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  New York City Restaurants
  by Jane Bills, Jeff Bercovici and Mason Hawk
 

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Angelica Kitchen - 300 East 12th St, 212-228-2909
Forget the fact that the food is good for you, Angelica's has some of the best tasting vegetarian cuisine this side of the Hudson and then some. Suggestions: try one of the daily specials and bring your own wine. - MH

Arturo's - 106 West Houston St, 212-677-3820
A local treasure. Classic Italian pub featuring some of the best Sicilian style food in town. Unpretentious neighborhood crowd and natural Old World charm help to make this a landmark spot. Expect great live jazz, friendly bar service, and brick oven pizza that's strictly from heaven. Prices are moderate, of course. - MH

BB's (formerly Bowery Bar) - 40 East 4th St,
212-475-2220

A fun, if not somewhat haughty establishment, serving Continental cuisine inside a former gas station on city's Lower East Side. - MH

Bayou - 308 Lenox Ave, 212-426-3800
New Orleans Creole food comes to Harlem in a sleek, wood-furnished eatery that overlooks Lenox Avenue from the second floor. Bring your appetite for generous portions of turtle soup, fried oysters draped in melted Brie and spinach salad with fried crawfish tails – and those are just the appetizers! - Jane B.

Café Loup - 105 West 13th St, 212-255-4746
French cuisine at moderate prices. Menu appeals to a wide variety of pallets from vegetarians to carnivores to the select few who prefer rabbits and snails. Good selection of wine, great service, excellent atmosphere. - MH

Café Un Deux Trois - 123 West 44th St, 212-354-4148
Take a break from tooling around Times Square for some simple French bistro food. Salmon with bernaise sauce and crispy fries, omelettes made to order, and let's not forget the classic ham-and-cheese sandwich. All satisfy your worst hunger cravings – although the hamburger could be skipped. Kids (and adults, if you feel the urge) can color on the paper tablecloths with crayons provided at every table. - Jane B.

Cajun - 129 Eighth Ave, 212-691-6174
The Big Easy in the Big Apple. Best place in town to grab a bowl of gumbo, chicken creole or blackened catfish. And for the price of dinner you get some live (and somewhat loud) Dixieland jazz. - MH

Calle Ocho - 446 Columbus Ave, 212-873-5025
This Pan-Latino addition to the Upper West Side has been making waves with both its cuisine and its scene. The spacious bar area is modern and colorful, giving the caiprinhas and mojitos a festive atmosphere in which to sip them. The enormous main dining room has been designed with swooping curves and warm hues, and the fantastic South American soundtrack makes you wish there were a dance floor. The calamari salad, with caper berries, roasted garlic and hearts of palm, is a winner. - Jane B.

Charles' Southern Style Kitchen - 2839 Eighth Ave/also 2837 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (btwn 151 and 152 Sts), 212-926-4313
Forget the diet at this all-you-can-eat buffet that not only serves up great fried chicken but also mouthwatering ribs, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, yams, corn bread and potato salad. There's a takeout window next door if you just can't get enough. The neighborhood is a little off-the-beaten path, so a lunch date might be your best bet. - Jane B.

Cucina Stagionale - 275 Bleeker St (bet. 6th/7th Aves), 212-924-2707
One of NYC's favorite stops for inexpensive pasta and world-class cheesecake. The linguini and clam sauce is famous about town but watch out for the long lines and the crowded room. Also, bring your own wine. - MH

Esca - 402 West 43rd St, 212-564-7272
Esca, Italian for "bait," specializes in southern Italian cuisine and offers an array of seafood that changes daily depending on the day's catch. Esca is best known for its crudi, or raw appetizers, sashimi-like cuts of fish dressed with herbs and pungent lime-green olive oils. Enjoy fresh pastas and entrees – have a whole fish de-boned and plated right in front of your eyes – or just settle in at the raw bar and dig in! - Jane B.

Frank - 88 Second Ave, 212-420-0202
The saucy, short list of Italian standbys will please any critic at this cramped East Village eatery – the imported buffalo mozzarella is arguably the best in the city and the meatballs and gravy hit the spot. The moderate prices draw a hungry crowd of hip locals so arrive early or get stuck waiting at the wine bar. Luckily, Frank is also great for brunch. - Jane B.

Great Jones Café - 54 Great Jones St, 212-674-9304
Great down-home atmosphere, if not a tad on the claustrophobic side. Rice and beans, po' boys burgers and fries are the specialties – wash 'em down with a Rolling Rock. Great Jones is known for having some of the best bar food in town. - MH

I Tre Merli - 463 West Broadway, 212-254-8699
Swank goings-on inside this former fire station. Euro-flavored atmosphere, Northern Italian cuisine. - MH

In Padella - 145 Second Ave, 212-598-9800
A sinful pleasure of the Italian kind. The grilled portobella is as juicy as a rare fillet mignon, and you could stand a spoon up in the cream sauce. Ranging from $8-20, the entrees, including a great seafood selection, won't break you; neither will a bottle of pinot grigio ($16). Plenty of sidewalk seating for dedicated people watchers and exhibitionists. - Jeff B.

Indochine - 430 Lafayette St, 212-505-5111
Indochine's been reaping the benefit of a renewed interest in Vietnamese food. Cooly elegant ambiance, however, appears to dictate the designer prices. - MH

Internet Café - 82 East 3rd St, 212-614-0747
A great place to grab a sandwich while you download a little Java. Located in the East Village. - MH

Jasmine - 1619 Second Ave (at 84th St), 212-517-8854
You won't see Madonna eating here but you will find the best Thai food on the Upper East Side – if not the whole of Manhattan – at reasonable prices. Expect a bit of wait for a table, especially on weekends. - MH

The Landmark Tavern - 626 11th Ave, 212-757-8595
One of the oldest pubs in New York (1868), the trek to the far west side is well worth the old-world ambience and oversize portions of Irish-English pub grub – try the bangers and mash or the Irish potato soup with hickory bacon. Check out the original oak wood and once-upon-a-time cash register at the bar as you sip on room-temperature suds like a true Brit. - Jane B.

Manhattan Bistro - 129 Spring St, 212-966-3459
Hearty French fare and paper tablecloths. The grotto-like dining room is surprisingly intimate given the location, and the walls are lined with hip, if bizarre, murals. Chef Xavier Mayonove is expert at balancing richness against delicacy; the grilled sea bass on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes ($15) gets no points for originality but makes up for it in the execution. - Jeff B.

New York Noodle Town - 28 1/2 Bowery, 212-349-0923
Zero atmosphere and the best Chinese food in NYC, which probably means the world. If you can walk out of this place without holding your belly from having over-eaten, you have the discipline of a monk. Serves until the wee hours. - MH

The Noho Star - 330 Lafayette St, 212-925-0070
Gimmicky in a good way, the Noho Star is a gourmet diner, that rare establishment where you can wash down your Belgian waffles with a Belgian beer. Art dealers, models, and civilians alike munch sandwiches or sushi and shout to be heard over the clangor of the kitchen. Portions are preposterous – the side of fries is a meal unto itself – so count on leftovers or a stomachache. - Jeff B.

Odeon - 145 West Broadway (at Thomas St),
212-233-0507

Popular, classic bistro frequented by many notables for late-night dining. Menu includes common staples from country salad to steak and grilled chicken. Atmosphere conducive to the consumption of a martini or two. - MH

Osteria al Doge - 142 West 44th St, 212-944-3643
This Midtown favorite serves up very respectable northern Italian dishes. The fresh, stuffed pastas and homemade soups are especially delicious. Crowds can become noisy at lunch during the week and before Broadway shows, but the food makes it bearable as a standout in a city of many mediocre Italian imitations. - Jane B.

Pasha - 70 West 71st St, 212-579-8751
Head to the Upper West Side for Pasha's sumptuous Turkish cuisine, which ranges from smoked eggplant dip and grilled calamari to Chilean sea bass and lamb wrapped in grape leaves. For dessert, try the poached apricots filled with crème fraiche and sprinkled with pistachios. The open-air patio and the warm red and yellow hues of the front and back rooms make dining here a pleasant experience. - Jane B.

Raoul's - 180 Prince St, 212-966-3518
Located on Prince Street in SoHo, this hip bistro is prized as much for its intimate, casual atmosphere as for its excellent steak au poivre ($26). The friendly waitstaff is indispensable in decoding the all-French blackboard menus and offering suggestions. Highly recommended, and deservedly so, is the chocolate torte with raspberry purée and orange sauce ($10). - Jeff B.

The Red Cat - 227 10th Ave, 212-242-1122
Chef Jimmy Bradley serves up some of the most delicious dishes in Manhattan, in this eater's opinion. The foie gras and sweetbread appetizers are outstanding. Entrees like mustard-crusted trout served with mashed potatoes and a tender, extra-large pork chop served in its own juices with a black-olive spread simply delights. If you can save any room, the desserts are top-rate as well. - Jane B.

Rue 57 - 60 West 57th St, 212-307-5656
Midtown gets an open-air, French bistro-style eatery that offers well-prepared servings of everything from steak to sushi – even the green salad stands out despite its typical and often neglected presence on every menu in town. After-work revelers mingle with serious eaters at this busy, convivial spot. Live jazz often entertains downstairs. - Jane B.

Sylvia's - 328 Lenox Ave, 212-996-0660
The Harlem institution known for soul food will keep you satisfied with dishes like barbecue beef ribs as big as your head coated in Sylvia's sweet and spicy sauce. Typical accompaniments like collard greens and macaroni-and-cheese abound. Stop in for the gospel choir during Sunday brunch. And you can often catch a glimpse of Sylvia in the kitchen, stirring sauces for crowds of tourists and locals. Hey, isn't that Bill Clinton? - Jane B.

Telephone Bar & Grill - 149 Second Ave, 212-529-5000
The English fare includes standards such as chicken pot pie and fish'n'chips. Telephone is a lively place, filled with a healthy college crowd. The back room is ideal for sitting with friends – you can grab a table without being ransomed into eating if you're more interested in the booze. - MH

Veritas - 43 East 20th St, 212-353-3700
Wine and food lovers unite for the delectable new American cuisine served up by noted chef Scott Bryan, who complements the stunning wine list – offering both affordable and astronomical choices – with such ingredients as sweetbreads, black truffles, rabbit and lamb. The setting is intimate and the service is impeccable, with sommeliers on staff to help you make the best choice. - Jane B.

Yakiniku West - 218 E. 9th St, 212-979-9238
In a neighborhood where sushi places are as common as Prada shoulder bags, a Japanese restaurant has gotta have a hook to stay in business. Yakiniku West's is the tranquil, shrine-like atmosphere of the dining room – no shoes, please. Trust the waitstaff not to let you order something your American taste buds can't handle. (Disregard that last one if you are Japanese.) - Jeff B.


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