NYC With Sister
Headed to Manhattan from London. Will be there 5 nights. Looking for good recs for the following:
- Italian - probably place with decent pizza
- Mexican - hopefully something good as London is shite
- Asian - not sushi
I know it is not specific but really hoping for help.
Party of two?
What's your budget per person for food only, in USD. It's better not to include the 8.875% tax, 20% tip, and any alcohol/wine (you don't specify if you're both of drinking age) when giving a budget.
When is the trip and how far in advance are you planning?
What about uniquely American or only in NY foods? Are you visiting anywhere else in the States on this trip?
Any issues/preferences for waiting for a table somewhere/long lines? Putting in some work to grab a reservation via phone (despite the time difference)?
When you say sushi do you mean nigiri and sushi omakase? Or fun maki rolls? The best places book up weeks in advance if you want austere / upscale / expensive, like Yasuda, Nakazawa, 15 East, etc. esp if you wanna sit at the bar.
Similarly for Italian... First off I'd keep the request separate from pizza. The best pizza places and the best Italian places in nyc are not one and the same usually. There's a little overlap, not much.
And the best, upscale, pricey Italian places also book up weeks in advance, or can have long waits without a reservations (Babbo, Maialino, etc).
For Mexican, what kind and what's your budget? Are you looking for a hole in the wall or something more mid or upscale? Any specific foods?
For Asian... Huge swath of possibilities between Korean, non-sushi Japanese, Chinese, Thai, etc. plus fusion places. So any preferences? Interested in a David Chang restaurant?
Here's what I've written for other visitors & it may help you.
Where are you coming from?
When are you coming? How long are you here? How many meals do you have available?
We don't want to recommend food that you might do better at home (i.e. BBQ to a Southerner, Mexican to an LA resident), but we also may have some cuisines you can't find at home...
I'd say we are pretty strong in a lot of different cuisines but not equally. Budget will makes big difference in where you can go.
Are you willing to wait for a table at a no reservations restaurant? If so, for how long?
How hard are you willing to work for a reservation at a restaurant that's hard to book?
What is your budget, per person, per meal, BEFORE tax, tip, wine/drinks/etc for your meals? It is much easier for us to help you if you give a pre-tax-and-tip figure.
Feel free to break out your budget in terms of upscale/fancy meals (and number of them) and cheaper/everyday meals.
What else are you doing while you are here? Planning around sightseeing, shopping, Broadway shows, etc? Also if you are sightseeing, to make the best use of your time, you should try to find things to eat to/from the tourist destinations or near the tourist destinations. Our tourist destinations are spread out all around town.
Note that popular places tend to book about a MONTH in advance. Most upscale restaurants serve weekday lunch (but not weekend lunch), and serve dinner Monday through Saturday, and are usually closed Sundays, though there are a few exceptions to the "closed Sundays" rule (ex: Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges).
Check out some "Only in NY" type foods while you're here: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.
Russ & Daughters (takeout, busy on weekends), Katz's Deli (from When Harry Met Sally), Papaya King etc. (not gourmet but iconic), William Greenberg's black and whites, Junior's cheesecake, egg creams from Gem Spa or Ray's, Pickle Guys, the Halal Guys (53rd and 6th after sunset), are all iconic "NY" sorts of places that are worth a look.
Past "Uniquely NY" discussions:
Question to Locals http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/911971
Visitors, travellers, tourists and other Chowhounds who do not live in NYC, which places do you revisit when you visit Manhattan? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/912049
What says NYC to you?
If you're interested in some of the places I listed above, you could do a LES food crawl. I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:
Best NY style pizza:
We also have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Henan, Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao and Dongbei to name a few). scoopG's Chinatown list (dependent upon where you are coming from these may be exotic or not... most places don't have Henan or Xian style food though):
You might also want to do a restaurant doing creative takes on Asian, like at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Wong, Fatty Cue, Takashi, RedFarm, Mission Chinese, Jungsik, Kin Shop, or Danji.
My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and creative brunches (sometimes every day of the week).
Some common tourist inquiries:
Notable food trucks/carts:
Prix fixe lunch deals:
Late night dining:
Best Old New York Restaurants:
Old school cocktail bars
Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.
Best bagels in NYC:
Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all. Focus on the smoked salmon instead. Preferably at Russ & Daughters! Featured in shows such as No Reservations and Louie!
I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.
Eating near tourist attractions:
Where to Eat Near Museum Mile (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney, Guggenheim, etc) on the UES:
Where to Eat Near Macy's/Herald Square/Penn Station/Empire State Building:
Where to have dinner before a Broadway show/pre-theatre dining (many of the same Times Square recs also apply):
Where to Eat Near the 9/11 Memorial:
If you like the idea of RGR's self-guided LES tour above, check these out, too.
Maybe scoopG's self guided Chinatown tour:
A West Village food crawl
I will make it easier for you. Go to Larb Ubol on 9th avenue for Thai. Go to Hunan Manor on Lexington Avenue and order real Hunan Dishes, not General Tso Chicken, Chicken with Broccoli, etc. Go to Bar Pitti for an Italian meal, go in nice weather and sit outside. Don't forget to look at the specials board before you order, its written in Italian but one of the charming waiters will translate. If you are really interested in Mexican food and don't just want tourist slop with big margaritas or what white people think is good Mexican, take the 2 or 5 train to the Jackson Avenue stop in the Bronx and eat at Carnitas el Atoradero. Don't bother with the menu, just eat the daily specials. Sushi and pizza there are tons of viable options just browse the threads. For a slice I myself go to Joe's down in the village, it's classic New York to me. Have a great trip, there are a lot of tourist traps in Manattan, tread wisely.
I'd suggest that while you're in New York, you have coal-fired New York pizza, not the Neapolitan style that you can get much closer to home. I'm not sure what pizzeria is currently most loved, but for decades, Patsy's in East Harlem (1st Av. near 117 St.) was considered the Appolonian "plain" pizza. I have also liked Arturo's for years, but haven't been for some time, and I know not everyone loved their sauce.
For Mexican, head to Fonda on Avenue B between 3rd & 4th. They make a mean margarita, and the chef/owner is a Mexico City native. Food is really delicious. If you are here on a Sunday, you might want to check out their brunch. A great deal..
and they take reservations, which means you can be sure of when you're going to eat.
When will you be here? Where are you staying? We can give you a good selection of pubs, low key holes in the wall, breakfast places and so on.
And for what it's worth... many of the better restaurants (like Gramercy tavern) take their beer lists quite seriously. The craft brew scene in the US is very strong. The days of only Budweiser and Coors are long gone. If you are very into the scene a trip to The Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn (big surprise) is in order.
With all due respect to the other posters who recommended coal pizzerias, but coal pizza, in NY, is in an abysmal state. The coal places are all tremendously historically significant, but, unfortunately, because of this history, their fame has driven substantial sales for many years, and without the need to compete, the impetus to maintain a world class product has, for the most part, faded and apathy is the norm. Lombardi's and Grimaldi's are the worst offenders, and thankfully, from what I can see, no one here is recommending those. But John's, Patsy's and Totonno's are still a shell of what they once were.
DiFara's, unlike coal's glorious past, was never truly great pizza, but Dom has managed to become one of the city's most iconic pizza makers because of his mastery of pizza theater. Personally, if you want theater, go to off Broadway, but if you're on this web site, you want the best possible food, and DiFara's is high end delicious toppings on top of a notoriously flavorless crust- combined with a typically long wait in line. Avoid.
Speaking of shells of what they once were, please, do NOT go to Joe's. Joe's used to sell the best NY style pizza in the history of NY style pizza, but, when the lines are going out the door year after year, just like the coal places, apathy sets in and it's all downhill from there.
Generally speaking, you can't base NY pizza itineraries on fame, since, even the most conscientious place is eventually going to trade in on their fame, get lazy and the pizza will suffer. To be honest, this tends to hold true for restaurants in general. If you really care about food, you want to get to places long before they're famous- while they still have a lot to prove- while they're still hungry. Are there exceptions? Sure, but, for pizza, right now, the older famous places (coal, DiFara's, Joe's, etc.) are putting out some of the worst pizzas in the city.
Neapolitan and Neapolitan inspired places are new, and, still, for the most part, very hungry, but, Neapolitan pizza, with it's char and wetter than NY quality, is a bit of a niche product. It's also not hugely different from pizzeria to pizzeria. Hailing from London, you have access to great Neapolitan pizza- Franco Manca. In terms of a classic Neapolitan margherita, Franco Manca is going to match or better the quality of anything you find in NY.
What you won't get at Franco Manca, though is specialty toppings. Paulie Gee's (Brooklyn) has one of the best Neapolitan inspired pies in the city, the Hellboy (hot honey, spicy soppressata). Motorino has a brussels sprouts pie that, if you like brussels sprouts, will knock your socks off.
Don Antonio's, in midtown, offers a solid classic Neapolitan pie (and a mind boggling number of special toppings). I'm not wholeheartedly endorsing it, but it's accessibility is good for people staying in midtown hotels. It's also open until very late as well as during the day.
Neither coal style nor Neapolitan are authentic NY style pizza. Joe's is, it's just bad NY style. If you're coming to NY, it would be horrible if you didn't have a chance to try a good NY slice. For the first time since Joes started going downhill 20 years ago, a great slice is now available in Manhattan. At least, I'm relatively certain it is. Williamsburg Pizza, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just recently opened a Manhattan location. I haven't been, nor have a spoke to anyone that has, but their Williamsburg location could easily be the best NY slice in the city, and, if the Manhattan location can match it, it's a game changer for the typical tourist that doesn't venture into the outer boroughs.
Paulies it worth the trip, if you can make it out to Greepoint. If you like brussels sprouts, don't miss Motorino. But Williamsburg pizza, in the lower east side (277 Broome St., at Allen St.), if you come to Manhattan and miss out on that, it would be tragic.
I admire your passion for the subject, but I think you're exaggerating when you say places like Difara and Joe's are putting out some of the worst pizza in the city. There are innumerable slice shops in NYC that have significantly worse pizza than Joe's, which I find mediocre.
Well, first of all, I'm coming to this from a typical obsessive perspective that says crust is the most important part of pizza, and, since it's extensively proven that fermentation time equals crust flavor, and that DiFara's 1-2 hour ferment is public knowledge, I'm comfortable calling DiFara's one of the worst pizzas in the city (from a crust-centric perspective).
For Joe's, sure, once you start venturing into unispired generic McPizza, there's certainly shades of gray, and if you wanted to split hairs, Joe's is towards the top of that heap, but, for me, McPizza is one gargantuan lump group. If someone were to say "hey, should I go to dollar pizza or to Joe's?" I wouldn't talk about Joe's being a bit better. I'd tell them to avoid both. For me, there's a LOT of 'worst' pizza in NY. I don't lie awake at night pondering Joe's place in that spectrum :)