Financial District & TriBeCa
Moderate -- If you are wandering the canyons of Wall Street and crave a good pizza, Harry’s Italian, 2 Gold St. (tel. 212/747-0797; www.harrysitalian.com), will more than suffice. Related to Harry’s Café & Steak, this Harry’s also serves traditional family-style pastas and mains.
Lower East Side
Moderate -- Don't forget the Manhattan outpost of Frankie's Spuntino, 17 Clinton St., between Houston and Stanton streets (tel. 212/253-2303; www.frankiesspuntino.com), where the food is as good as you'll get on the other side of the East River.
SoHo & NoLiTa
Inexpensive -- Consider Lombardi's Pizza, 32 Spring St., between Mott and Mulberry streets (tel. 212/941-7994).
Greenwich Village & the Meatpacking District
Inexpensive -- The downtown branch of Gray's Papaya is at 402 Sixth Ave., at 8th Street (tel. 212/260-3532). The original John's Pizzeria is at 278 Bleecker St., near Seventh Avenue (tel. 212/243-1680). For one of the best slices of pizza, go to Joe's Pizza, 7 Carmine St., at Bleecker Street (tel. 212/255-3946). Also, you'll find Murray's Bagels at 500 Sixth Ave., between 12th and 13th streets (tel. 212/462-2830).
A great neighborhood hangout that serves vegetarian/vegan food, is 'sNice, 45 Eighth Ave., at West 4th Street (tel. 212/645-0310). You don't have to be vegetarian to enjoy the hearty, homemade sandwiches, wraps, salads, desserts, and tea and coffee. There are board games, Wi-Fi, shared tables, and an all-ages crowd that appreciates the ambience. It's open Sunday to Thursday 7:30am to 10pm, and Friday and Saturday 8am to 10pm.
Inexpensive -- Paradise Café, 141 Eighth Ave. (btw. 16th and 17th sts.; tel. 212/647-0066), is a neighborhood gem in so-trendy-it's-exhausting Chelsea, where it's hard to find a good meal for under $10 at most places. A sign behind the counter reads, "If you insist on ordering using Starbucks terms, we will be forced to charge you Starbucks prices." So don't order a "venti," but do order all kinds of free-trade teas and coffees, sandwiches, wraps, smoothies, and homemade desserts. The narrow storefront has French doors that are left open in good weather, and you can sit on a bench out front or lounge at one of the indoor tables, surfing with your laptop on the free Wi-Fi, reading the papers and magazines, and enjoying the original art on the walls. It's open daily from 6am to 9pm.
Union Square, Flatiron District & Gramercy Park
Inexpensive -- Don't forget Eisenberg's Coffee Shop, 174 Fifth Ave., at 22nd Street (tel. 212/675-5096), for the New York diner experience.
For healthy burgers, try either outlet of the New York Burger Co., 303 Park Ave. South, between 23rd and 24th streets (tel. 212/254-2727), and 678 Sixth Ave., between 21st and 22nd streets (tel. 212/229-1404). For a burger with boutique quality meat, try Brgr, 287 Seventh Ave., at 26th Street (tel. 212/488-7500).
Times Square & Midtown West
Very Expensive -- Consider the New York Times four-star winner Le Bernardin, 155 W. 51st St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues (tel. 212/554-1515; www.le-bernardin.com).
And consider the following steakhouses: Uncle Jack's Steakhouse, 440 Ninth Ave., at 34th Street (tel. 212/244-0005; www.unclejacks.com); Ben Benson's Steakhouse, 123 W. 52nd St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues (tel. 212/581-8888; www.benbensons.com); Benjamin Steakhouse, 52 E. 41st St., in the Dylan Hotel (tel. 212/297-9177; www.benjaminsteakhouse.com); and Quality Meats, 57 W. 58th St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues (tel. 212/371-7777).
Moderate -- The family-style Italian restaurant Carmine’s has a Times Square branch at 200 W. 44th St., between Broadway and Eighth Avenue (tel. 212/221-3800; www.carminesnyc.com).
Inexpensive -- If you’re looking for the quintessential New York deli, you have a choice between the Stage Deli, 834 Seventh Ave., between 53rd and 54th streets (tel. 212/245-7850), known for its massive celebrity-named sandwiches, and the Carnegie Deli, 854 Seventh Ave., at 55th Street (tel. 800/334-5606), the place to go for the best pastrami, corned beef, and cheesecake in town.
There is a nice outlet of John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, 260 W. 44th St., between Broadway and Eighth Avenue (tel. 212/391-7560; Subway: 1, 2, 3, 7, A, B, C, E, N, Q, R, or S to 42nd St./Times Sq. Also consider the aptly named Burger Joint, in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien Hotel, 118 W. 57th St. (tel. 212/708-7414), for cheap yet excellent no-frills burgers.
For the New York version of the Philadelphia cheesesteak, try Shorty’s, at 576 Ninth Ave., between 41st and 42nd streets (tel. 212/967-3055).
Midtown East & Murray Hill
Inexpensive -- The lower concourse of Grand Central Terminal, 42nd Street at Park Avenue, has developed into a quick-bite bonanza that is an ideal choice for lunch—and the setting is an architecture-lover’s delight. Head downstairs and choose from among the many outlets, offering everything from bratwurst to sushi. Standouts include Junior’s, an offshoot of the Brooklyn stalwart, serving deli sandwiches, terrific steak burgers, and their world-famous cheesecake in their own waiter-serviced dining area.
For a glorious meal, dining under an impressive curved and tiled ceiling, try the New York landmark Oyster Bar & Restaurant (tel. 212/490-6650; www.oysterbarny.com). Excellent soups and sandwiches (most for under $10) fall into the inexpensive category, but you will head on up into moderate and expensive for full meals of the fresh, well-prepared seafood. For a complete list of vendors, check out www.grandcentralterminal.com. There’s also Ess-A-Bagel at 831 Third Ave., at 51st Street (tel. 212/980-1010).
Upper West Side
Very Expensive -- Consider the four-star-rated restaurant on Columbus Circle: Jean-Georges, in the Trump International Hotel & Tower, 1 Central Park West, at 60th Street/Columbus Circle (tel. 212/299-3900; www.jean-georges.com).
Moderate -- Also consider Rack & Soul, 2818 Broadway, at 109th Street (tel. 212/222-4800), for the unbeatable combination of barbecued ribs and Southern-style pan-fried chicken.
Inexpensive -- For breakfast or lunch, also consider Artie’s Delicatessen, 2290 Broadway, between 82nd and 83rd streets (tel. 212/579-5959; www.arties.com); Lansky’s, 235 Columbus Ave., between 70th and 71st streets (tel. 212/787-0400; www.lanskysnyc.com); and Barney Greengrass, the Sturgeon King, 541 Amsterdam Ave., between 86th and 87th streets (tel. 212/724-4707), three of the best Jewish delis in town.
You’ll find some of the best bagels in New York on the Upper West Side, including H&H Bagels, 2239 Broadway, at 80th Street (tel. 212/595-8003), and Absolute Bagels, 2788 Broadway, between 106th and 107th streets (tel. 212/932-2052).
For nonvegetarians and the non-health-minded, consider the cheapest, yet in some ways most comforting, indulgence: Gray’s Papaya, 2090 Broadway, at 72nd Street (tel. 212/799-0243). This 24-hour hot-dog stand is a New York institution.
Upper East Side
Very Expensive -- Also consider elegant New York Times' four-star winner, Daniel, 60 E. 65th St., between Madison and Park avenues (tel. 212/288-0033; www.danielnyc.com).
Inexpensive -- Also consider Patsy’s Pizzeria.
Harlem Restaurant Renaissance -- It’s not just fried chicken and collard greens up in Harlem anymore. A spate of new, exciting restaurants have opened since the last edition of this guide, hopefully ushering in a new era of Harlem eating.
Leading the way is celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, bringing his take on Harlem comfort foods from Africa to the American South. If the wait is too long to get into Red Rooster, an authentic, very friendly French bistro, Chez Lucienne, at 308 Lenox Ave., between 125th and 126th streets (tel. 212/289-5555; www.chezlucienne.com), located right next door, is a worthy alternative. At Chez Lucienne, moules (mussels), French onion soup, and coq au vin are just some of the traditional options offered along with, on certain nights, African music and jazz.
Chef Samuelsson is a Harlem resident and before opening Red Rooster could be found dining at one of his self-proclaimed favorite restaurants, Settepani, 196 Lenox Avenue, at 120th Street (tel. 917/492-4806; www.settepani.com). Specializing in the cuisine of Southern Italy and Sicily, Settepani was first a local bakery and cafe but in 2010 converted into a full-fledged restaurant. The breads are made in house and serve as a nice complement to the fragrant pastas like pasta con sarde (perciatelli with sardines, pine nuts, fennel, and currants) and pasta alla norma (rigatoni with tomato sauce, eggplant, and aged ricotta).
They now call Frederick Douglass Boulevard the “Gold Coast” of Harlem. Much of the gold can be found in a number of new condos, but also in many good restaurants. The innovative and casually elegant 5 and Diamond, at 2072 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, between 112th and 113th streets (tel. 646/684-4662; www.5anddiamondrestaurant.com) serves contemporary American fare like phyllo wrapped cod, organic hanger steak, and local, Senat farm chicken.
Even more casual, but no less innovative is Bier International, 2099 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, at 113th Street (tel. 212/280-0944; www.bierinternational.com), where the beer list is as varied as the selection of wursts. Family-friendly, Bier International will make you feel at home no matter what your nationality in the best Harlem tradition.
A short block from Frederick Douglass Boulevard is where you can find the Harlem hip Mojo,186 St. Nicholas Ave, at 119th Street (tel. 212/280-1923; www.mojo-harlem.com), where a live DJ, extensive cocktail list, and upscale munchies like sexy grits, cornbread panzella, and Harlem fried chicken sliders add to the cool vibe.
If you are looking for old-fashioned, Italian-American food—the kind you used to get before waiters began asking if you want your water tap or sparkling—look no further than the Bronx. The best concentration of Italian-American “red-sauce” restaurants can be found in the Little Italy of the Bronx, on and around Arthur Avenue. One of my favorites is Mario’s Restaurant, 2342 Arthur Ave., between Crescent Avenue and East 187th Street (tel. 718/584-1188), where the Neapolitan pizza is magnificent and the ziti with broccoli unforgettable. Reservations are accepted, as are American Express, Discover, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa. Wonderful Dominick’s, on the same block at 2335 Arthur Ave. (tel. 718/733-2807), is the inspiration behind family-style re-creations such as Carmine’s. There’s no menu here, but trust your waiter to ramble off what is on the day’s menu, which almost always includes tender calamari marinara and luscious veal Francese. There’s always a crowd, so go early or expect to wait for a communal table. Reservations are not accepted and please, cash only.
Very Expensive -- At the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, with spectacular views of the New York skyline, the River Café, 1 Water St. (tel. 718/522-5200), could possibly be the most romantic special-occasion restaurant in New York. Service is good, prices are steep, and the contemporary Continental cuisine is more than adequate, but nothing can top that view.
Moderate -- Consider Bubby’s Brooklyn, 1 Main St., at Water Street (tel. 718/222-0666), the DUMBO outpost of the comforting, comfort-food Bubby’s.
Inexpensive -- The fabulous Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is at 19 Old Fulton St., between Front and Water streets (tel. 718/858-4300). Out in Coney Island, the 1924-established and little-changed Totonno’s is at 1524 Neptune Ave., between West 15th and West 16th streets (tel. 718/372-8606). While in Williamsburg, don’t miss Motorino 319 Graham Ave., at DeVoe Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (tel. 718/599-8899; www.motorinopizza.com).
Also in Coney Island is the famous Nathan’s Famous, 1310 Surf Ave., at Stillwell Avenue (tel. 718/946-2202), for hot dogs by the beach. See how many you can eat.
If you are traveling to BAM to see a show, you’ll be tempted to have either your pre- or post-theater meal at Junior’s, 386 Flatbush Ave., at DeKalb Avenue (tel. 718/852-5257). Everyone knows about Junior’s world-famous cheesecake, the epitome of New York cheesecake, but don’t miss the opportunity to experience the authentic Brooklyn atmosphere here, complete with old-school waiters you’ll not soon forget. Don’t expect anything fancy, but do expect great cheesecake.
The best ice cream in New York can be found right over the Brooklyn Bridge at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, 1 Water Street at the Fulton Ferry Landing Pier, Brooklyn (tel. 718/246-3963). Everything is freshly made, including the hot fudge for your sundae.
Inexpensive -- The no. 7 train is sometimes known as the International Express. Take it out of Manhattan and through the borough of Queens and you will pass one ethnic neighborhood after another. You could write a book on all the different restaurants located around the no. 7 train in Queens. Here are a few of my favorites:
Get off at the 69th Street stop in Woodside, walk 1 block north, and you might begin to detect the aroma of barbecued meats. That smell is coming from Ihawan, 40–06 70th St. (tel. 718/205-1480), which claims to be home of the best barbecue in town. But unless you’ve been to the Philippines, Ihawan’s country of origin, this is barbecue unlike any you’ve tasted before. Here you can sample barbecued pork on bamboo skewers, grilled marinated pork chops, and the local favorite, grilled marinated pork belly. The menu here also includes other Filipino specialties such as dinuguan, pork stewed in pork-blood gravy, and lapu-lapu, a whitefish, served in tamarind soup.
If you get off the train at the 82nd Street/Jackson Heights stop, a few steps from the elevated tracks, you’ll find Arunee Thai, 37–68 79th St., off Roosevelt Avenue (tel. 718/205-5559). Here, the Thai food is so authentic (and the clientele mostly Thai) that the menus are written in Thai and English. Everything is delicious, and the spice level is not toned down for delicate palates. The fish, served whole on the bone, with chili, garlic, and hot-and-sour sauce, will either take the chill off a cold winter’s day or, if it’s summer, the chilies will cool down your overheated body and soul.
Exit the last stop of the no. 7 train, Flushing/Main Street, and you might think you’re in downtown Beijing. Where you are is Flushing’s Chinatown, bigger than Manhattan’s and crammed with teahouses, noodle shops, banquet halls, bakeries, and Asian supermarkets. The food choices are staggering and you won’t go wrong at just about any of the countless restaurants. For a Flushing Chinatown experience like no other, try Minni’s Shabu Shabu, 136–17 38th Ave. (tel. 718/762-6277), where in front of each setting at each table there is a built-in soup pot complete with heat source. You order what you want to cook in the broth, including raw sliced beef or pork or a variety of seafood, add sauces, condiments, and vegetables, and put it into the pot, letting it cook right in front of you. It takes a bit of practice, but by the end of your meal, you’ll have the procedure down for the perfect, and hearty, Chinese soup.
Where the Editor Eats (Queens Version) -- Queens may not be the dining destination that Brooklyn is becoming, but there’s lots of good, eclectic cuisine, usually much less expensive than across the East River. Combine a trip to one or more of the western Queens attractions with a meal at one of my favorite spots off the N or Q train.
If you’re headed to the Museum of the Moving Image, walk a few blocks down 36th Avenue for lunch or dinner at Malagueta at 25–35 36th Ave., at 28th Street (tel. 718/937-4821). Chef Herbert Gomes combines his Brazilian background with his training at the French Culinary Institute to create a menu that has made his corner storefront into a favorite. (It’s regularly cited as one of the city’s best in Time Out New York’s annual “Cheap Eats” issue). It’s small, but classy, with original art on the walls and Brazilian music playing in the background. Such appetizers as linguiça sausage with yucca fries and cilantro mayo lead up to a menu of main courses rarely topping $15 (except for specials). My favorite regular entree is the picanha steak, served with rice and beans, and a delicate vinaigrette and farofa. There’s wine by the glass and bottle, and some scrumptious desserts (I like the passionfruit mousse). It’s open Tuesday to Thursday noon to 10pm; Friday noon to 11pm; Saturday 1 to 11pm; and Sunday 1 to 10pm. Subway: N or Q to 36th Ave/Washington Avenue.
Combine a visit to the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Garden with a stop at Sanford’s Restaurant, just off the Broadway stop on the N or Q line at 30–13 Broadway, in Astoria (tel. 718/935-9269; www.sanfordsnyc.com), which has been serving the neighborhood since 1930. Closed in late 2008 after a fire, its loyal clientele peered in the windows each day during renovation as the restaurant made itself over into a classy-looking Euro-style cafe. But when it reopened, under the stylish decor you could still find such favorites as “build your own” omelets and a fantastic chicken orzo soup, as well as excellent burgers. The buffed-up menu now features more entrees, ranging from a three-mushroom truffle risotto to a penne with smoked salmon and applewood bacon in a cream sauce. There’s also a well-chosen (and reasonable) beer and wine menu. Burgers and omelets generally run under $10, with dinner entrees (which include soup or salad) from $12 up, and popular prix-fixe brunch on weekends for $13. It’s open 24/7/365, and you might spot locals lingering over meals at any hour with their laptops using the Wi-Fi.
One of the few restaurants in the city serving pizza in a coal-fired oven (it cooks very quickly, and adds a crispness to the thin crust) is a couple blocks farther down Broadway at Sac’s Place at 25–41 Broadway (tel. 718/204-5002; www.sacsplace.com). Brothers Domenico and Anthony Sacramone have a full Italian menu, but it’s the pizza, made with homemade mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy, that gets the love from Astoria and beyond. Pizzas range from $9.95 to $20 for a cheese pizza, and there’s a long list of toppings, ranging from homemade meatballs to sautéed portobello mushroom in white wine. Mmm. It’s open Sunday to Thursday noon to 11pm, and Friday to Saturday noon to midnight.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.