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SF hound going to NYC for 5 days March 28-April 1, 2012

Going to do mostly sightseeing & lots of eating, could use some help with organizing list of good & cheap places to eat near these places:

Central Park
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Times Square
on the way or after seeing Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Empire State Bldg
Rockefeller Center
St Patrick's Cathedral
Guggenheim Museum
NY Public Library
Museum of Modern Art
American Museum of Natural History
Frick Collection
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Places I might go:
Russ & Daughters
Shake Shack
Grey's Papaya or Crif Dogs
Grimaldi's Pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge
Washington Heights
Caracas Arepas
Molly's cupcakes
Lots of gelato places..
Magnolia's Cupcake
Joe's Shanghai
Prosperity Dumpling
Xi'an Famous Foods
La Maison Du Chocolat
Chocolate shop under the Dumbo
Dessert Club, Chikalicious
Veniero's Pasticceria & Caffe
Blue Stove - sour cherry pie
Cafe Habana
Kam Hing Coffee Shop
Blue Ribbon - dinner need rsvp
Sake Bar Hagi
Murray's Bagels
Grimaldi's Pizzeria
Joe's Pizza
Two Boots Pizza
Artichoke Pizza- clam pizza

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  1. I like Otto. Lunch at the bar (salumi platter and a "Tocai" Friulano to wash it all down is pretty satisfying and modest in price. A burger at Spotted Pig (go after 2:30 p.m. and sit at the bar) is a decent way to spend an afternoon, walking the West Village near Jane is your bonus.

    You might consider packing a picnic basket sourced at the market (not the food court) at Grand Central Terminal or elsewhere, including wine, and taking the Circle Line tour around the island of Manhattan. Hit the Intrepid Museum, next door, when you disembark. You might want to consider walking the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan side and grabbing a pizza at Grimaldi's as your reward. Neighboring DUMBO has ice cream, gelato and chocolate shops. Maybe take the water taxi back to Manhattan. Google "high line" and see if it appeals to you.

    1. Dude dont go to Otto go to esca

      1 Reply
      1. I don't think I've ever seen clam pizza at Artichoke.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Humbucker

          i think my friend meant crab pizza.

        2. in addition to the ones you've mentioned, i think if you're at moma, you have to at least try halal guys at 53rd and 6th once. . .cheap eats for sure. the intrepid museum is right close to sullivan street bakery, and mexican at tulcingo or tehuitzingo on 10th ave. my vote is tehuitzingo for taco stand goodness.

          1. I haven't been to A-Wah, but Lau and others have panned it for months as a has-been.

            Veniero's is also a has-been. If you want good Italian pastries in Manhattan, Rocco's in the Village is your best bet.

            I haven't been to a number of places on your list, but here are some I've been to from your list:

            Katz's - ask for your pastrami at least somewhat juicy, and if you don't love the sample, explain why and ask the counterman to get another slab.

            Madangsui - best Korean BBQ and banchan in Manhattan, but stick to the red meat there. If you want a more wide-ranging menu at another excellent Korean BBQ place, go to Don's Bogam and get the chili-marinated galbi. But I rate both their BBQ and banchan just a touch below Madangsui's.

            Otto - good appetizers, but can be very crowded and loud, and they told us we couldn't order additional appetizers if we decided we wanted more after our first round. Lupa is better but a harder reservation.

            Caracas Arepas - I haven't been there in some time because they are no longer cheap and I'm usually on a low-carb diet. However, when I used to go, I thought they had some good arepas but only one great one: the jardinera.

            Magnolia - don't go there for cupcakes. They suck! I'm pretty sure the cupcake place my brother, his wife and I stopped in on a few weeks ago that said they were in the finals of Cupcake Wars on the Food Channel was Molly's. Someone will confirm or refute. If that's the one, we tried a lemon-poppy muffin with raspberry frosting which was truly superior.

            Joe's Shanghai - I haven't been in years. Not worth waiting on line for. If you must go to a Shanghainese restaurant in Chinatown, Shanghai Cafe is your best bet, but Shanghainese food is weak in Manhattan, in my experience.

            Prosperity Dumpling - good, cheap dumplings, but don't expect the place to be really pleasant to dine in.

            Xi'an Famous Foods - I'm a regular at the St Marks location and love it.

            Dessert Club, Chikalicious - good place, though I was sorry when Dessert Club stopped serving wine. But I haven't been to either place in some time. On carb days, I tend toward Spot.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pan

              "Prosperity Dumpling - good, cheap dumplings, but don't expect the place to be really pleasant to dine in."

              A Prosperity Dumpling shop (same owners) is now on Clinton Street, 69 Clinton. It is more of a sit down venue, though one orders at the counter. Comfortable and convenient too. It is just up from Rivington on the west side of the street.

              Dumplings here are the fried kind, 鍋貼 guotie, popular for breakfast in China, though I tend to like them anytime. I do have to agree that Prosperity's Seseme Pancake or 芝麻饼 (zhimabing) is the best in the area. Worth the order.

              For dumplings I would also suggest consider Mooncake Foods for the Crawfish steamed dumplings (263 West 30th St; 263 West 30th S; 28 Watts St, New York).

              If you are in the area of Lower East Side, head up Clinton to Pinalito City. This very nice Dominican restaurant has been serving excellent food for years. I met the chef the last visit. The Dominican food tends to be in the entree and seafood section (page 2). Corner of Houston and Clinton.

              I have heard excellent things about Clinton Bakery from a few people, so that is perhaps a good destination.

              If you're looking for Pizza, and you are in Manhattan, you really should consider Pulino's on Houston and Bowery. The place is exception and though pizza is not something I eat often, I do like it good, and they do an excellent job.

              I would agree with Pan that Shanghai Cafe is one of your best bets for Shanghai food, though I only go there for the 红油猪手 (hongyouzhushou) pork dumplings with not so think skin, I find the place nice.

              If you are in the museum area, trek a bit east to 64th street btw Lexington and 3rd to Alice's Tea Cup, one place I recommend. (156 east. 64th)

              Xi'an Famous foods is over-rate, in my honest assessment, and you might be better off checking some other places out. Goat (lamb) is better at a new Sichuan 四川 venue called Land Of Plenty (魚米子鄉) 204 East 58th Street. This new restaurant is giving competition to the race for good Sichuan food here.

              Good luck in your decisions.

            2. I would substitute blue stove for four and twenty blackbirds normally. Better pie, but I will say their concept was definitely inspired by Mission Pie. Also, not sure if it will be cherry season then. NY has shorter seasons.

              Veniero's is a tourist trap these days.
              Two Boots has also seen better days. Unless you crave a certain combo, the cornmeal crust or one of you has good memories of them from when they were decent, I'd swap it out. Prince Street Pizza just opened in the original Ray's space, and it's good. I would pick that over Artichoke as well, which can often taste like they poured soup over slice. South Brooklyn Pizza (which isn't in Brooklyn) is another slice place which you might consider instead.

              I wouldn't make Shake Shack a priority. It's a chain, the fries are made from frozen, etc.

              La Cremeria is the Gelato place to hit up.

              I prefer Vanessa's on Eldridge over Prosperity, but either way, make sure to order a sesame pancake.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sugartoof

                Yeah, Vanessa's is very good, or was on one visit (I really should go back and try more stuff).

              2. > Central Park

                The park is HUGE. We usually end up on the Upper West Side after visiting, you really need to decide what end of the park you'll be by before we can recommend places to eat.

                Note that the Met Museum of Art and AMNH are both by Central Park. But on opposite west/east ends.

                > Metropolitan Museum of Art
                > Guggenheim Museum
                > Frick Collection

                There are all relatively near one another.

                Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Guggenheim, ish):

                > Times Square


                > on the way or after seeing Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

                Statue of Liberty and Ellis will eat up half your day due to security lines, etc. Make sure you reserve/buy tickets in advance, otherwise, you may get shut out, especially if you want to go inside the statue. There's some decent concessions stands on the two islands. Not amazing, but better than it used to be. Consider bringing a picnic basket of food.

                There's not a lot around Castle Clinton, you will probably need to walk up to Tribeca. Maybe North End Grill or the Shake Shack.

                Or to walk to the financial district:

                > Empire State Bldg

                This is also the Macy's/Herald Square neighborhood:

                > Rockefeller Center
                > St Patrick's Cathedral
                > NY Public Library

                These aren't too far from Times Square, the same recommendations will probably apply.

                > Museum of Modern Art


                > American Museum of Natural History


                > Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

                >Places I might go:
                > Russ & Daughters

                Great choice. Just remember it's more about the smoked salmon than the bagels. ALSO note that NYers DON'T TOAST their bagels. It is better to order the bagel that is freshest/newest if you require some warmth.

                > Katz's
                > Ippudo

                Note that weekday lunches have the least wait at Ippudo and if you want, you can put your name down earlier the same day, if you want to have dinner. However, you are from SF, is there not great ramen there?

                > Shake Shack

                I've found the Tribeca one at dinner to have the shortest wait. Many CA hounds don't think Shake Shack is anything special, comparing it to In'n'Out. Just keep in mind it is a fast food style burger. I think the toasted potato bun, leafy lettuce, and roma tomato are better quality than most fast food places, though, who give you iceberg lettuce and a watery, pale tomato.

                > Grey's Papaya or Crif Dogs
                > Grimaldi's Pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge

                Skip this one.

                > Mandangsui

                Make a reservation. I hope you have at least two people with you.

                > Otto

                Can be very loud and crowded. We like eating at the bar, at off-peak tims.

                > Caracas Arepas

                The lines here can also get pretty long. Try lunch instead.

                > Molly's cupcakes

                This is actually a Chicago transplant, BTW. I liked it, but found the ones I tried to have way too much frosting (some are stuffed cupcakes).

                > Lots of gelato places..

                If you like chocolate/coffee flavors, go to Grom. If you want more fruit type flavors, go to L'Arte. There are a few different locations of each around town.

                You might want to also check out The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. Mr. Softee type soft serve, lots of fun toppings. I like the "American Globs."

                > Magnolia's Cupcake

                Skip. Do Butter Lane or Two Little Red Hens instead.

                > Joe's Shanghai

                Skip. There's really no need for SF hounds to have soup dumplings here! Best XLB (soup dumplings) I've had in NYC are at RedFarm, but they are pricey! There's usually a long wait at RedFarm and the rest of the menu isn't traditional Chinese (it's upscale Americanized Chinese). The second best have been in Flushing, Queens, which can be a trek.

                > A-Wah

                Skip. Noodle Village is better. However, since you're from SF, not sure if this is necessary.

                > Prosperity Dumpling
                > Xi'an Famous Foods

                Try the hand pulled lamb noodles, and/or the lamb "burger."

                > La Maison Du Chocolat
                > Chocolate shop under the Dumbo

                Jacques Torres? I think La Maison and Kee's are better. However, JT's stuff does travel well, if you want to bring some back. Note that JT has locations on the UWS and Rockefeller Center now. You could do La Maison Du Chocolat + Jacques Torres at Rock Center all in one go.

                > Dessert Club, Chikalicious
                > Veniero's Pasticceria & Caffe

                If you're into cannoli, go to Rocco's instead, because they fill theirs fresh, to order.

                > Blue Stove - sour cherry pie
                > Cafe Habana
                > Kam Hing Coffee Shop
                > Blue Ribbon - dinner need rsvp

                They ONLY take reservations for large parties.

                > Sake Bar Hagi
                > Murray's Bagels

                Decent bagels, but they put on way too much cream cheese. Ask them to go easy on it.

                > Grimaldi's Pizzeria

                You have this on your list twice.

                > Joe's Pizza

                Good but can be inconsistent.

                > Two Boots Pizza
                > Artichoke Pizza- clam pizza

                I would probably skip Two Boots and Artichoke. I found the crab pizza at Artichoke to be kind of gross. It's essentially crab dip on a pizza crust. And their crust has always been a little too thick for me. I haven't liked the crab, artichoke, or regular slices there. ONLY the squares. And Artichoke is quite inconsistent in terms of quality.

                Try South Brooklyn Pizza instead.

                Here are some recent trips from Bay Area hounds which should help:

                Other cheapish eats I didn't see on your list:
                Motorino, Keste, or Forcella
                City Bakery - hot chocolate, bakers muffins, great mac and cheese, scones, muffins
                Sullivan St Bakery - roman style pizza
                Zabb Elee
                Luke's Lobster
                Momofuku Ssam's Duck lunch (weekdays only, I think it's $17 for the duck over rice now
                )Halal cart at 53rd and 6th (SW corner at night, SE during the day)
                Clinton Street Baking Company for breakfast
                The sandwich counter at Eataly
                Sigmund Pretzelshop (I think they have a cart in front of the Met sometimes)
                Doughnut Plant (try the cake doughnuts only) - flavors like tres leches, blueberry, green tea, and more
                First Prize Pies, available at Roni-Sue's Chocolates in the Essex Street Market in the Lower East Side

                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:

                4 Replies
                1. re: kathryn

                  "Skip. There's really no need for SF hounds to have soup dumplings here! "

                  Actually, unlike dim sum, San Francisco doesn't have the wealth of soup dumplings or dollar dumpling places found in New York. SF also lacks some of the regional specialties, so even though they have cumin heavy dishes at Old Islamic, and Beijing Restaurant, you would have to go to the trendier Mission Chinese to find some of the options at a place like Xi'an Famous. I wouldn't go out of my way for Xi'an Famous though.

                  Doughnut Plant is a good call, but the PB & Jelly is worth straying from the cake donuts for.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    When a friend was visiting from SF a few months ago, we chose not to take him out for soup dumplings and he told us there was an awesome place near where he lived. Perhaps he is lucky....

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      i personally like the pbj at doughnut plant, but it's not always what people expect, because the pb is in the glaze, not the filling. still good, but some buy them unaware of how they get the pbj combo, and are disappointed. i'm also partial to their cinnamon buns, and prefer the midtown location since they actually have seating.

                    2. re: kathryn

                      One comment about Zabb Elee:

                      I went there for dinner tonight for the first time in a while. It might be a fluke, but perhaps their spiciness index has shifted. Previously, a 3 in their 0-5 spiciness index had been plenty hot, but even after I told the waitress my sausage talay really could be spicier and to try to have them make my chicken soup spicier, it still could have been spicier. I may go for a 4 next time, and then maybe it'll end up being too hot. :-)

                      Regardless, I'm glad the place, with all its imperfections and inconsistencies, is around.

                    3. Listen to Kathryn... she know of what she speaks, and you will not be disappointed.

                      Also note the Russ and Daughters doesn't have seating, it's an appetizing shop with take-out only. But the fare is top notch and absolutely worth a try.