I spent some time in New York City for work earlier this year. Three months in the city gave me plenty of time to try a few restaurants… In no particular order here are 55 micro reviews of the bars and restaurants I tried… Have a favorite NYC restaurant of your own? Let me know about it in the comments.
PDT: the quintessential NYC speak easy. Walk into the dives but delicious Criff Dog on St. Marks, enter the antique phone booth on the left, and put your name on the list. While you wait go across the street for a rare beer or three at Proletariat. Once you get into PDT prepare yourself for some crazy delicious cocktails. Feed your hunger with the Torres tots and a John John Dory Dog (bacon, cream cheese, scallion and everything bagel seasoning). Didn’t care too much for the PDT only dogs but if you’re going to do one, do the mission Chinese mapo tofu covered dog. Also, PDT has the best cocktail ice program in the city.
Proleteriat: best place to wait for your spot at the bar at PDT. go on Monday nights and Anthony will blow your mind with his knowledge of obscure beers.
EO: Great drinks and eats, expect a wait most nights. Gnocchi was excellent as we’re all cocktails. Don’t call it “Employees Only” you’ll sound lame. One of several places serving top quality food very late.
Pouring Ribbons: One of the best bars in the city. Don’t be intimidated by the large and in charge door guy, he’s super nice. I love the way they’ve organized their drink menu into a grid. If you’re into Chartreuse, this is the place for you as they have several vintages available by the 1/2 oz. Vintages are always poured against the current year for taste comparison.
Death & Co: Not my favorite place, good cocktails, disappointing ice… Definitely hit Amor y Amargo a few doors down if you’re gonna head in this direction.
Amor y Amargo: A bar based on amaro and bitters?! Yes please! Excellent crafty cocktails at this small space. They don’t have fruit juices or even shaker tins, everything is served stirred or neat. An excellent place to go about 2/3 into your food crawl of the evening– the amaro will help with digestion so you can continue on your culinary crusade.
Mayahuel: best selection of Agave spirits in the city, very knowledgable staff. Mondays are happy hour nights with inexpensive but delicious margaritas and signature tequila cocktails. if Shannon is behind the bar ask her a thing or two about mezcal- she knows her stuff! Mayahuel is a great date spot with tasty food too.
Tori Shin: I ate here twice and both times were excellent. Skip the omakase and do the 10 skewers for $50 deal. I had the omakase the first time and it came with an unnecessary buri bowl and some really bad bukkake tasting cocktail of sliced okra, Japanese mountain yam, salmon roe, and slime. Again, skip the omakase and stick to skewers. You can’t go wrong letting the chefs pick the skewers for you but the chicken oyster skewer was the execution of grilled chicken I’ve ever had. Ask if they have the chicken back skin, you won’t be disappointed to know that three chickens dies for your one skewer. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for the chicken sashimi and give the secret hand shake… They may serve it to you;) I had it and it was terrific! Served lightly blanched, with Yuzu-kosho and ponzu- one of the most exciting things I ate in NYC. Texture was similar to yellow fin tuna.
WD50: Wiley rarely does a bad dish but the real hook up here is to eat from the bar menu: any two dishes off of the tasting menus for $35, add a third for $15 more. I prefer the playful, whimsical dishes to the more “serious” offerings. Cocktails are solid as well.
Alder: Dufresne’s new modern gastro pub. I went on their second night open. Great cocktail list and sake selection. The kitchen was clearly still getting its feet under it. The menu needed some work and there were hits and misses. I liked the Chinese sausage pigs in a blanket. A nice stop on your East Village food crawl.
Pok Pok Prat Thai: nice way to try some of Andy Ricker’s famous Thai food without leaving Manhattan or waiting in a 3hr line. Limited menu (only 3 items) get the hoi thawt and a drinking vinegar. Thai peanuts make a good snack on your subway ride home too.
Mission Chinese: totally lives up to the hype. Go for lunch to avoid super crazy lines or plan on getting your food to go (not as good unless you plan on eating it really close.) Favorites were thrice cooked pork, ma pao style ramen, and Kung pao pastrami. Excellent use of mala spice (Szechuan peppercorn) throughout most dishes.
SEO: late night ramen at its best. Tsukamen style available!!!!! One of the best bowls in the city, cash only opens at 11pm.
Santouka Ramen @ Mitsuwa, NJ: REALLY good ramen, Jenny Wang was right! If you have the time and a car, worth going to. If you’re going to make the drive into Jersey for this ramen Mecca, be sure to allot time to browse Mitsuwa for Japanese groceries and house wares too.
Jin Ramen: good bowl of soup if you’re in Harlem or have a friend that lives there. Also get the chicken cartilage karaage.
Minca Ramen: soup was ok, one of the few places serving tsukamen style dipping noodles but the star here are the gyoza. Best gyoza ever. Seriously, order gyoza, gyoza, gyoza.
Ippudo: totally disappointing, my WORST ramen experience in NYC. undercooked noodles, starchy. broth and pork buns were ok. it would be last on my list of Ramen recommendations in NY.
Rai Rai Ken: really damn good ramen, went here three times, never disappointed. I liked their seasonal Ma Pao ramen a lot.
Totto ramen: best ramen-ya atmosphere, solid soup. high on my recommendation list for experience alone.
Momofuku Noodle bar: Dave Chang’s start of an empire, damn solid ramen but don’t miss the seasonal vegetable dishes and other appetizers. Never had a bad dish here and ate there MANY times.
Momofuku Saam: go for lunch when you can get many duck specialties for under $20. Also go to Booker and Dax next door afterwards if your lunch goes until 6.
Milk Bar: get the crack pie and cereal milk ice cream.
Booker & Dax: MY FAVORITE! carbonation, red hot poker, liquid nitrogen… None of it is a gimmick, cocktail craft is rock solid and the atmosphere is just cool. Momofuku pork belly buns available and recommended. If there’s anything fermented on the menu get two. For drinks I like them all but favorites include the stunningly green Bangkok Daquari, good n plenty flavored French Colombian, and the seemingly simple but surprisingly complex Chartreuth. Also, get the gin and juice… Sing the song and you’ll score some points with the bartender. One more not to miss is the Bananas Justino. If there was ONE place I’d go every time in NYC, this is it… don’t miss it!
Momofuku Ko: Best meal of NYC, one of the best meals ever- top 5. If you can get this ultra hard to get reservation do it! Only 12 seats in the restaurant and you get to see/watch/intact with the chefs anthem prepare the day’s tasting menu for you. Hi lights include the rain of microplaned foie gras torch on over lychee and Riesling gelee, and parsnip agnolotti with truffle sauce, but the menu changes daily based on available ingredients. Lunch is the better and harder to get reservation at Ko, stretching 19+ courses where dinner is a mere 12 courses.
Decibel: a super divey Japanese sake bar/izakaya. Go there, eat, drink, and be merry.
Otafuku: they specialize in takoyaki, which should be just what you’re craving when you walk out of decibel which is next door.
Soba-ya: really good soba, hence the name.
Angel’s Share: Hidden away inside of sushi/izakaya restaurant the Village Yukuzo, this place is awesome atmosphere with craft cocktails inspired by Japanese whiskey and ingredients like tofu and shirt soyu. Go once for the atmosphere, not my favorite speak easy in the city but pretty cool anyway.
Yonah Schimmell’s kanish: went once and it was great, second time was total dissapointment. If you get there when a fresh batch of kanish is coming out of the oven you’re in heaven. otherwise you’re eating microwaved pastry and grainy mashed potatoes.
baoHaus: solid bao. Get the lemonade as well. Tag the walls so NYC and Eddie Huang will remember you.
Mr. Biggs (43rd and 10th Avenue): I guarantee this won’t be on other NYC to do lists, but Thursday-Sunday night this is the most amazing karaoke bar in the world. Broadway quality talent belt out song after song.they have a decent beer selection too. Tell the staff I said hi if you make it to this little known gem.
Minetta Tavern: I went for the infamous $26 Black Label Burger. Easily the best burger I’ve ever had, comes with fries and ask for it with cheese at no additional cost. If you’re going to eat a burger in NYC this is a good one. Cool atmosphere too.
Blue Ribbon (the original): solid late night food, raw shell fish and drinks.
Eataly: Joe Bastianich establishment, solid selection of Italian driven ingredients and good food.
Xian famous: I didn’t really like it. Had the lamb burger and cumin noodles and the noodles were clumpy, gummy, and not good. Lamb was okay, not great… Other people really like this place- you decide for yourself.
L’apicio: excellent pastas and real Italian… don’t expect anything “parm” here, instead classic italian with great ingredients at a good value (for NYC)
DiPalo: smells so Italian when you walk in, great meats, cheeses, etc…
Takashi: stick to the composed dishes… Offal BBQ is good but not mind blowing.
The Marrow: good not great… something wierd about having your namesake dish be so close to an Eric Ripert classic. I would go out of my way for a reservation. In fact if you must have dinner in the meat packing… Check out Barbouto.
Barbouto: Chef Jonathan Waxman. Obi wan kabobs of the kitchen, simple Italian at a great value. Must get: roast chicken, fried potatoes. I also liked the tuna salad. Don’t buy his cookbook, it’s watered down.
Sabor a mexico: mexican hole in the wall in East Village. solid tacos and good pazole verde.
Dead Rabbit: I only went to the upstairs cocktail lounge which also serves decent pub food. solid cocktails and home of the mustache cup… ask about it. Downstairs is the beer pub open 11am-2am daily… I never made it down there.
Manzanilla: Spanish brasserie, good spot if you find yourself on the upper east side for some reason.
The Breslin: great bar scene, really good food. The lamb burger is good but not as good as the black label at minetta for similar money. Beef and Stout pie was excellent as was the perfectly cooked scotch egg.
Eleven Madison Park: epic, but slightly drawn out. Make sure your phone/camera is charged up for food pics.
Don Antonio: fried pizza, delicious!
Peter Luger: wasn’t as good as I remembered, Killen Steak is my new reference point for a cut of beef.
pio pio: small chain of Peruvian, good, quick, easy.
porchetta: excellent porchetta, not much else to say.
shake shack: my favorite fast food burger hands down. I will crave it like people crave in n’ out… Avoid the line in Madison park and check out the time square location.
King’s County Distillery: cool distillery, tours on saturday if you find yourself in brooklyn… not close to any public transit and cabs are few and far between.
Pok pok (Red Hook): excellent Thai food if you don’t mind a 1-3hr wait. There’s a cool bar with a nice beer selection at the end of the block while you wait on your table. I went to Pok Pok twice- both times the food was excellent but the first time service was lacking severely. Second time service was world class. Having been to all NY pok pok locations as well as the Portland location I am pretty much over it. There’s a lot of places to get great Thai without the wait. My opinion might change if they started a reservation system.
Soup Dumplings @ shanghai dlux: possibly the best $5 you can spend in NYC. Order the #2 soup dumplings (skip the pork/crab ones as the crab is of questionable quality) these things are seriously awesome, get some! Work on your soup dumpling eating technique or you’ll be wearing that porky delicious broth on your shirt.
Red Egg: dim sum, not great.
Red Farm: chef driven dim sum, interesting but overpriced.