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Unsophisticated favorites?

"Unsophisticated" is perhaps not the right word, but I'm hosting a friend later this month who loves good food, but not terribly complex and definitely not pretentious. Ethnic cuisine is fair game. Places I’m thinking she’ll like are Shake Shack, Ippudo, Katsu-Hama, Motorino, the Dutch, Shopsin’s. I might be underestimating my friend a bit; on the other hand, I’ve watched her order too much chicken at nice restaurants over the years :)

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  1. The Breslin, Spotted Pig; Totto Ramen

    1. Not that there is anything wrong with very well-executed chicken...

      Anyway, I would say: Momofuku Ssam Bar, Keste, Danji, ABC Cocina, Tertulia, Kin Shop, Charlie Bird, Osteria Morini, Malai Marke, Khe-Yo

      1 Reply
      1. re: zeeEats

        Not at all! I order chicken too. But not because it's the most innocuous sounding option.

        thanks for the suggestions!

      2. You should take her for the chicken sandwich at brunch at nomad!

        Yakitori totto (midtown west) or yakitori taisho (e village), both have a wide selection so your friend will have less ambitious choices and you can order some of the more adventurous options.

        Ukranian national home for pierogies and crepes:
        Murray's cheese bar (their newer cafe) has some great cheesey food

        1. Tapas at Tertulia, maybe?

          1. Porchetta, Num Peng, Caracas Arepa, Walker's ( burgers), Blue Ribbon Chicken, Georgia's, Yokocho, Meatball Shoppe, Sole di Capri, Misoya ( ramen), Rockmeisha.

            1. Katz's Deli, downtown. It is worth a visit in any event. And you can then stroll the area. Good luck.

              1. If she likes spicy, maybe Xi'an Famous.

                Lam Zhou Hand-Pulled Noodle on East Broadway is as unpretentious as humanly possible.

                There are a few "unsophisticated" items on the Momofuku Ssam menu, but it strikes me as the place your friend might order "the chicken" equivalent. Momofuku Noodle might be the better call, the menu there tends to be a bit more straightforward.

                Public has a nice balance for adventurous and non-adventurous eaters alike. You can get the kangaroo carpaccio, your friend will have many other options.

                Some other thoughts - Babbo (if you can get a rez), Parm, Locanda Verde, Marc Forgione, Aamanns (as a great lunch option - the dinner menu is a bit more "avant garde") and maybe the tavern room at Gramercy Tavern, or the tap bar at Colicchio & Sons. ABC Kitchen / Cocina, both good for dinner and great for brunch (though rezzies fill up quickly)

                For more upscale, Blue Hill is always pretty straight-up, nothing scary or weird on the menu. Balthazar and/or Minetta Tavern are coming to mind as well.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sgordon

                  Thanks! I think you're right about Momofuku Ssam; Noodle Bar is probably a better bet. Parm and Locanda Verde are both already on my list, and I'll look into Aamanns. Funnily, although Balthazar and Minetta both have pretty "safe" food, it's not really her thing either. Really, I think I should be looking at the threads for kid-friendly places :)

                2. My unsophisticated faves are all the Dominican and Peurto Rican places in Harlem. I especially love El Nuevo Caridad and Sandy's on 116th and 2nd Ave. I make it a point to always stop by after I've done my shopping at Costco. YUMMY!!!

                  1. A few more potential options . . .

                    Tap Room at Collichio and Sons

                    1. Some of the best places for ethnic food are a little divey.

                      Stage (EV)
                      Otafuku (EV)- ideal for a snack
                      Xi'an (EV)
                      XO Kitchen (Chinatown)
                      Oriental Garden (Chinatown)
                      The Pickle Guys (LES)- good pickles, but not really a place to eat
                      Ess A Bagel (Stuy Town)
                      Russ & Daughters (LES)
                      J. Baczynsky Meat Market (EV)- they sell prepared food by the pound as well as meat and sausage, but they don't have a place to sit down and eat it.

                      Don't forget Streetcha (EV)

                      1. may i point you to Grubstreet this week - chicken is the in food.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JC2

                          I went and looked - I assume you were referring to this post: "The Bird Boom: Luxury Roast Chicken Conquers New York"?

                          I think I expressed myself badly...it isn't that her palate is so plain that chicken is the only thing she eats. What she's into is "down home" cooking, things like donburi, curry, barbeque, mac n cheese, fried chicken. She would be uninterested, nay, appalled, by a $79 roast chicken from the NoMad. Hard to explain! But thanks everyone for the suggestions.

                        2. I actually liked burgers from Clarke's standards. Their fries were bad either....

                          1. For Mexican breakfast, try Tehuitzingo (Midtown West)

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: Veggo

                                Not my spelling.

                                And, remember what thread this is ... "Unsophisticated favorites"

                            1. hearth, barbuto, dell'anima, spotted pig, dbgb, cannibal/resto, co., little wisco (joseph leonard, fedora, etc.)

                              1. Sigiri in EV for Sri Lankan? Cho Dang Gol for Korean? (Stone bowl bi bim bap is about as "down home" a meal as I can think of!) Also seconding Malai Marke as mentioned upthread.