We”ll keep on answering basic questions that anyone would ask about this city. New York is not only massive but also focused largely on leisure, enjoyment and what has become to be called “welfare society”, and that requires many and varied places to eat. Despite my almost two months there, there are thousands of restaurants, so it is impossible to cover even a fraction of the best, and also many of them have been able to change substantially since my last visit. This article is therefore totally subjective, and it brings me many good and some bad memories.
Keep in mind that prices in restaurants, like everywhere in the United States, do not include taxes. Those of the food are not very high, so it does not make a big difference.
But tips are not included, and this can be a real affront to the pocket of non-Americans or non-Canadians. In these two countries you could say that tips are mandatory, and are most of waiters’ income. The justification is the following:
- If you earn the same doing your job well or not, you will not strive to do it well.
- But if you are paid a paltry base salary, and the rest of your income depends on you doing your job kindly and efficiently, you will be kind and efficient.
This is no more than a crude excuse to pay the waiters badly and I will never understand how it is allowed, because if that was true, it could be applied to all guilds. With that excuse, the client, and not the employer, ends up paying a large part of the salary of this union. The worst thing is that it is established even how much tip you have to pay:
- A good service will expect between 15 and 18% of the total price of what has been consumed.
- Leaving less than 12% means that we did not like how we have been treated.
In the United States and Canada that’s how it it, but for foreigners, who are accustomed to the service being good as part of what is paid, it hurts. For us it is unthinkable that someone treats us badly, and instead of leaving nothing, we have even to leave him 10% if we do not want the waiter to come and ask us for explanations. The most flagrant thing is that many establishments include a % of gratuity in the account directly, regardless of how they have treated us, and tends to be greater the more guests.
There is no need to leave a tip in fast food establishments, and I suppose that is why they tend to be where more long faces will be found. If you for a drink at a bar, they’ll expect nothing less than $ 1 tip for each drink.
So if you want to get rid of the bad time of the tip issue, you’d better pay in cash, leave the money on the table, and leave the restaurant.
UPPER EAST SIDE
The first thing I mention is what I know best. We were living for a month in the 77St area with York, so we ended up going to many restaurants nearby:
- Green Kitchen: 77St with 1Av. American food, salads, breakfast. Good, acceptable.
- Spice Thai. It’s the place opposite. A good Thai, although somewhat expensive.
- Vella 77St with 2Av. Something expensive, but good option for brunch.
- Dos Toros: 77St with Lexington. If it is very frequented by Lennox Hill hospital staff, it will be for something. Excellent Mexican food at a good price, the burritos are huge.
- Pizzeria Italian Village. 78St with 1Av. Good Italian, also somewhat expensive, but I have excellent memories of the place.
Le Train Blue Restaurant. For a romantic lunch, this train car converted into a restaurant in Booomingdale’s.
Gray’s Papaya. The legendary place for $ 1 hot dogs and all kinds of juices will not disappoint anyone, except for the size of the hot dogs. There’s another place in Midtown. 2090 Broadway.
- Tom’s Restaurant, better known as the restaurant in Seinfield TV series. I have not eaten there. 2880 Broadway.
MIDTOWN NORTH, NEAR TIMES SQUARE
- Patzería Perfect Pizza. I think I could say without a doubt that it is our favorite restaurant in New York, and that it is a tiny place focused on takeaway food. Not only the pizzas are good, our favorite is the meatball sandwich, a delight that has become a classic for us to enjoy sitting on Times Square stairs, moment that we liked more than The Lion King or a Knicks match. 231 W 46th St.
- Halal Guys. No doubt the most famous foodtruck in the city, where I have never been able to eat since the queue is demoralizing. 6th Avenue with 53. There is another of the same company in the UWS and one more in the East Village.
- Stardust. The food is not the best in Manhattan, but the show that involves watching the waiters / singers act, many of whom show a talent worthy of Broadway musicals, is unique. 1650 Broadway.
- Junior’s: for cakes, being chees their specialty. The truth is that they are dense and full of flavor. After these, almost any cheese cake will look like custard. 1515 Broadway with 45th St.
- Pongsri Thai. We found it a good option to eat near Times Square. 244 W 48th St.
- Bistango Restaurant. An Italian classic with vegan options, a sure hit. 415 3rd Av with the 29th.
- Korea Town. 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue is a hotbed of Korean restaurants. After having gone to 3 they all seemed the same to me, and in none of them I have an excellent memory of the food.
- Little Owl. In the basement of the building where the protagonists of Friends in Greenwich supposedly lived, Central Perk was never there, but this small restaurant, good but somewhat expensive.
- Artichoke Pizza. In Chelsea, the best artichoke pizza I have ever tasted, is unlike any other. Slices are huge.
- Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery. Very expensive… but for brunch. Luxurious and very nicely decorated. 380 Lafayette St.
ITALIANS NEAR BROOKLYN BRIDGE
I have never been able to eat at Grimaldi’s, but of course Juliana’s has one of the best pizzas in the city. 19 Old Fulton St. They’re right where the bridge starts on the Brooklyn side.
FAMOUS RESTAURANTS YOU SHOULD NOT GO TO
- The hot dog in Central Park. Forget about it, it’s not worth the $ 2 it costs. The worst hot dog in the world can be found in every hot dog cart in Central Park. They are all equally bad. The only less edible thing in the city are precisely the pretzels in Central Park carts.
- Serendipity. Unless you want to delight your eyes, because the restaurant is decorated with an exquisite taste, it is truly sad to see how it has worsened as its fame grew. The main meal itself was never excellent, but one came for the impressive desserts. The last time we went, the special $ 30 cake turned out to be little more than a whole plate of whipped cream, very sad. 225 E 60th St.
Burger Joint, in Le Parker Meridien. Famous for being a real joint that has remained as it was inside the lobby of Le Parker Meridien hotel (119 W 56th St). You can find it at the end of a kilometer queue to enter, identified by a small hamburger-shaped neon. It’s certainly interesting, but it’s not worth the wait, the burgers are nothing special and the place is very dark.
- Magnolia’s Bakery. Famous franchise because of the series Sex in the City. It’s not bad, but almost anywhere has better cupcakes.
- Eataly. Another disappointment. Everything is very nice and looks very ecological, and I can not comment on the quality of its products, but after going twice, one of them to Birreria, the rooftop restaurant, I do not plan to repeat it. The food is nothing to write home about, the prices are a scam, and on the roof you could barely see a corner of the Empire State Building.
- Little Italy. More Italian disappointment. This street has become a theme park for tourists. After many ups and downs and a lot of thinking, we ended up having a bland Italian dinner. It had the feeling that any place should be more or less the same.
FUNNY RESTAURANT WHERE YOU CAN NOT GO TO:
- Carnegie Restaurant. Famous for its monstrous sandwiches that only a few people were able to finish a day, being me one of them. Known for its cheesecake, the rest of the food was not delicious, but it was an attraction itself for what the challenge entailed. In any case, it does not surprise me that it closed if more people suffered what our friend Ezequiel, who ended up in the emergency room because of a pastrami in poor condition.
The following are restaurants that despite being franchise, they are worth it. They are available in several locations in the city:
- Shake Shack. What began as a food cart in Madison Park in 2001, became the stand with outdoor tables that still stands there in 2004 and from there to colonize the world, with restaurants as far away as Dubai. The truth is that it was better when it was not so globalized. Although as a fast food restaurant is still one of the best, it has lost much quality considering how it was.
- Bareburger. It might be franchise, but I think it is one of the best burgers of my life.
- Jackson Hole. 232 E of 64St. They are pretty good, although I’ve eaten better.
- Le Pain Cotidianne. They are everywhere. The typical franchise for breakfasts, salads and other products to get by. The quality-price of their products is good.