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May 24, 2013 08:33 PM

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:

      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):

      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).

      Some common tourist inquiries:

      Near MoMA:

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

      Near the American Museum of Natural History:

      Near Macy's/Herald Square:


      5th Avenue shopping:


      Notable food trucks/carts:

      Prix fixe lunch deals:

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

      Best bagels in NYC:
      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:

      A West Village food crawl

      East Village:

      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: 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:

                  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


                      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!

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