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Apr 26, 2011 09:42 AM

1st NYC trip, fine dining chosen, now looking for best pizza, hot dog, deli etc...

I'm making my first trip to NYC in May. I've already made my fine dining/average restaurant choices and now I need some suggestions on the best hole in the wall, chinese, hot dogs, pizza and delis to try. Obviously I'd like to stay away from the tourist traps, but if they have the best food then I wouldnt mind going. I just want to make sure to have the best of the best in my area if possible.
I'm staying about a block from Times Square.

On another topic, my girlfriend is making me go to some place called Serendipity (hot chocolate place I think) just wondering if its any good.

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  1. I think the general consensus here on Serendipity is "avoid."

    In terms of hole in the wall restaurants, Chinese, hot dogs, pizza and deli, for the best of the best in Manhattan, I think you will need to leave Times Square. Is that OK?

    If so, it sounds like you're looking for foodstuffs that are "uniquely NY".... like brunch, bagels/smoked salmon, pickles, egg creams, pastrami, pizza (coal oven, gas oven, and Neopolitan style), mixology, "ethnic" niches, street food.

    For Chinese, it really depends what kind of Chinese you want: Chinese-American, Sichuan, Cantonese, other? Are you looking for a place in Chinatown or does it not really matter?

    For pizza, it depends if you seek coal oven, gas oven, and/or Neopolitan style. By the pie or by the slice? How long are you willing to wait in line? From your posting history it appears you're from California?

    For delis, different ones have different strengths. Do you seek matzo ball soup? Pastrami on rye? Any specific foods?

    Have you seen these?

    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 and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:

    Best foodie shopping:

    Union Square Greenmarket advice

    Best mixology / bespoke cocktails:

    Bars for beer geeks

    For non-Western European/American

    Foreign Street Grub

    totally obscure, odd, and intriguing menu items

    Union Square Greenmarket
    Broadway and E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

    Pickle Guys
    49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

    Serendipity 3
    225 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

    Economy Candy
    108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

    14 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Yeah I'm from California and yes I'm looking for the uniquely New York places.

      Yes, leaving the Times Square area is perfectly fine with me. I figured I'd have to do a bit of traveling for some great places, I just wanted to give a general idea of the area I'm near.

      Chinese: I dont have a specific preference but Sichuan would probably be my least favorite. I'm a big fan of dumplings so anywhere with great dumplings would be nice.

      Pizza: I'd prefer by the pie since by the slice can sometimes be sitting around and not be as fresh. I also prefer coal oven to gas. The style doesnt really matter I love all types of pizza.

      Delis: I really didnt put much thought into it, but somewhere with great Matzo ball soup would be awesome.

      I'll take a look at all the links you posted as well. Thanks for all the information.

      1. re: setesami

        Where in California are you from? Just trying to get an idea of what you can get better (i.e. if you're from the Bay Area, you can get better Cantonese than you can in Manhattan). There are some shanghainese places, I like Shanghai Cafe, that do great Soup Dumplings.

        For pizza by the slice I like Artichoke, but the wait can be a dealbreaker.

        For matzo and a deli a lot of people will recommend Katz. If you're looking for a bagel sandwich/salmon deal specifically I prefer Russ & Daughters.

        I agree with Kathryn- avoid Serendipity. If you want to go to a specific dessert place, there are more modern places like Momofuku Milk Bar, The Doughnut Plant.

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

        Katz's Delicatessen
        205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

        Doughnut Plant
        379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

        Shanghai Cafe
        100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

        328 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

        Momofuku Milk Bar
        15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

        Doughnut Plant
        220 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

        1. re: InfoMofo

          I'm from LA. We've got amazing Mexican food here but I think thats where it probably ends in comparison to NYC.
          I've been going through some of the links Kathryn posted and there are a lot of good reviews of Russ & Daughters I think I'll have to try that for sure. Same with Katz, I'm a big fan of Pastrami
          Generally, how long is the wait at Artichoke?

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

          1. re: setesami

            Artichoke's wait depends on which one and what time. For the East Village one, could be 20-30 to get your slice. I've never really had to wait as long at the Greenwich/Central Village one, but that could be luck, or it's not as popular?

            111 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

            1. re: kathryn

              Oh ok thats not too bad. I routinely wait 30-45 minutes for pizza here at a local place. It's completely worth it though.
              I'm not exactly sure when I'll be going, it all depends on what we planed for that day.
              I'm asuming most of these places are open fairly late. I was thinking about hitting the hot dog/pizza places after the theatre or after a night out (probably not past 2am)

              1. re: setesami

                Hot dog places, yes. Slice joints stay open pretty late but not the ones who sell only by the pie. John's for example is open until midnight on Fridays, 12:30am on Saturdays, and 11:30pm other nights.

                John's Pizzeria
                278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                1. re: setesami

                  And if you're looking for a foodie hot dog, I would try Crif Dog, particularly the "secret" bar in the back called PDT, which has special hot dogs that aren't on the normal menu, like a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with Kimchi relish

                  Please Don't Tell
                  113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                  Crif Dogs
                  113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                  1. re: InfoMofo

                    PDT is quite small, however; it takes reservations for tables on the same day only, via phone, at 3pm. The bar is first come, first-served.

                    They have 3 large booths for big groups, a smaller booth for 3-4 people, and two tables for 2. The rest is bar seating (10-12 people).

                    For a party of 2, I'd get there before 7pm and try to sit at the bar, on a weekday night. Otherwise, the wait can be hours long (people tend to camp out all night).

              2. re: setesami

                If you like pastrami I'd say Katz's and ask for the "less lean" pastrami when you order your sandwich. I love R&D and always hit it when in NY.

                Since you like coal oven pizza and want a whole pie, I'd say take the subway to Brooklyn and hit Giraldi's. It's an institution and the lines can be long but it's part of the experience. You then can walk back to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a great way to spend the day.

                1. re: roxie

                  I've found Grimaldi's to be underbaked and a bit wet though they have great sauce. But it has been outshone by others for quite a while now. Especially factoring in the Neopolitan inspired places.

                  47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

            2. re: setesami

              Best Fried Dumplings in Chinatown

              I also like the steamed house dumplings at TKettle, the fried at Good Fork in Red Hook, and a bunch of places in Flushing. Note that Manhattan Chinatown is much more crowded and less, ah, clean than the ones you may know in CA.

              Pizza wise I'd steer you to Patsy's in East Harlem (don't go to the others) or John's of Bleecker (also don't go to the other one in Midtown). 

              Definitely 2nd Katz's Deli and R&D. A bagel sandwich to go, eaten outside on a bench. Nova, cream cheese, capers, red onion, tomato, sesame bagel, untoasted. Yum. Try a few different varieties of smoked salmon, too. And don't go too late--they run out of bagels on the weekends by late afternoon.

              26 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

              Patsy's Pizzeria
              2287 1st Ave, New York, NY 10035

              1. re: kathryn

                I love John's too, but they are "No Slices"! Their t-shirts even say so ;)

                1. re: InfoMofo

                  OP expressed preference for pizza sold by the pie?

          2. Definitely second avoiding Serendipity (screaming kids jacked on frozen hot choc, closed down a bit ago for unsanitary kitchen/health code violations, long pointless waits). Katz's is best for pastrami (second the less lean, only way to go) but try to go week-day, non-dinner hours or just plan for a bit of a line. Walk across street for outstanding gelato (Il Laboratorio). John's pizza seems to my humble opinion to be not as strong. Enjoy.

            Il Laboratorio del Gelato
            188 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

            2 Replies
            1. re: hilogo

              Il Laboratorio has two locations. I think you're talking about the one down the street from Katz's, 188 Ludlow at Houston Street. It closes at 10pm except for weekends, when it closes at midnight. The 95 orchard street location closes at 6pm daily.

              Il Laboratorio del Gelato
              95 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

              1. re: kathryn

                Are they keeping the Orchard St. location going now that the bigger one on Ludlow/Houston is open? Over the last few months I've only been going to L/H and haven't checked O.

            2. Thanks for the responses so far. They have been really helpful. I'll be in NYC Thursday - Tuesday so I'll try to get as much in during the weekday days as possible in order to avoid unnecessary lines.

              I had a feeling you'd all say Serendipity isnt good. The friend who recommended it to my girlfriend has terrible taste. She always tells people to go to the worst places when giving advice on LA, I knew her suggestions on NYC would probably be even worse.

              3 Replies
              1. re: setesami

                When you hit katz's, its "extra juicy please" while sliding $2 in the tip jar.
                Classic NY dogs at grays papaya.
                If you like Sichuan Chinese, I like Grand Sichuan on 2nd ave near 55th. Its not cheap, its actually expensive for a Chinese, but it is a hole in the wall. I know there are mixed opinions about this place, and not every dish is great, but the ones that are good are really good. Do not even think of ordering beef with broccoli or general tso's at this place. Authentic and very spicy Sichuan is served here and its not easy to find outside of the city IMHO.

                Grand Sichuan
                1049 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                1. re: AdamD

                  Grand Sichuan is better than Szechuan Gourmet?

                  Szechuan Gourmet:


                  Some are fans of nearby Lan Sheng:


                  And Legend has its boosters despite its very limited Sichuan menu:


                  Szechuan Gourmet
                  21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                  Lan Sheng
                  60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

                  88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                  1. re: scoopG

                    I have never been to those places so I cant speak to their food. And like I said, I know there are those that prefer places other than Grand Sichuan East-its far from perfect, but you can get a great Sichuan meal there.

              2. Do not avoid Serendipity. Do not cross the gf. The frozen hot chocolate is worth it, and the place is a NY classic. Obviously not popular with current foodies, just go and think of Andy Warhol. Worth doing once, like the Empire State Building..

                Katz's for pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs.
                Il Laboratorio del Gelato - across the street.

                Barney Greengrass for smoked fish breakfast/brunch/lunch. The sturgeon king.
                By all means go to Russ and Daughters, it is the Tiffany of smoked fish, But it is a food store, not a restaurant. You can take out a bagel sandwich, but consider a care package to take home on the plane. They'll pack to travel.

                Chinatown - lots of opinions on this board.
                Dim sum - Dim Sum Go Go (new style), Chatham Square Restaurant (old school)
                Xiam Famous Food - lamb burger, hand pulled noodles
                Shanghai Cafe - soup dumplings
                Great NY Noodletown - bbq meats, salt baked seafood
                Big Wong - soups, bbq meats
                Amazing 66
                Fuleen Seafod

                Vanessa's Dumplings - Eldridge Street - dumplings, sesame pancake with peking duck

                PJ Clarke's - cocktails and burgers

                Keste - Bleecker St pizza
                L'Arte del Gelato to follow.

                'ino, Inoteca, Corsino - truffled egg, wine, small plates

                Stuck in the theater district? Soups or blintzes at the Cafe Edison (Hotel Edison) - the Polish Tea Room. Or Orso.

                H&H Bagels, Murray's Bagels, Ess A Bagel, Kossar's


                Barney Greengrass
                541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                L'Arte del Gelato
                75 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

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

                Great New York Noodletown
                28 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                831 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                Murray's Bagels
                242 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                Amazing 66
                66 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                Big Wong
                67 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

                Chatham Square Restaurant
                6 Chatham Sq, New York, NY 10038

                Dim Sum Go Go
                5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

                11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

                322 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                21 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

                98 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                P.J. Clarke's
                915 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                Cafe Edison
                228 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036

                H&H Bagels
                639 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                H&H Bagels
                2239 Broadway, New York, NY 10024

                Keste Pizza & Vino
                271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

                323 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

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

                637 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

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

                Il Laboratorio del Gelato
                188 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002