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SF'er coming to NYC HELP!!!

Okay Chow Hounders I'm a San Franciscan going to New York and want the best of the best out there. I really want forward thinking cuisine nothing safe I'm much more interested in restaurants trying to earn Michelin stars than trying to protect them. Okay give me your opinions out there, prices and not a concern everything from burgers to foie gras for us! MUCH APPRECIATED!!

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  1. That's a very broad query, and I think most of us New Yorkers don't care about Michelin stars or, necessarily, restaurants that are trying to get them. I also am unsure whether "best of the best" and "nothing safe" aren't a bit contradictory. So I'll concentrate on the "nothing safe," because a query for "best of the best" will give you mostly the usual suspects, which are all Michelin-starred places (Masa, Per Se, 11 Madison Park, etc.), most of which I haven't gone to, anyway.

    If you really want stuff that's out there, I think WD-50 and Atera are the places that are considered avant garde, molecular gastronomy, or whatever the latest buzzword is.

    Some people have called Booker & Dax, the great cocktail bar next to Momofuku Ssam Bar (a place that's not so "out there" but is eclectic and very good, though "best of the best" is a little much) a molecular cocktail bar, but though they use fancy techniques like liquid nitrogen, I think they're just really excellent and composing a perfectly proportioned cocktail.

    Another place that might possibly interest you because it's a bit off-beat and very good is Salumeria Rosi, which serves salumi-based cuisine (again, I wouldn't call it "best of the best," but I do like it).

    You might also check on the Outer Boroughs for anything off-beat going on in Brooklyn or Queens.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pan

      Agreed--I would NOT limit your search to just the "forward thinking" and "trying to earn Michelin stars" crowd, necessarily. There's a lot of ground that wouldn't be covered (especially since some great restaurants only have Bib Gourmand awards).

      The Michelin list of starred restaurants is only a small subset of what we do well.

      That said, I'd look into Empellon Cocina, Momofuku Ssam, Recette, Louro, Montmartre, Acme, etc for "not formal" places that blur the casual/haute cuisine lines.

    2. I noticed this is your first post to CH. It is pretty short on details... The more info you can give us, the better.

      Is this your first trip to NYC?

      Are you dining solo?

      When are you coming? How long will you be here?

      Have you done any research already?

      Most importantly: BUDGET! What's your budget, per person, before tax, tip, wine, drinks? When you say not a concern, are you really up for Masa or Per Se pricing?

      Here's an answer that I wrote for a different poster, maybe it will help you (save for the Mission Chinese rec).

      ---

      We don't want to recommend food that you might do better at home, but we also may have some cuisines you can't find at home...

      I'd say we are pretty strong in a lot of different cuisines but not equally. Budget will makes big difference in where you can go.

      Are you willing to wait for a table at a no reservations restaurant? If so, for how long?

      What is your budget, per person, per meal, BEFORE tax, tip, wine/drinks/etc for your meals? It is much easier for us to help you if you give a pre-tax-and-tip figure.

      Feel free to break out your budget in terms of upscale/fancy meals (and number of them) and cheaper/everyday meals.

      Note that upscale/high end places tend to book about a month in advance. Most serve weekday lunch (but not weekend lunch), and serve dinner Monday through Saturday, and are usually closed Sundays, though there are a few exceptions to the "closed Sundays" rule (ex: Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Jean George).

      What else are you doing while you are here? Planning around sightseeing, shopping, Broadway shows, etc?

      Check out some "Only in NY" type foods while you're here: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.

      Russ & Daughters (takeout, busy on weekends), Katz's Deli (from When Harry Met Sally), Papaya King etc. (not gourmet but iconic), William Greenberg's black and whites, Junior's cheesecake, egg creams from Gem Spa or Ray's, Pickle Guys, the Halal Guys (53rd and 6th after sunset), are all iconic "NY" sorts of places that are worth a look.

      If you're interested in some of the places I listed above, you could do a LES food crawl.

      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:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

      We also have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Henan, Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao and Dongbei to name a few). scoopG's Chinatown list (dependent upon where you are coming from these may be exotic or not... most places don't have Henan or Xian style food though):
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8343...

      You might also want to do a restaurant doing creative takes on Asian, like at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Wong, Fatty Cue, Takashi, RedFarm, Mission Chinese, Jungsik, Kin Shop, or Danji.

      My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and creative brunches (sometimes every day of the week).

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8383...

      Some common tourist inquiries:

      Near MoMA:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771459
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/767638

      Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Whitney and Guggenheim, ish):
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793684
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/795435
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793684

      Near the American Museum of Natural History:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793258
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/748686

      Near Macy's/Herald Square:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725320
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7577...
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...

      Soho:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701593
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7577...

      5th Avenue shopping:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/1...

      Pre-theatre:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/671275
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755684
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715535
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/788254

      Notable food trucks/carts:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701278

      Prix fixe lunch deals:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8747...

      Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
      It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8093...

      Best bagels in NYC:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...
      Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all. Focus on the smoked salmon instead. Preferably at Russ & Daughters! Featured in shows such as No Reservations and Louie!

      I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.

      If you like the idea of RGR's self-guided LES tour above, check these out, too.

      Maybe scoopG's self guided Chinatown tour:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7116...

      A West Village food crawl
      https://foursquare.com/kathrynyu/list...

      East Village:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/882582

      15 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Wow,you are a great help, thx! I guess I should've been more specific in my post. My wife an I are looking at doing one or two dinners as expensive as EMP or Le Bernardin , etc..but we also want to make sure we get the best slice of pizza and brunch. we're staying in the East Village for one week in September Near Thompkins Park. I'm planning on doing momofuku at least twice and am trying to get into Ko. We don't need Michelin star restaurants necessarily is just an example I'm trying to use to say that I want to go to places that are trying to earn cred and are exciting and fresh not places that have already had success that's just stale trying to hold onto their clientele. Blue Hill looked great to us,we Bay Area folk love our farm to table seasonal menus And we would love to see New York's version of that.for Pizza we don't want to go to one of the two famous places that everybody goes to unless they truly are the best. is there a third fourth-place example the nobody really knows about that we need to hit up? This is our first trip to New York. We are very savvy Bay Area foodies are trying to apply the same logic to New York we want to find up-and-coming artisanal places that are not very touristy. We are suckers for everything done in house and a close relationship with the product. We like to feel that we live in the neighborhood when we are on vacation over there and other than the must must sees will avoid anything touristy. wd rather eat in the local bistro in our neighborhood that's fantastic and nobody knows about than go to an overpriced place in time square.

        1. re: Jsimo01

          New York is much more crowded and populous than SF, and you're unlikely to find places no-one knows about, especially in Manhattan.

          Given where you're staying, make sure to get a margherita slice at South Brooklyn Pizza, on 1st Av. between 7th St. and St Marks. I went there again last night, and their pizza was even better than usual, but the usual is quite good.

          I don't think that people would recommend places they consider stale. :-)

          Also especially considering where you're staying, you might consider booking a 10-course kaiseki dinner at Kyo Ya, which is just a wonderful experience.

          There really are loads of places to go to in and around the East Village. kathryn posts about lots of them, so read through her posts and think about which of the places might be interesting to you.

          I'll throw another name into the mix: Acme: http://acmenyc.com/about It's not going to be a quiet experience at an unknown place for you, but it's part of what's hot. I haven't been there in years, but while it's a big scene place, the food, reportedly, is great, and it's associated with the Nordic aesthetic (the current chef was a co-founder of Noma in Copenhagen).

          Since you want to go to places that are less crowded and more off the beaten path, I really encourage you to post to Outer Boroughs. I love the East Village, but feeling part of this neighborhood means that every place you go to was already "discovered" by someone else. And on weekends, this area is party central for people from outside the neighborhood (and some people who live in the neighborhood, too). But there's a lot of good food here.

          1. re: Pan

            Pan has good advice! +1 on 2nd South Brooklyn Pizza, and would add on Motorino for great pizza that people travel for from other parts of the city. And Joe's just opened on 14th Street.

            Kyo Ya is great. They don't really have a web presence and you must call to make reservations, so don't let that discourage you.

            Personally, I love the East Village even more on quiet days like Sunday through Wednesday. That's when the locals go out to eat and drink.

            1. re: Pan

              Have you been to Aska? Is that less "scene-y" than Acme?

              1. re: Skippy1414

                I haven't, but others have posted about it.

                1. re: Skippy1414

                  Here's a report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/894650

                  You should post to Outer Boroughs for more info or opinions.

                  1. re: Pan

                    I meant as a suggestion for the OP--sorry.

              2. re: Jsimo01

                NB: EMP books 28 days ahead including the current day and books up quickly for dinner, especially on weekend nights. If you are here for a full week, I would keep trying for a reservation until you get one, and not all the booking window to slip away.

                Le Bernardin books on the 1st of the month for the entire following month, so all of September will open up on August 1st. Do NOT go by what is on OpenTable. You must call them.

                The East Village is a great base of operations, especially since it is also close to Union Square and the Lower East Side. Ippudo, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Mighty Quinn's, Luke's Lobster, Prune, Empellon Cocina....

                However, it is, as Pan mentions, a popular destination for people who live in other boroughs, NJ, or are visiting. I would make sure you have a reservation for wherever you wish to dine on Friday night and Saturday night of your visit, and use some of your lunches on places that are very popular for dinners.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Your suggestions and help have been fantastic. I'm not a forum person usually but this showing me how great they can be.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Another thing, I miss foie GRAS greatly and would appreciate a suggestion somewhere near where I'm staying in the East Village

                    1. re: Jsimo01

                      Thanks!

                      Hot prep or cold prep?

                      Ko sounds a must for you then!

                      Casa Mono does a hot one with five onions that is pretty damn good. Go for lunch when it isn't as crazy.

                      Also look into Tocqueville and Gotham Bar & Grill.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Both, but I'm dirty and love a great big seared piece!!

                        1. re: Jsimo01

                          You'd probably dig the blood pudding waffles with foie gras butter they serve at weekend brunch at Public.

                          1. re: kathryn

                            +1 on the Pubilc waffles. they're delicious.

              3. Mile End - Sandwich (Bond St.), and the Deli/Restaurant in Brooklyn.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Chuck Lawrence

                  I'll second this, and also Pan's suggestion for South Brooklyn Pizza.

                  If you can fit in the excursion, check out Booklyn, for Diner, or Marlow & Sons, or farther in, there's Roberta's. Smorgasburg's weekly event would take care of your artisanal up and coming food needs.

                2. As a long timenew Yorker now in the Bay Area... Definitely hit up the NYC specialties like Russ & daughters and Katzs. But more than anything being in SF, I miss great sushi. Hit 15 east (my personal fave) or any of the other ones that are mentioned in the same breath. You will not be disappointed and will appreciate just how lacking sushi is in SF... The problem is, pull be spoiled and only be able to satisfy that craving in NY or LA!

                  1. We live in EV and the two places we frequent the most are Cafe Mogador and Zum Schneiders (cash only). Not grand places by any stretch but good solid places. We'll hit Jules from time to time for the live jazz while sipping on Vino.

                    I prefer Luzzo for a sit down pizza (over Motorino) and the wife loves the wafer crust at Gruppos.

                    If you're staying near Thompkins, do grab a bagel at Thompkins Bagel on A. It can get busy on the weekends, but it's my favorite bagel in the city. For italian, I like Franks on 2nd btwn 5th/6th. It's a bit cramped in there (actually very cramped) but, again, just solid food. For Indian, Malai Marke is getting good reviews on 6th (we ate there once and concur and will be back). Ippudo has been mentioned and pretty good, but the 2-3hr wait is just silly. Mighty Quinn's briskets are worth a taste.

                    I think I've all but given up on all the EMP, Michelin rated places around the city. Not only is it a fight to get a reservation most of the time, but I've yet to walk away from any of these places saying it was worth it and more than once walking away downright upset.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: rottyguy

                      Frank is pretty good, but the last time I was there, my girlfriend got a zucchini soup that tasted like just puree, and from a zucchini that had started to turn, at that. I think their sister restaurant, Supper, is a better value, and it's also a good deal bigger (though like almost any other restaurant in this neighborhood, it can be crowded). But another Italian restaurant that's in Alphabet City that I really like is Lavagna, on 5th just west of Av. B. To our San Franciscan friend, note that they have a much cheaper early bird special (which I think you have to order before 7:30; look up their website).

                      (By the way, folks, it's Tompkins Square Park - no h.)

                      1. re: Pan

                        Cool, I'll have to give Lavagna a shot. Supper is so dark I have to read the menu by their candle light which was a tad annoying. Only been there once but don't recall the food. Anything you rec there?

                        1. re: rottyguy

                          Yeah. At its best, their 1/2 roast chicken is perfect (crispy skin, moist inside, including the white meat, perfect amount of rosemary); at its worst, it's still good. It's a good-sized main dish, but they give you half a small chicken, so one hungry person can eat it. Their fish dishes are also good. I've also generally enjoyed their salads (as you might expect for a sister restaurant of Frank), and their best contorno is the zucchini "tagliatelle" (they make a mock-pasta out of the squash) with olive oil, garlic and toasted almonds.

                          1. re: Pan

                            Have you been there recently? Just checked the menu(s) online, and there's no chicken dish at all.

                            1. re: Elisa515

                              They have two separate menus, if I remember correctly, and they oddly don't list all their items on their online eat-in menu. However, it's in their delivery menu:

                              http://supperrestaurant.com/menus_del...

                              1/2 Roasted Giannone CHICKEN $18.95
                              w/ wild fennel rosemary, roasted garlic & mashed potatoes

                              And yes, I've been there within the past 2 months or so. I usually go there about once a month.

                              1. re: Pan

                                Thanks much! I'm often in that area and am glad to know of another good restaurant option. Also, normally I'd probably skip a roasted chicken, but your description is enticing.

                                1. re: Elisa515

                                  Yeah, it's not a usual thing to order roast chicken in a restaurant, but they do a very good job of it.

                                  If you do go, keep your expectations moderate: Supper is a dependable good restaurant. It isn't great, but they use good ingredients and treat them well. Lavagna, on 5th St. just west of Av. B, is in a higher category but also costs more, especially after 7:30.

                      2. re: rottyguy

                        I know exactly what you mean. I hate walking away disappointed which can happen at 2 & 3 star places. That's one reason we love "high end food" in a simple cozy atmosphere, even up at a counter. Maybe it's an expectation thing.

                        we are relatively accomplished cooks and diners, so while service and atmosphere are important... we want to walk away from the meal feeling challenged. Saying things like "I had no idea those flavors could work together" and "I've never had anything like this". The French Laundry in Napa (several years ago), Benu in SF (two years ago), and L'agape Substance (last year) in Paris are the three restaurants that have done that for us. We'd love to find something just as challenging in NY, but don't particularly need the pomp and circumstance.

                        1. re: Jsimo01

                          It's been awhile, but the last time I was at Degustation (2-3yrs ago), I thought the meal/tasting menu was pretty good. Perhaps someone who's been there more recently can comment.

                          1. re: rottyguy

                            When did you go? Chef Wesley Genovart left Degustation in spring 2011.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              I haven't been in a couple of years but would love to hear from anyone who has been to Degustation lately. It is such a great space and my previous meals there always left me wondering why I didn't go more often.

                      3. If you want something really unique and different, listen to Pan. WD-50 is the place you should try.
                        Mind you, I am not an experimenter and do not like it there, but the chef Wiley Dufresne is off the beaten path when it comes to thinking out of the box.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: arepo

                          Did you not like it because it was too cutesy and precious? I'm not against molecular stuff But when it's technique for technique sake it falls flat. I'm interested possibly and I like the chef but am apprehensive.

                          1. re: Jsimo01

                            Maybe try a dish or two a la carte at the bar one night, rather than the whole tasting menu. Or try Alder, his newest place. I have definitely had some "technique for technique's sake" dishes at WD-50 in the past but he's generally been moving away from that over the last several years.

                            You might also be into Pearl & Ash, from two Corton alums. Or Corton, as a destination.

                            1. re: Jsimo01

                              Yes and Yes. Maybe too pretentious for a down home chick like me. But it sure has its fans and I give credit to anyone who can stir a new excitement in the restaurant scene. Just not my cuppa.

                          2. If you're not worried about venturing into the deep end of Bklyn, try to get into Blanca. Probably the best of the best in many ways and not at all pretentious. The chef is doing some incredible things.

                            In terms of creativity and sheer enjoyability (is that a word?), I'd recommend going to Louro. Dave Santos is putting out some very good food at very reasonable prices. A relatively new place with great creds.

                            Other "must hits" in NYC are (in my not so humble opinion of course) Russ & Daughters, Katz' (pastrami sandwich... don't stray!) & DiFara pizza (okay, so we'll all understand if you dont go... it is very far to get pizza in a hole in the wall place, but the guy is not using coal or wood, but an old NYC gas pizza oven and churns out (by hand) pizzas that are made with all fresh ingredients... this will be gone in only a few years & the other places won't. If you go, get both a "round" pizza and a "square"... by the slice or, better yet, split pies with someone. No extra toppings needed).

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Steve R

                              How's the meatball parm at DiFara's? Have heard good things about it and if it's any good, may make the trek!

                              1. re: rottyguy

                                My guess is that, as good as the food at MD might be, it wont be as destination worthy as the pizza Dom makes at DiFara. I definitely plan to try it, but I pass thru the area regularly so no big deal.

                                1. re: rottyguy

                                  Note that the heroes are available only at the new place, MD, around the corner. Take-out only.