Plus: Every Person in New York
|In this series, MUG looks at neighborhood restaurants that have reliable food, where you don't have to book four-weeks-to-the-day ahead, where they're happy to see you, and where you'll get decent value for your money.
Jean Claude, 137 Sullivan [Houston/Prince] 212.475.9232
Average entree: $19
Even if it doesn't have the hip, rollicking atmosphere of its salad days, this bistro continues to pack a lot of reliable Gallic value into its tight jeans. Cash only.
La Sirène, 558 Broome [Varick] 212.925.3061
Average entree: $25
Compared to Jean Claude, an enfant. Still, this small, BYOB, cash-only restaurant captures the spirit of southern French cooking, thanks to the efforts of live-wire, chef-owner Didier Pawlicki.
Average entree: $9
This pan-Asian diner is one of the more unlikely places around, given its scenic perch at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. But the food's delicious, inexpensive, and the vibe's just right. There's also a north Chelsea outpost.
Cask, 167 E. 33rd [Lex/3rd] 212.300.4924
Average entree: $20, burgers and small plates: $12
Ah, perpetual underachiever Murray Hill. So central, yet so pasty-faced. Cask, however, might bring a touch of color to its cheeks. A simple menu with occasional, possibly ill-advised ambitions and an excellent list of a dozen or so bottled beers and a dozen more on draft. Sixteen ounces of Duvel for $8 – more than fair.
Turkish Kitchen, 386 3rd [27th/28th] 212.679.6633
Average entree: $18
Longtime local resident, serving some of the city's better Turkish food. Lamb and more lamb, eggplant, yogurt, and lamb.
Al Di La, 248 5th [Carroll] 718.783.4565
Cuisine: Italian (Venetian)
Average entree: Pastas, $16, Secondi, $21
The problem with this neighborhood fave is that it's really a neighborhood fave. Which means, they don't take reservations and you can expect a good, long wait. By and large, though, after their pastas and the rest, all is forgiven.
Applewood, 501 11th St. [7th/8th] 718.788.1810
Average entree: $25
Local foods, sustainably fished seafood, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and poultry, seasonal produce – all that good stuff. Their Meet-the-Farmer dinners are popular, too.
Rose Water 787 Union [6th] 718.783.3800
Average entree: $24
It's seasonal American food (generally local, organic, sustainably-raised), with chef Bret Macris (formerly Chef de Cuisine at L.A.'s Campanile) doing some fine work here.
Song, 295 5th [1st/2nd] 718.965.1108
Average entree: $8
Cheap, cheerful, delicious.
Previous Neighborhood Faves
East Village, Woodside, East 90s
Gramercy Park, West 90s, LIC
West 40s, Ft. Greene, W. Village
West 70s, East 70s, Tribeca
Lower East Side, West 100s, Corona
East 40s, Chelsea, Brooklyn Heights
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Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for Every Person in New York on Tuesdays in MUG and daily at Jason's site.