Posted by: Josey | August 25, 2008

New York City Restaurants: Eat Your Way Through Downtown (By Cuisine)

by Josey Miller

I'm always irritated to see tourists wandering through Times Square, walking slowly and looking towards the sky. It's not because HEY, I need to get to a business meeting and you're in my way!, as it is with many other New York City residents. (Okay, maybe sometimes.) But rather, as a non-tourist who still sees New York City through tourist-colored glasses, I want to grab them all by their "I [heart] New York" t-shirts, shake them and tell them there's so much more to New York City than Times Square.

Tourists here have the tendency to stay in Times Square hotels, eat at Times Square restaurants and drift up and down the streets of—yes, you guessed it—solely Times Square. Granted, you should absolutely spend time in the area to take in a Broadway show or two while you're here. (I just saw Jersey Boys and Spring Awakening and would highly recommend both without hesitation.) But spending time in New York City also requires at least a day of wandering around Greenwich Village and its surrounding neighborhoods (the East Village, the West Village, Soho, Chinatown, Soho, Nolita, Little Italy). Between its history and its charm, it will undoubtedly be a highlight of your visit. Let's start with the restaurants…

Italian—Pizza: Arturo's on Houston
Sit at the bar and ask Tony the Bartender for a carafe of Montepulciano and a pie. If you're lucky, Harry—Roberta Flack's pianist—will be tickling the ivories (even luckier—ahem—I'll be singing alongside him).

Italian—Everything Else: Tanti Baci Caffe on 7th Avenue South
Sit in the cozy room downstairs (or outside on the patio if weather permits… and if the next-door barber shop neon OPEN sign is turned off). If you're lucky, lobster ravioli with their out-of-this-world vodka sauce will be one of the specials.

Chinese—Soup Dumplings: Joe's Shanghai on Pell
Don't burn your mouth on the soup dumplings! If you're lucky, you'll be seated at Lizzie Grubman's table like I was. (That's called sarcasm, folks.) Be sure to build in some time to be transported to Asia with an other-worldly walk around Chinatown.

Chinese—Everything Else: Suzie's on Bleecker
Order the chicken pan-fried noodles and follow-up your meal with some music at the famed Bitter End a few doors down. If you're lucky, you'll be seated near the window for some Bleecker Street people-watching.

French: Jarnac on W. 12th
Enjoy the cozy warmth of this small Village bistro. If you're lucky, you'll be able to find it! (You may want to take a cab so the driver is responsible for getting you there. Otherwise you could very easily end up walking in circles… though that's not necessarily a bad thing in this cute, cobblestone neighborhood.)

Spanish Tapas: Las Ramblas on W. 4th
Order the croquetas—and the Fideua if it's on special. If you're lucky, you'll drink wine out of a porròn… without staining your outfit.

Indian: Calcutta on E. 6th
This sweet tooth loves the rich Chicken Malai with a side of Tandoori Roti. Avoid the white (more like bright yellow) wine. If you're lucky, the sitar player will perform.

Korean: Do Hwa on Carmine
Request a grill-your-own table. If you're lucky, you'll be escorted there just as a creepy man starts hitting on you at the entrance.

Burgers: Corner Bistro on W. 4th
You'll eat your meat off a small paper plate, and you'll like it! Ask for extra napkins. If you're lucky, you'll wait in line just long enough to appreciate the topnotch jukebox collection and take in the throwback bar atmosphere—but not long enough to get "hangry*."

Sushi: Tomoe on Thompson
Order anything raw—you will not be disappointed—followed by a fried banana for dessert. If you're lucky, you'll be seated at the table next to Leonardo DiCaprio. (I wish that were called sarcasm, folks, but I confess: It was a rare star-struck meal, during which I ignored my husband and texted everyone I know. Sorry, Jeff!)

For great Mexican food…
Bad news, but you’ll have to head uptown to Rancho Café. Order the chicken enchiladas, with or without mole sauce. If you're lucky, there will be an available saddle stool in the bar area for a creamy frozen pre-dinner margarita.

And there you have 'em: my local haunts. Your additions are more than welcome! Comment below.

*"Hangry," Copyright Siobhan 2007



  1. Okay what about the little french place you took us to last time we were there????? Anyhow, I’m glad you didn’t leave off Tanti Baci’s because they really do have the best Vodka sauce in the world!

  2. You’re right, Jessica! I considered AOC (Bleecker, not Bedford–no relation, also now closed). I’m so glad you loved it as much as I do… and you didn’t even get to experience their incredibly charming garden! The only problem: I stopped by the other day, and they seem to have taken my very favorite item–the pate sandwich–off the menu! Here’s hoping that was just a brief, seasonal change…

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