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obscure picks for West Coast hound

Windy May 25, 2011 09:31 PM

Sorry, I know it's high season for tourists, but I've got a short list in need of your expertise plus a few odd requests.

I'll be visiting from San Francisco in June. Usually I stay with cousins in Brooklyn, but this time I'm staying in a cubby hole at the Jane and then in SoHo. Working near Grand Central; so midtown takeout lunches are likely.

I've scoured Serious Eats and the Voice and kathryn's and RGR's amazing posts for ideas. Also I was born in Flushing and have visited many times, so no need to start with Katz's and DiFara.

Random short list for your review:
Luke's Lobster, Momofuku Milk Bar, Coppelia, Scarpetta (worth it? I snagged a Sunday reservation), Nom Wah (the first place I had dim sum, a million years ago), Essa Bagel, Cafe Sabarsky, Gazala Place, Taam Tov, Pier 9, bisous, ciao, Xian Famous Foods, Takashi?

Any musts or obvious cuts?

Coming from the West Coast, I'm less interested in Asian, Mexican, coffee, and pizza.

But I would love recs for:
* Greek (diner or home style)
* Caribbean or West Indies
* Eastern European or old school Jewish
* great vegetarian for dinner with my boss. Was thinking HanGawi or their teahouse, or the Mandoo Bar.

Points for healthy options: I'm not looking for a week of pork belly and donuts so Shake Shack is out. And places I can enjoy on my own: open kitchens or comfortable bar seating with an interesting crowd.

My dinner budget's probably $50 before tax and tip, but I can go higher once or twice. Snacks and carts are great. I probably won't get many sit-down lunches.

BTW Where in Midtown can you get a rare roast beef sandwich, maybe with cole slaw and Russian dressing on a roll? No cheese, no grilled onions or ciabatta, just an old-fashioned deli classic.

Thanks for all and any opinions. A full report when I return.

-----
Cafe Sabarsky
1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

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

HanGawi
12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

Mandoo Bar
2 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

Scarpetta
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

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

Pier 9
802 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

Coppelia
207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

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  1. Windy May 25, 2011 09:59 PM

    Completely forgot about Mile End. Is there a Quebec explosion? Poutine on lots of menus.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Windy
      t
      tex.s.toast May 26, 2011 12:39 AM

      I dont know if i'd call it an explosion but i do feel like poutine is considerably more present here than the bay area (where i grew up). Mile end's rendition is excellent, they start with very good fries, well seasoned gravy and they get that just-right texture on the curds (ive never gotten the version with smoked meat on as well, i prefer to eat my smoked meat straight/just with mustard)

      there a place on the lower east side that "specializes" in poutine (i think its called t poutine - but ive never been and cant say i remember any glowing reports).

      1. re: tex.s.toast
        Windy May 26, 2011 12:48 AM

        That sounds amazing; will see if the Brooklyn cousins will cooperate. Although kind of amusing to get excited about cheese curds.

        DeFonte's sounds great too, and reasonably convenient. Thanks!

        1. re: Windy
          t
          tex.s.toast May 26, 2011 01:04 AM

          I would rate Mile End as totally worth it if your cousins are into it - ive had very positive experiences with the smoked meat (though not in a couple months) and the other dinner items ive tried including a chicken prep, tongue appetizer, soups and slaw have all been really strong. And of course the poutine.

        2. re: tex.s.toast
          squid kun May 26, 2011 12:49 AM

          T Poutine closed around a year ago. I never tried it either (and wasn't the only one). ... http://ny.eater.com/archives/2010/05/...

          -----
          T Poutine
          168 Ludlow St, New York, NY 10002

        3. re: Windy
          s
          sugartoof May 29, 2011 12:34 AM

          Mile End is completely worth the trip, and Atlantic Avenue is nice for browsing antique stories.

          You might consider Margon for a Cuban Sandwich.

          I'll also second Defonte's as having a rep for some of the best house made roast beef sandwiches, but if you need it dripping blood, then one of the locations of Garden of Eden (a specialty market) is an option for locals. It's obscure as a tourist/visitor suggestion. The Bay Area has more options for simple well made deli meat sandwiches in all honesty. New York is now a place where it's easier to get porchetta, or all lettuce, or goat meat in a sandwich.

          -----
          Margon
          136 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

          Garden of Eden
          7 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: sugartoof
            Windy May 29, 2011 05:14 PM

            It's comparatively easy to find porchetta in San Francisco too. But all the roast beef is Boar's Head :(

            1. re: Windy
              s
              sugartoof May 29, 2011 08:39 PM

              Boar's Head originated in the New York area, so it's hard to get away from it.

              Even with the legendary delis, finding one that cures and cooks their own meats is tough.

        4. f
          fm1963 May 26, 2011 12:17 AM

          Luke's Lobster, Momofuku Milk Bar, and Cafe Sabarsky are great choices. For dessert, I'd also recommend the Modern Bar Room and Lady M, and perhaps Kyotofu and Spot if you like modern Japanese sweets (though this might be duplicative of what you have in SF).

          Scarpetta is wonderful, though no longer unique to NYC since the restaurant has opened branches in several cities, including Beverly Hills.

          Kefi is a good for mid-priced Greek food.

          Hangawi, Francia, and Mandoo Bar are fine Korean restaurants, but are you also considering other cuisines for your vegetarian boss?

          FWIW, a couple of Bay Area foodie friends visited NYC recently, and their favorites were Ma Peche, Modern Bar Room, and Babbo (along with Marea and Per Se, which admittedly don't fall within your stated price range).

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

          Kyotofu
          705 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

          Babbo
          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

          The Modern
          9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

          Cafe Sabarsky
          1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

          Mandoo Bar
          2 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

          Kefi
          505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

          Franchia
          12 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

          Scarpetta
          355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

          Marea
          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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

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

          Spot Dessert Bar
          13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

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

          3 Replies
          1. re: fm1963
            Windy May 26, 2011 12:28 AM

            Thanks for the additions fm. I'll check out the menus and locations; thank goodness everything's open late.

            I hadn't heard of Modern Bar Room or Lady M, and just saw a note for Kefi on another thread. Not sure if we have modern Japanese sweets in San Francisco; the places I can think of for mochi and tea are quite old-fashioned.

            And I eat everything. My boss is an easygoing vegetarian; so I imagine our midtown lunches will be takeout from Middle Eastern carts, assorted sandwiches, and maybe Murray Hill Indian.

            I've been looking for an excuse to go to Hangawi for a long time, although the menu at Francia seems just as appealing.

            -----
            Kefi
            505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

            1. re: Windy
              k
              kathryn May 26, 2011 06:09 AM

              The Bar Room at the Modern is their front room, which is more casual than the formal dining room. It serves small plates and is a la carte. The Modern's web site is here:

              http://www.themodernnyc.com

              1. re: kathryn
                Windy May 29, 2011 05:16 PM

                Thanks for the link. The Modern looks too formal for this trip.

                Do they still have the cafe on the ground floor by the sculpture court? My grandmother loved going there and admiring the Henry Moores.

          2. t
            tex.s.toast May 26, 2011 12:42 AM

            Not in midtown but a roast beef sandwich worth investigating is at DeFonte's, a brooklyn institution with a location on 21st and 3rd. All of their sandwiches are legit, but they are known for the roast beef, fresh motz and fried eggplant, but its just as good without the extra toppings. Also highly recommend the pepper and egg hero.

            -----
            Defonte's Sandwich Shop
            261 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

            1. e
              Elizabeth E. May 26, 2011 05:42 AM

              I second HanGawi.

              For Greek, I'd recommend Avra Estaiatorio, not far from Grand Central on 48th. Doesn't get mentioned much here, but seafood there is great.
              http://www.avrany.com/

              -----
              HanGawi
              12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

              Avra
              141 East 48th Street, New York, NY 10017

              1 Reply
              1. re: Elizabeth E.
                Windy May 26, 2011 07:23 AM

                Great looking menu. I really miss Greek food.

              2. k
                kathryn May 26, 2011 06:40 AM

                You might want to add on Pearl Oyster Bar if you're looking for bar seating and a different take on the lobster roll. BTW Luke's has a roving truck now, too, as does the Red Hook Lobster Pound.

                Scarpetta is a definite yes.

                If you're interested in macarons, Boise Tea Parlor is new and very good, and also boasts an alum from Ladurée.

                Even if you're not interested in coffee, you might want to try the "buzzed" (caffeinated) frozen yogurt from the Joyride Truck.

                I believe Isaan Thai food is less common in SF so you might want to try Zabb Elee.

                Working near Grand Central you're not terribly far from Sarge's or 2nd Avenue Deli's new location.

                No fried chicken, burgers, steaks, gastropub, BBQ, or American comfort food (like Blue Ribbon or Prune), then?

                -----
                Pearl Oyster Bar
                18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

                Sarge's Delicatessen
                548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                Second Avenue Deli
                162 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016

                Scarpetta
                355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                Bosie Tea Parlor
                10 Morton St, New York, NY 10014

                Zabb Elee
                75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                Red Hook Lobster Pound Truck
                New York, New York, NY 10001

                2 Replies
                1. re: kathryn
                  Windy May 26, 2011 07:39 AM

                  Thanks! How can I miss the Joyride Truck? Maybe we can order lunch from 2nd Avenue Deli.

                  Is the Sweets truck still around? I remember getting amazing blondies and raspberry bars a few years ago, at a street fair by LaMama.

                  I think I've been to Pearl Oyster Bar. Yes, fried chicken, burgers, steaks, and comfort food are well represented here, as are pizza and macarons (but what's a beautiful cookie or two?). There's even finally great pastrami on the West Coast, although it's in Portland.

                  In the past, I've found Thai and Laotian food much better in California than in NY; glad to know that's improving. Better in LA than here.

                  But lobster rolls and Greek food...I can't wait.

                  -----
                  Pearl Oyster Bar
                  18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: Windy
                    k
                    kathryn May 26, 2011 08:36 AM

                    The "Street Sweets" truck renamed itself Sweetery a little while ago:
                    http://sweeterynyc.com/

                    There's also the a bunch of other dessert trucks around:
                    http://www.treatstruck.com/
                    http://www.dt-works.net/
                    http://www.wafelsanddinges.com/
                    http://kelvinslush.com/
                    http://www.biggayicecreamtruck.com/
                    http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/05...

                    I should also mention that the Joyride truck also carries Ceci-Cela croissants, Danny's macaroons (the coconut kind), and some interesting creations with espresso & MarieBelle chocolate.

                    -----
                    Ceci-Cela
                    55 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                    MarieBelle
                    484 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

                2. ellenost May 26, 2011 08:24 AM

                  I adore the macarons at Bisous Ciao.

                  For the rare roast beef sandwich, you might want to try Sarge's Deli (Third Ave. & E. 37 St.--not too far from Grand Central). I love Sarge's for traditional Jewish-style (not kosher) food. Love their pastrami, brisket, noodle pudding, chopped liver. Sarge's is my favorite "old-fashioned deli classic".

                  -----
                  Sarge's Delicatessen
                  548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                  Bisous Ciao
                  101 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ellenost
                    Windy May 26, 2011 09:17 AM

                    Sarge's sounds perfect, thanks.

                    I would give anything for a decent rare roast beef sandwich here. I end up buying cooked tri tip at Whole Foods and eating it with cole slaw.

                    1. re: Windy
                      s
                      sugartoof May 29, 2011 12:40 AM

                      Sarge's has been up and down, and my recent experience was a drastic letdown. Check other recent reports before visiting this one.

                      For Macarons, Bosie Tea Parlor is reported to have poached a baker from Laduree.

                      -----
                      Bosie Tea Parlor
                      10 Morton St, New York, NY 10014

                      Laduree
                      864 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021

                  2. sgordon May 26, 2011 08:25 AM

                    From the short list:
                    Momofuku Milk Bar: worth stopping in for dessert after dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar - MSB is a good place for solo dining, as well, worth considering. Easy to get a seat as a solo, dine at the bar.

                    In the same neighborhood, I also like Spot Dessert Bar. Fancier presentation, more complex flavors.

                    Scarpetta: Since it's becoming a chain, I wouldn't put it at the top of my list. Not that you won't have a good meal, it's just not very unique to NYC. Also, it just wouldn't be my top choice for that style of cuisine to begin with. If I was hankering for a good Italian three (or four) course meal, there are a few places in the same price range I'd look at beforehand: Babbo (of course), Falai (underrated gem, modernist Florentine), Marea (but skip the secondi - they're a bit overpriced and forgettable, at least compared to the primi and antipasti), and a couple others I'm sure I'll think of right after I hit "post" - I've also heard Ai Fiori is great, but haven't been yet.

                    Luke's Lobster: good prices, and I think better than any of the staggeringly overpriced lobster rolls you see elsewhere.

                    Bisous Ciao: not thrilled with their macarons, I found them all nearly identically flavored.

                    Xi'an Famous Foods: a must-visit, if there ever was one. The best new "cheap eats" destination NYC has seen in years.

                    Essa Bagel: If you're craving a bagel and lox, do Russ & Daughters IMHO.

                    For recs:

                    Hangawi is a great choice for vegeatarian. For something a little more "modern" also check out Dirt Candy - fabulous. Those are the two veggie restos that I, an unabashed carniphile, will actually crave eating at.

                    Eastern Euro: Veselka

                    Caribbean:
                    The cubanos and mofungo at Cibao are fantastic. Order one of each, for $10 you'll have enough food to last you lunch and dinner. And maybe a midnuight snack, later. Healthy? No. But great cheap eats. There are a few places around the LES with similar menus - Clinton Restaurant, El Castillo de Jagua, a couple others - I find Cibao the best of the lot.

                    Further North, Mobay in Harlem makes solid, more refined Caribbean food. Lots of different snapper & kingfish dishes (steamed, jerk, escovitch, pan-seared, etc...) and the jerk chicken is pretty good.

                    Yerba Buena, Rayuela, and Macondo are all also good, but they're all also more Pan-Latin / Nuevo Latino, so while there'll be Caribbean and WI flavors here and there on the menus, there'll be just as much South American and, to some extent, Mexican. Worth looking over the menus online, though, might have what you're looking for. Macondo has bar seating, does small plates of upscaled Pan-Latin "street food" - good choice for a solo diner.

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

                    Babbo
                    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

                    El Castillo de Jagua
                    113 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

                    Veselka
                    144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                    Rayuela
                    165 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002

                    Falai
                    68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                    MoBay
                    17 W 125th St, New York, NY 10027

                    Cibao
                    72 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                    Scarpetta
                    355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                    Yerba Buena
                    23 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

                    Macondo
                    157 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                    Dirt Candy
                    430 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                    El Castillo de Jagua
                    521 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

                    Marea
                    240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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

                    Momofuku Milk Bar
                    251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

                    Spot Dessert Bar
                    13 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

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

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

                    Pinalito City
                    295 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                    Bisous Ciao
                    101 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

                    Ai Fiori
                    400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

                    Xi'an Famous Foods
                    67 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: sgordon
                      Windy May 26, 2011 09:27 AM

                      Fantastic, especially for the Caribbean and other Latin American. Thank you. Have you been to Coppelia yet to compare?

                      We are awash in great regional Italian. So Scarpetta's moving to the cut list, despite the high praise. I was so pleased to get a reservation, but I don't need to come to NY for pasta, even great pasta.
                      Not with so many other goodies to pack in.

                      Oh, and I'm not a huge fan of David Chang's. Ate at Momofuku Noodle bar for tonkatsu ramen and pork buns a few years ago. It was fine, but not life changing. Also very uncomfortable seating and no service.

                      -----
                      Scarpetta
                      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                      Coppelia
                      207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

                      1. re: Windy
                        sgordon May 26, 2011 09:38 AM

                        Ssam bar is very different than Noodle Bar - it's more refined, the aim is much higher. It's New American local/seasonal with various international touches. I know a number of people who don't care much for Noodle Bar but LOVE Ssam Bar.

                        Haven't been to Coppelia yet but I'm a fan of Chef Medina, so I've been meaning to.

                        As to pasta - well, to me it's just "proper" to have a pasta course at an Italian meal. At many of the places I listed, portions are sized wiht a four-course meal in mind - antipasti, pasta/primi, secondi, dolci - not like red-sauce Little Italy joints where they're one-course meals, and the pasta dishes are enough to put you into a food coma alone. You can see my last review of Falai here: http://bit.ly/g1NURU - for Babbo, well, there's no lack of praise to be found.

                        Also forgot to add (like I said, I knew I would) Torrisi Italian Specialties. More "Italian-American" than Italian, really, but very good.

                        -----
                        Torrisi Italian Specialties
                        250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                        Coppelia
                        207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

                        1. re: sgordon
                          Windy May 26, 2011 10:00 AM

                          Don't get me wrong, pasta is one of my main food groups, and I love Italian food.

                          Just not deprived of great Italian, the way we are for Greek, Cuban, Jamaican, lobster roll trucks, etc.

                          Oddly, we are lacking worthy Italian-American: you can get four courses of exquisite pasta at Quince or Perbacco or Sardinian octopus at La Ciccia, but good luck finding a decent eggplant parmesan sub or bones of the dead.

                          1. re: Windy
                            sgordon May 26, 2011 11:51 AM

                            For I-A food, TIS is a knockout. Go for their chicken parmesan sub at lunch. There'll be a bit of a wait, but it's worth it. Don't worry about waiting on a table, get it to go and eat in one of the many little parks within walking distance. Also of note, their turkey sandwich is so good it makes turkey sandwiches cool again.

                            For an I-A dinner, Frankies 17 Spuntino on the Lower East Side is great, and w/o the rigmarole involved in getting a table at TIS - there are pastas (their cavatelli with sausage is justifiably famous) but also classics like Pork Braciole and whatnot.

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

                            1. re: sgordon
                              Windy May 26, 2011 11:53 AM

                              Super. Thanks!

                              1. re: sgordon
                                r
                                Riverman500 May 26, 2011 11:54 AM

                                If you want to try TIS for an early dinner, there's usually no wait if you show up before 6:30 in my experience.

                              2. re: Windy
                                Steve R May 26, 2011 11:21 PM

                                Okay, once you mentioned La Ciccia, how can I ignore you? At any rate, for Italian American in Manhattan, I really recommend going to Piccolo Angelo on Hudson and Jane. Yes, Renato will try to upsell you and yes it's hard to understand him. But, with excellent meatballs the size of bowling balls and manicotti or eggplant parm or... (well, you get the idea). Well worth going. Even the gratis oily garlic bread is old style. For Greek fresh seafood and salads, I think Uncle Nicks on 9th Ave and W. 50th St is the best choice in your price range. It's exactly like the old Astoria places, above average and hits the spot. Flaming cheese for the tourists (& me), nice chopped salad, decent mezze and fresh fish grilled simply and decently. I find the meats somewhat lacking but edible. And, if you're coming to Bklyn for Mile End, I'd recommend looking at threads here for David's instead. I know that Montreal food is hot right now and that their dinner menu is innovative and probably worth a meal, but David's will get you the NY experience and excellent food. I"m with sgordon on his list, especially xi'an and veselka. There's also Redhead. Welcome back.

                                -----
                                Piccolo Angolo
                                621 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

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

                                The Redhead
                                349 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

                                1. re: Steve R
                                  Windy May 26, 2011 11:41 PM

                                  Thanks Steve, Mile End would be brunch, but I guess at noon for smoked meat and poutine. Is David's David's bagels on 1st Ave?

                                  Uncle Nick's sounds just right. I'm stockpiling all the dessert cafes and Greek restaurants and will dole out any I don't get to this time for future NY trips.

                                  Will check out the menus for Renato and Piccolo Angelo. (Where are you on Scarpetta?)

                                  Back home, I tend to champion Incanto over La Ciccia; but it's a fun battle, figuring out who has the best pasta with cured tuna heart or Vermentino.

                                  And if anyone reading this wants to open a Greek restaurant, preferably old school NY diner with the occasional whole fish, you'd make a lot of Northern Californians very happy.

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

                                  Scarpetta
                                  355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                                  1. re: Windy
                                    Steve R May 27, 2011 04:05 AM

                                    David's is David's Brisket House -- it's up Atlantic Ave on the fringe of Bed Stuy & always a very interesting place. Here's an old thread (scroll down to end for more current info. from the owner, a link to their website & some pictures... the thread starts several years ago):
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/436237

                                    Renato is the name of Piccolo Angelo's owner... one place, not two. Havent been to Scarpetta yet -- been going to P.A. for 20 years.

                                    Had a very mediocre meal at Incanto and several excellent ones at La Ciccia. The genuineness of La C. won me over.... I can get Incanto's offal, etc in NYC so I didnt find it as unusual as others do and the pastas we had were ehh. Will give it another try next time there.

                                    -----
                                    Scarpetta
                                    355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                                    1. re: Windy
                                      t
                                      tex.s.toast May 27, 2011 09:10 AM

                                      I have had two pretty ho-hum greek meals at Uncle Nicks in the past year, i dont think it would make my list of recommendations unless you were already going to be right near by. Not outright bad but nothing memorable (with the exception of a REALLY sad beet salad with gross hunks of obviously canned beets)

                                      growing up in sf ill admit that im not qualified to be any sort of expert on greek food but it seems like this board tends to recommend a number of the higher end places, and ive had really good (though not cheap) food at kellari taverna in this category.

                                      im sure its on your radar already, and you mentioned take-out for lunch, but if your near grand central and like oysters, the oyster bar at grand central is an awesome place for a few oysters and atmosphere (the non-oyster items seem universally reviled, though ive enjoyed the manhattan clam chowder when i didnt want an all-oyster lunch) you'll get a selection and experience you cant find in sf.

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

                                      1. re: tex.s.toast
                                        Windy May 27, 2011 09:33 AM

                                        Yes, I love the oyster bar and Grand Central in general. Such a great meeting place. (Is it Koyanisqaatsi where they do time lapse on the escalators at commute hours?). I should make time for a drink and a snack.

                                        Thanks for the rec for Kellari Taverna. This discussion is reminding me of the high-end Greek restaurants in the Bay Area; but my cravings are usually for a middle of the night spanikopita from the Acropolis diner, not for the beautiful fancy food at Kokkari. We had a very enjoyable dinner at Taverna Kyclades in Astoria a few years back.

                                        I did switch hotels, so now staying by the World Trade Center construction over the weekend (amazing deals at the W on Hotwire) and then moving to Midtown/Murray Hill. That will save me a little time in the morning, which I'll use to detour for bagels and late night bowls of mushroom barley soup.

                                        -----
                                        Kellari Taverna
                                        19 W. 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

                                        1. re: Windy
                                          s
                                          sugartoof May 29, 2011 12:53 AM

                                          While staying at the World Trade Center, you might pay Walkers a visit. It's a hidden gem for brunch, burgers, late night snacks, and surprisingly competent pub food in one of the cities oldest taverns.

                                          New Amsterdam Market will have started up, and is special enough to hit up, and maybe Hester Street Fair is worth a stop.

                                          When you're midtown, Schnitzel and Things is a former food truck gone legit you might check out.

                                          -----
                                          Walker's
                                          16 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013

                                          Hester Street Fair
                                          Essex St Hester St, New York, NY 10002

                                          New Amsterdam Market
                                          South St Peck Slip, New York, NY 10038

                                          Schnitzel & Things
                                          723 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10017

                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                            Windy May 29, 2011 09:24 AM

                                            Thanks for all the recommendations, sugartoof.

                                            I've never heard of Walkers, and I love bars with a little history. My grandmother would be proud to know there's a fair on Hester Street, even if it's (slightly) updated from when she was growing up.

                                            I'm booked Sunday day changing hotels and visiting relatives, so I'll miss New Amsterdam Market.

                                  2. re: Windy
                                    daveena Jun 1, 2011 06:11 PM

                                    Might need to to take this conversation back to the Bay Area board, but have you tried Uncle Dougie's in Oakland yet? His eggplant parm sub is spot on.

                                    1. re: daveena
                                      Windy Jun 1, 2011 07:36 PM

                                      Hadn't even heard of it. But I know where I'm eating next time I cross the bridge :) Either Uncle Dougie's or Emilia's.

                            2. w
                              windycity May 29, 2011 04:10 PM

                              Hi Windy, from Windycity! I like Kefi and Snack Taverna (lunch) for Greek.

                              Essa Bagel is tops, and if you're in a carb-loading mood, check out Birdbath Bakery at 223 First Ave. They have a pretzel croissant which is pretty killer.

                              Macarons - go for Madeleine Patisserie on W 23rd or Kee's Chocolates on Thompson in W Village. Bisous isn't that special to me.

                              I find Milk Bar way overrated. For delis and pastrami, I like 2nd Ave Deli best.

                              For Italian sandwiches, I like the turkey at Torrisi, and Defonte's has a broccoli rabe, sausage, and ricotta sandwich called the ricotta special that is indeed. Enjoy your visit!

                              -----
                              Kee's Chocolates
                              80 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

                              Ess-a-Bagel
                              359 1st Ave, New York, NY 10010

                              Ess-a-Bagel
                              831 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                              Birdbath
                              223 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                              La Maison du Macaron
                              132 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

                              Snack Taverna
                              63 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014

                              Kefi
                              505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                              Momofuku Milk Bar
                              251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: windycity
                                k
                                kathryn May 29, 2011 04:23 PM

                                Have you tried Boise Tea Parlor for macarons yet? I found it better than Madeleine (kept too cold / and a bit too moist IMO) and Kee's (too crispy and airy sometimes).

                                -----
                                Bosie Tea Parlor
                                10 Morton St, New York, NY 10014

                                1. re: kathryn
                                  Windy May 29, 2011 04:50 PM

                                  Plus it's a tribute to Bosie, which makes it a destination in its own right. I'm not crazy about French-style tea blends; all those Marriage Freres teas taste like perfume to me. But tea sandwiches and macarons for dinner....

                                  Thanks windycity. A pretzel croissant sounds worth detouring for (whatever it is).

                                  Torrisi seems unbelievably popular (and trendy, but offset by so many strong reviews here). I'll add all of these to my google map.

                                  1. re: Windy
                                    k
                                    kathryn May 29, 2011 05:20 PM

                                    BTW Birdbath is a branch of City Bakery. There are a few Birdbath bakeries around the city (Soho, TriBeCa, East Village). I believe they all have the pretzel croissant.

                                    http://www.thecitybakery.com/

                                    -----
                                    Birdbath
                                    223 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

                                    Birdbath
                                    160 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

                                    Birdbath
                                    235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002

                                    Birdbath
                                    200 Church St, New York, NY 10007

                                    1. re: Windy
                                      k
                                      kathryn May 29, 2011 05:22 PM

                                      Just realized that their site doesn't list the 3rd Avenue and 9th Street one...

                                      http://ny.eater.com/tags/birdbath-bakery

                                      1. re: kathryn
                                        Windy May 29, 2011 05:24 PM

                                        You're reading my mind. Just added 1st and 14th to my Google map.

                                        Thanks for all your help, kathryn.

                                2. b
                                  bookmonger Jun 1, 2011 04:40 PM

                                  For Jewish, do a bagel sandwich at Russ and Daughters and be sure to get at least some smoked fish salad if not something more elaborate. Or the lunch special at B&H (Stick to borscht and challah, the latke is nothing to write home about). Mile End is also awesome, but be prepared for a wait. If you like Jew-eseque food with a European bent, I have always had lovely and filling meals at an Austrian place on the LES called Cafe Katja (the liver is very good and very generous, and their pickled fish salad is a favorite of a lot of folks I know).

                                  For true Eastern European, Veselka's dinner combos are a good deal. If you can get out to Brighton Beach, the chicken tabaka at Kebeer is a religious experience.

                                  The decent Caribbean and West Indies is almost all in the Bronx or Brooklyn as far as I've eaten, but perhaps someone else can help you there. That said, El Malecon is UWS Dominican that makes some tasty soups and stews.

                                  Definitely swap out Gazala Place for Azuri Cafe (as long as it is not the Jewish sabbath). They will trash talk in hebrew the whole time, but I've eaten at both multiple times and Azuri wins it all. Taim is also much better than Gazala. If you're on the UES, the meze at Beyoglu would also replace this experience.

                                  Don't skip Luke's Lobster.

                                  For Greek, Pylos is a great place to unwind, they have a wrap around bar that's great for walk-in solo dining.

                                  -----
                                  Beyoglu
                                  200 E 81st St, New York, NY 10028

                                  Taim
                                  222 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014

                                  El Malecon
                                  4141 Broadway, New York, NY 10033

                                  Veselka
                                  144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

                                  Cafe Katja
                                  79 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

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

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

                                  B&H
                                  127 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: bookmonger
                                    Windy Jun 1, 2011 07:44 PM

                                    Bookmonger, what a great list. I may need to stay a while.

                                    If only I didn't have to work during the week. Still hoping i can get out to pick up lunch, and they don't cater our meetings. Otherwise, wil have to eat more than one dinner a night.

                                    It's been at least 10 years since I ate at B&H. Still miss the old days at Kiev. No time for Brighton Beach this trip or the Bronx. But I'll be back.

                                    We went to Brighton Beach with my Russian class in college (a million years ago), and our teacher Masha proceeded to drink us all under the table. It was a fun ride home in the school bus.

                                    -----
                                    B&H
                                    127 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                    1. re: Windy
                                      Steve R Jun 11, 2011 09:26 AM

                                      So, are you still here? Where are you eating (or, where did you eat) and how's it going?

                                      1. re: Steve R
                                        Windy Jun 11, 2011 09:45 AM

                                        Oh, I'm not arriving for another two weeks. Waiting to the weather to improve :) (It's in the 50s here.)

                                        Thanks to Daveena, we did get perfect eggplant parmigiana heroes at Uncle Dougie's in Oakland. Meanwhile my Manhattan list grows and grows.

                                        Currently: Luke's Lobster, Xian Famous Foods, Hester St. Fair, Cafe Sabarsky, maybe the Beagle and a drink at Walker's, Mile End, Scarpetta, maybe dessert at Coppelia, Danji, HanGawi, maybe Benoit, Gulluoglu, Trini Paki Boyz, Taim, Bosie, and a couple of the recommended Midtown delis. And Greek...

                                        BTW does anyone know if Mile End will do takeout? They don't start serving smoked meat and poutine until noon on Sunday, and I need to visit family and get over to the Theater District for a matinee. Otherwise I may need to substitute something else for breakfast/brunch in Boerum Hill or Brooklyn Heights.

                                        1. re: Windy
                                          s
                                          sugartoof Jun 11, 2011 12:05 PM

                                          Miles End has a takeout window with a limited menu. It's a pretty small place to begin with.

                                          Breakfast at Henry Public is good.

                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                            Windy Jun 11, 2011 01:50 PM

                                            Thanks sugartoof. That might be the answer.

                                  2. BTaylor Jun 11, 2011 08:57 AM

                                    You mentioned Pier 9. AVOID at all costs. It's terrible, and would really offend someone from SF of all places.

                                    -----
                                    Pier 9
                                    802 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BTaylor
                                      Windy Jun 11, 2011 09:46 AM

                                      Thanks BT. Happy to cross anything off the list.

                                    2. Windy Jun 30, 2011 07:04 PM

                                      Quick trip report and many thanks to all the NY hounds who helped me narrow my search from 10,000 restaurants to 350.

                                      The best food I had was individual dishes, rather than wonderful restaurant meals.

                                      Incredible:
                                      * lobster roll at Hester Street Fair from Luke's Lobster. I'm unsure about the hot dog bun, but I'd fly to NY just for this.
                                      * whelk salad with buckwheat noodles at Danji
                                      * dark chocolate gelato at La Cremeria. Ate this on a bench in front, dripping chocolate all over my rainbow t-shirt.
                                      * a sip of my aunt's San Remo cocktail at Scarpetta. Also the TAGLIATELLE truffle zabaglione, guanciale & spring vegetables and the bread with prosciutto baked into it.
                                      * a mini from Waffels and Dinges. I ran into the truck by accident just as they were closing, and I was so excited to try the gingerbread sauce with fresh strawberries. Nice guys too.
                                      * doubles from Trini Paki Boyz. My vegetarian boss was in meetings and didn't eat his until the next morning for breakfast.
                                      * pretzel croissant from City Bakery. I was tempted to stuff my luggage full of these.
                                      * and last but not least, that plate of cilantro and shredded celery at Xian Famous Foods (tiger vegetables?). The Mt Qi noodles were tasty, but it was the sweet and spicy plate of greens that bowled me over.

                                      Also enjoyable:
                                      * dinner at Kellari was decent rather than memorable. Arctic char was the best item. Lamb chops were fine, but the potatoes and spinach that accompanied them only so so. A gorgeous heirloom tomato salad had no tomato flavor (sorry, I'm spoiled by in season tomatoes from my Watsonville CSA). Wine list was more reasonably priced than elsewhere in Manhattan. And it was the perfect quiet spot to catch up with an old friend who had a train to catch at Grand Central. Next time I'd sit at the bar; there were a lot of happy looking people snacking on cheese.

                                      * I enjoyed our lavish meal at HanGawi but found it much too mild for my taste. Korean food without garlic and chiles? The kabocha pancakes are good, and a shredded peach and cabbage style brought to mind a very mild green papaya salad. The tofu in ginger tofu soup was not freshly made (unlike the fresh tofu at Danji).

                                      * Was not sold on Milk Bar, except it was fun to try to deconstruct what was in a compost cookie or peas and strawberries by taste. We ate there, and service was friendly if not that helpful. The best thing we ate there was a mistake, a chocolate dessert with what looked like crumbled blue cheese, which we didn't order. I definitely don't get David Chang.

                                      * Salad at Cafe Fleidermaus (Sabarsky had too long a line) was refreshing. Excellent bread and wine. I was too full and hot to eat pastry.

                                      * Ess-A-Bagel is just a good place. I had pumpernickel with white fish. It's also good to know 1st Avenue is much the same. Not revelatory bagels, but very respectable. Today I grabbed a hot roast beef at DeFonte's. In the kitchen they were making a 90-foot sub. I forgot to ask for rare, and when I ate it an hour later, it was better done than I'd have liked. But I loved this place. The turkey looked great. They had broccoli rabe salad.

                                      I was surprised at how few vegetables I ate this week, including at the vegetarian restaurant. And it was not for lack of trying. Scarpetta badly needs a salad on its menu, or a side of greens. I devoured the apples at my hotel lobbies; tomorrow the first thing I'll be eating at home is vegetables.

                                      * I liked Scarpetta a lot; my family loved it. The short ribs appetizer seemed a bit overdone. Polenta was amazing as promised. Short ribs and bone marrow pasta was much too buttery. The cod was delicate but had that same tomato-butter profile as other dishes. And veal loin was competent but not that delicious. Service is exemplary. I'd probably go back. But coming from San Francisco, where we have a lot of great modern regional Italian, this wasn't my best meal.

                                      Awful
                                      * we left Scarpetta and walked down to Coppelia for dessert. My uncle who lived in Cuba as a boy loved the decor. Tres Leches cake was like slop in a bowl; my usually easy going aunt returned it. Gelatos were inedible (although tamarind mojito was admittedly ill advised). Pichet Ong should be ashamed. The best thing there was the fake cake on the counter.

                                      Sadly we didn't get to Mile End, or Gulluoglu, or Bosie Tea Parlour this trip.

                                      -----
                                      Ess-a-Bagel
                                      359 1st Ave, New York, NY 10010

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

                                      HanGawi
                                      12 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

                                      Kellari Taverna
                                      19 W. 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

                                      Scarpetta
                                      355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                                      Wafels & Dinges
                                      New York, New York, NY 10001

                                      Defonte's Sandwich Shop
                                      261 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

                                      Trini Paki Boys
                                      43rd St and 6th Ave, New York, NY 10036

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

                                      Momofuku Milk Bar
                                      251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

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

                                      Hester Street Fair
                                      Essex St Hester St, New York, NY 10002

                                      Danji
                                      346 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

                                      Coppelia
                                      207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

                                      La Cremeria
                                      178 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Windy
                                        LNG212 Jul 1, 2011 06:52 AM

                                        Windy, so glad you liked the Trini doubles. And as for your boss, you can just say s/he was being more "authentic" since doubles is generally a quick breakfast food in Trinidad!! :) Glad you had a good trip.

                                        1. re: LNG212
                                          Windy Jul 1, 2011 08:16 AM

                                          I'd never had doubles before, so I had no idea what to expect. Do you know what's in the three sauces? Two are spicy, but I think one is sweet. So good! Probably the best $2 I spent in Manhattan.

                                          Was also delighted that bagels are still $1. It's not unheard of to pay more than that in San Francisco for inferior bagels.

                                          1. re: Windy
                                            LNG212 Jul 1, 2011 08:22 AM

                                            The sweet you are tasting is probably the tamarind sauce. I love that with chickpeas. The others are spicy with peppers and garlic. I think different places must make their own because the heat and spice level of sauces seems to be different at different places (I've had doubles at several places in Brooklyn too). Shado beni sauce also has culantro in it. And that $2 is the best lunch deal (provided the cart hasn't run out, of course).

                                            1. re: LNG212
                                              Windy Jul 1, 2011 08:31 AM

                                              Yes, that's it. I thought it tasted like tamarind.

                                      2. m
                                        michelleats Jun 30, 2011 10:00 PM

                                        Hi Windy, you mentioned Coppelia. I've tried it a few times, now. The food is likable, but very, very greasy and not so good it'd be something I'd go out of my way to try if I had only a few meals to eat in the city.

                                        I've been trying to get my act together to write a review, but haven't, yet. Just briefly:

                                        - Lomo saltado -- very tender beef, but too heavy on the dark soy sauce in the stirfry, and much too salty as a result.
                                        - Korean tacos -- fairly tender, but very oversalted meat sauteed with lettuce in a limpid, barely griddled corn tortilla wrap. The meat was bulgogi-like, but without sweetness. You have far better versions on the West Coast.
                                        - Reina Pepiada arepa -- a serious grease bomb. The arepa was an arepa frita and literally oozed grease when I bit into it. The filling is lovely, but not a traditional reina pepiada filling: it includes no mayonnaise and the pulled chicken has been cooked in a tomato sauce. Chicken was very tender and not at all dry from overcooking. The arepa frita will take a few years off your life.
                                        - Empandas -- filled with the same tomato-sauced pulled chicken as was in the arepa (more generously than street versions purchased in the Inwood / Washington Heights area), but again, the empanada was not blotted in any way and so greasy as to be off-putting. (And I am not faint of heart when it comes to grease.)
                                        - Yucca rellena -- saturated with grease and a bit undercooked the first time we tried it; nicely fried (crispy outside), but still not blotted and greasy, the second time we tried it. Nicely and generously filled with a good beef picadillo.

                                        What was it that interested you in Coppelia? We might be able to find better examples of whatever it is you're looking for, elsewhere.

                                        ---

                                        ETA:

                                        Ah, just realized you'd already *returned* from your trip. Sorry to get to you so late and sorry about the lackluster dessert at Coppelia.

                                        But thanks very much for a well-written report!

                                        -----
                                        Coppelia
                                        207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: michelleats
                                          Windy Jun 30, 2011 10:21 PM

                                          Oh no problem. I only got back to San Francisco 15 minutes ago.

                                          And thanks for trying to find me better Cuban food. I'd seen Gael Greene's writeup of Coppelia which had these incredible photos of layer cakes. Originally I thought we'd eat there, but I ran out of meal slots.

                                          Cuban food is pretty much always greasy, at least if it's authentic. I do love a good empanada and picadillo.

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