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Chinatown/Little Italy/LES Food Tour

I took a bunch of recommendations from here to figure out the best places to stop on our Foodcation this October.

This is a crazy list, with 3 miles of walking involved. I am willing to do it if it's worth it, but want to know if I have too many things that may overlap and what I should pass on.

Also, a suggestion for a bar or something else that we can use as a buffer somewhere to sit down and chill might be nice.

• Ceci cela
• Lombardi’s pizza
• Caffe roma pastry
• Alleva dairy
• Di palo’s
• Caffe palmero
• Ferrara bakery & café
• Banh Mi Saigon
• Winnie’s Karoke Bar
• New Beef King
• Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
• Grand/bowery
• Eldridge street carts
• Guss Pickles
• Doughtnut Plant
• Kossar’s Bialys
• Essex Street Market
• Economy Candy
• II Laboratorio Del Gelato
• Katz’s Deli
• Russ & Daughters
• Yonah Schimmel’s Knishes Bakery

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  1. Do you seriously intend on eating at every one of those places? I must be missing something.

    It pains me to say it, but you can take Ferrara off your list.

    2 Replies
    1. re: southernitalian

      No, we will be taking maybe one or two items back to LI (where we are lodging for our stay) for later samplings or back home to Chicago with us.

      1. What's Grand/Bowery? Eldridge Street carts? Not many food carts on Eldridge Street, if that is what you are looking for. You have only two listed places in Chinatown and they are within 50 yards of each other.

        Here’s a Chinatown Walking Food Tour I devised some time back that starts at the interesting Tenement Museum.


        4 Replies
        1. re: scoopG

          Someone posted in my other thread,

          "You can find Chinese food carts further south; look near the corners of Grand and Bowery.
          Interesting tofu maker on that corner, too. You can also find stands selling exotic fruits like durian and mangosteeen and rambutan. Might be worth a look. See this article about a durian vendor:


          "Then walk south and east, stopping at the tofu corner, the durian vendor, a street cart or two, and finishing up either on Eldrige Street or Mosco Street for an order of fried dumplings"

          1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

            All very imprecise. Ending up at "Eldridge Street or Mosco Street?" Those streets are about a mile apart. There are fruit vendors all over Chinatown.

            1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

              The fresh tofu place on the corner of bowery and grand is gone now :/
              There is a cart on grand near bowery on the south-east side of the intersection with decent rice noodles and such. Not sure its destination worthy but if you have never tried them its worth your $3.
              Definatly stop for some of the exotic fruits, there was a great variety at veg stands about a week ago as well as fresh lychee which are delicious right now.

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                There is a fresh tofu place on Grand just west of Bowery on the North side of the street.

          2. • Ceci cela
            • Lombardi’s pizza
            • Caffe roma pastry
            • Caffe palmero
            • Ferrara bakery & café

            Ceci Cela can be skipped in favor of Mille-Feuille on your Washington Square Park crawl. Lombardi's hasn't been good in some time and you'll waste a lot of time waiting in line. And I've never really been impressed by any of the bakeries in Little Italy. Plus, I think you said you're going to Rocco's on your West Village crawl anyway.

            • Guss Pickles
            • Doughtnut Plant

            Guss' Pickles has closed. Did you mean the Pickle Guys from RGR's tour?

            As I mentioned elsewhere Chicago (your home town) has way better doughnuts than here.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              Yes, Pickle Guys must be it.. I guess it autocorrected wrong when I was looking at directions on google maps.

              We are going to Rocco's in the West Village.

              I will add a stop to Mille-Feuille (I also added Il Cantuccio - thoughts?) to our Village food crawl.

            2. Can anyone speak if the Essex Street Market is a must-see?

              We will be do Di Palo's this same day. Also spending other time at the Greenmarket in Union Square and hitting up Chelsea Market.

              I looked through the list of vendors and besides Shopsins, which I have mixed feelings about and not sure we will have a full appetite for that, nothing is really sticking out at me.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                If you're already doing Chelsea Market, Union Square Greenmarket, and Di Palo's on the same day, you might be all "market"-ed out.

                However, you might want to make a detour to Despana for Spanish groceries.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Sorry for the confusion, not on the same day. Greenmarket wednesday, this on thursday and chelsea market on friday.

                2. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                  Essex Street is the sorta thing that is good if you live in the Neighborhood. It has produce and such. Nothing special in that there is little prepared food that I recall (I'm spoiled by the Philadelphia Reading Terminal in Philly though....it's one thing NY does not have.) Even the Chelsea Market is disappointing....very expensive and foo foo.

                  1. re: jcmods

                    Chelsea Market is expensive but the lobster salad may be the best I ever had.

                  2. Add in Bisous Ciao and Stanton Pizza inbetween II Laboratorio and Economy Candy

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                      Biscous Ciao also has a Bleecker St location in the Village.

                    2. I have hesitated commenting on your very ambitious 4 days. I can second Il Cantuccio and Stanton Pizza as someone has mentioned. My concern is that you're going to be so fooded out that you are not going to enjoy yourself. While I have made the commute from Long Island several times when on business, is there a significant obstacle to staying in Manhattan one night on possibly a weekend rate?--certainly not trying to spend your money for you. With shopping bags and your mission, I'm feeling stressed for you. A little bad weather and subway disruptions could be a schedule breaker. You really need alternative plans as Kathryn has suggested. I've been in your shoes and have been so exhausted that I questioned my sanity.....I know my family has. It is nice to at least have a place to refresh and recharge for the next round at some point in time during the day. I wish you well and look forward to your impressions after your trip. :-J

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Like2eat123

                        I am also worried about being fooded out. Please don't hold back and tell me where to make changes on my itinerary.. Staying in the city one night has crossed my mind but whats holding me back is that our friends are traveling to/from the city everyday but Thursday with us. We are parents of a toddler so we have stamina , traveling kidless, but we don't want to totally run ourselves ragged either. I appreciate any and all input

                      2. im a frequent traveler to manhattan and i was doing the handbag tour of chinatown ... i did find a spot to rest my weary street feet and regroup, its a wine bar called Maslow6 on w.broadway...They are serving the most wonderful coffee. i ordered, on the servers recommendation, the "one and one" ...its a double shot of espresso pulled as two singles...one with steamed milk ....sublime..quiet spot knowledgeable staff... friendly. stayed so long i had a glass of sherry.

                        1. Expect to spend at least an hours at Di palo’s

                          Taim has a newish location in Nolita

                          Nearest hospital is on 170 William Street

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Ziggy41

                            I agree taim is worth a stop. Maybe split a falafel or to pick up hummus and baba to go (the falafel is best super fresh)

                            Hahaha, love the nearest hospital note....!

                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              Thanks I will definitely keep it in mind!

                              1. re: Ttrockwood

                                Speaking of falafel, someone in my other thread recommended nish nush in Tribeca for after 9/11 memorial. Any experience?

                            2. I think you should take Yonah Shimmel off the list. Just not worth it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. You should include Prosperity Dumpling and Pok Pok Phat Thai.

                                1 Reply
                                1. So looking up some of these places and mapping things out.. I think I am doing a major overhaul. I don't find it necessarily to do the LES tour, since we will be getting a lot of deli time in on Long Island and definitely want to enjoy Katz's.

                                  Here is my revised itinerary:

                                  Morning/early afternoon is Central Park, Shake Shack for lunch, shopping on 5th.

                                  Nolita-Little Italy-Chinatown tour...

                                  Di palo’s
                                  Banh Mi Saigon
                                  New Beef King
                                  Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                                  Great NY Noodletown
                                  Tasty Dumpling
                                  There is a fresh tofu place on Grand just west of Bowery on the North side of the street.

                                  Spend some time just exploring Chinatown and then cab it to Katz’s, stopping in Russ & Daughter's (necessary?)

                                  If we aren't spent, maybe we will hit up the beer garden at Eataly before heading back.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                    I would trade Great NY Noodletown for Cafe Hong Kong.

                                    1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                      Just a few thoughts:
                                      I haven't tried all of them, but personally I don't find the dumpling places in Chinatown all that great, except in value. The lamb dumplings at Xi'an Famous Foods however are tasty and interesting. Their little lamb or pork burgers are also good for a snack. New Beef King is a good snack spot. And you can consider grabbing a cha sui bao or two from Mei Lei Wah. These places and the Ice Cream Factory are all on a few short blocks on Bayard. If you are going to swing to east side of Chinatown, Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle on East Broadway does have dumplings I like, noodle soups, and the added ambiance of the thwapping of the noodles being made in the room. I think the folks who run the place are nice.

                                      I don't think the banh mi at BMS is all that strong but if you've never had banh mi before or lack access to a decent shop, it's alright I guess.

                                      Soft shell crab and/or a plate or two of roast pork/duck at GNYNT isn't a bad stopover. But there is a recent thread on other places to get the roast meats in Chinatown.

                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        Bahn Mi So 1 is better in my opinion. Original poster should head there instead

                                      2. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                        IMHO you are trying to do too much in a day(s). You will be amazed at how quickly the time goes by and you will have to contend with subway schedules, walking time, and wait time at restaurants. Tie that in with shopping on 5th and your time is greatly reduced. I'd hone in on 2 or 3 important areas of food interest per day and use that as your central guide. Walking, looking, and discovering is one of the things that makes Manhattan such an appealing place to visit. I love Russ & Daughter's and am addicted to their selections of candy, cookies, sweets, and fish. After you've been to Katz's(a few doors down) stop in afterwards and get a few cookies and chocolates to take with you from Russ & Daughter's (they close at 8 PM Mon-Fri). Since you're coming from a big beef town, is Shake Shack going to be a big deal for you? It is good but Manhattan just has so much to offer. An eating tour in/near the West Village could take a full day and Father Dom's park is a nice place to relax on a bench and listen to the fountain while people watching and noshing. I prefer John's on Bleecker to Lombardi's. Just my 2 cents--Enjoy your trip. You're bound to come back many times.

                                        1. re: Like2eat123

                                          I am going to post my revised list again to see if you can recommend where I can cut things out - like the woolworth building and doing the full rockerfeller tour.

                                          We are taking almost a full day to visit the Village. I figure 12-6ish should suffice?

                                          When I say shopping on 5th ave - all I really want to do is go inside of FAO Schwarz and jump on the piano and buy my kid something. Other than that, I just kind of plan on walking through. I figure from 10-3 is enough time to do central park, walk down 5th, travel and end up at Nolita to do some walking around little italy and chinatown and end up at Katz's for dinner around 6. Am I being naive in thinking this?

                                          I have remove Lombardi's and severely cut the stops in this area I originally mentioned down. See next post.

                                          Also, thanks for the tip on Russ and Daughters, I wasn't quite sure what to get there.

                                          And yes, I can skip Shake Shack if it's not really worth it.

                                          1. re: Like2eat123

                                            - Wednesday -

                                            Arrive into LGA at 9 am, assuming we will be arriving at Penn by noonish.

                                            DIY Food tour of Greenwich Village – picnic in Washington Square Park
                                            Stops: Il Cantuccio (biscotti), Big Gay Ice Cream, Milk & Cookies Bakery, Murray’s Cheese Bar, Faicco Pork Store, Pasticceria Rocco (cheesecake), Joe’s Pizza, Bious Caio

                                            Exploring/Shopping in the Village & Union Square Farmer’s Market
                                            Directions: From the WA Square Park arch, go up 5th Avenue 4-5 blocks, passing the two pretty churches and other nice architecture. Then go east on 12th or 13th Street to University Place. Up University 1-2 blocks to 14th Street and you're at Union Square. Wander through the greenmarket and exit at the NW corner, at 17th Street & Broadway. Up Broadway another 6 blocks (to 23rd Street) and you're at Madison Square Park and the Flatiron Building. From there Take the N train to 34th Street stop and walk to Penn Station

                                            Back to LI for pizza by 630

                                            - Thursday -
                                            Coffee & cheesecake from Two Little Red Hens for cheesecake and coffee. Possiblyt stopping at to Lexington Candy Shop for an egg cream (too early? ;) ). From there, Walk to Central Park and enter at 84th Street and head West then Southwest to exit at 77th Street, walk up to Shake Shack for lunch. Enter Park again and walk East then Southeast to exit at 59th Street at Plaza Hotel.

                                            The Plaza hotel (stop inside food court and get a slice of mille crepe from Lady M and some baguettes from Pain D'avignon)

                                            5th Avenue shopping - mostly just interested in FAO Schwarz and walking through

                                            Subway to Nolita and walk through to Little Italy-Chinatown
                                            Stops: Tiam, Di palo’s, Banh Mi Saigon, New Beef King, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Great NY Noodletown, Tasty Dumpling..
                                            Walk through Chinatown to explore: look out for fresh tofu place on Grand just west of Bowery on the North side of the street.

                                            Hail cab to Katz’s for Dinner and another egg cream
                                            stop in Russ & Daughter's (necessary?)

                                            If we are not ppoped, stop at Eataly Beer Garden for a nightcap

                                            - Friday -

                                            High Line Park

                                            Chelsea Market / Artists and Fleas

                                            Rockefeller Tour (5 pm) and TOTR (6-7 just before and during sunset)

                                            DINNER (need suggestions): Junior's in Times Square, 21 club bar room, Keen's steakhouse, Tony's Ni Paloi or Becco..

                                            Times Square* - just really walking through here, possibly stopping at Junior's for cheesecake depending on timing and dinner

                                            ESB* (should we skip this?)

                                            *depending on where we do dinner will determine what order we do ESB and TS in..

                                            - Saturday -

                                            SOL cruise – 10-1


                                            9.11 Memorial

                                            Woolworth Tour (again, should I remove?)

                                            South Street Seaport (smorgasbar)/FiDi - stopping at a bar like the Dead Rabbit for drinks

                                            Grand Central Terminal (remove?)

                                            1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                              > Junior's in Times Square, 21 club bar room, Keen's steakhouse, Tony's Ni Paloi or Becco..

                                              BTW, the 21 Club is jackets required for men, even in the bar.

                                              For better Times Square options, see Cheeryvisage's Times Square list here:

                                              1. re: kathryn

                                                Also I don't know which Woolworth tour you're taking but the most impressive part is the lobby so the 1/2 hr tour should suffice. It really is gorgeous.

                                                I'd also edit the Chinatown/Nolita list way down, given how much you're already squeezing in. 4-5 spots will be plenty.

                                              2. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                                IMHO is you'll be too rushed to enjoy yourself just too many stops per day and not enough time. I don't want to be a killjoy so I think after the first day, you'll know more what is realistic. Enjoy your trip---hard for me to say what to do without because we're all different and have diverse tastes. Sounds like you need really comfortable shoes. I think someone like Kathryn and locals are better sources for your planning. Regards, L2E123

                                                1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                                  You do not need to take a cab from Chinatown to Katz's, IMO. It's a mile walk, if that. With the traffic from the bridges, it will likely take more time than walking would.

                                                  Also, you're going to Top of the Rock. You've been told that ESB and TOTR both are overkill. Skip ESB. I've heard excellent things recently about Becco.

                                                  1. re: loratliff

                                                    Agree. If you're already at Grand and Bowery, it's a pretty short walk to Katz's. I love Birreria, but I wouldn't bother to stop there after Katz's since there are plenty of bars in the LES (and that's an understatement).

                                                    Russ & Daughters closes pretty early and I personally would stop at Economy Candy on the way to Katz's (also closes early).

                                                    I would probably hit North End for lunch after SOL. Keeps you relatively close to the 9-11 Memorial. I also think the Woolworth lobby is pretty spectacular (altho I haven't seen it in years). I would be limping home after SOL, 9-11, and Woolworth.

                                                    I'd hit Junior's in GC if you must do a Junior's and do GC at the same time.

                                                  2. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                                    To me, your Thurs itinerary has 2 days worth of activities. Also, I'm not sure if anyone really has the stomach capacity to fit all those things in. Breakfast in UES, lunch at Shake Shack, snack at Plaza food hall, massive food tour in Little Italy/Chinatown, dinner at Katz's?

                                                    Your other days look pretty full to me too. But hey, we all have different traveling paces/styles. If you can do it, more power to you. Enjoy!

                                                    1. re: churros

                                                      Thanks, all. I am still working on it.

                                                      I think we will take out Shake Shack and just see where our feet take us in Nolita/Little Italy/Chinatown. This is just a list of places I will remember as a reference while there.

                                                      Also, if we have to miss this area because we spent too much time in Central Park and 5th avenue, that is fine by me. I would still go to Katz's for dinner to end the day though cuz we for sure don't want to miss that.

                                                      I think ESB might be overkill too, especially since it would be shortly after ToTR.

                                                      You are talking to someone who did all of Magic Kingdom, including 85% of the rides in one day. I am also from a city with a lot to do and see, so maybe I am being naive or maybe you guys just don't understand that each of these things won't take 4-5 hours each for us. We will also be getting around with a NYer.

                                                      We are very go with the flow people, so if we end up missing things on this list, that is fine by us.. I am not going to be tapping my foot and pointing to my watch to say we need to head to this place right now, if we are having a good time elsewhere. The only timed events we will have are SOL, TOTR and 9/11, but I find those to be doable times. As the day progresses, we are likely to get more tired, full and/or full of liquor ;)

                                                    2. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                                      By way of intorduction, I am a steak lover.

                                                      That said, the mutton chop at Keen's is one of the greatest things I have ever had.

                                                2. After reading through the post, I am feeling pretty much like others here...
                                                  We visit Manhatten about 4-5 times/year. A few thoughts.

                                                  Our friends swear by staying in/around Hoboken and taking the ferry everyday. Thats fine for them, but does not suit us at all. We like to walk everywhere; a short pitstop in our room to rejuvenate means alot. This wouldn't be possible staying so far away.
                                                  Also, we like late nights, dive bars, etc. Its more practical to stay closer to the action for us.
                                                  Sooo, I'd suggest to stay where the action is...

                                                  In particular:

                                                  I was VERY disappointed in Lombardi's (glad to hear Kathryn's take on it). I like your idea of skipping skipping it.

                                                  Junior's or Becco?
                                                  We really liked Becco; quality homestyle Italian with very reasonable wine list. I always thought of Juniors as the place to stop in for cheesecake.

                                                  Grand Central Station
                                                  If you are interested in pretty churches and other architecture, I think GCS should be on your list, even if for only a walk through (note theres a Juniors in the foodcourt and good oysters at the art deco-ish GS Oyster Bar).

                                                  Shake Shack
                                                  I don't know about the Columbus Ave location, but the lines can be ridiculous - to me, not worth my NYC time...
                                                  If its a must-do, just be prepared, or plan for off-times.

                                                  Why not squeeze it in on Wednesday when you're right there @ Madison Square Park? Mrs. Porker loves this place, I find the beer garden so-so (in the area, I prefer Live Bait across the way - you can see the Shake Shack line snake for miles through the park).
                                                  (also agree with pernodoj that the neighbourhood around Katz's is chock full of watering holes, no need to travel far).

                                                  Choc full of history, its on every Manhatten steak reccomendation list, lotsa people love it, plenty of tradition; I get all of that.
                                                  IMO, nothing wrong with Keen's, but its a straightforward steakhouse (which is famous for their mutton chop). A must-visit? you'll have to decide.

                                                  In general

                                                  You're gonna want to see and visit 50+ places. Practically, you're going to miss maybe 80% (theres nothing wrong with this - thats what returning to NYC is all about). So, make some kind of list (I like putting it on a map) visit what you can then play it by ear - leave room for spontaneity.
                                                  I previously tried to attach a picture of one of my LES maps, but the detail sucked. For demonstration purposes, I'll try again (may or may not suck {;-/)

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: porker

                                                    Thanks for your take. I have coworkers who live and work in Hoboken for a project we are working on in the area and love it. As much as I would like to stay in the city, I would rather not spend the money on it when we have a free place to stay, even if it means a 2 hour trip everyday. I know these days are long, we are okay with it. We are also okay with missing things. If it all falls apart, it all falls apart, at least I have some references to go by though ya know?

                                                    Being from Chicago, we usually don't eat at a steakhouse when traveling but someone spoke real highly of it so I wrote it down. I am really leaning toward Becco. I saw one review that mentioned how small it is though and recommended sitting on the top floor for more room. Can you speak of how cramped the main floor is?

                                                    We crossed off SHake SHack.

                                                    1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                                      My wife and I have been to Becco a couple of times and enjoyed it. We (are annual visitors and liked Becco over the fancier Felidia(eaten there 3 times)--it has been 2 years since we were there (we've gravitated more toward Nolita and Tribeca). Our dining space has also been adequate but we ate following the post-theater rush in the main dining area. For pictures of the restaurant you can do a search on Becco and see pictures and you can go to( tripadvisor & yelp) and search and see pictures from folks who've eaten there. Not trying to talk down to you but I'd sure make a reservation either online or call the restaurant and inquire about reservations and seating. We've had the pasta specials, organic roasted chicken & osso bucco. Nothing was earth shattering but it was well prepared and decent. The inexpensive wine list is ok. It can be very busy and it varies on loudness. Our service was excellent one time and just ok the next. In previous years we tried a couple of places in the theater district and our impression is that Becco is probably the safest option. We try to not eat a heavy meal prior to the theater due to "carb" nodding.

                                                      1. re: ComeAwayWithMe

                                                        If I were looking for a dinner option between Rock Center and Times Sq, I would avoid eating in Times Square altogether and choose Bar Room at the Modern. Delicious and interesting small plates, and you can order fewer plates if you feel full from that day's noshing. Make a reservation on OpenTable.

                                                    2. If you like beef jerky, one of the Chinatown gems is Malaysia Beef Jerky at 95A Elizabeth Street. And a couple of doors next to Ceci cela is Rice to Riches, definitely go for Cherry Mascarpone...

                                                      1. I prefer Sundaes & Cones over Big Gay and Chinatown Fact.

                                                        The last time I went to CICF the minute my friends and I walked in, there was a guy and three girls who rushed us with our orders, like we were supposed to know what we want the minute we entered. $40 in fucking ice cream and the guy refused to break a hundred. They made people wait outside behind the some imaginary velvet rope on probably the hottest day of the summer. Yeah, you're not that big but you're not that special either. Ain't never goin' back.

                                                        Sorry about the missive. Seeing the name just brings me back. >:/

                                                        Plus Sundaes has the same flavors as that shit little shop, and Big Gay, Milk Bar and Van Leeuwens are all in the same area and Little Ukraine is close by if you like Ukrainian food (not my favorite).

                                                        Ferrara's has a cafe if you want to sit, but with your extensive itinerary, why not do some take out and bring it back to LI with you? You could hit up all the pastry and dessert shops to end the day with. :)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: mushroomaffairs

                                                          "same flavors as that shit little shop"
                                                          <[1] Recommend
                                                          Although "little SHIT shop" might roll off the tongue better

                                                        2. Thanks, everyone,for all of your thoughts and suggestions. We have had quite the week here and now our plans have changed and our trip will include our 2 year old. I haven't had time to do enough research yet to figure out a new itinerary, but I am sure I will have some new questions soon. If we happen to make it to Chinatown I will try to make it to a couple of these spots that come a little more highly recommended than the others.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                            1. re: kathryn

                                                              We didn't do Chinatown/Little Italy at all. It was the only thing that got cut out of our itinerary after we included our son.

                                                              We did go to the LES, but only hit up Economy Candy and had lunch at Katz's.

                                                              We did eat a whole lot of other great food at other places though, I will post a little trip report.