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Aug 4, 2013 06:47 PM

Question to locals..

See lots of recs to places like Russ & Daughters, Katz, Lugers, EMP, etc. on Chowhound. Just curious how often locals are actually going to these places?

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  1. I feel safe to say that most places repeatedly recommended on this board are regularly frequented by many of us.

    1. Katz's and R&D are two of my favorite spots in the city. I try to get to each of them at least once a month.
      I have a few spots in Chinatown that I go to weekly.

      7 Replies
      1. re: iluvcookies

        much more interested in your weekly stops. do share please!

        1. re: rottyguy

          As BKeats and Sneakeater mentioned below, my Chinatown places are also based on convenience.
          I frequent Big Wong and Manna House bakery, both on Mott st, because they are not too far from my office and I'm known there---meaning I can get in and out fast. I happen to think Big Wong has delicious roast pork and soy sauce chicken, which is what brought me there in the first place.
          Are either of these places hands-down, must-eat places in NYC? I don't know. My opinion of them is formed by reasons that will be very different from those of a visitor's.

          I will say that when I do travel outside of NYC, I try to find similar "local" places, shops that have been around for generations, etc., since those are the types of places I like in my own city.

          1. re: iluvcookies

            I think we forget that Chow caters to the locals also. I am, in fact, very interested in find a good roast pork place in c-town. Thanks for the tip!

            1. re: rottyguy

              Try Wah Fung #1 Fast Food on Chrystie: *great* roast pork! The roast pig is really good too. Take-out only.


            2. re: iluvcookies

              Big Wong is a must-stop for this visitor here. Their roast pork is incredible.

              1. re: linguafood

                It certainly is... I was just there last Saturday for lunch and it's as good as ever.
                I do sometimes hesitate recommending the place because it's not "fancy"--a term that a family member used to describe it. I believe her words were "Why did you take me here, it's not fancy?" My reply: "I took you here because the pork is awesome and I want to share my love of this deliciousness with you."
                But how do I know if a tourist/visitor will look past the d├ęcor?

                Perhaps I am overthinking this... I was up way too late watching Sherlock on Netflix and now I am hungry for roast pork.

                1. re: iluvcookies

                  Fancy? Who gives a shit? We always get 2 orders of that pork to take home, and one of those containers sits between the driver & passenger seat. It's usually gone by the time we hit Tannersville :-)

        2. Related:

          Where do you dine at least once a month?

          "Question to locals" is kind of a vague topic name....

          1. oddly enough, i had dinner at peter lugers last night for the first time in 3ish years. steak was great as usual, service was great but the crowd was pretty awful...lots of tourists in t-shirts, etc... that i think i may just be done with the place.

            katz's and i ended our relationship in the last year or so due to the crowds and the thuggish security staff.

            42 Replies
            1. re: sam1

              Tend to agree. Unless a place has unreal food, everything you mentioned are in play. Too much competition to deal with missteps in service and atmosphere. Seems many of the recs here are a little too generic to me as someone who lives and eats in the city daily, thus my original inquiry.

              1. re: rottyguy

                Heh. I actually don't see EMP recommended as much as I used to, given the tasting menu only/format change.

                Anyway, welcome to the Manhattan board. I see you've only been active on for the last few months.

                On the Manhattan board, it seems like every day there's a new "I need iconic and quintessential NY!!!!!" topic started. Or a super vague "I'm coming to NYC, what's good to eat?" topic. The volume of topics is so high on this board that many users are intimidated and can't/won't/don't search. It's been this way for quite some time now. So the same "what's good in NY" and "tell me the best pizza/bagel/etc" over and over.

                Yeah, you're gonna see Katz's and Russ & Daughters recommended a lot here. Clearly the "what's iconic and unique to NY & good for my 1-2-3-4-5 night trip" recommendations aren't always going to be relevant to you since you, you know, LIVE HERE. (And a fair number of visitors to our fair city are picky and don't like "ethnic.")

                Maybe it seems hackneyed to you, but lots of people only get to visit NYC and want to make the most of it and get the iconic NYC foods. (That's why I always try to add on some other more quirky/interesting recs as well.)

                1. re: kathryn

                  Actually, I brought this up after a conversation at dinner tonight with some other local friends about how chowhound is digressing in terms of their (almost standard) recommendations. I still find it far superior to yelp or the likes but am puzzled by the almost cult like following to the aforementioned places. Was curious if folks were "eating their own dog food" sort of speak...

                  1. re: rottyguy

                    If you just want others to take your survey, perhaps best not to refer to other people's favorites as "generic."

                  2. re: kathryn

                    "Maybe it seems hackneyed to you, but lots of people only get to visit NYC and want to make the most of it and get the iconic NYC foods."

                    As a native-born NYer who lived and worked there most of her adult life until leaving the country, I find most of the answers and recommendations for "iconic" foods in NYC just not on the mark. I realize people here are only answering the questions put to them, but if people were asking for a recommendation for a hep club in Greenwich Village, or the best strip show in Times Square, the impulse would be to bring them up to date on the local scene. I can see where it would be fun to go "retro" in one's eating in NY -- but I also think that a lot of the venues for that retro eating no longer resembles in any form what made it fun in the first place. Even the tastes themselves have lost their moorings. They are no longer even "historic", let alone "iconic" of NYC anymore. They are just hoary old marketing ideas about hearting "the Big Apple."

                    There is always an audience, I think, for a touristy experience of any city, and it is also true that in every city, the locals also mix in with tourists to enjoy iconic aspects of the city, foodwise or otherwise.

                    But surely -- I hope -- present day NYers are still discovering and adopting corners of the city that are "live from New York" and have nothing to do with Neil Simon sentimentality about the city or Sex in The City sensibilities.

                    When they aren't foraging in the aisles of Duane Reade, New Yorkers probably eat in restaurants more often than most urbanites around the world. But where are they going, honestly? Sure a teeny minority sticks to the A-list everytime, but is that all there is for food lovers?

                    The dynamism and adventurism that is the heart and soul of New York eating gets frozen out on the Chowhound board. If you want to come to NYC and have the NYC experience, take a flyer on some exotic pushcarts and stick your head into some grotty storefronts. See what's cookin'. Risk indigestion!

                    [I also really hate it when somebody's posting profile is brought into issue and it is implied newcomers have less cred than long time posters. New palates and observers, especially in NYC, are the life of the party.]

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      [I also really hate it when somebody's posting profile is brought into issue and it is implied newcomers have less cred than long time posters. New palates and observers, especially in NYC, are the life of the party.]

                      I found the remark a little odd as well as I've been in NYC for about 8yrs and have dropped quite a few dollars exploring the fine cuisine. That said, your points are on mark and, political correctness aside, I don't think we do anyone service by regurgitating the mainstream points. I couldn't, in good conscious, recommend that someone stand in line for an hour+ at Katz only to get bullied around by an impatient staff just for the opportunity to drop $15-20 dollar for a sandwich. Perhaps if these places didn't get such an automatic audience, they'd be more inclined to work on some of the fit and finish aspect of their craft.

                      1. re: rottyguy

                        rottyguy, you are a relative new poster, no?

                        kathryn's posts are always informative and helpful. She does not have a bad posting bone in her nature. (Full disclosure: I do not know kathryn nor have I ever met her). And yes, welcome to CH!

                        I have never had to wait in line at Katz's. Maybe because I avoid weekends. I can't say that I have ever been bullied there either. You asked on an another thread if Russ and Daughters was really that special and several posters replied why, including kathryn and myself.

                        1. re: scoopG

                          I don't think the issue is kathryn or rottyguy and who they are as individuals or posters or their history. It just isn't relevant, and I'm sorry to say that "helpful" is a subjective call. Which is not to single out kathryn, but that the whole point of this thread was to call into question just how "helpful" some of these responses are, no matter who responds, especially since the responses seem generic and collective, just the opposite of individual.

                        2. re: rottyguy


                          Your thread has made me recall and want to note that (broadly speaking) the kind of tourism that Manhattan gets today is actually a relatively recent phenomenon. It was within recent memory that a great many Americans shunned New York period and other people coming in for visits that included eating (pre-theatre, shopping lunch, business) stayed extremely close to their venues, out of fear of the city. None of this "I'm willing to go anywhere for food!" attitude from out-of-towners.

                          So for a couple of decades, a lot of definitive New York eating had nothing to do with tourist expectations. But when tourism came back with a roar, a kind of Rip Van Winkle "New Yawk New Yawk" image of what is "iconic" eating in NYC was fed to tourists, and it is so out of date.

                          Another huge recent change to me is that it used to be a peculiar fact of New York city culture that many people didn't watch television. It would have been of no interest that a TV chef save Julia Childs had opened a restaurant in New York. Most people wouldn't have a clue who it was. And while it was always true that high-end diners name-dropped chefs and were coddled by restaurant owners, buzz about eating in NYC had nothing to do with knowing who the cook was. For the past years, a media guy has been running the entire city, and I think media values have invaded every aspect of living in the city, including what to eat 3 times a day.

                          I think the tourist idea of eating in New York is crafted around a pre-Sixties image of New York because post-Sixties, NYC culture has just been so dynamic and undergone so much change and revision, it is hard to package it much beyond Seinfeld and Sex in the City or Batali or Bourdain, or whatever other reductionist image is on TV.

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            The City was a different place during the Koch/Dinkins/Guiliani days. Newer arrivals don't appreciate how much the food world has changed since the late 80s/early 90s. I came for school and remember when Times Square was seedy as hell. Soho was still full of light manufacturing. Odeon was the only place in Tribeca. It was called the Meatpacking district because well, they packed meat there. I recall late nights coming out of Florent, which was pretty much the only place you could eat there, and seeing guys in stained white coats hosing loading docks down. It smelled of blood and decay in the streets. As one walked east from Florent to get a cab or find a subway, you could be accosted by drunks or transvestite prostitutes. There were people I knew who would never have gone to Florent because of the neighborhood it was in even though it had some of the best bavette and goose liver mousse you could find in NYC at the time. I doubt most of the visitors to NYC today are looking for an experience like that. Things change though I won't necessarily say for the better.

                        3. re: barberinibee

                          I'm not a local, but I found the topic interesting. When I lived in NYC, before I knew Chowhound existed, I ate out almost every day, and frequently twice a day. During the week, most of it was take-out, relatively quick, and/or within a 30 minute walk of where I lived/worked, mostly at coffee shops, Thai restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Irish pubs on 2nd Ave,pizza places that sold slices,cheap and cheerful Italian restaurants on 2nd Ave. On the weekend, I'd check out restaurants that I'd read about, often seeking out ethnic foods that were new to me (soup dumplings, empanadas, Peruvian chicken, etc), and checking off some of the recs in Eric Asimov's $25 and Under Restaurant Guide (might have the title wrong, some of you would remember the book I'm talking about).I usually went to upscale restaurants once or twice a month.

                          These days, I visit for a few days each year. I still haven't gotten around to trying Luger's, Russ and Daughters or Katz's, and I've never been to EMP or Per Se.

                          The only old school NYC restaurants (in terms of atmosphere) I can remember visiting recently are Barney Greengrass and the Viand Coffee Shop on Madison.

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            "[I also really hate it when somebody's posting profile is brought into issue and it is implied newcomers have less cred than long time posters. New palates and observers, especially in NYC, are the life of the party.]"

                            NOT MY INTENT AT ALL.

                            Merely pointing out the recurring behavior of newbie tourists posting to the Manhattan board asking the same pizza/bagel/deli questions over and over.

                            Please feel free to participate in these threads and give alternative recommendations: Barney Greengrass, Carnegie Deli, 2nd Ave, whatever!

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Thanks for clearing that up.

                              It is interesting to me that when newbie tourists post on the Rome or Venice board in Italy, asking for help in enjoying experiences unique to those cities, no matter how wide-eyed they sound, it honestly never occurs to anybody to recommend they track down a Fettucine Alfredo in Rome or a bellini in Venice. Most people just think of those "iconic" treats as just of a different era, even while they are happy to recommend (and argue about) who is doing the best gnocchi on Thursday in Rome.

                              I realize Italy is very much a special case, and I do note that hardly anybody says "cheesecake" anymore in answer to these queries about NYC. And I also get it that many Chowhound Manhattan posters are genuinely and rightly loyal to the flavors and places of their youth that were "only in New York", even if now others dismiss them as "touristy" or you can get them in Idaho.

                              But the question being raised by this thread is: How often do the people making these recommendations eat these foods or at those institutions? I know some do head to Katz's as often as they can, or the Halal cart in the 50s, but I'm guessing a lot of people recycling the same list have abut as much recent experience of these "iconic" NYC places and foods as I have of Harry's bar in Venice -- which is to say, I think I walked past it once.

                              1. re: barberinibee

                                You can add Russ & Daughters, Peter Luger's, and the bar at the Grand Central Oyster Bar to the list of "iconic" places that people who live in New York actually frequent (at least if you're talking about me and my friends)(including friends who are much younger than me).

                                I'm actually curious which are the specific "iconic" places that get recommended that you think New Yorkers DON'T go to?

                            2. re: barberinibee

                              I think a lot of what you are getting at is the difference between people (I am one of them) who would still like to adhere to the original concept of a Chowhound--someone who seeks out deliciousness and loves exploring and taking risks--and those looking for more of a cleaned up, guaranteed and rateable experience.

                              And please, I hope people give me a bit of latitude in how to describe someone who isn't in the original Chowhound mold but still cares about peak food experiences. It's hard to figure out how to describe the second without seeming to be negative.

                              The point is more that there are plenty of options for people in the second category: Yelp, Trip Advisor, New York Magazine, NY Times.

                              And it's harder and harder to recommend real or potential CH finds without putting up a bit of armor to protect against potential responses that criticize the lack of upscaleness, or greatness, or...well, you know what I the recommendation.

                              A big thank you to anyone who takes the chance and posts on CH about new finds and delicious discoveries in out of the way or overlooked spots.

                              1. re: Elisa515

                                Great thoughts but you have hit on a thorny issue for me. I like to eat out and enjoy finding new places. When I find a particularly good place that is not well known, I don't want to post anything about it on CH or any other site. I want to keep it for myself as long as possible. Keep it safe from the hordes. There are so many small places that I've seen get overwhelmed by a flood of new business when it becomes "discovered." Then the arguments arise over whether its as good as it used to be or whether it was ever good. Ya shouda seen it when....The interwebs have to some degree become the enemy of good food. It can create and destroy.

                                1. re: Bkeats

                                  Do you really think a recommendation on Chowhound will overrun a place? More likely, it will support the possibility that the place will stay in business.

                                  It also depends on whether you see Chowhound as a community, where we help others find places to enjoy.

                                  1. re: Elisa515

                                    Its not that a single post on CH does anything. But its the wave that builds from countless posts across multiple sites that eventually leads to a review in some minor/major publication. Now the masses descend. Some places manage. Others struggle.The crowds appear and what I find is that the food often gets dumbed down. The appeal moves towards the lowest common denominator.

                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                      If you really find a great place, you should share it. If you find a place that has some potential and is worth checking out--share it! That doesn't mean you need to mention the place in answer to queries here from people who insist they only want "the best" of something fairly mainstream.

                                      I doubt any of us, individually, has quite the sway over the crowd that you suggest. More likely, the place you try to keep a secret simply goes out of business, or homogenizes since few customers are interested in their more unusual and chow-worthy dishes.

                                    2. re: Elisa515

                                      "Do you really think a recommendation on Chowhound will overrun a place?"
                                      If that is the case I missed the rec on Red Lobster in Times Square. It is overrun whenever I pass by. Sad!
                                      Then again I am sure the folks waiting on line have never heard of CH.

                                      1. re: Motosport

                                        I think you turned my comment upside down. I didn't say, "do you think the places that are overrun with crowds got that way because of Chowhound?"

                                        1. re: Elisa515

                                          I did and it was totally tongue in cheek.
                                          When we walk by a place like Red Lobster that is "overrun." We shake our heads and wish we could work the crowd sending them out of the TS area. So many visitors to NYC are intimidated by the great restaurants that don't have that "brand name." It's a comfort thing for them.

                                          1. re: Motosport

                                            My son was a pedicab (bicycle taxi) operator for a few years. He still talks in astonishment about the people from Alaska who got in his cab and wanted him to take them to a Red Lobster.

                                            1. re: Elisa515

                                              In Alaska they have super fresh seafood but not unlimited garlic bread!!!
                                              Our family pet name is Dead Lobster!

                                            2. re: Motosport

                                              I think you have given me a great idea for a project. I'll research the price points of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, etc. check the area around them and find dine worthy places, put their address, phone number, and directions on index cards, write an impassioned plea about trying good food and then hand them out to people waiting on line to get into places like red lobster. I know it sounds a bit like snobbery but it kills me to see people blocks (some times just hundreds of feet) away from great food while they wait for uninspired, mass produced meals.

                                              1. re: Spiritchaser

                                                The sad truth is that a lot of people have no palates. They pick a restaurant based on convenience, decor, or because they see lots of TV ads.

                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                  Sometimes the chain approach or tourist trap approach is the easiest approach when you've got a group of people of different ages and backgrounds, even if some people in the group would prefer non-chain/non-tourist trap food. I think a lot of the people who end up at chains/tourist traps at Times Square are catering to a plain or picky eater in their group.

                                                  I spent a few days in Manhattan as part of a group of 8 last year, and I ended up being the type A Chowhound who organized breakfast, lunch and dinner for the group, which included some plain eaters and some adventurous eaters. Another issue for our group was that some of us were looking for memorable meals, and some people in our group were just looking for fuel. We managed to eat quite well, but I spent a lot of time organizing. I spent quite a bit of time on Chowhound trying to find a mid-range, pre-theater, red sauce Italian restaurant on 9th that would work for our group. The one I chose (Puttanesca) was ok (maybe I could have ordered better) and roughly the same price as Olive Garden.The food was probably better than what OG serves (haven't eaten at OG for a long time, and can't remember what I last ordered), but Puttanesca was a 15-20 minute walk from the theater, which would have been a pain if anyone in our group had mobility issues. At least it was supporting a local business owner, as far as I know, and the space was nice. I wish we'd spent a little more to go to a better Italian restaurant that night, that would've been closer to the theaters. I'd probably choose Don Antonio for pizza next time I want pre-theater Italian food. Here is my trip report of our group meals in Midtown.
                                                  If I hadn't been organizing the meals, half of our group would've likely chosen to eat at places like California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory and Outback rather than winging it with an unfamiliar independent, and the other half of our group would've felt like they missed out on what could have been better meals in Manhattan.

                                                  1. re: prima

                                                    I also think that some people are coming to New York to indulge themselves in having a lot of fun, with NYC as the backdrop. And for many people, having a lot of fun means sitting down to a huge lobster dinner, or a huge steak dinner. That spells "vacation" to them and living large for a bit. They just don't know where to go in NYC. I think it is terrible that some of the better restaurants in NYC don't post menus with prices outside. Maybe if somebody saw a nicer looking place than Red Lobster that was serving Lobster at an attractive price (which practically no longer exists in Manhattan, let us not forget), then they might go there for their fun lobster fix.

                                                2. re: Spiritchaser

                                                  Or how about writing them up here? I think that would be a great thread (or 12!):

                                                  "Was thinking of eating at Olive Garden at Times Square" as a title

                                                  "Any recommendations within two blocks with similar price points but better food?" to start off the thread.

                                                  1. re: Elisa515

                                                    Good idea but we also need to get the word out to people that don't come to Chow : )

                                                  2. re: Spiritchaser

                                                    I imagine it's all about a certain comfort zone. People expect a Big Mac to taste the same no matter where in the world they are. It's safe. They are not adventurous eaters.
                                                    Just recently met a family from Sweden who had just had lunch at KFC. Go figure?

                                                    1. re: Motosport

                                                      I'm happy they didn't take the Ikea bus from Port Authority to dine at Ikea in NJ ! ;-)

                                                      1. re: Motosport

                                                        There is a KFC opposite the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona as I recall.

                                                        1. re: barberinibee

                                                          Yesssssssssss!!! We were in Barcelona last year. Got out of the Sagrada Familia are for lunch.

                                          2. re: Elisa515

                                            I think that makes sense for ethnic places, which are numerous, spread out, and more "unexplored" than mainstream non-ethnic places.

                                            Mainstream non-ethnic places, OTOH, tend to be more "standard" and rateable by definition. Minetta Tavern is simply better than La Singe Vert, and there's not much more to say about it. Perla is similarly simply better than any of the myriad small Italian places in the UWS. (No, I'm not saying that every good restaurant restaurant in New York is on Minetta Lane.) In this category, the beaten track tends to be beaten for a reason.

                                            Also, things have changed since the early days of CH. Then, it was one of the first internet food-information sources. Now, there are seemingly billions of them. Worthy things don't stay unknown very long anymore.

                                            1. re: Elisa515

                                              This is spot on! I've been in my fair share of 'where do I get the best of xxx' amongst my nyc network (I'd venture to say most ny'ers have these conversation regularly) and rarely do katz and lugers come up, and if they do, its usually not of the positive variety.

                                              Seeing all the enthusiasm here for said institutions and their likes, got me curious...

                                              1. re: Elisa515

                                                This is what makes me come here less and less. Trying to post something new brings out the "know it alls" who make snide comments when people are only trying to share something they like. I am probably guilty of it too when I see something ridiculous but the overall reactions can be a bit much.

                                                I've been on this site since I was basically a chow pup and remember when it was cool that someone was writing about the hidden Thai steam table on the back of a Blimpie. Now if you get excited for trying Palauan cuisine you get somebody pooh poohing you because they visited Palau 35 years ago and are an "expert".

                                                You also get the "this isnt as good as it is in th home country place". No shit. All food is better in the place of its origin where the crops are suited for the environment and th people have been cooking it for generations. What's cool about NYC is that I can have obscure cuisines from countries or regions I will never visit

                                                1. re: MVNYC

                                                  In life and on CH I ignore the "know it all's."

                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                    Yes, but why can't New York get more support from foodies for developing a great local cuisine based on foods that are suited to the environment?

                                            2. re: rottyguy

                                              im born and raised here and really dont swear by any of these 'institutions.' theyve all let me down in some way over the last few years. lugers was my grandfather's favorite restaurant since he was a kid so it had a sentimental place for me.

                                              my essential ny list would just as likely include 2nd ave deli over russ and daughters, minetta over lugers, faiccos over katz's (or mile end for smoked meat), etc...

                                              1. re: sam1

                                                Love 2nd Ave Deli but have always found their pastrami lacking. It's also not really an apples to apples comparison with R&D. The 2nd Ave prices are also a bit eye-raising to out of towners who don't understand the kosher aspect.

                                                I also prefer Minetta to Lugers, but also it's much more expensive when you compare the prices of the steak for two.

                                                I would say Faicco's and Katz's are not that similar either. You can't sit down at Faicco's and get a pastrami sandwich.

                                            3. re: sam1

                                              This is my biggest issue with Katz's too... The "security" guys can be a hassle. It's only worth the trouble if you take your sandwich home and eat it.

                                            4. I'm not a local, but nowadays I get to Manhattan about 3x a month (usually for anywhere between 3-4 nights each trip).

                                              Just eyeballing it, without actually pulling out receipts, I can say that each time I'm in Manhattan, I will probably hit up at least 2 of these places that are now on my regular rotation:

                                              Ai Fiori
                                              Abe & Arthur