Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stuff I've Learned: A Non-Touristy Food Tour of Manhattan (For AnastasiaC)

One of our readers, AnastasiaC, is planning a trip to NYC in September and wants to know where the locals eat and play. Smart girl. How else are you going to get the real flavor of NYC? Not at the top of the Empire State Building, that's for sure.

So, AnastasiaC, here are some of my favorite NYC eats. Good rule of thumb: if the restaurant is located in Times Square, Herald Square or near a major tourist landmark, it probably isn't very good. You'll have to travel to find some of these places, but you'll taste some of NYC's best food:
  1. Fuel up for your day with a great brunch or breakfast. If it's the weekend, try Sarabeth's at the Whitney Museum (you can see some art afterwards), the classic Odeon or homey Bubby's in Tribeca (save room for pie), Cookshop or Jane, if you can stand waiting in line. Go early to avoid long waits.
  2. Lunch for less at one of the Jean Georges restaurants (only $24 to eat at some of the best restaurants in the city--Perry St is my favorite). Go down home and ethnic by venturing to Chinatown and grab some amazing Vietnamese Banh Mi at Saigon Banh Mi Bakery and hot juicy dumplings at Good Dumpling House. Another day, go to Chelsea Market--a mall full of amazing food and treats. If you're feeling adventurous, Ethiopian at Meskerem or Malaysian at Nyonya in Chinatown.
  3. Sit down for afternoon tea at Alice's Tea Cup (don't skip the scones) in the Upper West Side, Cha-an (try their green tea macarons and earl grey chocolate mochi), or Teany, the Vegetarian tea house in the Lower East Side owned by Moby.
  4. Indulge your sweet tooth with chocolate chip cookies at Jacques Torres (ask for it warm) or Levain Bakery. Chinatown Ice Cream factory for some of the most unique ice cream flavors in town. Chocolate at The Chocolate Bar at Henri Bendel (go shopping afterwards) or Vosges in Soho or Jacques Torres (Love this place). Grab pain au chocolat at Patisserie Claude and macarons at Madeleine Patisserie. Cupcakes at Billy's Bakery in Chelsea (better than Magnolia's, in my opinion, but you might want to stop at the cupcake stand made famous by Sex and the City anyhow--go to the West Village shop for the authentic experience).
  5. Get dressed up and splurge on dinner with a celebrity chef. For big and fabulous: Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Gilt, Megu, Park Avenue Summer, Le Bernardin, Bouley or Daniel. For small and delicious: The Little Owl, WD-50 or Blue Hill or any of the Momofuku restaurants. Or pick any other Frank Bruni three or four star restaurant available on OpenTable.
  6. People watch in the Meatpacking District at Pastis or Spice Market or the too cool Lower East Side at Inoteca or Stanton Social.
  7. Don't miss a shack burger at Shake Shack, a hot dog at Grey's Papaya, pizza at Adrienne's on Stone Street, shabu shabu at Shabu Tatsu, BBQ at Blue Smoke (you can also grab dinner during a jazz show downstairs at the Jazz Standard)
  8. Have a late night bite after cruising in the village at Ukranian restaurant Veselka, have a slice of famous Italian cheesecake at Veniero's or stop into one of the many Japanese restaurants on St. Mark's Place in the East Village.
This is just one Girl Next Door's opinion. If you want others, visit my favorite NYC foodie sites: Eater, Chowhound Manhattan Board, NY Mag's Grub St. Have a great time, AnastasiaC! NYC is the king of food towns!


AnastasiaC said...

oh wow! a post just for me - awesome!! thanks So much - going to go check out all the links!

Tinniegirl said...

I needed this list about 6 years ago when I visited NYC. We managed to find a few out of the way places just by getting hungry enough and being adventurous.

The Girl Next Door said...

:) Would love to hear what you found, Tinniegirl. Any restaurants worth recommending?

Maureen said...

I'm happy to keep this as a reference for MY next jaunt north. Thank you!

Ana said...

This looks fantastic! it's immediately going in my Travel:New York file! Next trip will def. be a foodie focused fantasy!

Lilian Moreira εϊз said...

If you like Thai food, I really recommend "Room Service", on 50th Street and 8th Avenue. The lunch special over there is $7 and the food is amazing!! Also, for Thai, I like "Republic", in Union Square.