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New York Drinking and Dining

New York City really has it all.
—The Ramones

The Leopard's affection is inevitably inspired by international cities, the kind that are uniquely shaped by a variety of cultures from all around the world, and New York City fits this niche better than any other city in the United States. During his time there, the Leopard took on the burden of exploring the abundant restaurants, cafés, dive bars, bistros, lounges, diners, wine bars, pasticceria, joints, biergartens, and food stands and has come up with this extensive list of recommendations that any visitor can use as a guide to pleasant dining and drinking experiences. Although most of these recommendations are in the low to moderate price range to suit the value-minded traveler, a few splurges are mentioned that offer quality of service and cuisine commensurate with price.


Chinatown and Little Italy
Lower East Side and SoHo
Greenwich Village
East Village
Midtown West
Midtown East
Upper West Side
Upper East Side
Harlem and Morningside Heights
Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill - Brooklyn
Astoria - Queens
Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside - Queens
Jackson Heights - Queens


Chinatown and Little Italy

These two ethnic enclaves are a contrast as Chinatown is still a living and thriving Chinese community, whereas Little Italy has become more of a tourist attraction and barely occupies more than one street. Accordingly, you're better off searching elsewhere for authentic Italian. Chinese restaurants, however, are plentiful and reliable.

146 Mulberry Street (between Hester Street and Grand Street)
I mention this pricey and somewhat touristy Italian restaurant on the main strip of Little Italy mainly as an assurance to all concerned that good Italian is still available in the neighborhood.

Double Happiness
173 Mott Street (between Broome Street and Grand Street)
Be warned that the entrance to this basement bar is unmarked, so you need to look for the address, but once you get in you realize why it's worth seeking out. Subdued lighting and corner seats lend almost a conspiratorial air to the atmosphere, and Asian decor offers a touch of the exotic. The cocktails are big and well-made and, best of all, come two-for-one between 6:00 and 7:00 pm from Sunday to Friday (hence the name).
Update: They say that nothing lasts in New York, but maybe it's more like nothing good lasts in New York, and I'm sad to report that Double Happiness had its final night on September 29, 2007. It is due to undergo renovation and re-open as an exclusive place for people who are able to make and spend a lot more money than most of us. Those of us who knew and loved it will not forget it, and for that reason the entry will remain on this page as a tribute to the end of an era.

Ferrara Bakery and Café
195 Grand Street (between Mulberry Street and Mott Street)
Though I don't frequent the Italian restaurants in Little Italy, I do find myself drawn to the dessert places, and Ferrara is a longstanding favorite in the neighborhood. The tiramisu is fantastic, as is the New York cheesecake.

Green Tea Café
45 Mott Street (at Bayard Street)
Tea shops are a special Chinatown treat, and this popular place is probably a good one for new initiates as it has more of a typical café feel. The menu, however, is authentic and encompasses a dizzying variety of coffee and tea drinks in both hot and iced variants. I am particularly fond of the teas flavored with tapioca pearls.

Joe's Shanghai
9 Pell Street (between Bowery and Doyers Street)
Known for its Shanghai style cuisine, Joe's is a Chinatown institution and popular for its soup dumplings, little doughy packets filled with meat and hot, flavorful soup that can be a challenge to eat for the uninitiated.

New Green Bo
66 Bayard Street (between Elizabeth Street and Mott Street)
YOu can walk into any joint in Chinatown and get a filling meal for cheap, though your relationship with your digestive system may be strained for the next hour or so. Thankfully, you can also find Chinese restaurants that are both cheap and better than average in quality. New Green Bo serves exceptionally fresh dishes (I am particularly fond of the vegetarian dumplings), though you may have to wait and sit with strangers at a common table.

Nha Trang 87 Baxter Street (between Canal Street and Bayard Street)
You really have to try to spend more than $8.00 a person at this very inexpensive Vietnamese restaurant. The special Nha Trang sauce is particularly spicy and wonderful and can be ordered with any meat or fish. They cater mainly to the lunch crowd, so if you're going for dinner try to get there by 8:00 pm or so as they close much earlier than most restaurants in the area.

Wo Hop
15 Mott Street (between Mosco Street and Worth Street)
For a taste of the Chinatown of old, Wo Hop is the place to go. The pictures on the walls attest to the many celebrities that have cycled through and made the place famous, and the food reminds one of a time of simpler (and yes, less healthy) cuisine.


Lower East Side and SoHo

Practically every neighborhood in Manhattan has a history of initial settling by immigrants followed by gentrification and, in the opinion of many, homogeneity. The Lower East was once notorious as being the most densely populated area of the nation (a visit to the East Side Tenement Museum can tell you more about the history) but is now home to trendy bars and trendier restaurants. SoHo of course takes the concept of trendy to even greater highs and lows.

Bar 89
89 Mercer Street (between Spring Street and Broome Street)
Walk into this very typically hip, modernist bar, order yourself a drink, enjoy your drink, and then use the bathroom upstairs. As most of the bars in SoHo are indistinguishable, you may as well drink in one with a fascinating bathroom. To say more would spoil the surprise.

Barrio Chino
253 Broome Street (between Ludlow Street and Orchard Street)
As signified by the name, Mexican food with a Chinese touch is the dominant cuisine here, or so I've heard. I actually skip the food and go right to the Tequila menu, which includes fifty varieties, among them some very fine reposados and añejos. No, you won't find Jose Cuervo Gold here. You also won't find much Tequila for less than $10 a shot, but each one comes on a tray with a sangrita chaser and they're all worth sipping and taking your time with. Or order a margarita if you prefer. They're done right here (I'm one who has strict requirements for a proper margarita) and made with a reposado. Those who know Tequila will tell you that anyplace that uses a reposado for a house Tequila is serious.

Café Colonial
73 E Houston Street (at Elizabeth Street)
There's something about brunch in New York City that tends to make one feel, well, civilized, and you will rarely find yourself searching for too long for a place serving brunch on a Sunday. Café Colonial has a pleasant European feel and serves up tasty variants on standard brunch fare, like their eggs and salmon with home fries.

Café Habana
17 Prince Street (at Elizabeth Street)
With a deserved reputation for unpretentious, tasty, and reasonably priced Cuban food, this place seldom fails to have a line in front, whether for the Latin-inspired brunch choices or the dinner selection, all served with the signature rice and beans.

135 Ludlow Street (between Rivington Street and Stanton Street)
For a quick snack in the area, I would highly recommend the unassuming and friendly Creperie for both savory and sweet crepes cooked up right before your eyes at the counter. Seating is sparse and consists mostly of bar stools, so try to jump on the one amber-encrusted table by the window if you wish to eat in.

Delancey Lounge
168 Delancey (Clinton Street)
By night, this popular place serves as a nightclub and live music scene. By day, the main appeal is the rooftop garden, which really has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. To get a sense of the ambience, imagine sitting on wooden tables in the shade of generously leafy plants before a gently babbling fountain, all within close range of the girders of the Williamsburg Bridge.

98 Rivington Street (at Ludlow Street)
Another restaurant in the splurge category, Inoteca specializes in Italian tapas that range from typical to exotic, including truffle egg toast, polenta, frittata, beet salad, eggplant lasagna, and various meats and cheese. I would especially recommend Inoteca for a group of six or more as with that number you can indulge in the tasting menu, a good value and an excellent way to fully sample the many delightful choices. Tempting dessert offerings include nutella panini, cheesecake, and fruit with mascarpone.

42 Rivington Street (between Forsyth Street and Eldridge Street)
We all love wine bars, some of us because we appreciate good wine but many just because we like to try something classier than the corner dive bar from time to time. However, sometimes finding one without snooty airs and high prices can be difficult. The intimate and friendly Jadis provides a nice alternative, with wine by the glass starting at $6 and lots of reasonable options by the carafe or bottle.

Katz's Delicatessen
205 East Houston Street (between Ludlow Street and Essex Street)
Yes, Katz's is very famous. Yes, a famous scene from a famous movie took place here (and a sign hangs over the famous table). Yes, the sandwiches are famously filling and tasty. The system of ordering and paying may seem odd at first, but you need not be daunted. Just take a ticket upon entry, order your food at the appropriate counter, and present the ticket for payment once you're finished.

Lombardi's Pizza
32 Spring Street (at Mott Street)
New York City is famous for pizza, and claiming any pizzeria as the best opens the door to endless arguments. Suffice it to say that Lombardi's is generally considered one of the top contenders, though they don't sell slices, only small and large pies, the former being perfect for two people. The restaurant recently annexed and spread into what was once a bar next door, so the lines are not quite as long as they used to be. They have also recently started to resort to the kind of manufactured old-time kitsch that I suppose is intended to attract tourists, but the food is still top quality.

7 Rivington Street (between Chrystie Street and Bowery)
In the summer the Biergarten in the back is the place to be; in colder weather the cellar proves to be a cozy venue. Either way, the long list of German beers on tap and food offerings are sure to please.

Once Upon a Tart
135 Sullivan Street (between Prince Street and Houston Street)
True to its name, this small SoHo café offers a variety of lovingly crafted tarts and assorted pastries to customers who vye aggressively for the sparse seating.

Parkside Lounge
317 E Houston Street (at Attorney Street)
The biggest appeal of this bar/lounge is the Friday Salsa night. A Latin band squeezes into the back room along with a crowd combining serious salsa dancers with first timers. A nominal cover charge gets you in and the irresistible rhythm gets you on the floor.

Le Petit Café
156 Spring Street (between W Broadway and Wooster Street)
True to its reputation, the SoHo dining and drinking scene is overpriced and bloated with attitude. Le Petit Café is a pleasant exception and serves tasty snacks, good cappuccino, and superior tiramisu.

Punch and Judy
26 Clinton Street (between E Houston Street and Stanton Street)
An elegant wine bar that serves good wine with various sandwiches and gourmet appetizers. However, my reason for repeat visits is the chocolate fondue, a big pot of drippy dark chocolate served with assorted fruits and cakes and just perfect for two.

90 Rivingston Street (between Orchard and Ludlow)
Some people come to this little tea shop hoping to catch a glimpse of Moby, who is one of the owners. I would recommend it for its extensive tea menu (bound in metal and offering a learning experience in tea varieties—did you know there's an oolong tea picked by monkeys?) and accompanying delights such as the scone of the day served with fruit jam and rich clotted cream.

Yonah Schimmel's
137 E Houston Street (between Forsyth Street and Eldridge Street)
If you like knishes, Yonah Schimmel's is the classic purveyor. If you don't know what a knish is, it's time to try one—this is your opportunity to discover yet another wonderful thing that can be done with the simple potato, and with Yonah Schimmel's variety you are sure to find something that suits your taste.


Greenwich Village

The area locals know of simply as the Village has undergone many changes in the last few decades and is no longer the Bohemian center it once was, and visitors might be surprised at the cost of eating and drinking in a neighborhood that made its reputation as a community of penniless artists. Still, it is a lovely place to go walking (and to inevitably get lost in the tangle of little streets), and the presence of New York University ensures the continued survival of the cheap meal.

Café de Bruxelles
118 Greenwich Avenue (between 13th Street and 12th Street)
As the name suggests, Café de Bruxelles serves classic Belgian cuisine. You could enjoy coming here just to sample one of the many Belgian beers, including some in 24 oz. bottles designed to share, but I would also recommend it for a nice dinner, though it is definitely in the splurge category. Starters include feuillete de champignons sauvage, flavorful wild mushrooms sautéed in a buttery wine sauce. Try them with the crusty bread that shows up on your table. All entrées come with pommes frites, and if you think Belgian frites are just a form of French fry, you're in for a pleasant surprise. For the main course, the traditional Belgian stew waterzooi is a good bet and comes in both chicken and seafood varieties. They also specialize in mussels. Do I need to tell you about the dark Belgian chocolate cake served for dessert? Forget I mentioned it.

Caffé Taci
10 Waverly Place (between Mercer Street and Greene Street)
Formerly located on the Upper West Side, this otherwise typical Italian-style caffé is popular for one reason: the opera singers who show up on Friday and Saturday evenings for impromptu performances. It's a great follow-up to an evening at the Met or the City Opera. Just be warned that there's a drink minimum at the bar and a food minimum at the tables. You're better off sitting at the bar.

Caffé Vivaldi
32 Jones Street (between Bleecker Street and 4th Street)
This European-style café offers both sidewalk tables for the summer and a comfortable, wood-paneled interior for the colder months. A full selection of wines, liquors, and coffee drinks are on the menu, and the desserts, particularly the sachertorte are delectable.

Corner Bistro
331 W 4th Street (at Jane Street)
Anyone who tells you that you can't get a good cheap meal in the Village is largely correct, but there are always exceptions, and the constant lines attest to the appeal of the Corner Bistro. You only need to be patient, and a tasty $4.50 burger accompanied by local favorite McSorley's beer for $2.00 will be yours.

Ear Inn
326 Spring Street (at Greenwich Street)
Housed in a Federal-style building, the Ear Inn is reputed to be one of the oldest bars in the city. It's even alleged to be haunted, but chances are the most frightening thing you'll find is a dearth of seating in the patio in front on a summer evening.

Elephant and Castle
68 Greenwich Avenue (between 10th Street and 11th Street)
Though you pay Village prices for what you get, it's worth it at this local favorite. From the breakfast omelettes to the filling entrees to the dessert crepes, everything is fashioned from simple ingredients and brought to you by a friendly staff.

French Roast Café
78 W 11th Street (at 6th Avenue)
Every now and then a true New Yorker needs the services of a twenty-four-hour restaurant. Some need them quite frequently, but those days are long past for me. French Roast serves up classic French café food along with standard diner offerings with flair and serves them whenever you want them.

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker Street (at 11th Street)
Cupcake fans queue up around the block for the rich and buttery confections doled out in huge batches by this small bakery. You get to choose and box your own, speeding up the process. There's no place to sit, but the little park outside has picnic benches where people enjoy their cupcakes.

510 Greenwich Street (at Spring Street)
Tapas places seem to be everywhere these days, but Basque tapas restaurants are still a rarity. Pintxos is small and quiet and a bit on the pricey side but worth a splurge for the expansive selection of cheeses and vegetarian, meat, and seafood tapas.


East Village

The East Village has the reputation that Greenwich Village once had (though Williamsburg across the water in Brooklyn is rapidly assuming the mantle), and that includes the artists, the hip attitudes, the dive bars, and the variety of cuisines. As the list below will attest, if you want no-hassle food you're better off here than in any other neighborhood in Manhattan. East of the East Village is the area known as Alphabet City, which was once a frontier but is now becoming encompassed into the Village's sphere.

324 Bowery (at Bleecker Street)
Providing Cuban tapas in an upscale setting, Agozar would be a pricey place for a full meal, but it can be a fine place to indulge in an appetizer or two (the shrimp in garlic is fantastic) and a well-made mojito.

Angelina Café
36 Avenue A (between 2nd Street and 3rd Street)
Yet another entry in the long and increasing list of East Village brunch places deserves a mention for being slightly out-of-the-way and for the sidewalk seating. The tasty French toast certainly doesn't hurt its appeal.

338 E 6th Street (between 1nd Avenue and 2rd Avenue)
If you can make it past the row of homogeneous Indian joints on 6th Street with their waiters posted outside trying to lure you in, you might make it to this Ethiopian restaurant. The combination plates are easily able to feed two people and come with your choice of meaty sauces, vegetables, and lentils spooned onto big pieces of spongy injera bread.

B&H Dairy
127 2nd Avenue (between 7th Street and 8th Street)
Essentially a tiny vegetarian lunch counter, B&H was once a kosher establishment and as such still prescribes to the prohibition against combining meat and dairy. Thus, at B&H you can get cheese but no meat (though they do have a tasty tuna melt). Everything here is filling and cheap.

Bar Veloce
175 2nd Avenue (between 11th Street and 12th Street)
This small place specializing in Italian wines and panini is easily recognized by the Vespa permanently chained outside. The atmosphere is Euro-cool and the drinks are priced accordingly.

185 Avenue C (between 11th Street and 12th Street)
This lively Cuban restaurant in the reaches of Alphabet City seems to pack in more patrons than can possibly fit, but nobody complains as they're too happy indulging in mojitos or sangria by the carafe and the filling entrees and sandwiches.

Ciao East
126 E 7th Street (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
Until recently known as Baldovino, this Italian trattoria is similar to many others of its kind with its decent wine list and fresh and tasty pasta dishes. Similar except for the vine-entwined garden in the back that can make a summer night into an exceptionally romantic experience, especially if the excellent house tiramisu and dessert wine are employed to finish the meal.

105 1st Avenue (between 6th Street and 7th Street)
I mention this somewhat pricey and very popular new East Village restaurant mainly so vegetarians don't feel left out in the "worth a splurge" category. Many of the entrees are well crafted variants of traditional meat dishes, and the chocolate and pepper soup dessert is a unique treat. The presence of a McDonald's across the street will either incense you or provide a sense of satisfaction.

Crif Dogs
113 8th Street (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
The last time I stopped by this eastern East Village staple, the film True Romance was playing on a video screen, which tends to sum up the aesthetic. The menu is sure to please anyone in the mood for hot dogs, and if you're really in the mood you can try one of the special bacon-wrapped dogs.

Cucina di Pesce
87 E 4th Street (between Bowery and 2nd Avenue)
Though I have never tried any of the titular fish dishes at this pleasant Italian place, I can vouch for the pastas and am particularly fond of the early evening special, Monday-Friday 4-6:30), which includes salad and wine at a discount price.

Curry Mahal
78 2nd Avenue (between 4th Street and 5th Street)
Though in my opinion you're better off going uptown a bit to "Curry Hill" in Midtown East for South Asian cuisine, Curry Mahal is worth mentioning as a reliable place for Indian food staples. I would also highly recommend this restaurant over the line of Indian joints on 6th Street between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue where waiters try to lure you in with the promise of authentic food, cheap prices, and soothing sitar music. The joke is that all of these places get their food from a common kitchen hidden in the back, which should give you some indication of the quality you can expect.

41 1st Avenue (between 2nd Street and 3rd Street)
If for some reason I were limited to only one bar in New York, DBA would be the one simply because the selection is extensive. Don't bother coming here if all you want is a Budweiser or a well drink. The blackboard over the bar is crammed with a lengthy list of bourbons, Scotchs, cognacs, Irish whiskeys, tequilas, rums, vodkas, and most other types of liquor. The draft beer list rotates constantly, and they always have a couple of cask-conditioned offerings. Do you need any other reasons to come here? How about backyard seating and a dollar off every drink every night until 7:30?

Flor's Kitchen
149 1st Avenue (between 9th Street and 10th Street)
Venezuelan cuisine is ably represented in the East Village by this intimate place that serves up tasty arepas, plantains, and main dishes accompanied with beans and rice. The sangria is good as well and can be ordered by the pitcher.

85 E 4th Street (between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue)
Popular with the artsy set, this bar earns its name and Eastern Bloc chic decor due to once housing the headquarters of the Ukrainian Communist Party. Enjoy the varieties of vodka and Russian beer.

14 1st Avenue (between 1st Street and 2nd Street)
Though this bistro has a reputation for unpretentious and fulfilling French food, I have to confess that I have never had a meal here, but I have indulged in the wine selection and the exceptionally fine desserts.

170 Thompson Street (between Houston Street and Bleecker Street)
The Italian osteria Lupa is one of my favorites in the "worth a splurge" category. You really cannot go wrong with the menu, but I would particularly recommend the house-made sausage and pasta dishes. Everything relies on expert preparation of simple, quality ingredients. Reservations are a must any night of the week.

Little Poland
200 2nd Avenue (between 12th Street and 13th Street)
Eastern European cuisine is one of the staples of the East Village. Kiev and Veselka are the most popular, but I would also recommend other places like this Polish restaurant. The special comes loaded with a hefty portion of kielbasa, sauerkraut, and potato pierogis.

99 Avenue B (between 6th Street and 7th Street)
Run by an old-school New York punk rocker with the decor and juke box to show it, Manitoba's is a great place to go with a small group as they have good beer (such as prime brews from the local favorite the Brooklyn Brewery) by the pitcher.

Marion's Continental
354 Bowery (between Great Jones Street and 4th Street)
For an extensive cocktail menu in a classy setting, Marion's is the place to try. You can even peek into the special "X-rated" drink menu if you dare.

Mary Ann's
300 E 5th Street (at 2nd Avenue)
This Mexican restaurant has two prime virtues that are irresistible on a warm summer evening: huge margaritas and sidewalk seating. The food choices are satisfying, but be sure to get that outside table if you can; otherwise you'll have to endure the rather loud interior atmosphere.

21-23 E 7th Street (between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue)
Even in a neighborhood known for good restaurant deals, this Burmese place stands out for astonishing value. I won't tell you just how cheap the seven-day-a-week lunch special is because you may conclude that the food couldn't possibly be any good at such a price, but I can assure you that the menu is full of worthy choices. I especially recommend one of the cold noodle dishes for a unique treat.

Mission Café
82 2nd Avenue (at 5th Street)
The East Village has a genuine need for a huge volume of cafés simply so that the residents can escape the confines of their shoebox-sized studio apartments and have someplace to read, socialize, or work on their laptops for the price of a coffee. I find Mission's cozy atmosphere and food offerings a cut above those of the average café.

194 1st Avenue (at 12th Street)
Another fine Polish restaurant, Neptune has combination plates to allow sampling of the pierogis, potato pancakes, blintzes, kielbasa, and other traditional favorites.

119 Avenue A (between 7th Street and 8th Street)
Though its menu is similar to that of Veselka, diner food combined with Eastern European specialties, Odessa is more unassuming and tucked-away, allowing for a more relaxed dining experience.

Paul's Place
131 2nd Avenue (between 7th Street and 8th Street)
When you walk in you can obviously tell that Paul's has been in the neighborhood for a long time just by the mish-mash of clippings, detritus, and cast-off toys that passes for decor. These elements should clue you in that Paul's is the real thing: a classic burger 'n' fries joint that serves up large beef or turkey burgers with all of the fixings accompanied by greasy fries and, should you be so inclined, tall, creamy milk shakes.

Punjabi Grocery and Deli
114 E 1st St. (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
Although it looks like a typical Indian grocery store from the outside, the constant clutch of South Asian cab drivers who park their cabs in a mess out front should tell you two things: 1) The food is cheap, 2) The food is the closest to Punjabi home cooking you can find without trying to finagle an invitation to your Sikh friend's mother's home. A heap of rice with your choice of two vegetable dishes was $3.00 the last time I checked. Note that there is no seating to speak of inside.

157 Avenue C (at 10th Street)
Though you may find the Pulp Fiction reference in the "Royale with cheese" a bit precious, the burgers themselves are anything but. Order a basic burger for $6 and you get a good hunk of finely grilled beef on a tasty bun. Indulge in excellent fries for $3 extra. Add good beer on tap, seating in a backyard garden, and a mellow atmosphere that continues when other bars in the area are packed and loud, and I think you'll agree that Royale is worth the walk.

209 E 5th Street (between 2nd Avenue and Bowery)
Bars that require you to descend down below street level always seem a little more cozy, especially if the lighting is low and the tables of solid wood. The 4:00-8:00 pm happy hour adds even more appeal to this peaceful and pleasant place.

304 Bowery (at Bleecker Street)
It's never a challenge to find a decent bar in the East Village. However, it is definitely a challenge to find a bar with a place to sit on a weekend night. Despite friendly servers, palatable bar food, and a good selection of Irish and English beer, this pub tends to be quieter than its neighbors on a Friday or Saturday, which may be just the thing depending on your mood.

212 E 9th Street (between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue)
This Tibetan restaurant is fairly good support to the claim that you can find just about everything in the East Village. A relaxing, almost meditative atmosphere puts one in the right mood to try the momos (steamed dumplings) and the Tsampa plate, offering a sample of many Tibetan specialties.

Two Boots
74 Bleecker Street (at Broadway)
I have heard more than one East Village resident complain about a peculiar enigma of the neighborhood: you can get just about any kind of food in the East Village, but you can't find truly good pizza. Two Boots isn't in the same league as the venerable Lombardi's on the Lower East Side, but it does serve slices and pies with a Cajun twist and plenty of unique ingredients.

Uncle Ming's
225 Avenue B (between 13th Street and 14th Street)
If you want to feel like you're at an exclusive nightclub, you can go to Chelsea, dress your hippest, get in line, and hope for the best. If you want to feel exclusive without getting stared down by judgmental, surly bouncers or paying exorbitant door charges, you can try Uncle Ming's. You won't find any sign on the doorway—you just need to know it's there, hence the exclusivity. Inside, you'll enjoy DJ music and a casual scene.

342 E 11th Street (between 1st Avenue and 2nd Avenue)
Since 1894, this classic Italian-style pasticceria has served up a panoply of desserts including New York-style ricotta cheesecake and a variety of cannoli. The lines are long and you may be better off getting something to go, but if you do get a seat you'll find that the mirrored walls give the illusion of more space than there actually is.

144 2nd Avenue (at 9th Street)
One of the most well-known of the local Eastern European restaurants, this Ukrainian place is particularly popular due to being open 24 hours a day. The menu is extensive and ranges from standard diner choices to regional specialties. The pierogi plate is a perennial favorite.

Waikiki Wally's
101 E 2nd Street (between Avenue A and 1st Avenue)
The tiki movement was always more of a west coast phenomenon, but you would never know that stepping into Waikiki Wally's. The drink menu is characterized by fruit-sweetened umbrella-topped concoctions that hide a generous dose of alcohol that tends to sneak up on you. If there's enough of you, you must try the volcano bowl, a large vessel with flames shooting up from the center and enough liquor to level everyone at your table.

174 First Avenue (between 10th Street and 11th Street)
If you're looking for an authentic Spanish tapas experience, Xunta is one of the best places to try. The menu has an extensive number of meat and vegetarian selections that anyone who has been to Spain would likely be pleased with, and the sangria doesn't hurt. Just be warned that the service can be a bit, well, leisurely.


Midtown West

Though this region encompasses Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, most visitors tend to end up in the gravity well that is Times Square and the Theatre District, which is one of the worst areas to find decent food as many restaurants make solid, unrepentant business by selling low-quality dishes for inflated prices to tourists who don't (but should) know better. Thus, my challenge is partly to point out places that won't excessively increase the already hefty amount you will end up paying for a night on Broadway.

Blue Moon Mexican Café
150 8th AVenue (between 17th Street and 18th Street)
A visitor to the city might go out for brunch some morning or afternoon and be surprised and delighted to find a place that includes an alcoholic drink with the price of the meal. Said visitor might realize that indeed it is difficult to find a brunch place that does not offer up an average quality but sippable cocktail with the dish. Indeed, the practice is common in the city. Not only does the Blue Moon serve a decent brunch with a Latin twist (the huevos rancheros are particularly enjoyable) and a Bloody Mary on the side, but it's also a good place to watch the hip residents of Chelsea flaunt their latest styles.

Café Loup
105 W 13th Street (between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue)
Although the interior space seems rather large at first glance, Café Loup actually allows for a fairly intimate dining experience, perhaps due to the abundance of cozy wood furnishings and the friendly staff. Worth a splurge for a quiet and generously portioned dinner.

Chung Moo Ro
10 W 32nd Street (between 5th Avenue and Broadway)
If you walk south on Broadway past the shopping mecca of Herald Square on 34th Street, you might be surprised to suddenly come across a small Korea town, the place to go in Manhattan for Korean BBQ. One of my favorites among the huddle of restaurants on the little stretch of W 32nd is Chung Moo Ro. The grills built into the stainless steel tables should tell you immediately that they take barbecue seriously. In addition to the meat entrees cooked right at your table I would recommend the pancakes filled with seafood or scallions. The entrees come with a host of spicy small dishes that broaden the spectrum of flavor. Although dishes are not cheap, you can get a good value by going in a group of four or more and not ordering too much.

City Bakery
3 W 18th Street (between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue
I am told that this busy café is a good place for celebrity-watching (probably best done from the upper level), but I have personally never had much success. I can, however, recommend the superbly rich hot chocolate.

Fat Witch Bakery
Chelsea Market (15th Street and 9th Avenue)
The Chelsea Market is an odd sort of indoor mall with an industrial aesthetic and gourmet restaurants and shops. It's a fun place to visit, and early evenings on Saturdays there's a free tango milonga. The Fat Witch brownie bakery is yet another draw and serves a variety of densely flavored brownies to go.

Sacco Pizza
819 9th Avenue (between 54th Street and 55th Street)
If you're in the Theatre District or visiting the Museum of Modern Art and you want a serious slice of classic New York pizza, keep walking . . . west that is, down to 9th Avenue, which may seem out of your way but I can guarantee you the walk is worth it for a visit to Sacco, one of the few classic Italian pizza-by-the-slice joints left in Manhattan. You'll know immediately you're at the right place when you don't see a row of pies decaying under heat lamps. At Sacco you get it fresh. The crust is as thin as can be and crispy, and the cheese and sauce are made from quality ingredients.

104 W 13th Street (between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue)
For a romantic dinner with exotic decor, I would recommend this Middle Eastern cafe and restaurant. A variety of Mediterranean specialties are offered, including kebabs, meat with cous cous, curries, and ouzi (a Syrian dish baked in filo dough). Best of all, the Algerian and Lebanese wines by the bottle are very affordable.

Yum Yum Bangkok
650 9th Avenue (between 45th Street and 46th Street)
I mention this Thai restaurant chiefly as a good-value choice for the theatre district. The menu includes a variety of curry dishes that can be paired with the meat of your choice.


Midtown East

It's a bit unfair to encompass all of this very diverse region under one category, and each of the various neighborhoods has its own character, from the office sprawl of the East 50's to the hominess of Gramercy Park. For food, I find that the northern area tends to cater to the lunch and expense account crowd and much prefer the southern districts. I particularly favor the little section of the Murray Hill neighborhood around E 28th Street and Lexington that is affectionately called "Curry Hill" due to the many South Asian restaurants and stores.

Bangkok Grand Palace
882 1st Avenue (between 49th Street and 50th Street)
As the northern areas of Midtown East are hardly the best places to find good eats for good prices, an unpretentious ethnic restaurant like Bangkok Palace, which might escape notice in a neighborhood like the East Village, stands out. Just up the street from the United Nations headquarters, the Palace is a great place to enjoy Thai food and toast internationalism after taking a tour of the famous interior of the UN building.

Buttercup Bake Shop
973 2nd Avenue (between 51st Street and 52nd Street)
A cousin to the Magnolia Bakery in the Village, Buttercup is generally not as crowded (you can frequently find a seat) but offers the same decadently tasty cupcakes and other desserts. I am a particular fan of the German chocolate, but the red velvet cake also has a fine reputation.

Frank's Pizza
127 E 23rd Street (between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue)
You can hardly pass a block in Manhattan without encountering a small pizza-by-the-slice joint. All provide a quick, cheap snack when you need it and serve basic, scarcely indistinguishable pizza, but there are those that surpass the average. Frank's has the distinction of being such a place.

Grand Central Oyster Bar Saloon
Dining Concourse of Grand Central Station (42nd Street at Park Avenue)
Descending into the vaulted lower levels of Grand Central Station is an experience in itself, but to enjoy the atmosphere you should have a sit in the Oyster Bar, a favorite among travelers since 1913. You can probably have a great meal here whether or not you're waiting for a train, but I would recommend seeking out the Saloon (to the right after entering the Oyster Bar), entry to which is of course afforded by a pair of swinging doors. Here, old school bartenders mix up fine, cold martinis and other cocktails for customers who appreciate craftsmanship in a drink. And nothing goes better with a cocktail than a plate of fresh raw oysters. If you settle in here be warned that you might just miss your train and you might not care.

Kate Kearney's
251 E 50th Street (between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue)
The north region of Midtown East is filled with pubs and lounges that get packed with the suit-and-tie crowd soon after quitting time. Kate Kearney is a welcome exception: a small, honest pub with a local clientele.

365 3rd Avenue (between 26th Street and 27th Street)
Irish pubs abound in Midtown East and can be relied on for good beer and generally good food. McCormack's has lots of seating and enough screens that there isn't a bad view in the house when a game's on. The $10.05 brunch is served until 4:00 pm, and I can particularly recommend the authentic Irish breakfast, a prodigious plate loaded with potatoes, fried eggs, sausage, black pudding, mushrooms, toast, and bacon.

287 Third Avenue (between 22nd Street and 23rd Street)
Another fine Irish pub, Molly's has a particularly welcoming cozy wooden interior and a friendly staff. The Guinness is perfect and the food tasty.

Old Town Bar and Restaurant
45 E 18th Street (between Broadway and Park Avenue)
How often do you find a bar that has been around since 1892 and has the furnishings to prove it? It's difficult to believe that just north of the bustle of Union Square you can sit in a classic watering and eating hole with a beautiful pressed tin ceiling, mahogany bar, and other ornamental details. To fully appreciate the mechanics of another era, order one of their reputedly excellent hamburgers and watch it ascend in the working dumbwaiter.

Penelope Café
159 Lexington Avenue (at 30th Street)
A thoroughly charming little place that has a way of sucking customers into a relaxing brunch experience. The $11.00 prix fixe is popular, but individual dishes are worthy too, particularly the Penny egg sandwich.

110 Lexington Avenue (between 27th Street and 28th Street)
After Joy, Pongal is probably my second favorite of "Curry Hill"'s Indian restaurants. This one is strictly vegetarian and kosher, and it is sure to satisfy anyone in the mood for classic South Indian fare like dosai and utthapams.

311 Second Avenue (between 18th Street and 19th Street)
One of the two locations of this Thai restaurant that I know of, this one on an otherwise uninspiring stretch of 2nd Avenue. You will have a hard time not being satisfied with the many choices of noodle dishes and preparations for meat and seafood.

Push Café
294 3rd Avenue (between 22nd Street and 23rd Street)
A pleasant place with sofas that fairly successfully makes the transition from quiet place to go to read or chat over coffee during the day to hopping lounge with music at night.

37 Union Square West (between 16th Street and 17th Street)
Though the huge space and bench seating is hardly conducive to an intimate dining experience, I would recommend this conveniently located restaurant for its freshly prepared and nicely spiced variety of noodle and rice dishes.

Shake Shack
South end of Madison Square Park (E 23rd Street and Madison Avenue)
Staunch defenders have dubbed the burgers here as the best in the city, and even those who don't agree would hardly argue with the prices (starting at $3.50 for a basic burger) or the outdoor seating in one of the city's loveliest parks. The titular shakes are also a big seller. Just be prepared to wait in a long line if the weather is nice.

Union Square Café
21 E 16th Street (between 5th Avenue and Union Square West)
Squarely in the "worth a splurge" category, this restaurant is considered one of New York's finest and is a fixture in Zagat's top ten. My own experience was very pleasant, both with the lunch menu and with the dessert selections.


Upper West Side

The two fifty-block stretches that flank Central Park have very different characters, as residents of each one will be sure to tell you. The Upper West is known as less snobbish and more accessible to us common folk, though sometimes the distinction seems minor at best. Because out-of-towners are generally in this neighborhood to visit Lincoln Center, I have concentrated on recommendations in that area.

Elite Café
185 Columbus Avenue (between 68th Street and 69th Street)
I encountered this crowded but very reasonable diner while searching for a decent brunch before a matinee at Lincoln Center. It satisfied my need with a decent stack of pancakes and a comfortable table to watch the morning action on bustling Columbus Avenue.

Fine and Schapiro
138 W 72nd Street (between Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue)
Though not as well-known as the big three New York Jewish delis (Katz's, Carnegie, and the recently closed Second Avenue), Fine and Schapiro deserves a mention for its generous portions of tasty food (splitting a sandwich and soup is plenty for two people, especially with the huge bowl of pickles that comes with every meal), friendly service, classic pedigree, and local feel.

La Fortuna
69 W 71st Street (between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West)
The perfect place to go before or after a performance at the nearby Metropolitan or City Opera. You'll hear classic arias on the jukebox and see pictures of the divas and tenors who have made appearances in seasons past. The desserts are tasty and the backyard garden is a great venue for coffee on a warm day.

1900 Broadway (between 63rd Street and 64th Street)
I mention this gourmet deli mainly because it's one of the few reasonably priced eateries near Lincoln Center. If you're trying to make a performance, you can grab a quick wrap or sandwich and enjoy it at a table on the sidewalk if the weather is nice.

240 Columbus Avenue (at 71st Street)
Malaysian food in a slightly upscale but not overbearing setting. The rice and noodle dishes are generally a good value and boast a variety of unique spices. The downstairs lounge is a great place to get a drink if you need to wait for a table.


Upper East Side

Though I hesitate to automatically buy into stereotypes, I have to admit that I have a difficult time finding restaurants I like on the Upper East. A certain blandness seems to be the unifying aesthetic of much of the cuisine, and perhaps the local residents prefer it that way. However, as a visitor you will surely end up in this region as the Metropolitan, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, and a few other key museums can be found here, so I will do my best to list some pleasant establishments.

1431 3rd Avenue (at 81st Street)
Turkish cuisine pops up here and there in the city, and this restaurant named after a neighborhood in Istanbul is one of the more authentic I have tried. Like any proper Turkish place, you can make a meal with just the mezes (appetizers) and bread. I highly recommend the house-made pistachio-laden baklava.

Café Sabarsky
In the Neue Galerie (1048 5th Avenue at 86th Street)
The Neue Galerie is devoted to modern German and Austrian art, but even if that genre doesn't attract you the ground floor café is a great destination after visiting any of the nearby museums or the park. Sabarsky is a classic Viennese café with all the vital touches. Yes, you can get a kaiser melange. Yes, the coffee drinks are presented on silver trays accompanied with glasses of water on which spoons are balanced. Yes, the desserts, including sachertorte, apfelstrudel, and linzertorte, are superb. Be prepared to splurge a little but also be prepared for delight.

Nectar Coffee Shop
1022 Madison Avenue (at 79th Street)
Naturally, one needs a dependable eating establishment near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and this little diner fits the bill with its good variety of breakfast options, sandwiches, and salads as well as full meals.

Soup Burg
922 Madison Avenue (between 73rd Street and 74th Street)
Despite the name, I wouldn't call this diner a veritable castle of soup, but they do serve a good selection of burgers and sandwiches in a pleasant setting.


Harlem and Morningside Heights

Except for the gigantic yet still majestic St. John's Cathedral, visitors rarely have much occasion to make it north of 110th Street in Manhattan, yet it is rapidly becoming the one area where middle-income residents can find affordable housing. The drinking and dining scene is accordingly thriving, and the presence of Columbia University in Morningside Heights guarantess a large student population.

2911A Broadway (between 113th Street and 114th Street)
This small Lebanese place is the one to choose for cheap and filling Mediterranean staples.

Amy Ruth's
113 W 116th Street (at Lenox Avenue)
Harlem's soul food restaurants attract diners from all of the five boroughs and beyond and afford the visitor a great opportunity to come to one of the least gentrified neighborhoods in the city (though that is slowly changing). Sylvia's is the most famous and is a regular stop on bus tours. Amy Ruth's is less popular but an easier place to get a table. Soul food staples abound in healthy portions. I can particularly recommend the breakfast menu, served until 1:00 pm, with startling and unbeatable combinations like the waffles served with deep-fried battered fish.

Hungarian Pastry Shop
1030 Amsterdam Avenue (between 110th Street and 111th Street)
Although it's crammed with students from nearby Columbia University at nearly every hour of the day, this bakery and café does its best to create an Austro-Hungarian mood with Germanic pastries and a fantastic concoction of espresso, milk, whipped cream, and cinnamon called a Hungarian coffee.


Brooklyn and Queens

Chances are that as a visitor you won't be spending much time in any of the outer boroughs outside of riding through them on your way to or from the airport. However, there are sections of Brooklyn and Queens that offer diversions for the enterprising traveller, so I will make some recommendations with these sites in mind. Queens, by the way, is considered the most ethnically diverse county in the entire nation and has a variety of cuisine to match, so anyone on a serious culinary adventure would do well to spend some time there.


Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill - Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Heights area, near downtown Brooklyn, is worth a detour from Manhattan simply for the Brooklyn Promenade, which provides one of the most fantastic views of the city in all its glass-and-steel magnificence. Farther south are Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, two pleasantly residential neighborhoods with main drags that offer nice drinking and dining experiences.

Bar Tabac
128 Smith Street (at Dean Street)
An excellent bistro and café that satisfies whether you're in the mood for French favorites or just a drink.

175 Smith Street (between Warren Street and Wyckoff Street)
Like the Gowanus Yacht Club up the street, Boat is a nice bar with a nautical name, but, unlike the Gowanus, without the nautical atmosphere to match. Instead, Boat offers what many with hip taste in music consider one of the best jukeboxes in the city.

Gowanus Yacht Club
323 Smith Street (at President Street)
The name is a Brooklyn in-joke as the Gowanus is a slimy canal that hardly invites yachting nor any other water activities, but the place itself is a pleasant bar with nautical decor, outdoor seating, and grilled food.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria
19 Old Fulton Street (between Water Street and Front Street)
Frequently cited as Brooklyn's best pizzeria, Grimaldi's is the perfect place to come once you've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (a journey I would particularly recommend) and are ready for lunch. It's also the perfect place to go if you're a Frank Sinatra fan, and you will see testaments to the singer's legacy all over the walls. The pizza is really very fine too.

Magnetic Field
97 Atlantic Avenue (between Henry Street and Hicks Street)
One of the most popular destinations for locals out for drinks and a fun time, Magnetic Field keeps the scene fresh with readings, DJ music, live bands, and karaoke. They also boast a good bourbon menu.

Robin des Bois
195 Smith Street (between Warren Street and Baltic Street)
A French-style eatery and café without pretensions and the added bonuses of backyard seating, funky furniture, and good prices on glasses of wine.

Sweet Melissa
276 Court Street (between Douglass Street and Butler Street)
Court Street runs parallel to Smith Street and is another main strip for eating and drinking, though it's more low-key and emphasizes a neighborhood feel. One of the best destinations on the street is this small café that provides both fine coffees and teas (steeped at your table with leaves in a pot—no tacky bags here) and tempting desserts. The cozy interior resembles a Victorian tea room in the best way, and the garden in back is perfect for the summer.

283 Smith Street (at Sackett Street)
Simple, tasty, and reasonable Mediterranean food in an elegant setting attracts local denizens to this corner eatery. The BYOB policy is a plus.


Astoria - Queens

An old residential neighborhood of Queens, Astoria is home to a dizzying variety of ethnicities. Greek immigrants once made up the majority of the population, but these days you can find plenty of Latinos and Eastern Europeans. It's not unusual to walk down a block in Astoria and hear five different languages on your way. The eating scene is also diverse. Travellers may find themselves out here to visit the Museum of the Moving Image, associated with the Kaufman-Astoria studios, the largest film studio on the east coast. Fans of sculptor Isamu Noguchi will be delighted by the garden museum devoted to his works.

29-19 Broadway (at 29th Street)
Astoria is famous for its Greek restaurants, the most popular being Uncle George. I also like Aliada a few blocks down the street. In addition to the huge meat platters and salads, they serve reasonably priced sandwiches and a selection of Greek wines. Sidewalk seating is a big draw in the summer.

Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
29-19 24th Avenue (between 29th Street and 31st Street)
One of the few true beer gardens in the city, the Bohemian has been a favorite for a few years now among the young drinking set of Queens. Upon entering, you will find yourself in a medium-sized bar with plenty of Czech decor, but a little bit of exploring will bring you to the restaurant downstairs where you can feast on Czech and Eastern European specialties and, best of all, a huge backyard space filled with cafeteria tables where you can get sausages, burgers, and hot dogs at the grill in summer. Czech beers like Pilsner Urquell and Czechvar (the American import version of the original Czech Budvar, or Budweiser) are available throughout. Be warned that the beer garden fills up quickly in nice weather, and you might face a line around the block on a summer evening.

Cevabdzinica Sarajevo
37-18 34th Avenue (at 38th Street)
Places like this Bosnian restaurant help reinforce the notion that New York has every type of cuisine available. Sarajevo is popular with the local Eastern European community, but others need not be afraid as there are menus with pictures and the staff is very helpful with telling you about the dishes. The borek (pastry stuffed with meat or cheese) is baked fresh and is a particular delight. Many of the other dishes consist of various types of meat kebabs served with rice and spongy bread. The adventurous should try the meat combination platter, a weighty mixed grill of sausages, liver, and kidneys.

Romano Famous Pizza
32-21 Broadway (at 32rd Street)
The typical corner joint in Astoria is likely to specialize in both pizza and quick Greek cuisine. Romano's stands apart from the herd for its better-than-average pizza available by the pie or by the slice and for its neighbhorhood feel.

Sabor Tropical
36-18 30th Avenue (at 36th Street)
Brazilian immigration has increased in Astoria in recent years and is reflected in a crop of Brazilian restaurants. The dishes at this friendly place are huge and served with fries, rice, and beans.

Sanford Diner
30-13 Broadway (at 30th Street)
It's always nice to walk into what appears to be a basic diner and find that the food is just a little more special than you suspected and the care taken in its preparation is evident. Sanford offers just that experience, which distinguishes it among the crush of restaurants on Broadway.

Thai Pavilion
37-10 30th Avenue (at 37th Street)
Every neighborhood deserves stupendous Thai food, and Thai Pavilion is one of the best in Astoria.

Viva el Mariachi
31-11 Broadway (between 31st Street and 32nd Street)
You won't generally find the mariachi bands that sometimes invade subway cars in the city here, but you may have to put up with a Spanish telenovela turned up much too loud on the television, but that should just help convince you that this Mexican restaurant is a place where locals like to go, and deservedly so as the food is exceptional, particularly the succulent soft tacos.


Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside - Queens

For visitors, the main attraction of Long Island City is PS1, a contemporary art museum affiliated with MOMA that utilizes a former public school to good effect. Afterwards, you could do worse than travel a few stops east on the 7 line and take in the leafy, relaxed neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside for a bite or a drink.

Café Mocha
43-24 Greenpoint Avenue (at 43rd Street)
A welcoming little lounge and bistro where you can order food or just indulge in their specials on sangria, mojitos, and margaritas. Live music and other events are frequent.

De Mole
45-02 48th Avenue (at 45th Street)
Frequently cited as one of the best Mexican restaurants in Queens and formerly known as El Jarro, De Mole's "gringo-friendly" atmosphere may at first seem suspicious, but one bite of one of the entrees dispels all concerns. The mole smothering the enchiladas is delicately spiced and suffused with a subtle palate of flavors, the soft tacos burst with chunks of finely grilled meat, and the guacamole is fresh, "smashed to order." This place gets very busy in the evening, and the BYOB policy certainly helps to draw in the crowds.

39-17 Queens Boulevard (at 39th Place)
Though it's not initially obvious, Sunnyside is the center of a small Turkish community, and one finds that Turkish coffee, canned mezes, and other Turkish specialties are readily available in the local grocery stores. Accordingly, some of the city's best Turkish restaurants can also be found here, and Hemsin is my favorite. You can start your morning with a breakfast plate complete with two kinds of Turkish cheeses, olives, eggs, tomatoes, and bread. Simple lunch offerings include kebab sandwiches and pide (Turkish pizza). Dinner allows you to indulge in a full spread of mezes (appetizers), available in a combination plate for maximum sampling, and the fantastic and filling grilled entrees. They have a BYOB policy, and I recommend going across the street to the discount wine and liquor store and procuring a bottle of Kavaklidere Turkish wine as the ideal accompaniment to your meal.
Update: I have been informed that Hemşin has closed and re-opened as a seafood restaurant called Marmara. The menu appears to be largely the same except for the addition of several seafood main dishes.

Sri Pra Phai
64-13 39th Avenue (between 64th Street and 65th Street)
Thai restaurants are numerous and generally reliable, but only rarely do you find a Thai place that attracts diners from all over the city. Sri Pra Phai is a Thai restaurant that even Manhattanites consider worth the trip to Queens. The menu is exceptionally extensive (they even have four kinds of rice), which may be cause for concern in some restaurants, but here you can count on everything being fresh and crafted with quality ingredients. And when they say spicy, they actually mean spicy, so you would be well-advised to ask for mild strength preparation. The backyard garden makes for an even more inviting experience.

Tangra Asian Fusion Cuisine
39-23 Queens Boulevard (at 39th Place)
Personally, I am very suspicious of the word "fusion" when it comes to restaurants as it tends to denote overpriced and pretentious cuisine. Tangra, however, is an exception. Though some people may call it Indian-Chinese fusion, the food served here is actually traditional in the sense that it is the style of Chinese cuisine that has been common in India for some time, characterized by Indian spices applied to Chinese dishes in a peculiar but intriguing way. Many of the dishes can be served either "dry" or with "gravy," which denotes a sort of curry. The largely South Asian clientele further testifies to the authenticity of the food.


Jackson Heights - Queens

The farthest out in Queens a visitor is likely to get is Flushing Meadows, where you might attend a Mets game or the U.S. Open or just stroll around the former site of the 1964 World's Fair and the Queens Museum. I am sure there are plenty of places to get a bite nearby, but I always opt to instead make a stop on the way out or back in the Jackson Heights neighborhood, a concentrated enclave of South Asian restaurants and stores that will remind one of Devon Avenue in Chicago or Brick Lane in London.

Delhi Palace
37-33 74th Street (between 37th Avenue and 37th Road)
Unlike most of the other restaurants on the block, which specialize exclusively in North Indian cuisine, the Delhi Palace has a good selection of South Indian dishes, including an excellent masala dosa.

Dhaka Kabab and Biriyani House
37-11 73rd St (between 37th Avenue and 37th Road)
This Bengali restaurant is the kind of place people steer away from as the lack of menus and signs in English doesn't tend to welcome the average restaurant goer. However, I recommend this place over many of the other, nearly identical eateries in the area for the high quality of the food. The restaurant is combined with a grocery and a butcher shop, which helps to explain the freshness of ingredients that definitely don't come from a can. The offerings represent regional Bengali cooking and change daily, so just go up to the counter and order what looks good. Definitely try the amazing vegetable samosas.

Indian Taj
37-23 74th Street (between 37th Avenue and 37th Road)
If the Jackson Diner (below) is too crowded for your taste, the more intimate and generally less frequented Indian Taj is a good alternative, and they also have a good lunch buffet that will leave you full to bursting with curries, naan, and rice pudding.

Jackson Diner
37-47 74th Street (between 37th Avenue and 37th Road)
Despite the name, the Jackson Diner has actually been one of the most popular Indian restaurants in the city for many years. The interior eschews the standard elephant-and-Krishna motifs for more of a modernist cafeteria look, and the place is always busy. The lunch buffet is a big draw and allows a sampling of the abundant delights on the menu.

Rajbhog Sweets
72-27 37th Avenue (at 73rd Street)
Locals love to come here to indulge in the huge variety of sweets displayed in a dizzying spectrum of colors under glass and behind the counter. Whether your taste runs to syrup-drenched gulab jamun or milky burfi or sugary laddoos, you can find it here. Just as famous is the selection of Indian snacks, collectively known as chaat. You can get samosas, chickpeas, and other delights smothered in yogurt and cilantro in sizes big enough to share for cheap prices.

Last update for this page: 14 August 2008