17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tribute to NYC: from a Foodie

As a foodie, there are few places in the world, if any, that are better than New York City. My last week in the city was spent doing all of my favorite New York “things” and since about 90% of those things fell under the favorite restaurants category I thought I would share my hard earned knowledge of New York’s off the beaten path restaurant scene for this months tribute to NYC.

Melissa’s Guide to Dining in New York City


Norma's. – hands down the best brunch in the city. Located in Le Parker Meridian hotel, Norma’s has a fun, swanky atmosphere. Their menu is filled with interesting twists on your everyday breakfast items. My favorites include:
The WaZa – a waffle with tropical fruit baked inside of it and then topped with a raspberry brulee, carmelized bananas and fresh berries.
The Carmalized Napolean Waffle – this you have to see to believe – it’s got waffles, bananas, carmalized nuts, and valhrona chocolate…mmmm
Foie Gras Brioche French Toast – pretty much it’s name – very good
Normalita’s Huevos Rancheros – this is a great egg dish with chorizo
Artychoked Benedict – eggs benedict on an artichoke – wonderful combo
Now that my mouth is watering I will move on but leave you with two tips for this restaurant:
1.Norma’s is nearly impossible to get into on the weekends unless you make a reservation weeks in advance (which you can do on www.opentable.com) They serve brunch until 3pm everyday so if you can go on a weekday you can get in fairly easily.
2. Don’t get the orange juice unless you are a huge OJ fan – it’s $8 a glass and these are not bottomless…

Thalia. – another great place for brunch and less expensive than Norma’s. Thalia has a cool and relaxed atmosphere. They bring out a basket full of fresh baked muffins and breads with scrumptions jams and spreads for you to eat while you look at their menu. Nothing on their menu sticks out but I have enjoyed everything we have tried there.

Sarabeth’s. – There are two locations but I would suggest the one on CPS. Sarabeth’s also gets very busy on the weekends but is worth the wait. Their signature tomato soup is to die for and so is their hot chocolate. My other favorite dish is their pumpkin pancakes with sour cream and honey.


DelFriscos. – I have been to every single steakhouse in NYC (it’s a lot, trust me) and Del Frisco’s is the best on every level. It isn’t as “gruff” as Smith & Wollensky’s but they do their steaks right. Their Blue Cheese Lettuce Wedge Salad is great, Au Gratin potatoes are a must-have and their Filet Mignon will put you in steak heaven. This is a little pricey but no more so than any other NYC steakhouse. Be sure to make a reservation for dinner.

Peter Luger’s. – this is an NYC staple. It’s in Brooklyn and quite a trek but this place is all about the experience. You are pretty much told what to order by the very rough and tough, old skool Brooklyn waiter (usually a gentleman in his 50’s) and they cook your steak medium rare regardless of your preference. This is the real deal steakhouse and you will never experience anything like it anywhere else. Cash only…


Grimaldi’s. – also in Brooklyn. Right under the Brooklyn bridge, actually! This is the original New York pizzaria and there is a reason they have been in business so long. Fresh crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and you have never had pizza like this before. It’s a lot of fun to walk across the Brooklyn bridge and then eat at Grimaldi’s – if you go after 6.30 on a Fri or Sat you will stand in line for a little while.

Joe’s. – this is in Manhattan in the Village and there are two right next to each other (which drove my husband nuts!) When you are facing the restaurants the REAL Joe’s is the one on the left.


Mangia e Bevi. – this is the perfect restaurant for a girls group. The food is pretty good but that is not why Mangia e Bevi made it onto my list. On Thurs – Sat this place is rockin! Every 10-15 minutes the waiters put on a song, pass out tambarenes and everyone gets on their chairs to dance and sing. If you like to party this is the place for you! They make up Italian names for you and sing Happy Birthday – it’s a riot. Just keep your eyes off the crazy bachelorette parties…

Sal’s. – This restaurant in Little Italy is off the beaten path but worth the extra steps. Their Fried Calzone is delicious and the Italiano feel completes the experience.


Dos Caminos. – I don’t recommend Mexican in NYC, but if that is what you are after then Dos Caminos is the place. Their appetizers are the best. My favorites are the Asada Tacos, Hamachi Ceviche, and Mushroom Empanadas. It’s a little pricey (especially if you are used to the SoCal prices for Tacos) but like I said – if it’s Mexican you are after then Dos Caminos all the way!


Shake Shack. – in Madison Square Park. Be sure to get the Shack Burger and Congrete Jungle. Long lines but worth the wait!

Burger Joint. – hidden gem! The Burger Joint is in the lobby of Le Parker Meridian behind a curtain. There is a little neon picture of a burger down the hall, but other then that there is no signage. The joint wouldn’t sell to the hotel so they struck a deal that they had to take down their signs and cease all advertising. The hotel thought they would be out of business in weeks but years later there is still a line around the corner to eat at the Burger Joint!


Taverna Kyklades. – in Queens but if you can make it out there this food will knock your socks off. This is a family run restaurant and the minute you get there you feel as if you have stepped on to the set of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Everything is great here but my favs are their Tzatkiki, Lemon Potatoes, and all their fish (the bring it out whole and debone it at your table for you!) The owner, Adrian and his wife will make you feel like you are part of their family. Opa!

Avra. – a bit expensive but absolutely delectable! Avra has a romantic ambiance and great food. My favorite here is the Swordfish – but be sure to start with some Saganaki and Tzatziki.


Virgil’s. – This is your reward for avoiding the tourist traps in Times Square. Finger – lickin’ BBQ! The Hush Puppies and Beef Brisket are a must!


Baluchi’s. – When it comes to Indian food I am pretty boring. I love the staples – Chicken Tikka Masala and some Samosas. Baluchi’s is probably not so off the beaten path, but it’s tasty!


Pipa. – A brilliant assortment of tapas. I am an appetizer-lover so tapas are my thing. Among my favorites at Pipa are their Stuffed Endives, Sauteed Octupus, and Ham Croquettes – but be bold and try them all!

Only in NYC

Union Square Café. – pricey but worth every penny (or dollar). Every single item I have ordered here has been spectacular. Don’t skimp out on the desserts here!

Meskerem. – Ethiopian food and where else are you going to get that? Their meats are rich and flavorful – but no utensils here – yep, you eat with your hands and a piece of spongy flat bread.

Mombar. – This little Egyptian restaurant is located in Queens (another shout out to Astoria!) The owner is talented both with food and art. The décor is amazing and the menu (which changes daily) is full of pleasantly palatable creations. All of the clay pot dishes are wonderful. Mmmmm!

Kum Gang San – Korean BBQ! While you peruse their menu the staff brings out a seemingly endless assortment of complimentary appetizers while you decide what you want. Once you have picked your main course you cook it yourself on a grill right on your table. Good food, fun night!

Nino’s – this trattoria is only open for lunch on the weekdays. It’s a lively atmosphere with good down to earth food. Their tuna melts are top notch and their penne ala vodka is terrific. Very affordable food in the heart of midtown.


Café Mozart – This quaint little café is loaded with delicious desserts. There are so many to choose from but let me suggest the Sveglismisu, Mt. Vesuvius or the Apple Brown Betty – each divine in their own way!

So that's my long (ok, really long) list. I have many more but I am sure you do too. What are your favorite food finds?


  • I have to say I like Lombardi's better than Grimaldi's for pizza. Both coal oven, fresh, and amazingly good . . .but I think Lombardi's is better.

    If you like chocolate, you must stop by Max Brenner -there's one in Union Square and the East Village.

    You're spot on with Burger Joint.

    Another of my bigtime favorites is Amy Ruth's in Harlem. Traditional Soul Food at it's finest. There's nothing like a breakfast of chicken and waffles. Make sure to get the chicked smothered . . . the gravy is to die for.

    It's fun to see what other people like here in the city. I've been meaning to get to Sarabeths, now maybe I finally will!
    posted by Blogger AmyB at 4/25/2007 01:45:00 PM  

  • This post is exactly what I was looking for. My husband and I are coming out to NYC for the summer and we are ready to try out all the best restaurants around town and live it up. We are on a budget so if there are any suggestions for cheap yet delicious restaurants, let me know. We especially like Thai and Indian. Oh, by the way, this is Michelle Frost's little sister who some of you might remember from spending summers with the Frost family. I'm excited to come back out to NYC once again.
    posted by Blogger Melanie at 4/25/2007 02:40:00 PM  

  • Thank you for saving me a purchase of the Zagat's NYC guide. This is just perfect. I'm also coming to NYC this summer and definitely want to try Norma's for brunch.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 4/25/2007 05:40:00 PM  

  • What an awesome post Melissa! I am definitely referring back to this before my next trip back to NYC. I love food! And that brunch menu sounds amazing! Our favorite place to eat in NYC was Korean BBQ. We went to many of them including Kum Gang San. We are looking for our favorite here in LA now.

    I have to add a my personal favorites, Chat 'n' Chew for and The Coffee Shop. Both right down by Union Square. At Chat 'n' Chew, don't fight the urge to just get a side of "skin-on-smashies" and an order of their baked mac and cheese. Sure it's a carb overload, but these are the best two things on the comfort food menu.

    The Coffee Shop has a reasonably priced Brazilian inspired menu full of yummy food, but their coconut shrimp appetizer and their banana cream pie are too things I still dream about.

    Mmmm. I'm hungry now.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 4/25/2007 07:26:00 PM  

  • Love this post Mel!! You are a true foodie...I love it. Even though I live in NYC I haven't been to many of these restaurants, so thanks for the tips. Chat n Chew is awesome and there really are too many more to name. I LOVE NY food!
    posted by Blogger Suzanne at 4/25/2007 07:57:00 PM  

  • Meliss, such an awesome, comprehensive list! Horray for all foodies!

    I have to add a few personal faves:

    Carrie, Marion and me all LOVE Chat N' Chew in Union Square. Skins on Mashies with Uncle Reds Addiction honey fried chicken - please, it doesn't get much better. I ate here more than almost any other restaurant in NYC - Love CNC.

    Another shout out to Union Square comes in the form of Blue Water Grille. There is nothing on the menu that isn't absolute perfection. The service in impecable, the decor dramatic and inspiring and the food...forget about it. Come with money - it ain't cheap but it's worth every penny.

    Viva El Mariachi in Astoria for Mexican. At one point me and Sam were going once a week (it was two blocks from our house). Best nachos on the planet (but I'm a nacho freak).

    Best risotto I ever had was at the Mercer Kitchen in Soho. Yummmmmmmmmm...Also expensive and sometimes hard to get a reservation but the risotto.....

    Ah...I miss my NYC food!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 4/25/2007 09:46:00 PM  

  • I was hoping someone would bring up Chat N Chew! My list was getting too long. So good!

    Amyb - it was definitely a toss up between Grimaldis and Lombardi's - I just like the whole Brooklyn Bridge scene and the yummy little ice cream shop on the pier. But you are right, Lombardi's is up there.
    I do like chocolate and I am definitely putting Amy Ruth's on my list for my next trip back. Thanks for the tip!

    Carrie - I totally want to try the Coffee Shop. Did you ever try some of the Brazilian places in Astoria? Lots of good ones there.

    Chloe - Didn't you guys take us to Viva El Mariachi with the Glass Posse one night? I remember having yummy nachos and being happy to have found a friend who loved mexican food like me...
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 4/26/2007 10:48:00 AM  

  • Melanie, I remember you! Enjoy your trip and go to 6th Street between 2nd and 3rd (or is it between 1st and 2nd?) downtown for a whole row of cheap but good Indian restaurants.
    posted by Blogger sunny at 4/28/2007 04:32:00 AM  

  • Oh my gosh - I just got back from NYC and I am STILL FULL. Yummy. I'll add a couple.

    Romantic Restaurants - La Paella, in the East Village. It's tapas and SO romanctic. Also Calle Ocho on the Upper West Side.

    Girls Day Out - Alice's Teacup on the Upper West Side. So yummy - you have to have the pumpkin scones and pot of tea.

    Dessert - I love Cafe Mozart! Also Cafe Lalo on UWS and Serendipity.

    Lunch - the Cobb Salad at Cafeteria in Chelsea is so good. I was thinking about it for three years and it didn't disappoint.

    I don't think I need to eat again for a few days. But it was all worth every bite. :)
    posted by Blogger Beth at 4/28/2007 08:37:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home