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Food & Dining in New York

Despite all its diversity, New York City social life revolves around a single ritual, which is, dining out. Whether it be a power broker paying hundreds for a meal at Asia de Cuba or a slacker scraping together some money for a pizza at Lombardi's, each experiences the city's unique culinary fusion. With the sheer number of ethnic influences, talented chefs making a name for themselves, hot spots, hidden gems, delis and diners, New York City offers something for everyone's palate.

Restaurants have consistently demonstrated a savvy sensitivity to the financial times, and a wide array of midprice restaurants somehow manages to serve high-end food. Quite a few have devised bargain prix-fixe three-course dinners. All in all, though, prices have remained steady.

Still, New York is about extremes, and the metropolis remains a mecca of the moneyed. So the upswing in thrift-minded diners hasn't stopped new celebrity-chef-driven restaurants such as Thomas Keller's Per Se from opening. Nor has the state-wide smoking ban in all indoor public spaces caused more than a mild ripple in restaurant patronage. If anything, more people are dining out as a result of the ban.

So whether you decide to go for a delectable downtown banh mi Vietnamese hero with its surprising counterpoint of flavours and textures, or a prime porterhouse for two with creamed spinach and pommes Lyonnaise at a fancy uptown steak house, note that some of the dishes recommended in the following reviews may not be on the menu you receive when you sit down to eat. Many menus around town are market-driven and seasonal.

Places to Dine

Food lovers will enjoy gastronomic delights across the five boroughs, but the following districts are particularly worth a visit:


Old money dines at prestigious and elegant classics like 21 Club. Meanwhile, cell phones ring and young turks wheel and deal at hip locales like the China Grill. Superstar Jean-Georges Vongerichten reinvents fine dining at his eponymous Jean-Georges and the French-Asian Vong. For something completely different (but quintessentially Big Apple), true New Yorkers stop by the famous Carnegie Deli for a massive sandwich.

Hell's Kitchen

A few steps west of the Times Square tourist trap lies this former slum now transformed into an enclave of eclectic eateries, many ideal for pre- and post-theatre dining. From the spicy and romantic Puttanesca to the family-run Chez Napoleon, there's something for everyone. After, or even instead of the meal, the Cupcake Cafe supplies some of the best desserts in town.

Gramercy & Union Square

This notable area of fine dining boasts top-rated, understated establishments like the Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe. A neighbourhood rich in history, the landmark Pete's Tavern still draws a relaxing pint and serves up old-fashioned pub grub after over a century in the business.

West Village

World-class restaurants like the favourite Gotham Bar & Grill and the stunningly romantic One if by Land, Two if by Sea work their magic in the brownstones of this historic neighbourhood.

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