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Sep 5, 2011 01:47 PM

2nd Visit to NYC....We want to be in the "know"!

Hi Everyone!

We are coming for our second visit to NYC and can't wait to try more restaurants/food carts/food trucks! We want to know, what's new? What has a lot of "BUZZ" amongst foodies?

We will be staying for 8 days, so we basically have 8 lunches and 8 dinners to plan.

Just for reference, here's the thread from our first visit:

And here's some background info:
So for our last trip we ate at: La Bernadin, Jean George, WD-50, Momofuku Saam Bar, Katz's Deli, Russ and Daughter's, Prune, and the Halal Cart on 53rd and 6th.

In terms of "fine dining", we've already made reservations for Per Se and Babbo, so we don't need any more fine dining recs.

We would like to re-visit: the Halal Cart and Russ and Daughter's (amazing food!).

We have a friend who lives in Brooklyn who's taking us to Shake Shack, Luger's, and Frankie's 457.

Here's some questions:
How's Kefi? Spotted Pig?
Best Pizza?
Best Food Carts/Trucks? (no preference on type of food, just good food!
)Restaurant Recs in Harlem?

Thanks again everyone. You were AMAZING with your recs for our first visit.

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  1. Forgot to mention another restaurant that was interesting (featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate)....Veselka? Good for Borscht and Perogies?

    Worth a visit too?

    17 Replies
    1. re: excel

      Good but more of a late night, post-drinking place. I like it but I'm not sure it's something you should plan as a destination...

      144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      1. re: kathryn

        I'd recommend Veselka over Shake Shack in a heartbeat. At least Veselka serves interesting (if not excellent) food in a local atmosphere.

        I applaud Danny Meyer and his genius marketing team, but the fact that Shake Shack has become a "destination" is one of the greatest frauds perpetrated on the dining public since....the emperor had no clothes. Shake Shack is now also a "chain," which loads of people would say disqualify it on some level.

        It is a burger shack people, nothing more. To waste a meal there during a limited visit to NYC.....sigh.

        Shake Shack
        Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

        144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

        1. re: gutsofsteel

          I find shake shack to consistently produce the best simple burger in Manhattan (no lamb blends or specialized cheeses, etc).

          IMO, it is one of the few places in the city to actually live up to its hype.

          1. re: lexismore

            meh. maybe the best thin fast food burger in NY, but, to my mind, not the best simple burger - there are plenty of pubs and diners and restaurants that make a good simple beef burger that i prefer to shake shake any day

            1. re: thew

              Such as?

              I agree the shack burger is too thin for the bun, but the double burger solves the ratio issue perfectly.

              1. re: lexismore

                off the top of my head, w/ no thinking about it -

                finnigans wake, on 1st and 73rd st. (my fave these days)

                go burger
                genesis on 2nd ave
                gracies diner.

                havent been in years but i used to like the burgers at corner bistro, and at prime burger

                there a place on houston that i dont know the name that a friend took me to

                even stand has a better burger than shake shack as far as im concerned

                Finnegan's Wake
                1361 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021

                Genesis Bar & Restaurant
                1708 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                Gracie's Corner
                352 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028

                Go Burger
                1448 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021

                1. re: thew

                  I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I haven't been to all the above places, but I find the meat in the shack burgers to be infinitely more flavorful than those at corner bistro, gracie's and stand.

                  1. re: lexismore

                    You can barely taste the meat at Shake Shack with that sauce in the mix.

                  2. re: thew

                    I had the burger at Genesis recently and thought it was really good. A nice thick patty of well formed juicy meat. It was nice and loosely packed and was cooked rare, exactly how I ordered it.

                    Genesis Bar & Restaurant
                    1708 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                  3. re: lexismore

                    Surely you're not arguing that the Shake Shack burger is better than the two burgers at Minetta Tavern.

                    Minetta Tavern
                    113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                    1. re: Sneakeater

                      I find the Minetta burger to be good, although if I'm going through the hassle of dining at Minetta Tavern, I wouldn't order it again. I have a hard time comparing it to Shake Shack because they're not exactly the same style of burger (thin fast food style vs thick homestyle). For the price, service, and ease of getting a table, I'd rather go to Back Forty for a burger than Minetta.

                      The black label burger is completely different. I enjoy it, but to me it tastes more like a steak in a burger costume. I can certainly see why it's so widely lauded, but I'd rather have a real burger, or a real steak.

                      Minetta Tavern
                      113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                      Back Forty
                      190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                      1. re: lexismore

                        I can walk up to the bar at Wolfgang's any day at lunch, with no wait, and have a burger which makes Shake Shack seem like the burgers at Cumberland Farms.

                        4 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

                  4. re: thew

                    What diner in Manhattan is making a good burger? I can't recall having anything but a pre-formed patty.

                2. re: gutsofsteel

                  I'd respectfully disagree here. I find Veselka to be much more inconsistent- and as someone who lives blocks away from there, their status as a destination has also baffled me at times. I mean, it is notable as an institution, but so is "Tom's Diner" up in Morningside Heights...

                  The poster is asking for low-end manhattan dining options, and I think the burger options and shake flavors at Shake Shack are interesting enough to suggest it. If you do go, I recommend the Shack Stack and the Cheese Fries.

                  9 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

                  1. re: InfoMofo

                    A visitor to the city with a limited number of dining options should not even be considering Shake Shack (which, whether you like it or not, is modeled on and similar to a number of chains elsewhere in the country) or...Veselka. Really? Veselka?

                    The OP was looking for "buzz". That is not Veselka. Arguably it's Tertulia, Peel's, the Meatball Shop, the duck lunch at Ssam Bar, any number of places in W'burg (wrong board!). It is not Veselka.

                    Harlem: Red Rooster if you can get a table.

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

                    The Meatball Shop
                    84 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

                    325 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

                    Red Rooster
                    310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

                    359 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                    1. re: Wilfrid

                      Agree about Shake Shack, we shouldn't be sending visitors to a chain.

                      Disagree about Veselka, though I would say Ukranian Home is better now. The OP wanted in the "know" not trendy scenes. They're talking about "foodie" buzz, and if you're a New Yorker, you have to try pirogies and borscht at some point.

                      144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                      Ukrainian East Village Restaurant
                      140 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              2. re: excel

                If you are interested in authentic Ukrainian food go to Ukrainian East Village Restaurant.

                Ukrainian East Village Restaurant
                140 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

              3. -- you might enjoy newish chowhound fav Zabb-Elee for Isaan Thai food

                -- maybe Kin Shop for Thai-influenced NY food

                -- personally i'd take Scarpetta over Babbo any day

                -- i'd do Breslin instead of Spotted Pig

                -- maybe one of our many Sichuan places like Grand Sichuan on 9th Ave and 24th

                -- Soba Koh

                309 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

                Grand Sichuan
                229 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                The Breslin
                20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

                Kin Shop
                469 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

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

                1. I love Spotted Pig but go for lunch/brunch when it's got a shorter wait. Weekdays can be fun. Also look at her other restaurant, The Breslin.

                  Best pizza IMO is at Motorino but it's Naples inspired, whole pies. It is not a NY street slice nor the same as one of our famous coal oven pizzerias like Patsy's of East Harlem.

                  In Harlem, I like chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth's.

                  Since you're from Toronto, I would make sure to get some BBQ, fried chicken, and lobster rolls while you're here, in addition to the bagels/smoked salmon, halal cart, and deli. I might also go to Second Ave Deli for matzoh ball soup, chicken in a pot, etc. I know RGR is a big fan of their knoblewurst! They have stuff you probably won't find in Canada.

                  Here's something I wrote up in another thread, so sorry about repeats:

                  WD-50 is good. Make sure you try the aerated foie gras, cold fried chicken, and some of their cocktails.
                  Some NY-specific and unique place ideas:
                  * Txikito for Basque tapas. Don't miss the suckling pig, miss the sofrito/chorizo/quail egg pintxo, croquettas, padron peppers, suckling pig, torreja dessert or whatever is on the daily specials board, like this oyster mushroom carpaccio I had once where the mushrooms were sliced incredibly thin. The newly opened Tertulia is also pretty good as well.
                  * Zabb Elee for Issan (Thai) food, especially their excellent larb, sauteed Chinese broccoli with crispy pork, and more obscure dishes. No pad thai. No curries.
                  * Takashi for local/sustainable Japanese yakiniku. Awesome high-tech electric grills. Try the uni/shiso/wagyu dish, beef belly, short ribs, heart, liver, sweetbreads, first stomach, third stomach, four stomach, tendon, or whatever is good that day. I'm partial to the chuck roll sukiyaki they have Monday through Wednesday.
                  * Xi'an Famous Foods for food from Shaanxi province in China. Cumin lamb hand pulled noodles!
                  * Brunch at Minetta Tavern (takes reservations), The Breslin (no reservations), or Shopsin's (no reservations, note weird hours/crazy menu/cursing at Shopsin's).
                  Shopsin's is probably the most "innovative" breakfast place/diner in town. Breakfast sliders, mac and cheese pancakes, slutty cakes, sandwiches with the "bread" made out of french toast or pancakes, made-up soups from around the world (i.e., "this is what I think Kenyan soup would taste like" not "this is the kind of soup they eat in Kenya"). Some people hate it; some people love it.
                  * Bagel sandwiches with smoked salmon, capers, red onion, cream cheese at Russ & Daughters. Excellent smoked salmon. Try a few before you settle on one. You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich here, too, if you wish. Takeout only.
                  * A steak and/or a scotch at Keens (lots of history here, too). Say hi to Ms Keens in the bar.
                  * Katz's Deli (famous for great pastrami on rye, no mayo). Or 2nd Ave Deli for chicken in a pot, matzoh ball soup, I've heard their knoblewurst is good, too.
                  * Pizza at John's of Bleecker (coal oven style) or Motorino (Naples inspired). Motorino is probably the more hip one. Try the Cremini & Sweet Sausage, Soppressata Piccante with fior de latte, or Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta (white) pie. Bask in the glory of their oven and lovely charred crust.
                  * A pretzel from Sigmund Pretzelshop (the street ones are crap). They have a cart in front of the Met Museum as well.
                  * Hot dogs at Papaya Dog/Gray's Papaya (not gourmet but cheap and satisfying, and an oddly NY thing).
                  * Halal Guys cart at 53rd and 6th. Eat street meat! Stand in line. It's worth it. Make sure you go to the southEAST corner before 8pm, and the southWEST corner after 8pm. They have yellow bags with a red circular logo that says Halal Guys: We Are Different. Don't use too much red sauce. Chicken and/or lamb with rice and a creamy white sauce.
                  * Shake Shack (multiple locations). A high-end fast food burger, get the Shack burger, which has the Shack sauce on it. Contentious. Debated. Delicious. Sitting in Madison Square Park on a nice day has its own particular charms. Arrive at 11:45am to beat the lunch rush.
                  * Babbo, Locanda Verde, or Scarpetta. High end Italian, which is really buzzy in NYC right now, book a month in advance. Babbo books one month in advance to the calendar day, i.e., call on August 28th for September 28th. Scarpetta has LA, Miami, and Toronto branches now, though, so if you visit those cities, it may not be such a draw.
                  * Eleven Madison Park for a really splurgy meal, if you are going all out. Reserve 4 weeks in advance. Have a drink at the bar beforehand as they won Best Restaurant Bar at Tales of the Cocktail 2011. Try not to eat all of the housemade chips or the honey peanuts, or those fruity green French olives. For your meal, you are presented with a grid of ingredients like "pork" or "lobster" for a menu. It's definitely a bit mysterious what you're going to actually get, also the service is incredible. Book ASAP, I think they book up about 4 weeks in advance.
                  * Defonte's. You know that "sandwich day" episode of 30 Rock? That's this place..
                  * Torrisi Italian Specialties for upscale American-Italian with global influences (Jamaican, Chinese, Jewish). No reservations. Show up at 5:45pm to put your name down. There's a nightly prix fixe menu (~$50) for dinner based upon what's local and fresh. It changes all the time.
                  * Lots of high end Japanese if you are into that. Soto for creative uni/sushi dishes, Kyo Ya for kaiseki cuisine that changes with what's in season (they once served me edamame still attached to the branch), or Kajitsu for Shojin cuisine. I'm assuming these are hard to find in your hometown.
                  * If you have time to get into Brooklyn or Queens, look into Di Fara (odd hours/long lines), Mile end (Quebec food -- pastrami, poutine, Montreal bagels, sells out quickly), Kabab Cafe for Egyptian food and offal, Red Hook Ballfields for a series of food trucks serving arepas, huraches, ceviche, elote, agua fresca, and more (hopefully they will still be open then), and/or M. Wells (assuming their new location is open by then -- possibly not).
                  * Cocktails at Pegu Club, PDT (speakeasy inside of Crif Dogs and takes reservations at 3pm on the day of), or Death & Co. Similar to Drink in Boston. Best time to go is around 6pm before they fill up. Especially since you are here on a weekend.
                  * For unusual sweets, Doughnut Plant (try the cake doughnuts only) has flavors like tres leches, blueberry, green tea, and more.
                  I am a big fan of the pretzel croissant and/or the baker's (leftovers) muffin at City Bakery.
                  Victory Garden has goat milk soft serve (don't miss the salted caramel if they have it) and frozen yogurt, with unusual toppings like sungold tomato, honey comb candy, maple marshmallows, havlah.

                  The Joyride Truck has caffeinated frozen yogurt.

                  You might also look into Spot Dessert Bar (Pichet Ong) or Chikalicious Dessert Bar for creative, plated desserts served outside your normal dinner setting.

                  For food trucks, try one of the Korean taco trucks, maybe the Schnitzel truck, Souvlaki, Luke's Lobster or Red Hook Lobster Pound, Wafels & Dinges...

                  50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

                  Eleven Madison Park
                  11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                  110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

                  Amy Ruth's
                  113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

                  Spotted Pig
                  314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

                  Minetta Tavern
                  113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

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

                  Kyo Ya
                  94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                  Pegu Club
                  77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

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

                  Death & Co.
                  433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

                  355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

                  Wafels & Dinges
                  New York, New York, NY 10001

                  240 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                  414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

                  Locanda Verde
                  377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                  The Breslin
                  20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

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

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

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

                  349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

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

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

                  359 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                  Victory Garden
                  31 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    this is a good list - i'd make the following changes - papaya king (they're the original), not greys, and definitely not papaya dog.

                    I'd opt for a good NYC street slice, over wood or coal oven pies.

                    in addition to pegu, pdt, etc i'd add little branch and angels share for cocktails

                    for BBQ head to dinosaur - i haven't been since they moved a few blocks south, but they're my favorite BBQ in the city. (great wings - i opt for the 2nd hottest sauce, as it has great flavor as well as heat) and amazing fried green tomatoes. don't miss their syracuse potatoes either.

                    Papaya King
                    179 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028

                    1. re: thew

                      IMO Angel's Share is not as good as the others you mentioned.

                      Angel's Share
                      8 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: kathryn

                            My last visit to Angels Share a few weeks ago will prob be my last visit to Angels Share: seriously downhill and bad vibe both from staff and customers

                            1. re: Simon

                              its probably been 9 months since my last visit

                      1. You should consider going to Barney Greengrass instead of Russ & Daughters. You can sit there with table service, and the fish is just as good...(in fact they use the same suppliers)

                        Barney Greengrass
                        541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

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

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                          But is the lovely Nikki Russ Federman manning the counter at BG? Noo! But I see your point, and could probably agree if there weren't some good benches in the R&D neighborhood so you can eat al-fresco.

                        2. Where are you coming from?

                          I was recently impressed and very much liked the experience at Junoon which is Indian cuisine but "fancier" then your normal Indian place and has a very nice ambiance, cocktail list, etc.

                          Depending on how adventerous you are feeling it's worth it to take the 10 minute train ride from 14th street union square in manhattan to the Bedford L stop (first stop in brooklyn on the L line) to visit Smorgasburg which is daytime food vendors outside on saturdays only. If you are looking for food carts this is a great alternative/ nice activity. Plus there is a lot of shopping, food and drink in that area.


                          For Harlem the place right now is still Red Rooster


                          someone mentioned meatball shop. it's very casual, not pricey and I love it!

                          For cocktails I most def second PDT and also would add Pegu Club in there.

                          Also what about sushi? depending on where you're coming from that might be a must!

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

                          Pegu Club
                          77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

                          Red Rooster
                          310 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027

                          27 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010