Restaurant Advice from the editors of
You came to visit...
Now how about a good lunch or dinner?!
New York has more to offer than the Javits Center & Times Square,
you know. And the best restaurants are not necessarily in your
hotel.CitiGraphics Newsletters is based in New York, and we like to eat
nicely, and treat our clients well. Here are some of our favorites, some
of them not likely to be in the guidebooks.
Go to Chinatown!
New York boasts some of the best Chinese cooking outside China
- The big surprise: The Downtown Holiday
Inn's Pacifica Restaurant. This is A1 Cantonese cooking,
well prepared and nicely served. Highly recommended: Stuffed Beancurd.
MuShu Pork. Peking Duck elegant showy dishes. Equally good:
Whatever soup the chef makes that day (pray hard for Velvet Chicken Corn
Soup...). Or, ask maitre d'hotels Alan or Patrick for suggestions. This
is where we eat about once a week and where we go for client lunches and
larger parties (up to 150 people...). Great bar here these guys
make a fabulous martini. Address: 138 Lafayette Street. Easy to get to:
Take the #6 Lexington Avenue Local or N/R Broadway Local subway to Canal
Street. Walk north (uptown) one block to Howard Street (then one block
east to Lafayette, if you took the N/R train).
- A special treat: Yeah Shanghai Deluxe
Restaurant. We have just started going here a lot.
Shanghai cooking is lucious and quite different from Cantonese; New York
has several Shanghai-style restaurants. This one is turning out to be a
consistent favorite. Highly recommended: The Drunken (or Wine) Chicken
and Aromatic Beef appetizers. Steamed Juicy Pork Buns ("Tang
Bao") [and don't hesitate to make those your meal...].
Outstanding braised ("Tungpo") belly pork. Lion Head meatballs
served in soup with noodles. The food here is very consistent from visit
to visit a good indication of a top chef and flavors are
crisp and intense. No large parties; there is only one table handling
eight people and the room is small. Address: 65 Bayard Street,
kittycorner across from Elizabeth Street; take a cab to this one, and
ask the staff to call a car service for the ride back.
- Another Shanghai style restaurant: New
Green Bo. This is kitty-corner across
from Yeah Shanghai. This place is always busy, because the food
is good. Portions are generous, so you might want to order a basic
selection; order more dishes later if you need it. Particular value: The
fried dumplings. Also very good scallion pancakes. This restaurant is
said to be operated by the wife of the old 456 Restaurant, which was
commonly considered one of Chinatown's best for decades; many specialty
dishes are the same.
- Can't get to Chinatown? Our favorite Szechuan-style cooking we
learned about it from Mr. Chang, from Taiwan's representative office
is Wu Liang Ye. Try the
dry-sautéed green beans, and the best (also, most authentic)
twice-cooked pork in New York. This is food for folks who like spices;
Szechuan cooking is hot; if you worry about this, remind your waiter
you're a Western Devil and ask him to have the kitchen go a little easy
on things. Address: 36 West 48th Street, on the north side of
Rockefeller Center and easy walking distance from Times Square or Grand
Central Station area hotels. Equally interesting, also Szechuan: Grand
Szechuan (Da Szechuan) on 9th Avenue at 24th
Street; this is less elegant than Wu Liang Ye, but gets double-thumbs up
from Mr. Lin (Mr. Chang's successor) and Jackie Newman, editor of Flavor
& Fortune, the premier Chinese cuisine journal. For diet fans:
Skip the rice, minimize the veg, and you can do low-carb, Atkins diet
stuff, even in Chinese.
Prefer something more, er,
- For BIG MEAT fans: The obvious choice is Churrascaria
Plataforma, the rodizio at 316 West 49th Street between
Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Call for a reservation (212-245-0505); this
place fills up. Never been to a rodizio? The salad bar is neat
but avoid a large portion. Ask for the setup of side dishes at once, and
turn over your tag to "go". Then eat some of the most
succulent steak, roast beef, chicken, sausages, (et cetera et cetera)
you will ever have. The service is fast and cheerful; the bar is
superior; leave room for dessert (tiramisu if you have room
excellent). Again, this is walking distance from most show hotels.
- For haute cuisine: This is a tough call. We like the
Café Pierre in the
hotel of the same name (Fifth Avenue at 60th Street. This is now Four
Seasons operated. The cooking is elegant, European, simple and perfect.
Service is superb. The room is small; and you will rarely have a crowd
competing for a seat. The result is always pleasant. We've never had a
bad meal here, period. The fish is unusually good, prepared in a way
that its freshness and flavor (never "fishy") comes through.
Pray for the sole or the grilled sea bass. Another treat recently
sampled: bits of veal quickly sautéed and served in a simple
sauce with mushrooms with spätzle "Zürich style".
Starters are good too but you might want to just ask for another
shot at the bread basket; the rolls and specialty breads are perfection.
Deserts are what one would expect from a very good multi-star French
restaurant; indulge, or, if you skip desert with your coffee, they'll
give you a nice little plate of goodies to enjoy anyway.
Great business idea: have afternoon tea
in the adjacent rotunda, from about 3PM on. Less show, smaller, quieter
and a bit more sophisticated than the more popular places for this
American adaptation of the British practice. By
the bye, you pay no more for this superior stuff than you would for
- We like Tribeca's old established (pre-DeNiro...) Capsouto
Fréres (451 Washington Street this is
definitely a call-a-cab location); the food is elegant "bistro"
and the dessert souflés justly famous. Our recent choice,
however, is the restaurant at the French
Cooking School. In addition to an a la carte menu, the
restaurant features a prix fixe "tasting menu" at
lunch ($20) and dinner ($30). The food is good, the choices are
interesting. The wine-per-glass is fine stuff, and cheap enough that you
can order white with the soup and fish, and a nice claret with the meat
course (about two glasses in the caraffe, by the bye). A recent meal
offered a choice of lobster and sole for the fish, and chicken or veal
for meat; the soup was a lovely pistu. The French Cooking School
restaurant is on Broadway at Grand Street, on the edge of SoHo; do-able
by subway but a cab will be easier.
- The best Italian food we've had in New York is at
Il Cortile. There are many
(very good) Italian restaurants in New York; this one is the best. One
thing: Don't eat after breakfast, if you go to Il Cortile that night;
the portions are HUGE! Highly recommended: a pasta course with porcini
mushrooms in a tomato and cream sauce (one portion will do nicely for
two people as an appetizer); main dishes range from an elegant variant
on "surf and turf" to more traditional red meat and fowl
dishes. What sets this apart is the obvious perfection of each dish.
This perfection is matched in the wait staff; these guys are seasoned
professionals and you can reliably ask for advice (especially on a
selection from a very good wine cellar, with some excellent modestly
priced items). At the end of the dinner, I personally stick to a lemon
ice it's all I have room for. Address: 125 Mulberry Street. Same
directions as to the Downtown Holiday Inn, but walk a few blocks further
east on Canal Street, the uptown half a block. Or, take a cab....
- On the other hand, there is pizza. Pizza is a cult in New York.
Coal-fired brick ovens are almost commonplace. We think the current acme
is Angelo's Pizzeria, at
117 West 57th Street, just west of Sixth Avenue. Coal-fired brick oven,
of course. Fresh ingredients, of course. Other things on the menu
besides pizza, to be sure but if you don't eat pizza here, you
have not eaten the real thing. [Visitors from Chicago: We think ours is
Interesting and Ethnic
- Want something really different? Slide on down to the
The Turkish Kitchen,
at 386 Third Avenue, between 27th and 28th Streets. This is a
sophisticated interpretation of an unusual, er, regional cuisine; the
Turks brought their own tastes and added them to the tastes of the
people who were there (and there were people in Turkey for a very long
time before the Turks wandered in...). The setting is elegant, the
service is very good. Not flawless; we were being pushed off the Turkish
wine toward a much more expensive Australian wine (frankly, good as
Australian varietals are, they do no more with a dinner than the Turkish
wine we tried anyway a very drinkable red). Most of the food
falls in two categories: Dishes are braised or done en cassarole,
or they are more or less grilled. We think the grills, especially the
boneless cornish hen, merit attention. There is a very good stewed lamb
shank that is nicely savory. Dishes come with rice and usually some sort
of simple vegetable, usually braised. Starters are nice, and are nicely
set up to share. one portion gives two people a taste, so order
accordingly. We particularly like the lamb on crispy flat bread, served
hot and just a little spicy. Try to hit this place when it's not too
busy; the kitchen seems to have trouble keeping up, and keeping the
braising from overcooking things, when the crowd is on and the "B"
team is called upon. Also, pick your seating carefully; the management
has made the wholly unjustified assumption that dark enough to not see
the food is elegant, and some places are simply too dark.
- What about a great Southeast Asian bistro? Try the Franklin
Station Café. This one is sooo easy to get
to: Just find your way to the #1 subway train (IRT, West Side local
train), take it downtown to Franklin Street. Come to street level, walk
across to the other side of the street (you'll see the rather monumental
faux-traditional subway entrance canopy for the uptown entrance
to the Franklin Street station), and right there, at the corner of West
Broadway and Franklin Street, is the restaurant. This is a neighborhood
place. The woman who owns it is from Southeast Asia; her husband is
French. The food is generally Southeast Asian with a French flair.
Dishes, when spiced, are deftly done more so that in the usual
run of Southeast Asian restaurants. The menu is itself charming
(handdrawn); the small menu has a range of dishes from simple to more
involved; deserts are worthwhile, as is the coffee. The wine list is
rich and surprisingly modestly priced. Great for lunch, great for dinner
(same menu). Stuck in New York over a weekend? This is a favorite place
- Another Southeast Asian approach: Mangez
Avec Moi, 71 West Broadway between Warren & Murray.
This is a favorite luncheon place for lots of people; come a bit before
or after the main lunch time, if you don't want to wait for a table. The
luncheon specials are smaller portions of the main savory dishes
mostly curries and other stewed or braised meat and veg. The rest of the
meal is a bowl of light miso soup and white or brown rice; the portions
are generous and the flavors are spicy but deft. Ambience is simple, a
bit crowded and very much pre-stockbroker/lawyer-chic. [BTW, if there's
space at the counter, try the very small lunch bar next door.]
OK, guys. You want more free advice? For that, you need to buy
advertising. This is a business, you know....
And, have a good time!