New York is said to hold some 18,000 eating establishments and after you've been here for awhile, you'll come to see how that could be true. Every block seems to house at least one restaurant. New Yorkers live in tiny apartments; they have miniscule kitchens; hardly anyone hosts dinner parties; everyone eats out.
New York restaurants run the gamut, from the astronomically expensive to the inexpensive, from the enormous to the pocket-sized, from the snooty to the happy-to-serve, from haute cuisine to take-out food. Almost every cuisine in the world is well represented -- from Afghan to Ethiopian to Vietnamese to Polish -- as is almost every cooking style.
The better known, more expensive, and more popular restaurants require reservations, especially on the weekends. At the hottest spots, reservations need to be made months in advance. Plenty of lesser-known and often equally good eateries don't even take reservations, however. There's never a problem getting a superb meal in New York, where many kitchens are open until 11 pm or midnight, and some until 2 am or all night.
©2006 Per Se Resort
New York's per se Restaurant serves up some of the priciest and most
sought-after dinners in town -- the tasting menu for two costs $500.
If you have a taste for the best pizza around, try the thin crust pepperoni with fresh, flavorful cheese at Mobil One-Star John's (278 Bleecker St, between Sixth Ave and Seventh Ave South). For the best burger, check out the Mobil One-Star Corner Bistro (331 W Fourth St, at Jane St), and order any flame-broiled half-pound burger. You won't be disappointed if you opt for a jaw-stretching grilled chicken sandwich instead. You can't mention a good burger without a hot dog too.
Nathan's Famous (1310 Surf Ave, between 15th and Stillwell Ave) is known for a wide variety of tasty hotdogs. Another option is Gray's Papaya (2090 Broadway at 72nd St, 539 Eighth Ave at 37th St, and 439 Sixth Ave at 8th St), known for selling two juicy hotdogs wrapped in crispy buns with a fruit drink for less than $3.
For more upscale dining, seafood lovers can satisfy their taste buds at the Mobil Three-Star Aquagrill (210 Spring St, at Sixth Ave), where you can try falafel-crusted salmon served on hummus with tomatoes and cucumbers or roasted Dungeness crab cake Napolean. If you can eat another bite, you can savor a plate of homemade chocolates.
Meatlovers can savor porterhouse steak that can be cut with a butterknife at the no-frill's Mobil Three-Star Peter Luger Steak House in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (178 Broadway, at Driggs Ave). Make sure to order the New York Cheesecake, which comes with a giant bowl of whipped cream to pile on top.
A first-rate French restaurant is the Mobil Three-Star Chanterelle (2 Harrison St, at Hudson St). Try the chicken with black truffles or striped bass in red wine and fresh sage. Possibly the best dessert to top any meal is the frozen peanut butter and toffee pyramid with chocolate caramel sauce.
Those interested in experiencing the finest ethnic foods won't be disappointed with the multitude of choices. Any pasta dish, especially the rigatoni with tomatoes and sausage, followed by the coconut sorbet is a must-try Italian treat at the Mobil Three-Star Da Silvano (260 Sixth Ave, near Bleecker St).
A top spot for upscale Chinese fare is the Mobil Three-Star Shun Lee Palace (155 E. 55th St, between Lexington and Third Aves). Menu must-haves should include chunks of lobster with baked ginger, scallions, and black beans simmered in soy sauce and red wine. Those who enjoy exotic rare finds will be interested in the ostrich steak with spicy Hunan sauce.
Some of the newest, priciest, and most sought after dinners in town are served at the lavish Mobil Five-Star per se Restaurant in the new Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle, at Broadway), where the tasting menu for two costs $500. A must-have dish, and popular item, is oysters served in creamy tapioca sauce with caviar (known as Oysters and Pearls). The salmon-creme fraiche cones also are popular.
And the list of excellent New York restaurants could go on and on and on. No matter where you decide to eat, remember that it's customary to tip 20 percent of the bill. Gratuities are seldom automatically included.
Trying to fit all of your New York sightseeing into a short visit might seem like a daunting task. On the next page, you'll find suggested itineraries that will help you hit all the hotspots while visiting New York.