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Unique New York Restaurants -- New York City Dining Guide

Updated on April 18, 2012

Great, But Different Places To Eat In Manhattan

New York City has no shortage of unique restaurants and cuisines from around the world. In fact, in one day, you can sample everything from Thai to Ethiopian food. Here are a few unique restaurants in New York that stand out for their ambience, service and unusual menu items.

1. Bali Nusa Indah (Indonesian Food, 651 9th Ave, by 46th St.):  This is one of my favorite unique places to eat in New York. As soon as you enter this elegant and cozy restaurant, you're sure to relax to the sounds of the gamelon music playing. The menu includes many delicious meat and vegetable curry dishes, but the satays (skewered meats with peanut sauce) are definitely worth trying, as well as the shrimp and corn fritters with hot sauce.

2. Vatan (Vegetarian Indian, 409 3rd Avenue, by 29th St.): A large elephant statue greets you as you enter this eatery, which is designed to resemble a tropical paradise. Take a seat in one of the thatched-roof booths and get ready for a most unique culinary experience. The menu, which is a set menu, is all-you-can eat, and includes dozens of small dishes of different types of vegetarian Indian cuisine. Appetizers include spicy potato balls, spinach and flour stew and chick peas with potatoes and yogurt. The dinner portions includes stewed cauliflower, spinach and corn stew, rice with lentils and pooris (puffed bread). Don't let the small portions fool you -- they're quite filling. Though if you want seconds, your server will readily get them for you.

3. Lips (Novelty, 227 East 56th Street.): Patrons don't come to this drag queen bar -- which is often filled with bachelorette parties -- for the food. That said, the cuisine is top-notch. The vast menu includes well-prepared burgers and pastas -- all served by a gorgeous drag queen. While you eat, you can enjoy the musical production ... which chances are, your "waitress" is also starring in.

4. Tibetan Kitchen (Tibetan cuisine, 444 3rd Ave, by 30th St.): This small and quiet eatery is the perfect place to unwind after a long day sightseeing in the city. In addition to various stir-fries, the menu includes interesting vegetarian dishes like potatoes with spinach and noodles with vegetables. Also worth trying are the momos (dumplings) and steamed rolls, which are perfect for mopping up sauce.

5. Byblos (Lebanese cuisine, 200 E. 39th, by 3rd Ave): Byblos' minimalist interior matches its simple, but delicious food. The lengthy menu includes the usual hummus (chickpea spread) and kabobs, but it's worth trying some of the more unusual offerings like stuffed squash with yogurt sauce, baked kibbee (lamb) and goat cheese pastries. On weekend nights, there is live music and dancing -- and the diners are invited to join in.

6. Emporium Brasil (Brazilian cuisine, 15. W 46th St., between 5th and 6th Avenues): This chic restaurant offers upscale, but authentic Brazilian food. Diners have their selection of meats, fish and chicken, but some of the most unique dishes include chicken with hearts of palm sauce and manioc (a type of South American potato) gnocchi. There is also a bar with an extensive alcohol list.

7. Bamiyan (Afghan cuisine, 358 3rd Ave, by 26th St.): Out of the restaurants on this list, Bamiyan's design is the most memorable as it feels as if you're entering a palace. The cuisine is also memorable. Appetizers include stewed pumpkin with yogurt, scallion, potato or meat dumplings and pickled vegetables. The main dishes include chicken, meat and fish kabobs, but worth trying are the stews, which include one with apples and peas, and rice with raisins.

8. Shaburi (Japanese cuisine, 125 E. 39th St., by Lexington Ave); This upscale -- and somewhat pricy -- restaurant is definitely worth a splurge. Its main draw is the "shabu shabu," or Japanese hotpot. Each diner is given a pot of boiling water to which is added fresh vegetables and seasonings. You're then given a plate of very thin slices of meat or chicken, with which you dunk for about 30 seconds in the piping hot broth. Once the meat slice cooks, you dip it in sauce and enjoy! At the end, the now-flavored broth can be eaten as a soup with the rice. Shaburi offers all different kinds of meats, including the usual steak and chicken, but if you really want to go all-out, order the Kobe beef.

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    • NewYorker11 profile image

      NewYorker11 3 years ago from New York

      A great article! I have lived in NYC for many years, but I had not been to some of these restaurants. I will definitely look to try them now. Thank you, Naomi R!

    • profile image

      Cuban Food 6 years ago

      You missed a good one - try Favela Cubana down by Washington Square Park for great traditional Cuban dishes!

    • profile image

      NYC Food Guy 6 years ago

      Great article on NYC dining. Thanks for the info.