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New York City Restaurant Guide

Have you ever wished that there was a way to jet from the world's greatest cities one-by-one just to enjoy the most delicious of the world's finest cuisine?  In New York City your wish has been granted.  Better yet, without the need for your your own private jet, in New York City you can easily cab to enjoy the world's finest cuisine in more restaurants per square mile than most other cities in the world.  Enjoy American, BBQ, Cajun, Creole, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Seafood, and more international fine cuisine within minutes of your New York City Hotel.  We've put together a bucket list of some New York City dining establishments that you'll want to try out on your trip.

AMERICAN

CAFE S.F.A.

611 Fifth Ave., 8th fl.

New York, NY, 10022-6899

(212) 940-4080

High atop Saks, this New American favorite of the shop-till-you-drop crowd offers restorative light lunches along with a glorious view of St. Patrick's; it makes for a civilized pick-me-up, but you must go early to avoid a long wait.

ICON

130 E. 39th St.

New York, NY, 10016-0906

(212) 592-8888

Atmosphere is everything at this Murray Hill New American via Drew Nieporent, from the stylish crowd to the slinky design with tunnel-of-love lighting; cynics, contradicted by the menu's high ratings, say the kitchen's creativity plays second fiddle to the scene, adding you have to be young to stand the noise level.

VYNL

824 Ninth Ave.

New York, NY, 10019-4404

(212) 974-2003

Kitschy but tasty twists on diner favorites surface at this arty Hell's Kitchen American-Thai featuring conversation-starting record sleeve menus that echo its retro looks; low prices make it a great pre-theater option, despite occasionally laughable service.

TOCQUEVILLE

15 E. 15th St.

York, NY, 10003

(212) 647-1515

Surveyors give a tip of the toque to this diminutive New American beauty with a pronounced French accent, giving it high marks for its stylish, serious cooking and intimate (if underdecorated) setting just west of Union Square; dot-goners, however, may want to take out a loan first, since the bill may floor you.

BBQ

COWGIRL HALL OF FAME

519 Hudson St.

New York, NY, 10014-2601

(212) 633-1133

Corn dogs and tequila shots make an interesting meal at this West Village Southwesterner known for its trailer park eats served in campy digs, though the ultra-cheap tabs are no joke.

HOG PIT BBQ

22 Ninth Ave.

New York, NY, 10014-1204

(212) 604-0092

Manhattan rednecks close their eyes and channel Texas at this Meatpacking District BBQ joint that supplies cheap, lurid fun with greasy food; there's agreement it looks like a rickety shack, but debate over what's saucier - the ribs or the barmaids?

DUKE'S

99 E. 19th St.

New York, NY, 10003-1301

(212) 260-2922

Everything's fried and true at this laid-back, down-home Southern BBQ comfort-grub joint with kitschy decor; although the beer-fueled, fratty after-work scene is a bit much, this Gramercy spot is kid-friendly and boasts good delivery.

TENNESSEE MOUNTAIN

143 Spring St.

New York, NY, 10012-3812

(212) 431-3993

It's hard to believe this backwoods BBQ has put down roots in SoHo, but hillbilly fans pretend they're in the hollow and wallow in big ol' slabs of ribs; critics contend that this Jersey-esque approach, albeit inexpensive, is about as authentic as New England clam chowder in Memphis.

CAJUN/CREOLE

212 RESTAURANT & BAR

133 E. 65th St.

New York, NY, 10021

(212) 249-6565

Despite a Euro-Hamptons bar scene right out of Sex and the City, this East Side American turns out surprisingly good chow; there's no truth to the rumor they're opening a street cart called 917.

ACME BAR & GRILL

9 Great Jones St.

New York, NY, 10012

(212) 420-1934

Hog wild habitués insist it's all about the sweet potato fries at this grungy NoHo Cajun dishing out authentically fake Southern eats that make for inexpensive, messy fun; as for that faux roadhouse decor, let's just say it's not to everyone's taste.

BAYOU

308 Lenox Ave.

New York, NY, 10027-4405

(212) 426-3800

Harlem's lucky to host this Cajun-Creole bit of New Orleans that's proving it's not too far north after all; revelers trumpet its fun feel, while stargazers hope for the possibility of rubbing shoulders with Bill Clinton at a power lunch.

DELTA GRILL, THE

700 Ninth Ave.

New York, NY, 10036-3603

(212) 956-0934

Jambalaya junkies fix on cheap, calorific Southern comfort food at this Hell's Kitchen rajun Cajun where the spicy eats and enjoyable bayou atmosphere make up for the down-and-dirty digs.

LA BELLE EPOQUE

827 Broadway

New York, NY, 10003-4783

(212) 254-6436

This charming Central Village French-Creole transports you to a different era with its stylized take on 19th-century Paris; it's most fun on tango nights, but ratings show you could do better.

CHINESE

EXCELLENT DUMPLING HOUSE

111 Lafayette St.

New York, NY, 10013-4105

(212) 219-0212

Go back to basics at this Chinatown dive where there's no decor whatsoever to distract from the mouthwatering potstickers; it's a must for blowing a jury duty stipend, since it's really cheap and there's no point in lingering.

MAPLE GARDEN DUCK HOUSE

236 E. 53rd St.

New York, NY, 10022-5201

(212) 759-8260

Delectable Peking duck has folks flocking to this Midtown Chinese where you can duck in when the mood strikes, since you don't need to order it ahead; granted, the bland, suburban setting ruffles some feathers, but solid service and reasonable prices help smooth them.

PIG HEAVEN

1540 Second Ave.

New York, NY, 10028

(212) 744-4333

Even though this Chinese Eastsider serves more than just pork, the dishes from its menu's porcine region are a cut above the rest; if some longtime patrons are still adjusting to the upscale revamp a couple of years back, most say it seems rejuvenated and still provides priceless pigging out.

XO KITCHEN

148 Hester St.

New York, NY, 10013-4735

(212) 965-8645

An off-the-beaten-path, quirky Chinatown find, this funky, always-crowded, Hong Kong-style joint resembles a dingy rec room; its adventurous menu offers great variety, which can be a problem, since some find it hard to figure out what's good and what's simply strange.

FRENCH

ALOUETTE

2588 Broadway

New York, NY, 10025-5654

(212) 222-6808

So out of place and so welcome, this double-decker West Side French bistro presents well-thought-out fare that rivals that of far costlier establishments; just ignore your neighbor's elbows, the awkward space and somewhat scatterbrained service.

CHEZ JOSEPHINE

414 W. 42nd St.

New York, NY, 10036

(212) 594-1925

As wonderful and dramatic as Josephine Baker herself, owner Jean-Claude's quirky Times Square paean to his mother gets you in the mood for the theater; its recently redone decadent decor and tasty French fare also add to the ooh-la-la factor.

LE MONDE

2885 Broadway

New York, NY, 10025-7820

(212) 531-3939

Captive audience Columbia students are divided on this good-looking French brasserie: fans claim it brings quality cooking to Morningside Heights, but foes find it a charming envelope with nothing inside, except poor service that's particularly gauling.

TROIS MARCHES

306 E. 81st St.

New York, NY, 10028-3931

(212) 639-1900

An undiscovered Yorkville treasure, this cozy Asian-accented New French should be packed every night, since its delish dishes are such a good value (especially the wallet-friendly early-bird); but pickier eaters say this valiant effort doesn't always hit the mark.

ITALIAN

ANGELS

1135 First Ave.

New York, NY, 10021

(212) 980-3131

Large portions at low prices are a winning combination at this humble East Side Italian that's often elbow-to-elbow, even though picky eaters find the generic grub not heavenly.

ANTONIO RISTORANTE

157 E. 55th St.

New York, NY, 10022-4029

(212) 588-1545

A congenial host makes first-timers feel like regulars at this upscale but homey Midtown Italian that's like eating at a friend's; maybe it's a little overpriced, but high and low rollers alike call it a safe bet for civilized dining and outstanding service.

BELLA BLU

967 Lexington Ave.

New York, NY, 10021-5103

(212) 988-4624

Throngs of singles show up to be fed and seen at this frenetic Upper East Side Northern Italian; though the wild decor almost overwhelms its terrific pizzas, most people are having too good a time to notice.

LETIZIA AMORE RESTAURANT

1374 First Ave.

New York, NY, 10021

(212) 517-2244

For a cozy, traditional Italian meal replete with Sinatra, Marilyn and Kennedy photos, you could do worse than consider this new Eastsider; the pastas and other standards are joined by less typical game dishes like pheasant and rabbit.

SAPORE

55 Greenwich Ave.

New York, NY, 10014

(212) 229-0551

Ok, it's so small you can't sneeze, but this flavorful West Village Italian find manages to turn out tasty home cooking at very fair prices (including bargain lunch specials); in clement weather, sidewalk seating relieves the jam-packed room.

VICEVERSA

325 W. 51st St.

New York, NY, 10019

(212) 399-9291

What the waiters promise, the kitchen delivers at this highly innovative Italian standout on an unassuming block in Hell's Kitchen's burgeoning restaurant district; reasonable tabs, a sleek interior and an exquisite outdoor garden make this one a real winner.

JAPANESE

BOND STREET

6 Bond St.

York, NY, 10012-2312

(212) 777-2500

Matisse meets sashimi at this ultra-cool NoHo Japanese where the artfully done, sushi-centric menu is as delicious as the rail-thin, leggy crowd; no surprise, you can count on high-octane attitude and prices that aren't as anorexic as the waitresses, but in return there's that sexy, sleek setting and downstairs bar that's quite the scene.

FUJIYAMA MAMA

467 Columbus Ave.

New York, NY, 10024

(212) 769-1144

Eat up and disco down at this wild West Side Japanese where the glaring neon and DJ-spun dance music delight the loud crowd just as much as the pretty good sushi; although a tacky, so '80s scene with killer decibel levels, it makes birthdays special and every day a celebration.

NADAMAN HAKUBAI

66 Park Ave.

New York, NY, 10016-3007

(212) 885-7111

Traditional types pronounce the multicourse kaiseki dinner at this Murray Hill hotel Japanese the experience of a lifetime and say the great-tasting sushi, beautiful presentation and very formal service will make you feel like you're in Japan - unfortunately, the towering tab will too.

NËO SUSHI

2298 Broadway

New York, NY, 10024-4902

(212) 769-1003

Hailed as a huge step forward for the Upper West Side, this Nobu-esque Japanese nëwcomer arrives with excellent nontraditional fare centered around amazing sushi; an as-yet unconvinced minority bemoans sizable tabs for tiny portions - your stomach and wallet are empty an hour later.

SUSHI ROSE

248 E. 52nd St., 2nd fl.

York, NY, 10022-6201

(212) 813-1800

Among the most generous of Japanese, this Midtowner's Saturday night half-off deal is worth waiting for, and it rises to the occasion with big pieces of fresh sushi and sashimi; despite its sterile environs, it's quite popular - go early.

MEDITERRANEAN

ACQUARIO

Central Village/NoHo

5 Bleecker St.

New York, NY, 10012-2445

(212) 260-4666

Cramped yet cozy, this shabby chic NoHo Mediterranean is a good bet if you're trawling for earthy cooking along the lines of a very authentic Portuguese fish stew; still, the smoking-allowed policy is a little too authentic for fresh-air fanatics.

CAFÉ BOTANICA

160 Central Park S.

York, NY, 10019-1561

(212) 484-5120

Breakfast is bliss amidst the flowers and greenery that mirror this delightful Med-French's lush Central Park views; though the cooking's typically delicious, its good value prix fixe deals and buffet brunches fit for a king are standouts.

METRONOME

915 Broadway

New York, NY, 10010-7108

(212) 505-7400

The ambiance is just right at this classy deco Flatiron Med-New American, a scene without attitude where jazz fans sip great cosmopolitans and watch the band playing above the bar; hep cats call the food nearly as tasty as the riffs and grooves, but those not in sync say just ok.

PANGEA

178 Second Ave.

New York, NY, 10003

(212) 995-0900

Its thirtysomething fan base likes this dark, relaxed Med for its diverse menu that's always dependable for food with personality at old East Village prices; its few critics consider it uneven.

SUGAR BAR

254 W. 72nd St.

New York, NY, 10023-2821

(212) 579-0222

Owned by singer/songwriters Ashford and Simpson, this West Side African-Mediterranean draws a random crowd of yups and bups with an artful, seafood-leaning menu and a cool, recently renovated space; flat notes include pricey tabs and service that's not solid as a rock.

TERRACE IN THE SKY

400 W. 119th St.

New York, NY, 10027

(212) 666-9490

Known for its spectacular skyline view, this classy, terraced Morningside Heights rooftop star in the sky also provides superb French-Med fare and gracious service, while a harpist strikes the right chords; granted, it all comes at what seem like splurge prices this far Uptown, but you get fantastic everything in return.

MEXICAN/TEX-MEXICAN

BABY BO'S BURRITOS

627 Second Ave.

New York, NY, 10016

(212) 779-2656

Terrific, little-known Tex-Mex hiding out in Murray Hill, despite addictive burritos served in a cozy space; though prices are low in general, its fabulous lunch specials are especially noteworthy.

COSMIC CANTINA

201 Third Ave.

New York, NY, 10003-2501

(212) 420-0975

In the heart of NYU territory comes this new Mexican with a healthy spin, turning out fare made strictly from organic ingredients; even better, prices are right and it's open daily till 5 AM.

KOMODO

East Village

186 Ave. A (12th St.)

New York, NY, 10009

(212) 529-2658

The union of Asian and Mexican cooking at this offbeat East Villager makes for some clever new tastes to wake up your mouth; though some snipe at fusion confusion, modest prices and caring service led by a personable owner make this a must-try.

MEXICAN RADIO

19 Cleveland Pl.

New York, NY, 10012

(212) 343-0140

Don't touch that dial: in its new NoLita digs, this above-average Mexican finally has some elbow room, although it may be too dark to see; while nostalgists miss the old charm, killer margaritas and tasty grub cut through any static.

TORTILLA FLATS

767 Washington St.

New York, NY, 10014-1746

(212) 243-1053

At this intentionally tacky West Village Tex-Mex hot spot, hula-hooping frat guys and bingo-mad bachelorettes down dangerous margaritas and bypass the bypass-inducing food; come have some laughs, but just make sure you don't have to work the next day.

SEAFOOD

AQUAVIT

13 W. 54th St.

New York, NY, 10019-5404

(212) 307-7311

From its sublime Scandinavian fare to the therapeutic waterfall, this flawless Midtown Modernist classic from culinary magician Marcus Samuelsson celebrates the joys of salmon and just gets better with time; though the prices are as high as the [atrium] ceiling, its wonderful selection of aquavits numbs the sting and the casual upstairs cafe remains a bargain.

DALGA SEAFOOD GRILL

401 E. 62nd St.

New York, NY, 10021

(212) 813-1790

The name translates as 'wave', and this small Turkish newcomer near the Queensboro Bridge is making a big splash stressing a wonderful selection of sensational seafood rather than the conventional kebabs; the soothing, marine-blue decor may get modest ratings, but the pleasant service does better.

DOLPHINS

35 Cooper Sq.

New York, NY, 10003-7107

(212) 375-9195

Thirsting for a quiet oasis in the Cooper Square dining desert, nomads turn to this swell seafooder, which continues to surprise first-timers with its lovely garden seating and good selection of fin fare; it's also priced for value, with a certified steal of a $20 pre-theater prix fixe.

GRAND CENTRAL OYSTER BAR

Grand Central, lower level

New York, NY, 10017

(212) 490-6650

This 1913 Grand Central seafood tradition is a Damon Runyon-esque quintessential standard that's the place for anything on the half-shell; despite lousy acoustics, grouchy waiters and tabs that may run you a lotta clams, it more than redeems itself with wonderful fresh fish, a grand vaulted ceiling, lively counter seating and chowder to dream about - if only the trains were this reliable.

OCEANA

55 E. 54th St. New York, NY,

10022-4206

(212) 759-5941

Phenomenal phish leagues above the rest defines this opulent yacht moored in landlocked Midtown that rises to the surface with slick nautical decor and flawless service directed by the best captain in the city; though priced way above the water (prix fixe only: $40 lunch, $65 dinner), this deep-sea shrine is worth every last dime - you'll never want to go back on shore again.

ROY'S NEW YORK

130 Washington St.

New York, NY, 10006-1523

(212) 266-6262

Paradise comes to Lower Manhattan at this original, if expensive, Asian seafooder from star Honolulu chef Roy Yamaguchi, whose innovative use of exotic flavors is improving all the time; its airy digs feel almost as laid-back as Hawaii.

 

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