jewish Deli
                            Katz's I've gone to then , and still go to now. It is better than ever.
                            2nd Ave Deli, I used to like in the 90's, i've gone recently and it was bad.

                            Spanish
                            El Faro, one of the first restaurants in the meat market. I still go there
                            and then of course there is Le Bernadin and Jean Georges which I still go to and went back in the 90's.

                            1. My shit list is a mixed bag (at least from what I can remember). The first half I tended to go with my friends when I was younger. The later half was when I finally passed for legal or with the folks. I honestly don't remember much about the food or drink at these places as I wasn't exactly epicurean (still not by many measures). The one high end place that I always wanted 'tmy parents to take me to was Patroon. I don't know why I always wanted to go there other than I though the name was cool and that it was simply, a very powerful place, lol.

                              Caliente Cab
                              Yum Yum Tree
                              Ollie's
                              Yaffa
                              Stingy Lulu's
                              Dallas BBQs (the one on 8th where the lady parked her baby on the sidewalk, lol)
                              Jackson Hole Wyoming
                              Dojo's
                              Soup Nutsy

                              Cub Room
                              Japonica
                              Merc Bar
                              Pravda
                              F Stop
                              Twins (lol, a holy shit moment for me to have to reconcile)
                              Cafe Un Deux Trois (parents took me and siblings here because they had crayons)
                              Isabella's
                              Not 7A but 7B(!!) for pitcher upon pitcher of beer.
                              Tony's or any place along 2nd Ave from 64th-82nd
                              Cafe Gitane

                              There was a place on lower Broadway that I loved going to. Can't remember the name or any thing I ever ordered from there but I just remember loving it. It was hybrid cuisine, Cuban and Chinese. The only thing i can remember was a giant colorful papier mache boat suspended from the ceiling and a papier mache man inside the boat paddling his heart away.

                              .