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Manhattan & NJ (Bergen County) Restaurant Reviews

Ian Hunter's Guide to Manhattan and Bergen County, NJ's Best Restaurants, Bars, and Gourmet Markets

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CHELSEA / GARMENT / MEATPACKING  (13th-37th; West of 6th Av)

 

Madangsui: Korean. 35 W 35th @ 6th Ave; 23/15/$38; 564-9333; Known for having some of the best, flavorful BBQ in town; Wonderful Kalbi for sure; Seafood pancake appetizer is amazing; Great for a larger group; Wonderful soups and dumplings; The BBQ is $26 or so and you get a ton of food. Best to come here with a larger group.  Also features sushi and various rolls.  Large a la carte menu.  
 

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse: Steakhouse. 440 9th Av @ 34-35th; 244-0005; 23/20/$76; Melt in your mouth giant cuts of beef; 3 pound porterhouse for 2 for $85; Carnivore’s delight; Old school scene- boy’s clubs; Tremendous Martinis; Tuna Tartare, amazing Crab Cakes, Buff Mozz & Tomatoes;  Bacon appetizer; Kobe meatballs; Prime Rib, Prime Filet; No real seafood on the menu except appetizers.  Huge portions. Brunch menu as well. 

 
Shilla: Korean. 37 West 32nd @ 5th-6th Av; 21/19/$44; 967-1880; Upscale Korean BBQ house; Japanese entrees as well; Large selection of seafood or meats to grill; Plenty of a la carte- prepared items as well; One of the best of its genre in the area. Can be hit or miss if crowded; Always fun to cook it yourself or they will cook it for you.
 
Kang Suh: Korean. 1250 Broadway @ 32nd; 21/12/$35; 564-6845; Do it yourself BBQ; Open 24/7; Also offers standard Korean fare like great Kimche and even sushi; Fried Beef dumplings; 2-levels, upstairs is better. Huge menu of soups; sauces and meats; Overall the menu is massive and a perfect spot for someone not so sure about Korean. Weak on décor and service.

 

Hill Country: BBQ. 30 W 26th @ B-Way-6th Av; 23/16/$33; 255-4544; Large, two level new restaurant as of 2008; Looks like a roadhouse; Some communal tables; Cafeteria feel; Authentic BBQ ribs, pulled pork and southern classics;  Rustic feel; Have fund gaining 3 pounds; Sides are outstanding; All kinds of daily dine-in deals; Brother Jimmy’s level ambiance.  Great Bourbon selection.
 

Junoon: Indian. 27 W 24th @ 5th-6th Av; 25/25/$66; 490-2100; Innovative Indian cuisine in a more formal setting;  Gorgeous décor and spot on service; Michelin 1 star rated; Naan is some of the best you’ll have; They have a really cool ‘spice room’ showcasing their ingredients; Endless wine list; Lunch and dinner served; 5 course tasting menu for $65; Can order off regular menu; Lobster curry; Lamb shanks; Goat Curry; Various chicken and vegetarian options.  Not a huge menu. 

 

El Quinto: Spanish. 401 W 24th @ 9th Av; 24/15/$42; 929-1855; Small in size but not charm; Around since 1930s; Shockingly good tapas on the smallish menu & sangria; Large portions; Try the seafood paella- enough for 3-4 people; Very kitschy and charming; Shrimp with garlic sauce is outstanding; Inexpensive Lobster; Service is fast and efficient. They have their game down. Brunch served.

 
Red CatAmerican. 227 10th Av @ 23-24th; 24/20/$53; 242-1122; Standout; Phenomenal New American-Mediterranean influenced cuisine; Homey feel. Young, hip crowd with energy; A+ service; Tops for area; Ideal eclectic sort of feel. Try the tempura green beans; Nice Wine list; Sauteed Skate is excellent; Menu could be expanded; Good for lunch as well. Near High Line.  I like it more for brunch. 
 
Francisco’s Centro Vasco: Seafood-Spanish. 159 W 23rd @ 6-7th Av; 23/14/$55; 645-6224; Lobster house, plain and simple. Come for genius crustaceans;  Best is a Lobster stuffed with crab meat and swiss cheese; Cheap for the genre with huge portions. Lobster tails stand out as well; Alaskan King Crab; Crab meat without the shell; Shrimp Scampi; Escargot; Soft Shell Crabs. Up to 7 pound lobsters. Huge menu.  
 
Tia PolSpanish. 205 W 10th Av @ 22-23rd; 24/16/$48; 675-8805; Small plates; Chelsea Spaniard; Tapas a la Barcelona.  Lively & has top notch wines & sangria; Very small inside- seating on stools or at bar. Receives rave reviews across the board; Wildly authentic; Go off-peak hours and prepare to enter Spain. They serve lunch and brunch as well. Deviled Eggs on menu!  Large selection.
 
Momoya: Japanese. 185 7th Av @ 21st; 22/20/$41; 989-4466; Simple, spacious setting; Unreal-fresh sushi; Extremely unique, tasty rolls; Menu features many cooked dishes and boxes as well; Great deal for the quality; Inventive & high quality all in one. Tons of sake available; This place is under the radar and one of the best mid-priced options in the genre.
 
CookshopAmerican. 156 10th Av @ 20th; 23/20/$53; 924-4440; Frequently changing menu; Creative, unique dishes; Modern décor and great staff. Excellent brunch; Farm fresh, healthy ingredients. Farm-to-table mentality; From creators of “Five Points”; Uber trendy and always welcoming. Limited dinner menu; Lunch, breakfast and afternoon dining available. Nice open space. Comfortable.
 
Periyali: Greek. 35 W 20th @ 5-6th Av; 25/21/$55; 463-7890; Fabulous fresh fish; Mature crowd; Upscale; Formal, friendly. Classic Greek dishes. Not as seafood focused as others; Strong menu with large appetizer section. Lamb chops and charred Octopus are musts; You will think your in the Greek Islands; Greek meatballs; Crisp Calamari; Wild Salmon; Rabbit stew; Nice wine list. Perfect service most nights. 
 
O Mai: Vietnamese. 158 9th Av @ 19-20th; 23/16/$35; 633-0550; Upscale for Vietnamese; Soft lighting; Good for dates; Neighborhood friendly spot; Fairly tight quarters with food that makes it worth it. As with most of its genre, the Pho is to way to go; Sizable menu with rice, and a variety of beef dishes; Grilled calamari appetizer;
 
Socarrat Paella BarSpanish. 259 W 19th @ 7-8th Av; 24/16/$45; 462-1000; They feature 6 varieties of Paella and a large assortment of Tapas; Downside is communal seating at a lengthy table; Fun time. Has an adjoining wine bar; Just come here and share a Paella and 1 or 2 Tapas as appetizers as this place will blow you away with its authenticity. Go early to avoid crowds. Flamenco every Tuesday.  More room at Midtown East location. Unlimited sangria for $20 with Brunch. Grilled Calamari. 
 
Da Umberto: Italian. 107 W 17th @ 6th-7th Av; 25/20/$59; 989-0303; Beautiful dining room with a strong Italian feel and well spaced tables; Fantastic Italian-focused wine list, though wines not cheap; The Antipastis are to die for- many to choose from including grilled calamari; Shrimp scampi; chicken breast with bufala mozz & tomatoes; SO many great dishes! Expect A+ level service.
 
Morimoto: Japanese. 88 10th Av @ 15-16th; 24/26/$75;  989-8883; Hot Sushi place; Trendy; Great décor; Date spot; Iron Chef’s Morimoto!! Much more expensive if you let chef choose (omakase). Just a cool scene all the way around. Has prepared dishes as well. High tech bathrooms; Rock shrimp tempura amazing; Just a cool, trendy spot to impress a date or out-of-towners. Enjoy the ride.
 
Buddakan: Asian. 75 9th @ 15-16th; 24/27/$70; 989-6699;  Incredible interior; Epically popular; Trendy; Sexy; Hot spot for large groups or dates; Amazing food- wide variety; Top shelf appetizers; Perfecto drinks. Truly one of the 5 best date spots in the city as you will be sure to impress; Good looking crowd; Reserve a week in advance at least!  Menu allows for easy sharing of multiple entrees.  Great location.  $15 cocktails, $8 beer, Dim Sum menu including Oxtail Dumplings;  Singapore Chili King Crab.
 
Del Posto: Italian. 85 10th Av @ 15th-16th; 27/27/$94; 497-8090; Mario Batali flagship; Gorgeous, large interior divinely decorated with marble and mahogany; Service is professional and helpful; Massive wine list and sommeliers to aid; NY Times 3-stars; Michelin 1-star; Five course Tasting menu is the way to go & features lots to choose from ($95); Seven courses $125; The food is just flat out unbelievable. Ideal for a special occasion, engagement, or celebration. Gorgeous bar area as well and live piano.
 

Colicchio & Sons: American. 85 10th Ave @ 15th-16th; 27/26/$89; 400-6699;  From Top Chef Tom Colicchio of the “Craft” restaurant chain;  Inpeccable service and gorgeous décor;  Next door “Tap Room” offers the same quality for less; Amazing wine list and cheese selections; All dishes are appetizer sized; Can order off menu or do a tasting (4 courses $95); Off menu it’s all between $19-$29 and a couple would want to try 4 items at least. Tap room:  $15-$25 each item and I personally like the menu better – though it’s seasonal.  

 
Old Homestead: Steakhouse. 56 9th Ave @ 14-15th; 25/18/$85; 242-9040; Extremely large slabs of first rate meat; Old school feel; Great burgers as well; Top shelf drinks. Been around 150 years; Traditional dark wood setting. NY Sirloin is tops. They have a Kobe beef burger; Truffle Mac N Cheese; Giant desserts – chocolate cake is Mmm; Raw Bar; Bufala Mozz & Tomatoes; Prime Rib; Filet Mignon; Branzino, Sea Bass, Lobster – large menu.  Seared Scallops; Kobe meatballs; Perfectly seared chops. Massive portions. Love the menu.  
 
Crispo: Italian. 240 W 14th @ 7-8th; 23/19/$46; 229-1818; Hopping spot; Romantic, date friendly; Affordable and top shelf service. Gorgeous all-season back garden patio; Daily pasta specials and polenta stand out. Amazing Spaghetti Carbonara and risotto balls; 150-seat establishment; Extensive wine list; Very large menu – especially appetizers.
 
Scarpetta: Italian. 355 W 14th @ 8th-9th Av; 26/22/$71; 691-0555; NY Times 3 stars; Possibly the best Spaghetti around- with tomato & basil; Service and setting perfect for a romantic evening out; Very popular; Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli; They feature an amazing bread basket; Open, bright room; Cod, Bass, Branzino, Venison, Duck Breast. Chef is Scott Conant from Chopt on Food Network.
 
Dos Caminos: Mexican. 675 Hudson @ 14th St; 21/21/$43; 699-2400; Great upscale Mexican, though becoming more of a chain; Sexy, young, hip setting in all locations; Energetic scene perfect for Dates or larger groups; Margaritas will put you under; Guacamole is tremendous; Steve Hanson empire journeys on. Can be loud and service a bit iffy. Best of the mid-level Mexicans.

 

Fig & Olive: Mediterranean. 420 W 13th @ 9th Av; 22/20/$48; 924-1200;Very sleek and cool looking spot; Italian selections as well; Olive Oil infused selections rule; Cheese plates. Greek inspired small plates. Great wine list. Signature dish is the Beef Carpaccio; Yellow Fin Tuna Carpaccio available as well, almost as good; Becoming a chain somewhat with 5 area locations. Lunch, brunch available. Try the Crostini. 

 

Gradisca: Italian. 126 W 13th @ 6-7th Av; 23/18/$52; 691-4886; Wildly popular, known for superb homemade pastas; Fairly romantic setting and charming service; Go earlier as it can get noisy; Standout dishes include Prosciutto di Parma, Buff Mozz, Canneloni with Maine Lobster; There is a 6 course tasting menu for $80; Only major issue is the fairly minimal menu for an Italian.

 

Sugar Factory: American. 835 Washington @ 13th St; 20/22/$62; 414-8700; Name of the game here is FUN; They tout their celebrity appearances; Menu is insanely long with endless fancy drinks for 2 (60 Oz);  When Kylie Jenner is on your homepage – do you care about food?  Anyway – amazing martinis; Incredibly Good brunch/breakfast menu;  Dinner – tons of apps and salads, Signature Burger, Crepes, Sandwiches, Old Fashioned milkshakes.  Basically, a high-end Cheesecake Factory menu. 

 

Standard Grill: American. 848 Washington @ Little 12th-13th; 21/22/$55; 645-4100; Best thing about this popular spot is the location as well as décor and service;  Lunch, dinner, late night eating, and Brunch all available; Food can be hit or miss but generally good; Happening crowd – date friendly; Great people watching and a million bars nearby;  Pricy but good cocktails.  Raw Bar; Cheese/meat plates; Multiple steak options; Whole Roasted Chicken for 2; and The Standard Burger is great.