I’m calling these my “classics” because these are the places we’d go to all the time. Whenever we couldn’t decide what we wanted—they were always the tried and true standbys that we’d also recommend to friends or visitors.
- Tre Tre was our most-frequented restaurant and one we visit when returning to NYC. A little Italian place on the LES, it never failed us when we wanted some cheap wine and saucy pasta. The happy hour has excellent prices for all of the drinks and snacks. Some favorites from the regular menu include the gnocchi, the three for $16 veggies (the baby eggplant—a must), and the arancini.
- Joe’s Shanghai If you’ve never had a soup dumpling, get yourself to Joe’s Shanghai immediately because you haven’t lived. This is the reason for coming here—dumplings filled with mega-hot soup and pork or crab waiting to burst open. Our guaranteed formula: pork soup dumplings, the string beans, and shrimp fried rice. Sometimes we’d spice it up with some peking duck too. Be prepared for a real Chinese experience: you will sit at communal tables and be hustled through quickly. If the wait is too long, you can go a few doors down to Joe’s Ginger (basically the same thing). Make sure to go to the Chinatown location. Cash only!
- Las Ramblas A closet of a restaurant, this was one of our favorite tapas places in the city. In the winter, you’d be squashed into the three or four high tops, in the summer they open the window seats. Las Ramblas serves all the typical tapas you’d expect, and all are delicious—from the croquettes to the patatas bravas–and excellent sangria. A gem in Greenwich Village.
- Zum Schneider A friend visiting NY actually discovered this place. Waaay out of the way on Avenue C, Zum Schneider is worth the trek for beers and German comfort food. Their spetzle is the best, and they have all the sausages and essentials you’d find at a German beer garden. At night sometimes a DJ comes in. They show soccer matches as well—and even have their own team. Cash only.
- Momofuku Noodle Bar Of all the Momofuku empire, we always return to Noodle Bar. In our opinion, the ramen is best and has never failed to please. The menu always has interesting additions (pig tails were a recent favorite), and you can cap the night off with a treat from Milk Bar.