Huge list of restaurant reviews
 

Quick Reviews of Many Restaurants (that I haven't already reviewed)
For starters, click here to read my earlier writings on restaurants.

Houston's - I went to Houston's yesterday and was delighted to have the best burger AND the best spinach dip that I have ever had. I ordered the burger medium rare, and it was slightly overcooked. Creating the perfect burger is very challenging. It is important to have the correct proportion of meat, lettuce, and tomato. The meat should be flavorful, but not overwhelming. The bread needs to be tasty and soft, but firm enough to not fall apart. Finally, it is vitally important for the bread to not become soggy. The chefs at Houston's have meticulously created the perfect burger. I also really liked that the waiter did not ask me for a choice of sauces or cheeses. I go to restaurants so that they can choose the ingredients. This burger was great.

Bouley - I have been to Bouley twice for lunch. The food was phenomenal the first time I went there, and was boring the second time I went there. They always use the freshest ingredients, but sometimes "great" chefs tend to favor the subtle freshness of the ingredients, and forget to put actual flavor in their dishes. The service, even in the informal lunch setting, feels too formal. I am much more comfortable at Jean Georges for lunch. Also, I felt a negative attitude from some of the servers. The setting is nice. I love the apple scent as soon as you walk in. Also, the little house feel reminds me of Charlie Trotter's in Chicago.

Charlie Trotter's - I went to Trotter's in Chicago for my birthday last year. This meal blew me away. The service was absolutely the best service that I have ever experienced in America. (No service compares to East Asia). Each dish was fantastic. This was the ultimate foodie experience but, somehow, the place manages to be unpretentious. I cannot wait to try it again.

Jean Georges - I have been to Jean Georges for lunch over 10 times. I can, hands down, say that it is my favorite lunch in the city. The food ranges from phenomenal to very good. There is always something interesting on the menu. The chef is not afraid to make things spicy, unlike many "fine dining" chefs in the city. My last dish was probably among the best dishes that I have ever had. I wish I could describe it better than this: but it was minced crab, with a fried sweet wafer, and a slightly spicy pink sauce. The flavors blended together beautifully and I would love to try that dish again. Other memorable dishes include: salmon; Chinese noodles with sausage; shrimp soup; French toast. (If I had a better memory, I would list many more dishes.)

Devi - Devi is supposed to be one of the best Indian restaurants in the city. It seemed like a toned down, less fresh, worse version of my parent's cooking. I may be particularly sensitive to Indian cooking because my father cooks and grandmother cooed outstanding Indian food.

El Paso Tacqueria - This is, by far, my favorite Mexican restaurant in the city. Excellent Mexican is very difficult to do. Fancy Mexican restaurants seem afraid of their own identity, and do not spice up dishes because they risk alienating the "critics." El Paso is not like this at all. It uses quality ingredients, a very homey atmosphere, and excellent cooking to establish itself as a notch above the rest.

Mexicana Mama and Itzocan - I have only been to each spot once, but they were not as good as El Paso.

Union Square cafe - I went here for lunch one time and ordered the lamb chops. One word - heaven. Ok, three words - heaven, heaven, heaven. The seating at the bar was a bit cramped, and the decor at the restaurant felt a little "old-school." But I suppose that is part of its charm.

Gotham Bar and Grill - I went here for dinner once, and I remember being underwhelmed by the food. It may have been an off day for the restaurant, but my opinion is that excellent restaurants should never have off days.

Roberto's - This place is located way up in the Little Italy section of the Bronx. It is a fun experience simply to find this little hole in the wall that does not take reservations. It is also consistently rated as one of the finest Italian restaurants in the city. Unfortunately, while I love Italian food, I am almost always disappointed at the "best" Italian restaurants. I ordered a risotto and it was fine, but did not blow me away. I did enjoy the casual atmosphere, and if I lived near there, I am sure I would still visit this place a lot.

Da Andrea - This nice little hole in the wall in Chelsea is my ideal restaurant. The service is excellent, but informal. The key to good service is to have genuine people who care about your needs. I do not need the precision of a Danny Meyer establishment (ie. people say "hi" within 10 seconds, and fill your water within 3 seconds of it being empty). The menu is solid and predictable. The food is excellent.

Orologio - This is my favorite Italian restaurant in the city. It is another hole in the wall in Alphabet City. Orologio has been around for a long time, but is not Zagat rated. I wonder if this is because they know that they are excellent, but do not want to be overwhelmed by tourists and "foodies." By the "genuine" measure of service, this place is excellent. I do remember having an empty water glass for a lot of my meal one time though. In the summer, this place has wonderful outdoor seating.

Babbo - This famous Mario Batali establishment was a complete let down for me. I am willing to give it another chance, but I experienced awful service at this restaurant. The wait staff was pretentious. They did not seat us in the main dining area. Because one member of our party was a little bit late, they refused to seat us at all. The problem with bad service is that it ruins the entire food experience. I am not against Mario Batali. His restaurant, Casa Mono, is among my favorite restaurants in the city, but I remember being underwhelmed by the dishes and the service at his flagship.

L'impero - This is an overly trendy scene. I do not mind being in a trendy place, but L'impero is a little too calculating and over the top. I am also consistently underwhelmed by the "best" Italian restaurants in the city. L'impero is rated among the top 5 Italian restaurants in the city, but there was nothing noteworthy about any of the dishes that I tried. I would prefer Orologio any day of the week.

Nobu - This may be the most overrated restaurant in the city. To be fair, I only went there once. But what annoys me most about fancy restaurants is when I am served dishes that are way too small. If something is good, I want to eat a lot of it. If something is too small, I do not feel like I have the opportunity to truly enjoy a dish. Nonetheless, the black cod is probably among the best dishes that I have tasted my entire life.

Tasting Room - Tasting Room used to be in a small spot, but recently moved into a larger spot. I never checked out the old location, but our meal at the new location was not great. Tasting Room is one of those restaurants whose claim to fame is a daily changing menu. It is also considered among the top 30 restaurants in the city. The problem is that it was not that good when I visited. Maybe I hit it on an off day, but again, my ideal restaurant does not have off days. I would rather a restaurant stick to one menu for a little longer than to change for change's sake.

Grimaldi's - I loved my one experience here. Grimaldi's has a well-deserved reputation as the best pizza in the city. The key to a good pizza is a non-soggy doe, plenty of tasty fresh tomato sauce, and excellent cheese and ingredients. It always surprises me how many places struggle to make a consistently excellent pizza. I do not know if Grimaldi's is consistent, but I do know that the one time I went there was the best pizza that I have ever had.

Totonno's (Manhattan) - This is my "go-to" pizza delivery place. While the ingredient freshness and ingredient proportions are usually good, the end result is inconsistent. When Totonno's does it right, they are among the best in town. When they miss, they are average. The doe is often too soggy and greasy.

Lombardi's - I hate Lombardi's. OK. That is too strong of a statement. The problem is that Lombardi's is consistently rated among the best Pizza joints in the city, and I have consistently bad experiences there. I am trying their Pizza again next Sunday as part of a Pizza Tour with my business school. Hopefully they will be better.

Carl's Cheese Steaks - This place makes very good cheese steaks. I have tried many varieties of their cheese steaks. I used to do onions, provolone, mushrooms, and hot peppers. But I evolved to onions and cheese wiz. This later combination is certainly the bset. The bread is always excellent. Once in a while, they make the cheese steak too greasy, and it makes the bread too soggy. Most of the time, the cheese steaks are great. Unfortunately, I never go to this place anymore because the service is horrible (and cheese steaks are not particularly healthy).

Aquagrill - Aquagrill is an annoying seafood place. It is the exact opposite of my favorite seafood restaurant in the city, Pearl Oyster Bar. Aquagrill has a large, intimidating menu. Whenever I see a menu that shows Oysters from different regions of the world, I get scared. Who has the time to figure that out? The servers were not particularly helpful in helping me navigate the menu either. I do not remember loving the food, but I would try this place again (with a fish connoisseur).

Cafe Habana - Cuban food. This place is a winner. The wait staff is easygoing. The corn is so greasy and so good. The scene is always active and fun.

Roy's - Hawaiian food. I went to this place once, but did try the tasting menu. I remember not being impressed with the place. The food was good, but not something to go home and brag about.

Shanghai Cafe - This is probably the best Chinese in the city. The service was alright, but the food blew me away. I remember loving the noodles. I also really enjoyed having a crazy menu with a bunch of unique dishes. I do not mind a large menu, as long as the prices are not too bad. The dish, cabbage with dried shrimp, was a miss. But I still had an overall great experience and want to return soon.

Blue Smoke - This Danny Meyer barbecue is a great, albeit expensive, barbecue joints. I remember eating some excellent peel and eat spiced barbecue shrimp. The service was really great - Danny Meyer meticulousness with Orologio genuineness.

Mara's Homemade - This New Orleans restaurant has excellent service and great food. The alligator bites are a lot of fun. They are always flying in new ingredients and trying new, but classic dishes. I recommend checking this place out.

Barney Green Grass - This Deli beats all delis. This little hole in the wall Jewish deli specializes in their sturgeon sandwich. I have been here twice, and their Sturgeon is good, but I think that their Lox and White Fish is even better. Nevertheless, I agree with the Zagat raters that this is the best Deli in the city. The servers are classic - rough, funny, and interesting.

Sarge's Deli - Sarge's is my "go to" Deli because it is right around the corner from me. Their Pastrami platter is heavenly. I have never had potato salad that is as good as Sarge's. Everyone tells me to try Katz's deli, and I will, but I just cannot imagine Pastrami being better than Sarge's Pastrami. This place also has the second best French Toast in the city (behind Jean Georges). Finally, their tongue sandwich also deserves an honorable mention.

Shake Shack - Nothing beats Shake Shack for eating at the park. The whole shake shack experience is fun. It is fun to try to choose the best time of the day to go. It is the only place in the city that offers Chicago style hot dogs. Their mushroom burger, a vegetarian burger with a large portabella cheese-filled mushroom, is probably the best vegetarian dish in the city. The shakes are solid. Shake shack deserves its wide acclaim.

Balthazar - The only thing I remember about Balthazar was not understanding why it was so popular. The space and decor are not that interesting. The food was definitely not noteworthy. The only reason I ate there was because it was the only decent place that was open late night. Maybe its hours combined with its Soho location are what make this place such a classic.

Akdeniz - Akdeniz introduced me to Turkish cuisine. The first time I went there, I was blown away by Sultan's delight - a flavorful tender lamb curry over an eggplant puree, accompanies with pepper, a whole roasted tomato, and rice. But, every time I have ventured outside that classic dish, I have been disappointed. I also got tired of Sultan's Delight fairly soon. Therefore, I highly recommend this place for people who have never tried Turkish cuisine. But it does not inspire repeat visits for me.

Del Frisco's - The big open space created an annoyingly loud atmosphere. The Tuna Tartar was good. The steaks were average. I may just be spoiled by Luger's, but Del Frisco's cuts or cooking just did not seem that good. I ordered a Ribeye, admittedly a bold move for someone who does not eat a lot of steak, but the fat did not make for a tender, tasty steak; it just made it very difficult to chew. My friend ordered the Filet Mignon, and was equally underwhelmed.

Wolfgang's - Wolfgang's is my "go to" steak house when I do not feel like trekking to Brooklyn. The atmosphere is also too loud. I get a little annoyed at steak houses that try to be classy. That is the major problem with the atmosphere at this place. Going out for steak should be an informal, fun affair with the guys. Leave the "fancy" with the French restaurants. The steak is served porterhouse style, which is definitely my favorite. My biggest complaint about this place is that the cuts are very inconsistent. The reason that Luger's is so good is that every time I go there, I know that I am getting an above average fatty porterhouse cooked to perfection. At Wolfgang's, the cuts dramatically range in fattiness and quality. It is still a good choice, but simply does not compare to Luger's.

Ben and Jack's - My dinner-mates loved this Luger's offshoot. I remember thinking it was OK, but did not love it. I came here another time for lunch and ordered a burger medium rare. They accidentally brought me a burger medium well. I was too hungry to get it changed, but did tell the waiter after the meal. I did not finish the burger so that the waiter could see for himself that the chef made a mistake. The waiter told me that I should have said something earlier, but did not offer me any other consolation. I think this was wrong of him, but this is just a minor quibble.

Jaiya - Thai. This is the most infuriating restaurant in the city. The Green Curry, Red Curry, and Pad Thai are excellent. Jaiya makes all of their dishes extremely spicy, but I like that. The Pad Thai is a bit inconsistent, but that is to be expected. The service in the restaurant is busy, but good enough. The service on the phone is horrendous. They messed up my order one time, so I called them to tell them about it. Instead of believing me and bringing me the new dish, they sent a delivery person to CHECK if I was telling the truth. I was shocked that they did not trust this long time customer and promised myself never to visit this place again. I never have.

Eleven Madison Park - I went here alone for lunch one time last year. I do not remember if it was before the new chef or after. The service was very good considering I was eating by myself. I remember the food being good, but not amazing. I definitely will try this place again.

Otto - I went to this Mario Batali Pizza place a few months ago. I really enjoyed the Pizza and the atmosphere. It almost felt like a chain because it was so large and there were so many people. The service was very good. We ordered a bunch of random appetizers and cheeses, and it was a good experience.

Patsy's Pizzeria - This is my 2nd go-to Pizza joint and my go-to going-out pizza place. I love the atmosphere at this place. It is casual, relaxed, but nice enough to go eat at before going out. The Pizza is Brooklyn-style, and is usually consistent and good enough.

Mamoun's Falafel - I went to this fast-food, hole-in-the-wall, incredibly cheap West Village joint this week, and loved it. The babaganoush is the absolute best that I have ever hard. The Shawarma was overcooked, and a little too fatty, but still better than any that I have had in Manhattan. We grabbed one of the two tables in the place, and had a tremendous meal. I cannot wait to go back and try the falafel.

Etats - Unis - I cannot remember what I had for my main meal, but that is only because the dessert was so incredible. We had this wonderful hot date pudding. I do not know how to describe it. All I can say is that it takes 20 minutes to prepare and is a must-have.

Vatan - This vegetarian Indian restaurant was a very fun experience. We sat on the floor, the service was very good, and it was all-you-can-eat. The only problem is that the food was not as good as my parent's. I will eat anything, but I have a hard time loving Indian restaurants because I always compare it to my parent's cooking.

Better Burger - With all of its imperfections, and there are many, this is still the best burger that I have found that delivers to me. The ingredient mix - with the pickles, peppers, lettuce, and tomato - is very good. Unfortunately, the burger is too small, the bread is way too small, and the bread consistently gets soggy.

Texas Smoke House - The barbecue in this city is hugely disappointing. That is not a criticism against this particular place. The service here is great. The food is good. But, I just know in my heart that there is better barbecue in the country. Therefore, I get annoyed that I cannot find better barbecue in the city.

Grand Sichuan - This is my "go to" Chinese restaurant. This is the classic American-style, greasy, but not too greasy Chinese food. I have no complaints whatsoever here. The service, food, and delivery time are consistently great.

Notaro - This place because is literally around the corner from me, but it is not that good. Their only quality dishes are the penne ala vodka and lasagna. Everything else is disappointing.

Josie's - I do not like Josie's. The dishes may be fresh and healthy, but they rarely taste good. Their off-shoot, Better Burger, is much better.

Trattoria Alba - This Italian restaurant has a very nice atmosphere. Unfortunately, the food is hit and miss. I have ordered two chicken dishes from here and both were not cooked that well. I do not know if it was the quality of the meat, or the cooking style. The pastas have also disappointed me at times. The one dish that is a huge winner is Tortellini con Salsa di Noci - Meat tortellini with walnut and cream sauce.

Fatty Crab - I think this Malaysian restaurant should be tried at least once by the adventuruous. There was nothing particularly amazing about the food here. The dishes were unique, and interesting, but not great. The one dish that sticks out in my mind were the semi-raw quail eggs. They were a lot of fun. I also remember the chairs being very uncomfortable.

Spotted Pig - This place was similar to Fatty Crab in the sense that it had a cool atmosphere, interesting vibe, large following, but food that does not live up to the hype. Again, to be fair, I have only been here once. But the seating was particularly cramped and uncomfortable.

Po Restaurant - I went to the former Mario Batali simple Italian restaurant, Po, today. This experience has rekindled my belief in excellent chef's ability to create solid Italian food. The setting is remarkably casual. The mirrors on the walls were a bit overwhelming. But the beet salad was amazing. The Gnocchi was very good even though I am not usually a fan of gnocchi. The orecchiette pasta dish is one of the best pastas that I have ever tasted. I highly recommend this little place.

I have been to more restaurants than this, but these are the only ones that I can remember off the top of my head. I do not think that my list is bad considering I have only lived in New York for 22 months.

If you cannot tell, eating out is my absolute favorite activity to do in Manhattan. If you made it this far, congratulations, and please leave comments if you have suggestions, comments, or questions.