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Oct 1, 2012 05:41 PM

Favorite Low Key Spots to Eat in Manhattan / Brooklyn

I'm going to be visiting Manhattan and Brooklyn for a few days and have a very open schedule. I want to know some of the favorite places that AREN'T the usual high end spots (those are easy to find and I already have a reservation or two for those).

I'm pretty adventurous as far as eating, so nothing is too out there. Any location is OK too since there's no strict plan. Gluten free is a plus, but I can navigate pretty well around that on my own. I'd really like to know a good spot for dim sum for lunch. An example of what I'm looking for is the answer I received from a friend when asked to pick one spot I have to eat at in NYC - his reply was Veselka and the borscht was incredible. Also, if you know a dish that is a must eat - please leave that info too!

Thanks for any input you'd like to give.

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  1. I like Nom Wah Tea Parlor and Oriental Garden for dim sum. I haven't been to any restaurants in Queens but I hear they have restaurants better than Chinatown.

    I agree that the borscht at Veselka is great, just like Baba used to make (no joke, long story). If you go there keep an eye out for the Christmas borscht. It has dumplings filled with mushrooms in it, more addictive than crack but it's seasonal and I think they only serve it in the late fall/winter (it still couldn't hurt to check for it just in case). Some of their other menu offerings are so-so but I like their stuffed cabbage (meat) with mushroom sauce and kasha with a side of horseradish beets.

    2 Replies
    1. re: alkonost

      thanks - I think I was going to try Oriental Garden last time (but ended up sick and spent way more time in the hotel than I wanted) Good to know my instincts are working

      1. re: lzomie

        Oh I'm sorry to hear that you came down with something, I hate it when that happens on vacation. I caught the flu on the way to Vegas once, that really put a wrench in my vacation plans (but I digress)...

        Oriental Garden has never done me wrong, but if you want a more casual atmosphere Nom Wah has a hole-in-the-wall look to it, they did a renovation but kept the unique look of the place. I would take a peek at Nom Wah if you're interested in the casual vibe, but both have good dim sum.

    2. Dim Sum Go Go
      Mile End - smoked meat
      Keste (gluten free pizza)
      Parm - chicken parm

      1. Rubirosa - one of my favorites in the city, AND it offers a gluten-free menu
        Bridge Cafe
        ilili (not necessarily "low key," but it's so delicious)
        Crave Fishbar
        Cafe China

        1. I'd suggest Stage Restaurant for borsht. You'll love the atmosphere, too, I believe: Just a counter with bar stools, with a kitchen in the back and a grill in front of you.

          It's hard for me to know what else to recommend for you because your question is so wide open. So just for the hell of it, I'll mention a place that serves great margherita pizza (don't get any other kind), that's also in the East Village: South Brooklyn Pizza. And if you happen to be near 104th St. and Broadway, go to Jerusalem Restaurant and get either shawarma or falafel, plus any side you like. It's a really good value and very tasty (though quite fatty).

          1. I recommend Bushwick Fireproof .

            But when I went to there for an art event I smelled the burger of heaven.

            I had to go back for another art event and in the back of mind I wasn't thinking, "Oh, I'll see some good art." I was thinking, "Oh, I can finally get that burger!"

            It was superb.
            This is an excellent burger. It came with avocado and jalapeno and was perfectly cooked on bun that was fresh (I've been getting a lot of dried out buns elsewhere lately). The fries were perfection. The optional salad was arugula with balsamic and salt in just the right proportions.

            The prices were very reasonable price.

            Sitting outside at the picnic tables on a lovely evening was delightful.

            I drug my husband out there and he usually hates leaving his routine -- come home, go to local place, watch Big Bang Theory -- but he really had a great time. He completely enjoyed himself.

            The art event was the Bushwick Artists Crit Group and it's a slide-jpg show with the artist explaining their work and taking questions. It was completely entertaining.

            Outside they had the waterfall rain swing sculpture.

            So we had dinner and a show for two + three beers and three top shelf drinks for $60.

            It was a wonderful night.