Unlike the countless generic pad Thai and pineapple fried rice spots around town, this Michelin-starred basement bungalow serves authentic Thai cuisine broken up into drinking snacks, small plates, large plates, and dishes off the charcoal grill. The Khao Soi Kaa Kai is an absolute must -- a steaming bowlful of yellow curry-soaked noodles and an almost impossibly tender chicken drumstick. Frozen beer slushies pair well with spicier dishes, and the small, always-packed space lends itself to trading a caramelized riblet for a bite of garlic-coated pea shoots with a nearby neighbor.
Le Coq Rico is the sister restaurant to Michelin-starred Chef Antoine Westermann's Montmartre bistro of the same name. Like its Parisian predecessor, this upscale Flatiron spot focuses entirely on birds. Specifically whole birds, like rooster, hen, squab, duck, and guinea fowl, which are raised for 90-120 days -- longer than the industry standard. The result is noticeably tender and more flavorful than any other poultry you'll find in New York. While it's clear what the star is here, Le Coq Rico's fresh-baked breads and pastries at brunch are Paris-level good.
Caribbean meets Cape Cod at LoLo's, a unique island escape in Morningside Heights that specializes in boiled seafood, like snow crab legs and peel-and-eat shrimp soaked in signature sauces like garlic butter and Old Bay seasoning. The steampot combos, baskets of fried fish, and jerk chicken and ribs are so luscious that you'll want to lick your fingers clean at the end of your meal, even though they'll be covered in blue disposable gloves provided by the restaurant -- cleanliness is next to godliness, right? The interior has a kitschy but charming dilapidated beach-house look, but you should grab a seat on the sea-foam green back patio to feel like you've really run away to the beach.
Open since 1908, this family-run Jewish deli and appetizing store hasn't changed much in the last century -- and that's a good thing. If Katz's is known for its pastrami, then Barney Greengrass is known for its smoked fish. Come for the sturgeon scrambled eggs and bagel with lox, stay for the potato latkes and cheese blintzes. There's guaranteed to be a wait on Saturday and Sunday mornings at prime brunch time, but it's worth it.
If you'd like to see what makes a meal worth most people's monthly rent, head to Masa. Masayoshi Takayama, chef and owner of this New York City sushi standard, manifests perfection in fresh fish dishes prepared with hyper-conscious attention to flavor interactions and plating techniques. Posted up in the Time Warner Center, you'll forget the bustle of Columbus Circle and the mall crowd below as you indulge on delicate nigiri and mackerel of the highest echelon.
In 1998, Frank opened with the aim of bringing both authentic and affordable Italian grub to NYC. With rave reviews, it's grown over the years into a 60-seat resto with an insanely extensive wine list (read: over 750 Italian wines), outdoor patio, wine cellar, and the same simple eats that've had customers returning for years.
You'll have to brave a long line, but it's more than worth it for Dom DeMarco's handmade pies, lauded by many as the best in New York, and featuring a sauce made with simple San Marzanos; a sprinkling DeMarco's blend of Grana Padano, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses; and a careful snipping of fresh basil across the top.