A Few of My Favorite Restaurants – NYC

antipasti @inoteca

Antipasti @ ‘inoteca

A friend of mine is coming into town and asked me to recommend a few Italian and East Asian restaurants. I was planning to send her a quick email, but somehow it got longer and longer and the short email ultimately became a long post. This is a very informal list, in no particular order, of some of my favorite restaurants in New York (Manhattan only).


1) Babbo – Expensive
110 Waverly Place (betw 6th Av and MacDougal St)
New York, NY
(212) 614-6670
This is Mario Batali’s restaurant. They have the best pasta here. The Black Spaghetti is my favorite pasta of all time. The only problem is that they are always booked and you have to call at least two months in advance. You can go and eat at the bar without a reservation, but if you’re with a big group, this isn’t convenient.

2) Del Posto – Moderate or Expensive
85 10th Avenue (16th St)
(212) 497-8090
This is owned by Mario Batali and Lidia & Joe Bastianich. It’s not really a favorite of mine but if you can’t get into Babbo, this is an alternative. There are two sides to Del Posto; the regular dining area which is expensive, and the Enoteca side which is much much cheaper. Thay have a $45 tasting menu which is a real deal for the quality of the food.

3) Carmine’s – Moderate
2450 Broadway (betw 90th-91st St)
New York, NY 10024,
(212) 362-2200
This is a family-style Southern Italian restaurant. The plates are huge and each dish is meant to be shared by 3-4 people. I love going here with a big group, because it’s cheap and really delicious. There is a Times Square location, but the uptown one is always better. Linguine with White Clam Sauce is must if you go. Whatever you do though, don’t wear tight clothes when you go, it’s guaranteed you’ll eat too much and need to loosen your belt.

4) TRE – Moderate
173 Ludlow Street (betw Houston & Stanton)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 353-3353
This place opened up not too long ago near my apartment. The chef is a young Italian guy who seems to really care about the food. Arancini di Riso (fried rice balls) and Ravioli Fritti (fried ravioli) are crispy and delicious. They sometimes have a baked sardine dish on the menu that is also very good.

truffle oil toast @inoteca

5) ‘inoteca – Cheap to Moderate
98 Rivington Street (betw Ludlow St & Orchard St)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 614-0473
If you want to nibble and drink wine in a relaxed environment, this is a good place. Truffle Oil Toast is really great when they make it fresh. It does get packed at night, so be prepared to wait.


pork bun  @ momofuku ssam

1) Momofuku Ssäm Bar – Moderate
207 Second Ave. (at 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
This is owned by David Chang, a young Korean-American chef. He is currently New York’s Chef du Jour. Last year he won the James Beard award for best young chef. This year, Momofuku Ssäm Bar won best new restaurant. I love this place to death. They have a ton of wonderful meat dishes on the menu. I especially like that they makes a point of saying it is not a vegetarian-friendly restaurant.

akamaru ramen @ ippudo

2) Ippudo – Cheap to Moderate
65 4th Ave (betw 2nd Ave & 8th St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 388-0088
Ippudo is a Japanese ramen restaurant. Currently, they have the best ramen in NYC. The noodles are great and the service is excellent. Get the pork belly there; it just melts in your mouth.

3) Nam Son – Cheap
245 Grand St (betw Bowery & Chrystie St)
New York, NY 10002
This is a cheap, no frills Vietnamese restaurant. My friends like the pho here. I’m not a huge pho fan, so I usually get Bo Luc Lac (cubes of beef sautéed in a sweet soy sauce). It’s delicious and filling. Get it with a fried egg on top. Vegetarian Summer Rolls are also really good, as are the regular ones. Don’t expect service though, just eat.

4) Szechuan Gourmet – Cheap to Moderate
21 W 39th St (betw 5th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10018
(212) 921-0233
This is the best Szechuan (region in China specializing in spicy cuisine) restaurant in Manhattan. Be ready for spicy food if you go there. The spiciness will be different from anything you previously experienced because of their actual use of Szechuan peppers. The hotness will be strangely hot and cool at the same time. A must to get, if you like cumin, is the Crispy Lamb Filets with Chili Cumin. The smell of the cumin is very strong, so be prepared.

5) Congee Village – Cheap
100 Allen Street (betw Delancey St & Broome St)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 941-1818
Congee Village is an extremely cheap and good Chinese restaurant. They have a picture menu so it is convenient for non-Chinese people. They specialize in congee (rice porridge), but they have a lot of other great dishes. Dungeness Crab House-Style is one of my favorite dishes there. My other favorite is the Sauteed Chinese Spinach with Bean Cake Sauce. Again, don’t expect too much service here, just eat and enjoy.

6) Joe’s Shanghai – Cheap
9 Pell St # 1 (betw Bowery & Doyers St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 233-8888
Joe’s Shanghai was an obsession of mine a few years ago. I used to go four times a week. They specialize in Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). The dumplings are made with soup inside, so be very careful when you bite into them, otherwise you may get a second-degree burn! I usually bite a little hole on the side and then pour the soup into my spoon and drink that first. You can get pork dumplings or crabmeat and pork dumplings. I prefer the crabmeat dumplings. They rock.

sea urchin w/ soy gel @ le miu

7) Le Miu – Moderate (CLOSED)
107 Avenue A (betw 7th & 6th St)
New York, NY
(212) 473-3100
Le Miu is a sushi restaurant with a French twist. The food is innovative, pretty, and delicious. They open at 5:30pm so don’t go there for lunch.


1) David Burke & Donatella (Donatella left and the restaurant is now called David Burke Townhouse) – Expensive
133 East 61st Street (betw Park and Lexington Avenues)
New York, NY 10065
I went here recently and I was pleasantly surprised at how good everything was. The food is delicious and plated beautifully. Handmade Cavatelli & Braised Short Ribs is a must. The ribs are incredibly tender and well seasoned.

2) Freemans – Cheap to Moderate
End of Freeman Alley (Rivington St, betw Chrystie and Bowery St)
New York, NY 10002
This is one of my favorite neighborhood spots. The ambience is cool and the decor with all the taxidermy cracks me up. Get the Hot Artichoke Dip. It’s fattening, but worth it. Also, order a Bloody Mary; it’s the best in the Lower East Side.

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  1. Sue

    You rock girl! I love this blog. Keep the entries coming and I’m there if you need a partner in food crime.

  2. bionicgrrrl

    Hey, thanks. Glad to know my mom is not the only reader (no offense, mommy!). Anyway, I may introduce a Q&A with readers sometime in the future. I’ll let you know when that happens; although you may have to fight my mom to be the first interviewee.

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