Manhattan godzilla list (coming to manhattan tomorrow!)
I am a fellow chowhounder from Montreal coming to visit your wonderful city tomorrow. I will be staying a full week with a group of friends in a condo near madison square park.
My goal was to make a list large enough to be able to improvise while filtering out places that would not be interesting to me. I deliberately left out supper high end/highbrow restaurants (Jean Georges et al) and I want to try a bit of everything: lowbrow/trashy/delicious to artisanal, kitch to hipster It wasn't a scientific approach and I'll be honest in saying that getting this together was 50% instinct and 50% analysis. I also kinda broke down in the end and had to force myself to stop and bring the list together (so you will all probably have one place you love that won't be there) All in all I will probably try 4-5 bars out of the bar list and 10 to 12 places from the restaurant list.
I won't ask you to filter down the list further but I would be curious to know if any places stand out to you!
1-Cocktail & speakeasies
3-Dive bars and atmospherics
4-Tiki & kitch
Cocktail & speakeasies
1-Please Don’t Tell
3-The Guthrie Inn
4-The Russian Vodka Room
6-The Campbell Appartments
7-King Cole Bar at The St.Regis Hotel
9-Raines Law Room
1-McSorley’s Old Ale House
5-Old Town Bar & Restaurant
Dive Bar & atmospherics (low cost neighborhood)
3-Welcome to the Johnson’s
4- Pete’s Candy Store
5- The Library
7-Revision Lounge & Gallery
8-The Distinguished Wakamba Lounge
Tiki & kitch
1-Otto’s shrunken head
3-Redhook Bait & Tackle
2-Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar
3-Paddy Maguire’s Ale House
2-Boutiques and shops
5-Hotdogs, hamburgers and sandwiches
6-Meat, BBQ and meatballs
8-Asia (no japan
10-New hipster/faux high-end terroir
11-Quebec in NYC!
12-South america & Mexico
13-Funny & particular
1- Grand Central Oyster Bar
2.- Keen’s chophouse
3. – Katz’s
4- Schaller & Weber
5- Le Veau d’Or
Boutiques & Shops
1- Borgatti Ravioli & Egg Noodles
2- Russ & Daughters
3- Espositos Pork Shop
4- Salumeria Rossi
6- Murray’s Cheese Shop
7- Momofuku Milk Bar
9- Villabate Alba
13- Doughnut Plant
15- Los Paisanos
Bagels & breakfast
1- Absolute bagels
3- H&H Midtown Bagel
4- Barney Greengrass Deli
3- J&V Pizza
4- Luna Rossa
Hotdog, Hamburger & Sandwiches
1- Eisenberg Sandwich Shop
2- Minetta Tavern
3- Papaya King
4- Grey’s Papaya
5- Burger Joint
6- Shake Shack
7- Crif Dog
Meat. BBQ & meatballs
1- The Meatball Shop
2- Char no4
3- Frankie Spuntino
4- Blue Smoke
4-Gaia Italian Café
7- Frank restaurant
8- Locanda Verde
Asia (without japan)
1- Hop Lee Restaurant
2- Cho Dang Gol
4- Momofuku Ssam
6- Pure Thai Cookhouse
8- Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
9- New Imperial Seafood Restaurant
10- Mission Chinese NYC
11- Pokpok NY
12- Great NY Noodle Town
2- Yakitori Taisho
3- Village Yokocho
4- Yakinuku West
5- Samurai Mama
New hipster/Faux high end « Terroir »
1- Walter Food
2- Gwynnett St
Quebec in NYC!
1- Miles-End Deli
2- M.Wells Dinette
South american & Mexico
1- Empellon Taqueria
2- Tortilleria Nixtamal
3- Arepas Lady
Funny and particular
1- King Yum
2- Dukagjini Burek
3- Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse
1- Marc Forgione
2- Blue Hill
4- Momofuku Ko
5- Spotted Pig
7- Torrisi Italian Specialities
I'll be keeping you up to date when I can on my impressions!
None of the craft beer bars are craft beer bars except Pony Bar. Spuyten Duyvil is good for Belgian beers though.
None of the Japanese places you listed are worth going to unless you are absolutely desperate.
I'm not sure many locals would agree that Neta and Spotted Pig are destination dining...Seems to be some other weird classifications too. For example:
-Neither China nor Korea are in Southeast Asia.
-Mexico is in North America.
...and Minetta Tavern in the same group as Papaya King, Eisenberg's, etc. is pretty funny actually.
*None of the craft beer bars are craft beer bars except Pony Bar. Spuyten Duyvil is good for Belgian beers though.*
Ok, I'll take note. The larger category I was aiming for was a beer theme though.
*None of the Japanese places you listed are worth going to unless you are absolutely desperate.*
Ok... they seemed to have a good yelp rating and featured stuff difficult to find here (Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, Yakitori) and Village Yokocho looks like a nice Izakaya?
I'm not sure many locals would agree that Neta and Spotted Pig are destination dining...Seems to be some other weird classifications too. For example:
-Neither China nor Korea are in Southeast Asia.
-Mexico is in North America.
...and Minetta Tavern in the same group as Papaya King, Eisenberg's, etc. is pretty funny actually.
The classifications are thematic but yeah... I'll edit the list. For Minetta Tavern... if I go there it will be for the burger although I know its not the same style.
"*None of the craft beer bars are craft beer bars except Pony Bar. Spuyten Duyvil is good for Belgian beers though.*
Ok, I'll take note. The larger category I was aiming for was a beer theme though."
Beer Authority: http://www.yelp.com/biz/beer-authorit...
Blind Tiger (the champion, IMO. get there early because it's busy from 5 to close): http://www.yelp.com/biz/blind-tiger-a...
The Pony Bar - not the strongest entry, but decent enough if you're coming off the high line: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-pony-bar-...
Spitzer's Corner: http://www.yelp.com/biz/spitzers-corn...
Croxley's Ale House: http://www.yelp.com/biz/croxley-ales-...
124 Old Rabbit Club -- not the largest selection, but extremely well curated: http://www.yelp.com/biz/124-old-rabbi...
That should cover you for Manhattan south of 57th St.
I think the best, or at least most interesting, beer bar in the city right now is Torst in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. There's a lot of hipstified, quarky restaurants in that area as well. So you might want to consider an Outer Boroughs baby Godzilla post.
Blind Tiger, Rattle n'Hum, and The Ginger Man are the craft selection stalwarts. I like doing flights at RnH...Top Hops beer shop in the Lower Eastside is an interesting place. Retail shop with a bar...Pony Bar is a more "if you are in that area"...and Spitzer's Corner can be fun but can be a scene on weekend nights...Croxley's isn't really in the same league as any of these...DBA in the East Village would probably be better....Or you might want to look into the Brooklyneer if you want everything completely local.
If you want udon, try Onya in mid-town for lunch. For yakitori, try Yakitori Totto roundabout Broadway.....Okonomiyaki and takoyaki pretty much suck here.....The seasonal specials posted on the wall at Village Yokocho can be ok and if you are with a group and are drinking, it can be a fun time. "Nice" is a strong word to describe it though.... I like Rockmeisha these days for casual izakaya, but menu is smaller and it's a quirky, though authentic, experience...Yakiniku West is ok. Takashi (i've never been) is a pricey but more crafty alternative. But Gyukaku is a better Japanese option from a cost performance/ quality perspective and they have a happy hour deal.
I'll update the beer list.
We don't even have okonomiyaki and takoyaki focused places in montreal (maybe as a feature in an izakaya but even then..._)! :) Tons of sushi place, a few ramen (and from all accounts not authentic), a few Izakaya (one really strong one) aaand... that's it!
I prefer going in a strong japanese izakaya than just trying a new dish in a bad place just because I don'T have it at home so I'll scrap my whole japanese section and will pick one from yours.
How big is your group? More than four people is tough in Manhattan to wing it, unless you love waiting. If you're coming tomorrow, you're not going to get into some of these places without a reservation. Or you're going to have a looooooooong wait. Two or three hours at prime time on a weekend night, I'm thinking.
PDT and Death & Co are very, very small, for example. PDT has only a few booths, a few tables for two, and a bar. That's it. D&C is slightly bigger but not a lot of space for big groups.
You're also inexplicably missing Milk & Honey and the NoMad, the two best cocktail spots right by Madison Square Park.
Campbell Apt has a dress code BTW. The drinks there aren't that great.
Also some of your choices are a bit of a trek from MSP. Like Dutch Kills, Sripraphai, Nan Xiang. Are you all prepared for a long subway ride to and from? An hour there and back?
Your pizza choices are missing many of the greats. Patsy's East Harlem. Motorino. Johns of Bleecker. Di Fara. etc. I don't think Luzzo's belongs, it's more like second or third tier.
Blue Hill, Ko, Torrisi, WD-50 are popular and you can't just expect to walk in and get a seat. Maybe the bar at WD-50 or Blue Hill but not a table for a big group.
Ko doesn't even take walk ins. They only do two parties of four a night.
What about stuff closer to you like Curry Hill? Hill Country? Resto/The Cannibal? The Breslin? Flatiron Room? Maysville?
*How big is your group? More than four people is tough in Manhattan to wing it, unless you love waiting. If you're coming tomorrow, you're not going to get into some of these places without a reservation. Or you're going to have a looooooooong wait. Two or three hours at prime time on a weekend night, I'm thinking.*
It depends... from 1 to 6. Very rarely we will be more than 2 or 3 and I plan to go often alone.There are a few fun places that we might be planning to go together but they will probably be bigger venues, more popular, a bit less expensive, ect. Tougher places to go to might just be me alone with a place at the bar if I can get in. I'm not counting on getting in tough places on primetime weekend :).
*PDT and Death & Co are very, very small, for example. PDT has only a few booths, a few tables for two, and a bar. That's it. D&C is slightly bigger but not a lot of space for big groups.*
For PDT... I was aiming at trying it in the week as early as possible (on a monday at 6 or so...??), taking a couple of cocktail and moving on. I'm not looking at going a night clubbing there, I mainly want to try their cocktails and variants.
*You're also inexplicably missing Milk & Honey and the NoMad, the two best cocktail spots right by Madison Square Park.*
That's my mistake. After 10 or so places I cared a bit less about catching them all. That you for the suggestion!
"Campbell Apt has a dress code BTW. The drinks there aren't that great."
Yes, I have proper clothes for the Campbell Apt. I am more interested in the decor than the cocktail there however.
*Also some of your choices are a bit of a trek from MSP. Like Dutch Kills, Sripraphai, Nan Xiang. Are you all prepared for a long subway ride to and from? An hour there and back?*
Valid question. I don't know how much we'll cover the borough but M Wells Dinette is a must for me and I know Dutch Kills made their cocktail program and it doesn't look that far. If I can't get in PDT it might be a good option.
As for Sripraphai I love Thai food, I heard great things about that place and I expect NYC to have a great asian repertoire...
Probably won't go to Nan Xiang but we never know...
*Your pizza choices are missing many of the greats. Patsy's East Harlem. Motorino. Johns of Bleecker. Di Fara. etc. I don't think Luzzo's belongs, it's more like second or third tier.*
Ok, thanks. I'll take note!
*Blue Hill, Ko, Torrisi, WD-50 are popular and you can't just expect to walk in and get a seat. Maybe the bar at WD-50 or Blue Hill but not a table for a big group. Ko doesn't even take walk ins. They only do two parties of four a night.*
I don't expect to get in those... If I try them it will probably alone, looking to score a place at the bar. It was mainly for my reference.
Thank you for the comments! They are very helpfull!
Dutch kills is really unique as is M. Wells Dinette, definitely trek worthy and they are not far from MSP. It's actually FARTHER to go to places in Manhattan like Harlem or WTC. Sripraphai is really wonderful. Some may complain about downhill this and that but after having gone to esteemed Lotus of Siam and eaten at other Thai places in Canada and NA, Sripraphai acquits itself nicely.
Coming from Montreal, I would definitely add Chinese to the list. Honestly I was taken to many of the highest rated Chinese restaurants in Montreal and they were not as good as what we have in NYC. I would try Hakkasan or make a trek to flushing for Nan Xiang if you love soup dumplings, Fu Run or Biang or Spicy Tasty or Hunan Kitchen.
As for boutiques, I would add Kee's Chocolate, the chocolates are fresh and delicate and most importantly, not too sweet. Minamoto Kitchoan, it's one of the more special places in NY and their daifuku is the best in the city.
I would delete your entire Japanese section, I've been to most of them and they're really mediocre and not worth going unless you live in the neighborhood and are on a budget and must have Japanese food.
Tortilleria Nixtamal is not easy to get to, but it is so so so so good. It's just so delicious, the sauces, the complexity of the chili salsas, the rich corn flavor of the tortillas.
I find Momofuku Milk Bar vilely sweet. Inedible.
I would go to Aquagrill over Grand Central Oyster bar since the only thing good at GCO are the oysters.
I would skip Burger Joint over Shake Shack. The fries at Shake Shack are pretty mediocre though.
I would skip all your pizza choices, DiFara's blows them away, DiFara's is also not easy to get to and has crazy lines and waits. If you MUST have pizza, and have the fortitude go to DiFara's or sub in John's on Bleecker or Motorino.
Yakitori Totto or Tori Shin for yakitori.
Cho dong gol is really pricey and just OK. I would take out Pure Thai Cookhouse, the Thai in Queens is much better.
I would go to DiPalo's for cheese and charcuterie.
The French bakeries in Montreal are absurdly good, do you really need to try the ones in NYC?
King Yum, Hop Lee and Great NY Noodletown should be places you pass by or take drunken photos in. Just don't eat there.
We will try Sripraphai as I feel that asian options in NY might be stronger than a lot of Montreal and a few of us love thai cuisine (my fried was bemoaning the lack of solid pad thai options in Montreal a few weeks ago). Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean… I feel NY might be stronger in all of them in Montreal:
*there is one really strong Izakaya in MTL (kazu)… the rests are few and far between and pretty weak…
*we just had a jian bing place open up recently
*we have only one strong soup dumpling place that I know of (Qing Hua)
*there are a few korean places but we are still at the place where eating Korean is an event in itself… there is no differentiation on region and speciality as of yet
Nixtamal might be a reach… I don’t mind going in the boroughs but that looks a bit far!
I have the milk bar book (made a few crack pies and cakes) so I mind test it on principle.
We are going to Grand Central Oyster Bar today. It is the birthday of a seafood lover and we will be between 8 and 12 people so we’ll need a large place to accommodate us all.
I understand my Japanese places suck (pretty clear from the comments). I’ll edit it. Thank for the heads up for the Chinese restaurants (I know king yum will probably be ordinary but I wanted to list it because I have a soft spot for vintage tiki places).
I don’t feel the need to try any French things but it might be fun to try what New Yorker feel as being their strong French options (there are not a lot of French restaurants and boutiques in the list)
Thank you all in all!
There's a Pok Pok pad thai place in the Lower Eastside. The Thai places in Queens like Sriphapai and Ayada aren't really worth traveling to for that dish, but certainly for other dishes. Zabb Elee in the East Village though does good laab and som tam if you want to focus on Northern style.
For Japanese, Yakitori Totto is a nice destination spot. Aburiya Kinnosuke, another place in the same restaurant group, is also a nice place with robata dishes, seasonal stuff, and sashimi. Rockmeisha, that I mentioned earlier, is pretty neighborhoody. Maybe more for a second stop or just for drinks and snacks. People are talking about Blue Ribbon Izakaya, though their menu looks a bit fushiony. I looked up Kazu in Montreal and that seems more in this Blue Ribbon style.
Nixtamal is good, but I agree that is a long way to go.
Avoid the Pad Thai at Sripraphai. It's not their strong suit. It's originally a street food in Thailand, so it makes more sense to visit a specialist like Pok Pok Phat Thai.
At Sripraphai, we love:
A6 Crispy watercress salad
A7 Crispy catfish salad
A13 Larb (pork) with mint, chili, lime
A15 Fried soft shell crab with green mango sauce
N5 Drunken noodles
N9 Kao soy
C10 Sauteed chinese broccoli w crispy pork
C16 Sauteed crispy pork
C19 Sauteed pork with string beans
C21 Penang curry
C22 Massaman curry
C25 Green curry with duck
You'll have great Chinese food on Flushing nom nom nom. Madangsui for Korean bbq. There's so much good Japanese in the city. If you don't go to Yakitori Totto, go to Sugiyama next door. !5 East sushi bar. There are more expensive places but I'm assuming you don't want to spend an arm and a leg.
I'm no expert on NYC but was there just last week with lots of eating ventures. Within the terms set by OP and your responses, I would say that the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai in Chinatown (Pell St.) are delicious. (There is a midtown location that I haven't tried.)
For pizza, closer than Di Fara's but still in Brooklyn is Juliana's, which is terrific, and run by the original Grimaldis, now in competition with the moved and rebranded Grimalidi's next door at the foot of the Brooklyn bridge. (Check the back story.) There are other pizza places in Manhattan itself, such as John's or Keste, which I couldn't try but would expect to be excellent.
PDT on a weekday at 6pm is your best bet. The bar portion is first come, first served.
If you end up at Milk & Honey, I would de-prioritize Lantern's Keep, Dutch Kills, Silver Lining, and Raines Law Room. They share a lot of the same staff & philosophy since they are all related. They are more about classic cocktails with 4-5 ingredients made very well and less so about infusing liquors. It's either bartender's choice (i.e. you tell them your preferences) or a shortish cocktail list. Their cocktail lists really is classic drinks with some modern modifications/variations but most of their cocktails have a very clear lineage that traces back to something from an earlier era.
Whereas PDT, Mayahuel, Death & Co., Pouring Ribbons, etc. infuse liquors and use more nouveau ingredients and have more complicated cocktails (sometimes with a LOT more components - like eight or nine). It should be noted that PDT, Mayahuel, and Death & Co all have their lineage from Pegu Club, so, similar philosophies. But they take it to the next level from Pegu Club.
Pegu Club is more of a middle ground in terms of experimentation with tons of ingredients in one drink / making crazy syrups and infusions. It's definitely worth a visit, particularly early on in the evening. Audrey Saunders is the godmother of the current cocktail movement in NYC and has created a lot of what are now considered classics in the craft cocktail canon.
We'll probably be going for only 1 or 2 places in the speakeasy category. I want to do one of the "nouveau cocktail" places and I'll probably want to try either an “atmosphere bar” (Campbell apts, lenox lounge, king cole…) or a “classic” (I am a cocktail enthousiast myself and enjoy a good crafted classic as much as new cocktails). I wanted to try a “Pegu Club Cocktail” from the original branch and I really liked the classic options from the Guthrie inn! I guess we’ll see!
Note that schaller amd webber is a retail store, not a restaurant.
Also know that otafuku is a walk up window, nowhere to sit, can be amazing or terrible, kind of inconsistant.
I would add big gay ice cream to your list over puddin' as a unique dessert place.
Fyi the best bagels near you will be pick a bagel on 23rd and 2nd ave
Great list of "must go to" places, but I'd leave H & H off the list, they have gone steadily downhill over the past few years, instead go to Murray's Bagels in the Village, though they also have a location in Chelsea.
To your breakfast list I'd add Clinton St. Baking Co, http://www.yelp.com/biz/clinton-st-ba... they have arguably the best pancakes in the world, served with the warm maple infused butter. The buttermilk biscuits are heavenly as is their in house made sugar cured bacon. I believe they also make the fruit jams served with the biscuits. Word of warning though, they only take cash, and if you go at peak breakfast times, you'll have a wait for a table.
Also a 1+ for the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop or Van.
For your cocktail bars - you missed some good ones; Gin Palace, Amar Y Amargo (very smal but very cool if you get there when they open), Lantern's Keep (small but they take reservations), and Dead Rabbit (incredible cocktail list, very atmospheric, can get packed).
And your Old Town Bar belongs in the dive bar list, don't go there expecting to get a decent beer.
Big list - too big to accomplish so I will point out a few I think are must hits
Russ and Daughters
Murrays Cheese Shop (and wine bar)
Eataly (and birreria on the roof)
Levain - get there early on the weekend for sticky buns
Murray bagels (13th and 6th)
add - City Bakery
Molly's for a pub burger (and great Irish pub)
Crif Dogs (papaya king/grays are not really good)
That's quite a list. Some of the categories are odd to me too. I had the same chuckle that Silverjay did about having Minetta with the others in that group. So not in the same vein. Yeah, they have a burger but other than that?
This category is also very disparate
Meat. BBQ & meatballs
1- The Meatball Shop - yes there are meatballs
2- Char no. 4 - In my mind, this is a bourbon and southern food place. I don't see the meat theme here. Love their key lime pie.
3- Frankie Spuntino - Ok, there is a meatball dish, but its an italian place.
4- Blue Smoke - Yeah, meat but only ok BBQ. Better BBQ elsewhere unless you prefer a fancier setting.
If you are doing a comparison of smoked meats by going to Mile End, be prepared to be shocked by the small size and large price. Its tasty and the poutine is good, but a sandwich and poutine with some beer can set you back $25. Love smoked meat sandwiches in Montreal and I have been amazed by the low prices there.
Yeah... I tried to add as many "thematic" places as possible and even at the end 14 is way too much. They reflect more a practical approach than a serious attempt at a concise nomenclature.
The categories are there to pick from (think of a planning session with friends where someone goes and says: "ok guys we have classics, pizza, hamburgers, meat, italian, hipster terroir restaurants we can do asian, we can do japanese, a bit more expensive destination places, got a few south American/mexican places and some low brow experiments in waiting… what do you feel like?”). I didn’t even try to go for exhaustivity as there are too many restaurants in NY to cover them all. Just tried my best with yelp, munchies, bourdain and chowhound.
We probably won’t be focusing on smoke meat here (we’ll be trying the pastrami). If we go to Miles End it will be for their “other” jewish reinterpretations (I’m very curious about them… I don’t know much about jewish traditional cooking aside from the basics).
What a great list. Your hit rate is over 90% and there are very few clunkers there.
This is going to be a longish post but be sure to scroll to the end. I've got a package tour of Brooklyn set up for you.
First, a few quick thoughts.
The Lenox Lounge is closed right now and changing owners,
McSorely's is terrific but also jammed packed at peak hours. Go at 3:00 or 4:00 on a weekday afternoon and you're golden.
Old Town Bar isn't really a beer place but it has a wonderful old NY ambiance. Well worth a visit. For that matter, Walker's in lower Manhattan does too. And they have a very good burger. It gets jammed with an after work crowd so get there a little early or after the peak.
A bonus - Walkers is across the street from the Ghostbusters firehouse.
A word about burgers in NY. There are literally 100 places in Manhattan, probably more, with very good burgers. People have their favorites but there's a whole lot of burger voodoo going on. There is no "best."
I think a good burger is a lot like an ATM. They're in every neighborhood - you just need to know where to find them.
There are tons of great beer bars in NY. I'd put dba on the list. They were one of the early ones and they're still on their game.
Waterfront Ale House is also excellent, another pioneer beer bar that opened up 20 years ago. It's a 10 - 15 minute walk from Madison Sq. Park and as a bonus, it serves a very good burger so you've got one stop shopping.
Barramundi really isn't a dive - it's a really pleasant neighborhood spot and definitely worth a visit as part of a crawl.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Great Jones Café, another great neighborhood spot with a nice funky atmosphere. And they serve (you see this coming, don't you?) a very good burger.
Frankie Spuntino is a solid choice. (Have the cavatelli with hot sausage - terrific.) I've got a bar pairing for you - WXOU Radio Bar right down the block. Great crowd, very good ambiance, and wonderful jukebox. Take a walk on the nearby High Line and stop there on the way back. The afternoon light is fantastic.
Bianca is a pleasant neighborhood Italian choice but I find the menu a bit uneven. I'd pick Otto instead - the pizzas are decent but the pastas and Italian meat platters are wonderful. Go early - it gets jammed.
Via Emilia flies below the radar but it's a very good mid range place. Nice atmosphere too.
If you like Sichuan you really need to get yourself to Lan Sheng - it's terrific. Maybe the best in Manhattan. And I've got a bar pairing for you - Jimmy's Corner. Great funky atmosphere.
OK, time for the Brooklyn Package Tour. It consists of a truly great beer bar, a funky restaurant with (here it comes) very good burgers, and to finish it off, the kitschiest bar in Brooklyn
Start at Pacific Standard on 4th Ave. (Easy to reach by subway and close to lower Manhattan.) They have 20 beers on tap. Their beers rotate but there's an excellent selection of West Coast stuff. My current favorite beer bar in the whole city. Nice crowd too.
All bars in NY have the numbers of local car services they use. Ask at the bar and they'll give you the number. You're a 15 minute drive from stop 2.
Hope and Anchor in Red Hook.
This place fits right in with the neighborhood. Quirky and fun. The burgers are first rate and as a special bonus on Friday and Saturdays they have karoke at 9:00 with the legendary Kaye Sera as MC.
Top the evening off by visiting Red Hook Bait and Tackle. It's 4 or 5 blocks away. You already have it on your list.
Look at these pictures. How can you resist?
At the end of the night get them to call a car service. You'll be home in less than 30 minutes.
ETA - For the love of God, stay away from Sammy's Roumanian. It's overpriced and awful.
re: Bob Martinez
Thank you for the good words and the recommendation!
We won’t be going to Lenox probably but McSorley was definitely on the list (maybe today). Thanks for the head’s up!
Agree with the burgers (it’s the same in Montreal really). Wanted to have a couple of hot dogs and burgers on hand just in case. The only one I’d qualify as a “must” for me is the black label (what's the result of somebody really trying hard to design a goumet version of the burger?).
Thanks for the list of beer! I didn’t mean Barramundi to be in the dive category (that’s why I added “atmospherics” to the qualification) but dive for me means more than just cheap booze, scrappy looks and local crowd. There is… a level of comfort that is implied that some of the places share even if they are not “trashy” places. I also didn’t want to be too many categories so I tried some “creative fit”
Went to Bianca yesterday and loved it! A nice cozy place with great food, great value and the floor manager really makes a big effort to coordinate things!
The Brooklyn package tour looks great! We have a beer enthusiast with us and are strongly considering expeditions in Brooklyns and Queens so it might come handy.
As for Sammy’s, I understand the misgivings but it looks like the kind of restaurant Golgol Bordello might own and the kitsch and tackiness is hard to resist! Feel assured that I don’t consider it reflective of local jewish culture… (I consider the restaurant more an anarchic caricature than anything else really!)
I want to start by thanking everyone on their feedback. Looks like I will need to seriously tweak the list after all! For the record, there is a reason behind all the selections but when I made the list I wrote everything in French so I edited everything out for chowhound.
Arrived at LaGuardia at 7am yesterday after travelling all night (went to Burlington airport by car and took the 6am flight). We tried the bus/metro option to get into the city as an adventure (half expecting the service to be bad) but we were pleasantly surprised! It was smooth, convenient and easy (at least for 7am !).
We are from a stone’s throw from Grammercy Park so it’s a great location for walking. Had random breakfast from nowhere memorable and went back the apartment to rest a bit. I found a lot of nice wine and spirit shops and already found 2 of my 4 target”hard to find in Montreal” liquor objective:
*Crème de Violette for aviation cocktail test (found!)
*Cherry Heering for my Singapour Sling cocktail(found!)
*Old Tom Gin to try (it is a sweeter variant of the dry gin we have now and is almost extinct… I heard some American distillers are trying to made new versions from old recipe and will be very interested in finding them
*Wumeijiu (I love umeshu and could not pass up on a smoked Taiwanese variant!)
Went to Bianca for supper and it was an excellent choice! The floor manager really goes the distance for making up for the lack of reservation by offering you to wait in neighbourhood bars and coffee shops and coming to get you when the time comes (I know restaurants who will call you on your cell but few who will come and take you in a bar!). The food was fantastic and ridiculously inexpensive for the quality. :
*We tried the fried gnocchi and it was excellent. A lot lighter than expected and the hint of garlic it left in your mouth really tied things together!
*The sauté di cozza was a massive antipasti and everybody raved on the mussels
*The passatelli in brood was greatly appreciated
*There fettuccine special (with garlic, sun dried tomatoes, capers, olives and crab) was a full frontal flavor assault and very popular. Some thought that it was a bit salty (a bit too much caper perhaps) but everybody loved it
*In the other end of the spectrum, the ravioli were all in subtility, the butter, sage and seasonning playing well against the appropriate firmness of the pasta
*The lasagna was as good as advertised.
The portions were perfect: not too big, not too small (some places in the US tends to put way too much food in their plates we find)
We finished the night by taking home beers from Top Hops. My friends tried the IPA while I brought home some Belgian beers we cannot find in montreal, mead which I haven’t tried yet and a six point “crisp” lager which wasn’t as lager-y or as crisp as advertised (it tasted more like an IPA enthusiasts’ version of a light beer than a truly german or Czech clean and clear lager). My friends loved their IPA though.
Today we go at katz for lunch and will have a big birthday celebration for a friends of ours ar the grand central oyster bar (we’ll be around 10 people so we need a big place!). We’ll probably finish the night at a mysterious place to be selected on the whim of the group (and depending also on how many we’ll be!)
I’ll keep you updated!
Thanks for the update! Your friends are so lucky that you have done so much research.
I realized you are also not far from defonte's sandwich shop, 3rd ave at 21st st:
They are serious sandwiches but would be a good option nearby. They also would deliver to you. (hungover and need brunch....;)
I guess its time for a little recap after a couple of days in your fair city!
I must start by saying Manhattan has really been every ounce as memorable as I remember it to be; the beauty of the infrastructure, the sprawling diversity of urbanity, the sheer vastness of it all makes it a place where I see myself returning often
We started eating at Katz. The place is as hectic as you’d expect. Took the pastrami sandwich with a cherry cola. Our group tend to prefer the Montreal variant (Schwartz & Main) for three reasons:
1- The spices in the smoke meat are more assertive than those in the pastrami.
2- The meat is rendered a bit differently and the fat tends to be softer and a bit more fragrant
3- The sandwich at katz was way more expensive (18$ vs 8$ at Main’s)
Overall, however, we did not regret our meal. It was something we had to try. I did expect to prefer the pastrami to smoke meat initially because the texture looked a bit different from the videos I saw so I’m a little surprised there but I’m glad I could try the classic in a great institution.
For supper we went to the Grand Central Oyster Bar for one of our friend’s birthday. He is a lover of everything seafood and shellfish related and loves the feel of grand central. We were also 7 (we thought initially that it could grow to 11 if another group joined in) so we had to find a place large enough to accommodate all of us.
The oysters were really as delicious as advertised. The scallops were nice fried but could have been served naked for their freshness and it would have been as good. One of us took the red salmon catch of the day and it was outstanding. The fish and chips were good if not a bit expensive for what it was (the fact that we did expect it doesn’t make it less true :))
All in all it was a good experience even if some among our group thought that we had better food and better value elsewhere (Bianca came to mind although the comparison can be a little tendentious).
Had a sandwich at Eisenberg (chicken salad) with a Lime Rickey and a Egg Cream for dessert. The service was great, the ambiance of the place is fantastic and the food was solid for what it was.
Finished it off with Yakiniku West as a compromise (as we all do when faced with large groups). There are better Japanese options out there but some among our group wanted something a bit more “value oriented” given their budget (some among us are ready to spend to eat well but are on a tight budget, other have plenty of money to go around but have an appreciation that varies with the perceived value of a meal and taste buds that works best when spending little money).
I looked at my revised list and didn’t feel like Udon (Onya went by the wayside). Eliminated the “$$$” rated places to keep the meal “value driven” (Yakitori Totto, Gyukaku, Aburiya Kinnosuke and Yopparai) and that left us with Yakiniki West and Rockmeisha. We selected the one closest to our apartment because one of us had a plane to catch (Rockmeisha was a victim of logistics mostly ).
We really enyoyed Yakiniku West. Some of us had experience with Korean style BBQ (3 of the 7 I guess) but most didn’t and really had fun with it. We had an alignment of specials to tame the budget conscious, the quality was good enough to satisfy the foodies (keep in mind that we judge the quality vs what we have at home… so even if you think its crap some of it was still better than what we have in MTL) and the ambiance was really neat.
I took the early bird special (miso soup, short rib, green tea icecream) with an extra us kobe beef shortrib plate and the hot sake. The miso soup was “ok” (I’ve had way better), the shortrib were delicious (loved the sauces), green tea icecream was a nice end to the meal and the sake was fine (wasn’t the best that I had but it didn’t have that alcoholic abrasiveness that some cheap sake tends to have). Those of us who took sushi were really pleased as well.
In the coming days we will probably break up in groups of 1 to 3 people. Some more “budget conscious” will take advantage of the kitchen in our apartment while the foodies among us will probably be eating outside more. A must for us will be M Wells dinette & Pok Pok NY(I read that there was one on the lower east side but I only see one in Brooklyn? We are ready to go there but just wondering). I want to try a solid Chinese option and at least a New York pizza. I guess we’ll see!
One cultural adjustment we had to make is the billing. We knew it was going to be difficult in large group but the consistency of it is mind blowing (we are having problem everywhere). It must be said that we are used in Montreal to have a separate check per customer per table. It’s done without asking for it, as a matter of course (Table7, client1, client2, client3). That leaves us with habits that can create some problems:
1- We are used to paying exactly what we order. Those of us who took more feel bad because they don’t want others paying for their excess and those who took less (no appetizer for example) tend to feel cheated. As a result we have to have a complex accounting session after each meal, adding up everybody’s bill, dividing the tax and the tip, ect. Can be a bit daunting in places like the oyster bar where every different oyster species are listed as different items.
2- We are used to paying by credit/debit because we don’t have to exchange money among ourselves after a meal. We always have to carry extra and be mindfull to have cash after a meal..
3- We tend to be of the old school when tipping (should be an extra award for good service and not an essential supplement to get servers a living wage). The median tipping in Montreal is still 15% for excellence. 20% is for servers who go beyond the pale, remembers your name, juggles and tells you a the ancestry and lineage of the cow that will be killed for your steak or for servers who you know personally as a regular patron. Beyond 20% is a medal honour kind of tip reserved for servers who comes out of the kitchen ablaze in flames only to die getting that roast chicken to your table with the best stiff upper lip countenance a veteran victorian English infrantryman could muster. This leads us to be annoyed when we get an automatic 20% tip charged for the group followed by very ordinary service (although it tends to explain why we have an automatic 20% deducted to our bill in the first place)..
4- Our average tip is 15% and the standard here seems to be 20%. I don’t understand the metrics of it since ratios are typically not subject to inflation (I was once told that tipping 15% was an old custom and that I had to adjust with the time… like one would expect from the price of everything else by someone I guess with weak grasp of fundamental economic theory) so I must only surmise that the living wage of a waiter did not follow the local living expenses, leading to waiters needing to adjust by getting a bigger share of a tip.
All that could be the cause of tension but we were well informed so everything is fine. It doesn’t change the fact that it is still surprises us.
After that I must go! I have a papaya hot dog waiting for me!
> It must be said that we are used in Montreal to have a separate check per customer per table. It’s done without asking for it, as a matter of course (Table7, client1, client2, client3).
You must request separate checks when you sit down and order.
> A must for us will be M Wells dinette & Pok Pok NY(I read that there was one on the lower east side but I only see one in Brooklyn? We are ready to go there but just wondering). I want to try a solid Chinese option and at least a New York pizza. I guess we’ll see!
Pok Pok Phat Thai is on the Lower East Side. Pad thai focused.
Pok Pok NY with a large menu is in Brooklyn.
Best Chinese is tough to give recs without knowing what kind of Chinese food you want: dim sum, soup dumplings, Taiwanese, Shanghaiese, Cantonese, Hunan, etc.
Not too far from Madison Square Park are the Sichuan specialists in Midtown: Cafe Chinese, Szechuan Gourmet, Lan Sheng, etc. However, the menus are VERY hit or miss, so you must research what to order beforehand, and do not order Americanized dishes.
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).
Best NY Pizza:
There is not JUST one NY style, so it's hard to point to only one place and say it exemplifies NY style. The two most popular styles are coal oven and gas oven.
For the separate check, each time I as for it when I sit down I am told that "the system does not handle that function" (yeah right...*cough* *cough*... Ipt has come to be expected though).
Thank you for the pok pok precisions! We were looking for pok pok pat thai.
Unfortunately, we do not have a sophisticated chinese palette although its coming along slowly... A whole lot of cantonese, one really strong szechuan option (dishes with decent peppercorn and pepper not the commercial version on americanized menu) two or three dim sum ( yours will probably blow them out of water), one really strong soup dumpling place, one north chinese place with jiaozi and chinese sandwiches... My new find in mtl is a jiang bing place and nobody knows what im talking about. I expect -everything- to be better than what i know.
For the pizza this board gave me great ideas already!
I guess it’s time for a small update!
Don’t try to compare New York and Montreal bagel… its useless. Might as well try to compare thin crust vs deep dish pizza. The New York version is way bigger, has more dough and has a “denser” mouthfeel. The Montreal version is smaller, has a higher crust vs dough ratio, is a bit sweeter and has a “chewier” mouthfeel.
I always preferred a new york style bagel, even in Montreal: I prefer dough to crust and so it is no surprise that I enjoy New York style bagel more!
I have this platonic idea of what a hot dog is. There are other versions (“European hot dogs”) but my vision of the hot dog has a specific taste profile (from the chewiness of the bread to the toppings to the seasoning, smokiness and caramelization of the sausage). Well, the hot dog I enjoyed at Gray’s Papaya hot dog as come closer to that vision than any other hot dogs I had in Montreal. I haven’t tried criff dog yet (and I don’t think I’ll have time) but papaya brand dogs are –very- enjoyable.
Tried Motorino pizza from the suggestion board (it was a combination of logistics and taste, a friend had to catch a plane and wanted to try NY pizza first). Everyone raved about it. I took the margarita and found it a very good representation of what I could call the “neo rustic approach” (thin crust, wood fired, use of buffalo mozzarella…). The sauce was a bit wetter than I’m used to but very well-seasoned, the use of the buffalo mozzarella was very enjoyable but I could not feel the pecorino but I could have used a more aggressive approach with it to offset the creaminess of the mozzarella. It had however, just enough basil to give the right herbal kick.
I’m a bit sad that I will not be able to try other NY variants (makes a good reason to come back!) as I tend to lean more to the “thick crust deep dish” side of pizzadom but I’m glad to have visited the thin side of the force.
A friend wanted to have a new york pad thai so we went to Pok Pok Pad Thai. The portions were smaller than what we are used to in MTL for Pad Thai (not a bad thing as the portions I’m used to can be monstrous… maybe trying to offset quality with volume?). The pad thai itself was better than anything I had back home. Very deep and complex flavor, very well balanced, good umami. You get the feeling that there are better pad thai out there, somewhere (probably on the west coast?)… a closer version still to this “platonic ideal of the pad thai” but we don’t have this level in MTL. We also tried a “drinking vinegar” (I see it as a play on Italian soda) and I loved it. I had the pineapple flavor.
My value oriented friends tried, to their great enjoyment, prosperity dumpling. I wasn't with them but apparently they are very good and very very cheap.
Tonight we have a new batch of friends coming in so we’ll have Szechuan as Szechuan Gourmet (we hesitated between Szechuan Gourmet, Lan Sheng and Café Chinese). I think most of us aren’t exposed to what real Szechuan is apart from the general tao section of most commercial Chinese restaurant so it will probably be a real treat! I’m not a chilihead so I was surprised to like Szechuan peppercorn and chili so much (one of the signature dish of our best Szechuan restaurant in MTL (cuisine szechuan)is what they call “Gong Bao” and is filled with it.)
Tomorrow we’ll try M.Wells dinette.
On that note, I’m off to the shake shack (probably!)
If you go to Szechuan Gourmet, order the three pepper/chili chicken, no bones, extra ma la. I usually tell them to make it crispier too. The sliced beef tendon. Cucumber salad. Crispy lamb filets. Ma po tofu. Snowpea shoot with garlic.
It's a shame you won't have time for Flushing, the depth and breadth of Chinese food in Flushing really outshines Manhattan.
PS - M. Wells is sooooo good. It's also not far from John Brown's Smokehouse which has some of the best burnt ends in NYC. They make a good meat snack.
Thanks for the reqs! I'll remember for the pepper chili chicken! I would have loved to go to flushing but a week goes on sooo fast and sometimes with a group of 6-8 you just have to accept that you'll be sidetracked. It only gives me a reason to come back!!
M.Wells was a must for some of us. We know hugues dufour well in quebec by his time at au pied de cochon and by a tv show where he was martin picard sidekick (there was a shorted 30 minutes english version named the wild chef for english canada but the original french version was 1 hour long and bloodier)
Hugue is really nice and his wife Sarah is so charming and lovely. The desserts can be really stellar, their pies and cakes especially. They do variations of a charlotte that are knockouts. Their pecan pie and coconut pie are both scrumptious, some of the best pie I've had in NY.
I'll have to check it out. Thanks :) PS - If you are in the area of 315 West 39th Street or 80 Thompson Street do check out Kee's Chocolate (if you like chocolate). Their chocolates really are special, impeccably fresh, delicately sweet and intensely chocolate. My favorites are the kaffir lime, coconut truffle and popular creme brulee.
SG at 39th St can get busy for dinner, so call ahead and make a reservation. Especially if you have a larger group. My must-orders are usually:
2. OX Tongue & Tripe** with roasted chili-peanut vinaigrette
4. Sliced Pork Belly* with chilli-garlic soy
19. Spicy Cucumber Salad*
21. Dan Dan Noodles * with chili minced pork
23. Szechuan Pork Dumpling* with roasted chili soy
50. Crispy Lamb Filets * with chili cumin
60. Chef's Ma Paul Tofu *** with chili minced pork
The tea smoked duck is pretty good and isn't spicy at all, BTW, if you have those in your party who are afraid of everything really spicy.
I think you'll like Szechuan Gourmet very much.
Their "Double Cooked Sliced Pork Belly with chili leeks" is terrific. There's spiciness there but it's not overwhelming (assuming you can tolerate moderate heat). The dish has real balance.
And don't forget Jimmy's Corner for beers. It's a 5 minute walk away.
Re: tipping. Waiters here are NOT paid a living wage and DO rely on tips to make up the bulk (probably 75 percent, in most cases) of their wages. Keep this in mind.
Also, most restaurants employ a "points" system—your tip is not going solely to the server but being divided amongst backwaiters, bartenders, kitchen staff, runners, etc.
Oh trust me, I know! Even in montreal the tip employees get a minimum of 8.75$/hr compared to normal minimum of 10.15$. However, it is expected that the waiter gets the whole of the tip i believe (clients will go out of their way to give the server the money if they think the server getsstiffed by the manager)
Its just that we tend to feel that a proper restaurant should provide proper living wage for servers with the tips being a bonus, not the other way around. Sounds insane, i know, but we have to remind ourselves how important the tip for the waiters living wages.
That being said, i usually give 20% here
"Our average tip is 15% and the standard here seems to be 20%. I don’t understand the metrics of it since ratios are typically not subject to inflation (I was once told that tipping 15% was an old custom and that I had to adjust with the time… like one would expect from the price of everything else by someone I guess with weak grasp of fundamental economic theory) so I must only surmise that the living wage of a waiter did not follow the local living expenses, leading to waiters needing to adjust by getting a bigger share of a tip."
The real reason for the increase in the percentage tip which is considered acceptable -- or a real justification -- is that for almost 30 years food price inflation, and in particular restaurant food price inflation, has been less than overall inflation. So keeping the percentage constant would indeed be a real wage decrease for servers.
Eisenburg is like a step back in time..... It almost tastes better because i can imagine my grandmother making the food they serve.
For those who are cooking at the apt the union sq farmers market mon/wed/fri/sat has great produce (finally!) and there is a fairway on 2nd ave and 30th st that is significantly better than any of the gristedes or food emporium chain markets.
Splitting bills is always difficult- if the server is unwilling to split individually they often will split the group into a check for 4 and the other for 3 which may make the math easier.....
This is a great list- given that I go to Montreal often, maybe we should trade! My one comment is that you would do well by killing two birds with one stone and getting the burger at Molly's. And I agree about missing Milk Bar. I have the book too and it really has been a let down to go. Locanda Verdi reminds me of many places in Montreal. It is very good however. Update your BBQ list. Blue Smoke ( and someone suggested RUB but they are OOB) is not worth traveling for.