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More Unique New York Restaurants -- New York City Dining Guide

Updated on April 18, 2012

New York Dining

Because my Unique New York Restaurants article was so well-received by friends and family, here are some more listings for my favorite unique places to eat in New York City. Of course, there are so many great places in Manhattan, you could probably discover a whole different set of favorite haunts -- but hopefully, this guide will at least help you get started. One of the best things about Manhattan is that so many people from different countries live here, and have brought their food and cultures along with them. Therefore, most of the international restaurants feature very authentic cuisine.

Whether you're in the mood for Italian or authentic Chinese cuisine, this list will give you a virtual "world tour" of New York City. I've even included a few places outside of Manhattan, if you care to spread your wings.


So Many Restaurants, So Little Time...

1. Veselka (Ukranian Cuisine, 144 2nd Avenue): This cozy place in the East Village serves great breakfasts and homestyle Ukranian dishes. I'm a big fan of their pierogis, which are light, fluffy pillows of dough filled with potatoes, meat or other ingredients. A few of these is enough to make a meal.

2. Madras Mahal (Kosher Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, 104 Lexington Ave): Despite the restrictive-souding nature of the cuisine, rest assured that you will find plenty of delicious items to satisfy your appetite -- even if you're not vegetarian or Indian. The atmosphere inside the restaurant isn't much to speak off; the walls are mainly bare and it's rather small. However, even on a Monday evening, it gets crowded because the food is that good. They serve all of the traditional Indian vegetarian dishes: palak paneer (cheese and spinach), stewed chickpeas, etc., but the thing to get there are the dosai, which are these enormous -- and by enourmous, I literally mean as big as your head -- rice flour crepes filled with a spicy potato mixture. MM offers several varieties, each with come with a bunch of different sauces and chutneys to eat them with. They also serve the biggest pooris (puffed breads) that I've ever seen, fresh and hot right out of the oven.

3. Lasagna (Italian Cuisine, 941 2nd Ave, 196 8th Ave or 785 9th Ave): You'll find no shortage of wonderful Italian eateries in New York City. That said, Lasagna isn't the place to go if you're looking for an authentic experience -- head to Little Italy, The Bronx or Staten Island for that. However, if you're looking for a delicious updated take on Italian food, this chain is worth checking out. They offer most of the standard things: baked ziti, garlic bread, but it's the lasagna (duh) that's the best thing on the menu. And they serve 17 varities of it -- 17! My favorites are the artichoke lasagna and the four-cheese lasagna. The portions are as large as a football and the cheese is nice and fresh, and gooey. It's the perfect place to go on a cold, fall evening.

4. Turkish Cuisine (Turkish Cuisine, 631 9th Avenue): So confident is this restaurant in what it serves, it doesn't need a fancy name. It's easy to find the place, however, as its entrance is elaborately decoated with tiles. The menu consists of interesting and delicious Turkish specialties, including stuffed eggplant and my favorite, grilled chicken skewers with a tomato and yogurt sauce. The fragrant apple tea is a great way to end the meal.

5. Kum Gang Sam (Korean Cuisine, 49 W. 32nd Street or 138-28 Northern Blvd in Flushing, Queens): You know this is a great place to get Korean food because the restaurants in this chain always have crowds -- even at 2 a.m. in their 24-hour service. Regardless of whether you're craving kimchi in the middle of the night, it's a great place to go, especially with friends. The Flushing establishment is a little prettier, both both restaurants greet you with waterfalls and a fish pond. The food is memorable, as well: they serve Korean barbecue, as well as many other traditional dishes. What I love is that you get about a million different condiments with your meals, ranging from various sauces to vegetables. My favorite dish is the bibimbop, which is a mixture of meats and vegetables, served with a fried egg on top, You mix it with a little hot sauce and yum! It's a healthy alternative to fried rice. If you visit the chain in Manhattan, make sure to wander up that stretch of 32nd street, known as "Korean Way.'

6. Nomad (North African Cuisine, 78 2nd Ave): This intimate eatery with a lovely garden area serves North African dishes, meaning that they have Moroccan, French and Middle Eastern influences. Some of the dishes worth trying inclue the lamb and prune tagine (stew) or the chicken with vegetables and couscous. They also serve an interesting dish called brik, which is a pastry filled with meat and egg inside. Very tasty!

7. East Manor (Chinese Cuisine, 79-17 Albion Avenue, right off of Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, NY): Yes, this is a Chinese buffet that's part of a chain, and it's a little bit out of the way to go to Queens if you're staying in Manhattan, but it's also one of the more authentic Chinese restaurants I've been to in the city. The proof is in the fact in that most of the patrons are Chinese themselves, and a good portion of the servers don't even speak English. As for the food, it's plentiful and gooooood. There's a vast salad bar with fruits, veggies and all of the fixings, as well as a section with some American items like chicken wings and fries. However, you don't come here for that. You come here for the fascinating Chinese cuisine that you can't get in most Chinese American places like the fried pigs' ears, the neon-green dumplings filled with sweetened beans or the endless varities of noodles and fish. There are some "standard" Chinese items on the menu, like fried rice and beef with broccoli, and there is also a sushi bar. But the most fun is trying new items. During luch the place is packed, but I prefer the lunch buffet over dinner because they have a dim sum bar out. And make sure you save room for dessert because they have one of the best buffet dessert tables around -- including Jell-O shaped like Hello Kitty. Like I said, there are surprises at every turn.

8. Mardi Gras (10-20 Austin Street, Forest Hills, NY): Here's another one of my Queens favorites. Mardi Gras is, as the name suggests, a cajun-style restaurant serving homesyle food with an upscale twist. The inside of the eatery looks a bit like "Grandma's house." The walls are painted in deep jewel tones, and there are mismatched knickknacks all over the place. You definitely feel as if you're entering a party! The menu is unique and fun: you can order from four different types of ceviches and even get alligator. There are many types of fish available, but I always get the meatloaf, which is cooked with garlic and spicy peppers -- whoo! For dessert, don't be shy about ordering the Bananas Foster, which they bring to you on a large, flaming plate. They make a spectacle of every item on the menu from the appetizers to the drinks, and you can't help but leave with a huge smile on your face.


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    • Loren's Gem profile image

      Loren's Gem 

      8 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      Great hub with great information! Thanks for sharing! :-)

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 

      9 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      Love and miss NY! I was there in Chinatown recently but did not have a lot of time to visit. The Chinese community has expanded so much! You have Chinese in Queens and Brooklyn. They all have their Chinese Restaurants as well. Now I am hungry!

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Woah! This is very interesting indeed! I kind of miss NYC. I haven't been there in a year, but want to go. My favorite time of the year to visit is during the Christmas season. My family and I never missed the Thanksgiving Parade up until 1994 or so. I really miss those years...

      I really would like to try all of these places. NYC has so much to offer. Chinatown's my favorite. Dim Sum and Pho are awesome there! Thanks!


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