Saturday, September 21, 2013

In Search of: A "Real" New York Dining Experience

I'm never sure of what friends visiting from out-of- town want when they say, "Let's go to dinner! I want a real New York City dining experience." Well, hm.

See now, I think I know what they're after. Probably something out of a 1940's Thin Man movie or maybe a hip Sex and the City place, but I have to admit that after living here for 7 1/2 years (has it been that long?), I haven't found those places, either. Or, more likely, I don't travel in those circles.

But trust me, friends, when I tell you that a "real" New York dining experience isn't either of those two scenarios. Want a real New York dining experience? Then grab a slice from the corner pizza dive. Plain cheese is only $1-$2, and the slices are the size of half a medium pizza anywhere else on the planet.

Or grab an environmentally-unfriendly container over the steam tables at a local deli and fill it up with - funnily enough - mostly Chinese food (you really have to search out a Jewish deli these days) and salads. Be mindful of "heavy" foods, because you'll pay anything from $6.99+ per pound at checkout. Live here long enough, and you'll know how to keep your container under a pound.

Or step outside, walk around the block, and see what food trucks are pulled up to a convenient curb. Hot dogs, Halal gyros and lamb platters, tacos, mac-and-cheese, and every kind of waffle/ice cream/doughnut concoction you can imagine are at your beck and call. Pretty much all of it well under $10 and most under $5.

So, yeah. Those are the real New York dining experiences. Somehow, I don't think that's what friends have in mind, though. Do they really want old-school Katz Deli, Sardi's, or the Russian Tea Room? The latest Daniel Boulud/April Bloomfield/Mario Batali venture or something in Chinatown or Little Italy? I'm at a loss.

And Atlanta, where most of the friends are coming from, is a great foodie town in its own right. I always have to think, "Can they have the same experience at an Atlanta restaurant? How is this different from a place back home?" Sigh.

What comes to mind when you think "real New York dining experience" (besides expensive)? Where would you like to eat in the City That Doesn't Sleep?

And I need to know by Wednesday so I can get reservations for Friday night. Thanks!


Liz Hinds said...

That macaroni cheese place you've written about before. that'd do for me!

MaryB said...

We did, indeed, end up at S'mac. Never fails to impress (though it was very Friday-night-crowded).