I am not a New Yorker, or even a full on frequenter of the city. I say this upfront because there are PLENTY of restaurants I have not tried, discovered, or reviewed yet. This post comes from a recent business week trip and a date weekend spent in the Hell’s Kitchen area of the city. For the work trip, I was lucky enough to be with a group of like-minded food lovers who were excited at the prospect of trying out some of the area’s restaurants.
Based on a little research, some friendly recommendations, and pure proximity we scoped out our week’s food conquests. This is a compilation of the best restaurants to encounter while visiting. It will give locals some new inspiration if they haven’t already tried these locations. And for the visitor or tourist, you can try these eateries with confidence that you will be eating something delicious. One quick public service announcement…I apologize for the lack of photos. After long days in our conference I tended to eat first, think later. You’ll just have to trust me!
Ippudo Westside (321 W. 51st St)
It’s a Japanese Ramen Noodle Brasserie. It’s a small basement like property that is unassuming outside as it is lively on the inside. You’ll walk to the small hostess stand shoulder to shoulder with the Sake Bar patrons and put in your name (no reservations are taken here). Be prepared to wait an extended period of time.
We went on a Wednesday night at 8PM and waited over an hour and a half. But, they happily take your number and text you when a table is opening. I normally wouldn’t wait this long for food but, not one diner who walked in and put their name down for the long wait even flinched. In fact, people looked pleasantly surprised to only have to wait nearly two hours for the cult classic. We had to stay at this point.
The noodles are homemade. The ramen broth is pure umami. There are so many dimensions of flavor- meaty, salty, sour, sweet, spicy. It’s a parade of spices and savory notes in your mouth. It’s worth the wait. Saddle up at the sake bar or head across the street to the World of Beer for a brew to wait out the crowd. http://www.ippudony.com/
Rosa Mexicano (61 COLUMBUS AVE AT 62ND ST)
Its bright, vibrant and airy dining room are welcoming on a cold wintery day! The tableside guacamole is a must and I dare you not too eat too many crispy tortilla chips before your meal comes. Our table raved about the Tres Enchiladas that featured three different corn tortillas with various fillings and different sauces. I can vouch that the carnitas were the best I’ve tasted. The pork was both crispy and sticky and the sweet pineapple and onion relish pulled it all together. There’s something for everyone at this restaurant and it’s great for groups! http://rosamexicano.com
Landmarc ( 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd Fl)
We went to Landmarc for a lunch. It’s a French and Italian bistro. We still had largely full bellies from our dinner outing the night before. This lead to large quantities of salads to be served at our table with a few burgers thrown in. However; we all left happy. The food is solid here. You know that no matter your choice, it will be elegantly executed and simply tasty. While there was nothing to get overly enthused about with my salad, there were some table shared appetizers that are worth the mention (and calories!).
Don’t skip the Vermont Cheddar Fritters. Just don’t. I promise you won’t regret the indulgence. It’s like a savory zeppoli with a warm gooey cheese center. Holy wow they are good. The market flatbread of the day was also a zesty and fulfilling bite. I’ve heard the dinner at Landmarc makes the lunch look almost bad. I guess I need another visit soon! http://landmarc-restaurant.com/
Victor’s Cafe (236 W. 52nd St)
Going to see a broadway show but don’t want to sacrifice food quality and go to a big chain franchise? Victor’s is a great option! It’s right in the thick of the broadway theater district. It’s also perfect for a date night location. This intimate Cuban restaurant serves up outstanding fare. The waitstaff are all too pleased to point you in the direction of their favorite dishes. The combination of the upbeat Latin music being pumped through the restaurant, the vibrant cocktail options, and the authentic dishes truly transport you to a vacation destination. Take my word on the Tostones con masitas de puerto and the churrasco dishes. Enjoy your time in Havana for the night. http://victorscafe.com/
Bar Americain (152 W. 52nd St)
For the steakhouse aficionado, pay attention. Bar Americain is Bobby Flay’s New York City steak and seafood shop. I like the little southern twists and French turns on the menu. It’s has all the classic steakhouse menu components but he mixes it up with some unexpected dinner contenders like Duck Confit and Fried Chicken. The crowd is corporate and the ambiance is sleek. You’ll find a healthy mix of date nights, work dinners, and bachelor pad style outings in the mix of diners. Come hungry and with a thick wallet. Leave heartily. http://baramericain.com/
…all for the love of the dish