Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Best Manhattan Foodie Spots

In no particular order, the following are my favorite and most highly recommended Manhattan restaurants, in a variety of price ranges. This is not meant to be a list of the best or top restaurants in Manhattan, just some of my favorite dining experiences that I have had since moving to New York nearly nine years ago. I will (at some point) do a separate list of my favorite inexpensive, budget eats, as well. Here are my favorite Manhattan dining experiences, in no particular order.  Just a note: This is not meant to be a cheap eats guide, though there are a few of those mixed in here.  I will, at some point, do a top 25 favorite New York Cheap Eats list.  But for now, happy dining!

1. Blue Hill (Village)- I have already written an entire review of Blue Hill, which might just be my favorite Manhattan restaurant, and the perfect choice for my birthday dinner.  A recap - the seasonal farm-to-table ingredients, artful recipe design and presentation, combined with the friendly and attentive staff make Blue Hill one of the best places to eat in Manhattan - or anywhere.  In terms of the food, this is on par with some of Napa's best restaurants.

2. Tabla (Gramercy/Flatiron)- Tabla is an Indian-American fusion restaurant that is one of my favorite culinary fusion restaurants in New York.  A less expensive alternative is Bread Bar at Tabla.  They make all of their own chutneys - my favorite is the green apple.  Their crabcakes (which I have made myself, using their cookbook) are incredible.  Everything at this upscale restaurant is a treat because of the artful cusine and presentation.  Plus, their use of Indian ingrediants and spices - from tamarind to chat masala is creative and delicious.

3. Lupa (Village) - I have already reviewed Lupa and my favorite dish at this midrange Italian restaurant - the bucatini all' amatriciana.  Delicious, reasonably priced Italian, but you will need a reservation unless you want to eat very late.  This is one of my two favorite Italian restaurants in New York. 

4. Acappella (Tribeca) - Acappella is my other favorite Italian restaurant.  From the loud Happy Birthdays to every step of your meal, the staff could not be friendlier at this high-end Italian.  The cuisine is traditional Italian, and everything is delicious from the veal marsala to the chicken scarpierello to the lamb chops.  They always bring out Italian cordials at the end of what will be one of the best meal that New York can give you.  The caesar salad, lobster arriabiata, and pastas (especially the pesto) are all mouth wateringly delictable.

5. Balthazar (Village)- Balthazar gets French Bistro right on the NYC high-end circuit.  This was another spot for a great birthday dinner (my husband's two years ago) and they have a delicious (and more wallet-friendly) brunch.  The scene is busy, just like a Parisian bistro, but all the bistro dishes from the goat cheese carmelized onion tart to the cote de beuf are excellent.

6.  Stanton Social (Lower East Side)- This is a new restaurant, to me anyhow.  My husband and I had brunch here about six months ago with fellow writer Eric from Jersey City and his girlfriend Jenn.  We were not disappointed.  The entire brunch (like all meals at Stanton Social) consists of small plates - from grilled pizettas to lobster benedict and some pretty outrageous sliders.  The kobe beef sliders were out of this world.  The cocktails are creative and delicious, too.  A bit pricy for brunch, but totally worth every bite.

7. Geisha (Upper East Side) - Geisha is my favorite upscale sushi restaurant in NYC.  No one seems to know it, but the sushi at Geisha is just as good at the top sushi places in Manhattan.  My husband and I consider eating out here to be a real treat.  It is a gem.

8. Sushi Seki (Upper East Side)- Most Manhattan foodies consider Sushi Seki to be among the best sushi restaurants in Manhattan, and I won't disagree with them.  This sushi is a pretty amazing meal, all prepared the authentic Japanese way.  The quality of the fish here (whether omikase, pieces, sashimi or a roll) is second to none.

9. Bouley (Tribeca) - Bouley is considered by most to be one of Manhattan's finest upscale restaurants.  It's not stuffy at all - the presentation is elegant, artful and romantic.  We dined here for one of my husband's birthdays and enjoyed our candlelight meal.  We had the tasting menu which at the time included a wonderfully presented lobster appetizer and a fois gras.  Everything here is artfully presented and perfectly prepared.  Eating here was a culinary delight, although an expensive one.

10. Mesa Grill (Flatiron) - Mesa Grill is Bobby Flay's flagship restaurant.  I enjoy eating here (especially brunch) and cooking from Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill cookbook, which is the feature cookbook of this southwestern NYC classic.  If you enjoy Iron Chef America on the Food Network, you will enjoy eating here.

11. Kuma Inn (Lower East Side) - Kuma Inn is an fairly inexpensive Asian small plate restaurant.  It's BYOB so bring some Sake or Singha beer to enjoy with your meal.  Make a reservation in advance as it is a small restaurant.  All of the dishes are delicious Asian fusion dishes, perfect for sharing. (cash only).

12. Otto Enoteca (Village) - Otto is Mario Batali's reasonably priced pizza place.  Great and unique pizzas, fine selection of cheeses, gelato and an excellent selection of Italian wine.  I once saw Michael Stipe from REM here too. My favorite pizza on the menu is the spicy, cheeseless Marinara pizza.  They have olive oil gelato here too, which sounds weird, but is delicious (just trust me on this one).

13. Second Avenue Deli (Murray Hill) - This is my favorite deli in Manhattan (although I haven't been to Katz's Deli).  It used to be on Second Avenue in the Lower East Size, but now has moved to Murray Hill.  This is the place to get that true NYC pastrami sandwich  and matzah ball soup you have been craving, but they are quite large sandwiches.

14. Delfriscos (Midtown) - Manhattan's best steakhouse is a class act.  This is an expensive meal, but a steak at Delfriscos is a steak like no other.  In addition to all of the excellent cuts of steak, the sides are all equally delicious.  This is a classic steakhouse, and certainly one of the best NYC has to offer.

15. Strip House - Manhattan's other best steakhouse is a bit less traditional than Delfriscos with a bit more of trendy vibe.  Still, the strip steak, filet mignon and chateaubriand are second to none.  Also, the sides here are equally delicious, especially the black truffle creamed spinach, and my sister-in-law loves the tuna, as well.

16. Paris Commune (Village/Meat Packing) - Paris Commune does not take brunch reservations so get there early if you do not want to wait.  This is my favorite reasonably priced brunch in Manhattan.  The restaurant has that wonderful downtown French bistro kind of feel to it and the food is delicious.  Be sure to order a side of the fresh gingerbread, because Brunch at Paris Commune isn't complete without it.  I also highly recommend whatever frittata is currently on the brunch menu.
17. Corner Bistro - Best burger in NYC, hands down.  It's that simple.  If you want a great burger, come here.

18. Babbo - Mario Batali's classic Italian restaurant.  This is a bit pricier than Lupa, but basically a similar vibe and ambiance.  The food is also similar - Italian cooked Mario Battali style.  My favorite dish on the menu is the Lamb Love Letters.  I came here a couple years ago the night after a U2 Concert at the Meadowlands, to find Bono and his entourage eating a couple tables away.  Babbo is Mario Batali Italian at its best.

19. Sushi of Gari (Upper East Side & Midtown) - Sushi of Gari is another great sushi place.  I used to go here at the time when we lived in the Upper East Sice, and now they have a second location in midtown.  The sushi omikase has wonderful toppings, and the Tuna of Gari is wonderfully fresh and enjoyable as well.

20. DBGB Kitchen & Bar (Lower East Side)- Wonderful brunch, great burgers, and delicious, creative Sundae Desserts.  This is everything that a new Daniel Boulud restaurant should be and more.  We came here for brunch with my friend Eric a few months ago, but I have been meaning to make it back for dinner.

21. Shake Shack (Bryant Park, Midtown, Nolita, CitiField, Upper East Side etc...) - Shake Shack is NYC's quintessential perfect roadside burger.  The freshly made shakes and sweet and delicious as well.  Shake Shack, owned by who else by Danny Meyer has become such a NYC tradition, loved by locals, that there is even one at Citi Field (though as a Yankees fan, I recommend going to the one in Bryant Park).

22. Markt (Chelsea) - No Belgian food is ever going to come close to the food and all the college memories that I have of Monk's Cafe in Philly, but Markt and B. Cafe (No. 23) almost come close.  This restaurant has excellent Belgian classics, belgian beer and a wonderful ambiance.

23. B. Cafe (Upper East Side) - See No. 22.  B. Cafe is that perfect Belgian place.  There's no pretense, this is just a great place to have a belgian beer like Delirium Tremens, Chimay, Kwak etc... with some steak frites, terrific mussels, belgian fries and a belgian waffle with chocolate for dessert while hanging with some old friends.

24. Crooked Tree Creperie (Lower East Side)  - Such a causual place may not typically be included in a list like this.  But if that's what you are looking for then Crooked Tree is perfect.  For $16 you can enjoy two crepes, a dinner creme and a delectable dessert crepe.  It's not quite Paris but really, what is?  And for such a price you can have a quite enjoyable meal at this lower east side creperie.

25.  Blue Smoke - Another Danny Meyer restaurant, Blue Smoke is my favorite BBQ in Manhattan (and I don't really like BBQ that much).  Everything here is excellent from the desserts, brisket, pulled meat sandwiches and even the chocolate chip cookies.  There's a great Jazz Club here too, called Jazz Standard.

Places I would like to check out but haven't yet: Del Posto, Momofuku Ko, Mas Farmhouse and Gramercy Tavern (can't believe I've never been)

1 comment:

  1. I've only been to 2 of these places. But agree with your sentiments in both instances. I think the Shake Shack has one of the the best burgers I've ever had and I love the B. Cafe as well but also miss Monk's in Philly!


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