Momofuku Noodle Bar (171 1st Ave)
Probably one of my favorite places in New York. Mainly known for the pork buns (which are AMAZING) but they also have really good ramen. Lots of other creative little dishes on the regular menu as well, and they serve Milk Bar desserts. Doesn’t take reservations so be prepared to wait. If you can get a group together, you can make a reservation for the fried chicken dinner: two plates heaped with two kinds of fried chicken, plus veggies, little pancakes, and sauces. It’s $135 for the whole group, and you need at least 4 people (with five we had leftovers)—it’s worth it if you can get enough people!
Momofuku Ko (8 Extra Place)
This is the serious world of food—some sushi, some molecular gastronomy, ~18 courses. Everything is excellent. It’s definitely a serious splurge, but if that’s what you’re looking for, this one is worth it. The courses range in size and the menu is constantly changing. Have to make a reservation.
Momofuku Ssam Bar(207 2nd Ave)
Momofuku’s South Asian-ish branch. We enjoyed the spicy sausage and rice cakes, along with a delicious steamed fish and an oyster appetizer with caviar. This was the last of the Momofuku’s we went to, and it was surprisingly delicious. They also do a large-format meal if you have 4+ people. Again, no reservations.
Mighty Quinn’s (103 2nd Ave)
You wouldn’t think NYC was particularly known for BBQ but this place can honestly compete with the south. The brisket melts in your mouth it is so delicious. The sides are not traditional southern, there’s some other interesting things like broccoli salad, but everything is amazing. You have to wait in line so get there early!
Café Mogador (101 St. Marks Place)
Cute and cheap Moroccan place with really good food! Very good tagines.
Numero 28 Pizzeria Napoletana (176 2nd Ave)
Another cheap EV spot—pizzas are Neapolitan style but they have some creative ones. One of the waiters is an opera singer, you might get lucky and hear him start singing during dinner.
Prune (54 East 1st St)
Cute little café-ish place on 1st. They’re actually very well known for their food but you have to be adventurous—a lot of offal and other things. Good cocktails as well. Good to make a reservation for weekends and Fridays.
Nai Tapas (174 1st Ave)
Cheap and traditional tapas place with good food, but the best thing is the flamenco dancers on certain nights. If you go on one of those nights, a reservation is needed.
Zum Schneider (107 Avenue C)
Excellent beer garden in alphabet city! Really good food and beers! Sometimes there’s dancing on the weekends because they have a DJ.
Haile Bistro (182 Avenue B)
What I think is the some of the best Ethiopian in the city! Tucked away in Alphabet City. The collard greens are the BEST.
Maharlika (111 1st Ave)
Excellent Filipino place with really good brunch and dinner! Very good cocktails as well. They have a sister restaurant called Jeepney down the street that’s more of a street food vibe, but the menu is better at Maharlika. Make a reservation because it’s small and gets crowded.
Kenka (25 St. Marks Place)
This place is a bit of an adventure! Very strange décor and just kind of weird all around, but the food and drinks are dirt cheap. No sushi—it’s more of an izakaya so small plates, skewers, and apps. They also have a cotton candy machine in the back. Always busy and they don’t take reservations, you put your name on a paper outside and wait. If you want something outside the box, definitely try it!
Angel’s Share (8 Stuyvesant St)
Speakeasy above an izakaya with arguably the BEST drinks. You actually have to go into Village Yokocho, and then turn left and go through the unmarked door. You can see the windows of it from the street. All of the cocktails are very creative and absolutely delicious (all $15). They don’t take reservations so it’s best to go on the earlier side for pre-dinner drinks to avoid a wait. It’s also maximum 4 people at a table. Highly worth it and one of my favorite drink spots!
Lil Frankie’s (19 1st Ave)
Cool little Italian place down by 1st. They’re mostly known for their pizzas, but they have other good food as well. Pretty cheap wine too! Cash only.
Anyway Café (32 East 2nd St)
This is a strange little place but the main draw is the infused vodkas they do. I can’t say anything about the food but the vodkas are good, and bartender is a large sarcastic Russian man. They also do live music most nights.
Veselka (144 2nd Ave)
Ukrainian diner mainly known for pierogis but they have an extensive menu. Solid for brunch and fairly cheap.
La Palapa (77 St. Marks Place)
Mexican place with large cheap margs! “Cheesy” Mexican as I call it (your pretty standard Mexican menu) but the food is pretty good.
Café Orlin (41 St. Marks Place)
French café that has an excellent prix fixe brunch! They don’t take reservations so get there early for brunch.
Oiji (10003, 119 1st Avenue)
This Korean restaurant takes home cooking to the next level. Start the meal with one of their delicious cocktails, before trying (any, really) of the amazing Korean comfort foods on the menu. The pork belly and tofu were favorites. End the meal with the honey chips! Must make a reservation.