(Houston to Brooklyn Bridge; E of Layfayette)
Nha Trang: Vietnamese. 87 Baxter @ Bayard-Canal; 22/11/$17; 233-5948; Mountains of food; Crowded; Dirt cheap. BBQ beef entrees; Pho Noodle soups- multiple to choose from; Huge menu to select from; Truly authentic & packed with locals. Beware – it is a hole in the wall and not a great place for a sit-down dinner. More for lunch. Never for a date unless you are 17 and poor. Oddly – pretty darn good service too.
Estela: American. 4 E Houston @ Mott-Mulberry; 27/19/$68; 219-7693; http://estelanyc.com/menu/; Wildly unique menu for adventurous eaters; Clever tapas sized plates; Cramped and popular; Dishes include Burrata with salsa verde; Ricotta dumplings; beef tartare; lamb ribs; Cod; Sardines with Kale; They go all over the place! Cocktails are $14 and equally creative; I’ve literally not heard of any of the beers on the menu.
Emporio: Italian/Pizza. 231 Mott @ Prince-Spring; 24/18/$42; 966-1234; www.emporiony.com/; What makes this place is the individual pizzas in a charming setting; Wood fire oven; For an app try the burrata platter; Happy hour features $6 house wine; Whole Bronzino, great pasta dishes, Charred Octopus as well. Meatballs made of Veal and Pork melt in your mouth. Really solid for lunch or a casual dinner.
Il Cortile: Italian. 125 Mulberry @ Canal-Hester; 24/23/$54; 226-6060; www.ilcortile.com/; Innovative Italian; Garden Room- ask to sit there, it is gorgeous; True Italian feel. Sizable portions served by a friendly, experienced waitstaff. Garden room or outdoor seating perfect for a date; Touristy, but locals love it too; They have a cocktail lounge; Any form of seafood served Marinara, Fra Diavolo, Garlic & Oil or Milanese. Massive menu. Around since 1975. Buffalo Mozz;
Pellegrino’s: Italian. 138 Mulberry @ Grand-Hester; 24/18/$43; 226-3177; Delicious fare; Touristy but still a delightful experience; Service is tops. Traditional Little Italy Classic; Possibly the best on this strip; Can sit outside; Treated like royalty. Fun to watch the tourists go by; Red sauce classics; Rigatoni in Vodka sauce. Bufala Mozz; Ideal for lunch or dinner or anytime while sightseeing. Mixed seafood salad; http://pellegrinosristorante.com/
Angelo’s of Mulberry: Italian; 146 Mulberry @ Grand-Hester; 24/18/$46; 966-1277; www.angelosofmulberryst.com/; Been around forever; Pasta and Garlic lovers gravitate here; One of the best in Little Italy. Red sauce classics; Lines out the door for a reason; Stereotypical, but tried and true. Old school all the way; True Italian feel with a staff that is heavily Italian; Huge portions and long wine list; 20 appetizers ($10-$15), 20 pastas, 30+ meat & fish dishes ($20-$30).
Benito One: Italian. 174 Mulberry @ Broome-Grand; 23/20/$42; 226-9171; http://benitoone.com/benito/Welcome.html; Still going strong since 1968’ As old school as it gets; Giant menu of Italian classics; Great family treatment and sauces that will keep you coming back; Lunch and dinner served; Excellent wine list; Try the antipasta platters and treat yourself to some pasta. Seafood salad is amazing as well.
Pasquale Jones. Italian. 187 Mulberry @ Kenmare; 25/19/$62; 917-472-7230; www.pasqualejones.com/; Hot spot that opened in 2016; Homemade pasta dishes and wood oven pizzas; Celebs frequent; Food is really tasty but overhyped? Best to go for lunch/brunch and enjoy the atmosphere for less as dinner menu similar. Known for a clam pizza; From the Charlie Bird team; Mostly walkins for dinner but you can leave name and they text you when table ready (ie- go grab a drink down the street).
Balaboosta: Mediterranean. 214 Mulberry @ Spring; 25/19/$54; 966-7366; http://balaboostanyc.com/; Imaginative comfort food with Middle Eastern influences; Pleasant atmosphere, airy and clean; Great staff; Try the pappardelle with lamb and cardamom; Incredible hummus; Smoked Eggplant Bruschetta; Burrata; Grilled Octopus; Grilled Bronzino; Short Ribs; Red Snapper; Lamb Burger. Ideal break from Italians places.
Shanghai Café: Chinese. 100 Mott @ Canal-Hester; 23/12/$21; 966-3988; Competes with Joe’s Shanghai for the best soup dumplings in the city; Endlessly long menu of anything you could possibly crave as well; No dim sum carts but they have Dim Sum on menu; Incredibly cheap – as is the décor; Cash only; Scallion pancakes also stand out; You will have trouble spending $20 here. Authentic Chinatown experience.
Nyonya: Malaysian. 194 Grand @ Mott-Mulberry; 22/14/$22; 334-3669; www.ilovenyonya.com/; Dirt cheap tabs for a true Malaysian experience; Properly spiced; Great for lunch and to walk around Chinatown or Little Italy afterwards; The most popular dish, in this very popular spot, is the ROTI Canai – flatbread with a curry sauce. Gigantic menu and everything is dirt cheap. Lunch menu as well.
Mandarin Court: Chinese. 61 Mott @ Bayard; 21/9/$21; Used to be some of the Best Dim Sum in city; Dirt cheap; Dinky place; Weekends is best! Pushcart authentic classics; Shrimp dumplings. Heavenly tidbits. Nothing fancy and often crowded on weekends; New ownership has resulted in below average reviews since then. I have not been since ownership change. Cheaper than most & carts come fast.
Peking Duck House: Chinese. 28 Mott @ Mosco; 24/15/$36; 227-1810; www.pekingduckhousenyc.com; Crispy Duck; Get the signature dish skillfully carved at your table; Has all the usual Chinese dishes as well; Select the 3-way duck- they make a soup & stir fry with leftovers. BYO with no fee; Great service for the genre; Large portions and reasonably priced to boot. Great for larger groups. Not fancy, nor is it a dump.
Ping’s Seafood: Chinese. 22 Mott @ Pell; 22/12/$32; 602-9988; Known for Dim Sum and fish served whole; Weak service and dated décor but the weekend Dim Sum is magic (for NYC); The menu contains the usual huge number of selections including many seafood entrees and noodle dishes; Eat cheaply, though not as cheap as competitors in genre. Shrimp Dumplings are to die for.
Joe’s Shanghai: Chinese. 9 Pell @ Bowery-Mott; 25/12/$25; 233-8888; www.joeshanghairestaurants.com; Famous for Soup Dumplings; Dim Sum like; Well-known; Large menu of all the other usual classics; Dirt cheap pricing. Most popular place in Chinatown; Have uptown location at 24 W 56th; Food is addictive; Go for the Soup Dumplings (crab or pork) and try another dish as well and you will be full… all for under $25.
Oriental Garden: Chinese. 14 Elizabeth @ Bayard-Canal; 24/14/$31; 619-0085; Seafood doesn’t get fresher; Way better than anything in area; Dim Sum is outstanding; Simple Chinatown-esque décor and very mixed service quality; Crab with ginger and scallion; Shrimp dishes. Chow fun and other noodle dishes amazing; Not the cheapest C-Town eatery but they have a huge following; One of the best options in area.
Jing Fong: Chinese. 20 Elizabeth @ Bayard-Canal; 22/14/$20; 964-5256; www.jingfongny.com; Huge ballroom Dim Sum Palace; Famous and always packed on weekend; Dim Sum Cart central; Massive menu for other nights; Dirt cheap tabs; Best for the “Disneyland” of Dim Sum – go early; Great for parties; They even have Dim Sum M-F for $2.50 an order- no matter what type (of the 75 selections or so). NYC Institution – famous spot.
Tacombi Nolita: Mexican. 267 Elizabeth @ Houston; 24/25/$32; 727-0179; http://tacombi.com/locations/Nolita; Décor points are for the ‘cool’ factor, not for formality; Like a beach stand in a warehouse; Delicious tacos served from a vintage VW Van; Other outlets on Bleecker & in Flatiron; They have a few other menu items but you come here for the tacos and drinks; Great for a casual dinner before bar hopping.
Musket Room: New Zealand. 265 Elizabeth @ Houston; 26/24/$88; 219-0764; www.musketroom.com/; Opened in 2013 and immediately got 1 Michelin star; Striking décor including a 20 foot walnut timber bar; 70 seats – romantic and classy; Dishes represent all era of New Zealand cuisine; 6 course tasting menu for $75 well worth it; Try the Red deer, Berkshire Port, or Cod. Foodie type of menu – exotic ingredients.
Great NY Noodle Town: Chinese. 28 Bowery @ Bayard; 21/14/$23; 349-0923; Massive menu of every variety of noodle dish; Multiple rice dishes to choose from and even standard Chinese fare; Even soft shell crab; Tons of soups- under $4 so prices can’t be beat; Open until 4am daily; Known for an amazing roast pork; Imagine what you want to eat Chinese wise – they have it. Cramp set up.
Deluxe Green Bo: Chinese. 66 Bayard @ Elizabeth-Mott; 26/7/$16; 625-2359; Best Chinese in City; Flat out awesome Chinese in a dump; Authentic. Soup dumplings are the masterpiece here; Dim sum, noodle, & rice selections; Huge menu; Steamed crab & pork steamed dumplings; Service is fast but quarters are cramp; Once won USA Today award for Top 10 Chinese in the country.
Fuleen Seafood: Chinese-Seafood. 11 Division @ Bowery- E-BWay; 23/12/$29; 941-6888; Epic good seafood; Fish straight from the ocean; Prepared wonderfully; So cheap for seafood; Piss poor décor but worth it for crustaceans swimming into your mouth. Has non-seafood dishes galore; Best for lunch or mid-day weekend meal; Especially excellent are the crabs. Great for larger parties – family style available.
Golden Unicorn: Chinese. 18 E B-Way @ Catherine; 24/13/$25; 941-0911; www.goldenunicornrestaurant.com; Dim Sum genius; Giant spot- 3 levels & huge assortment of Dim Sum selections; Authentic food; Shrimp Dumplings; Probably the most established Chinese I’ve had in Chinatown; Not a ‘scene’ by any means; Go for Dim Sum or even dinner; True Chinatown experience. Gets packed on weekends. No service to speak of.