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The 2012 New York Comic Con Food Guide
New York Comic Con 2012 is upon us and guaranteed to be bigger than ever! So here’s an updated list of places where you can feed your faces and drown your sorrows near the Jacob Javits Center this year. Bear in mind, the Javits isn’t the most convenient place on Earth, flung all the way over on the far West Side of Manhattan on 11th Ave. However, as long as you don’t mind a 10-15 walk, 10th and 9th Avenues do offer an extraordinary number of great restaurant and bar options for lunches and dinners.
Some new additions to the 2012 list…
Cuisine of Pakistan - I’m telling you right up front, this is a hole-in-the-wall. Not the kind of place you would look at and think they’d have some of the most flavorful food on the West Side, let alone all of Manhattan. But they do! It’s where the cabbies line up to eat. And for good reason. It’s cafeteria style, so go in, grab and tray and point to what you want behind the glass. I recommend their chicken tikka and chickpeas. Outstanding! They also have extensive vegetarian options. Don’t miss the naan. And a whole meal will run you about nine bucks. Located at 478 9th Ave. between 36th & 37th St. http://www.yelp.com/biz/cuisine-of-pakistan-new-york
City Sandwich - What many people are calling the best new sandwich shop in NYC and I have a hard time arguing with them. I cringed at first when I heard that they were an anti-mayo establishment, but when I finally conceded and tried their heroes, I saw what the hype was all about. Fresh meats, locally sourced vegetables, wonderful spreads and condiments… all these make truly fantastic sandwiches, the likes of which you have never had before. I recommend The Dave and The Salvatore. Located at 649 9th Ave between 45th & 46th St. http://citysandwichnyc.com
Tabata Noodle - Tasty, no-nonsense Japanese comfort food. A large selection of ramen and noodle dishes, with some homemade appetizers like harumaki and gyoza to make you meal complete. Go in with $10, leave full and satisfied. The New York Times agrees: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/dining/reviews/tabata-noodle-nyc-review.html Located at 540 9th Ave between 39th & 40th Sts.
Five Napkin Burger - Getting all kinds of buzz recently, but I’m still not 100% sold on them yet. I know lots of people who swear by it though. Their lamb burger stood out for me. 9th Ave. at 45th St. http://www.5napkinburger.com
And here’s a helpful hint… if the lines at Five Napkin are too long, walk down to the corner of 44th and hit Marseilles for their burger. The two places have the same owner, Marseilles being the older restaurant, and the popularity of their Marseilles Burger is what inspired them to launch Five Napkin! Usually much easier to get in to.
Schmackary’s - Right next to Five Napkin Burger, Schmackary’s has great homemade cookies and coffee! Located at 362 West 45th Street off 9th Ave. http://schmackarys.com
Tavola - New place that just opened a few weeks ago. Classic Italian and wood fire oven pizzas. Have not tried it yet, but looks good. On 9th Ave between 38th & 39th Sts.
Southern Hospitality - Justin Timberlake’s new BBQ joint. Not the greatest food in the area, but they have a big bar, a large dining room and are super convenient if you want to just want to take a load off with a pint and plate of wings. 645 9th Avenue on the corner of 45th St. http://www.southernhospitalitybbq.com/hk/
Dunkin Donuts - If you’re in need of a quick, cheap coffee and sugar fix, this brand new Dunkin Donuts just opened last week on the corner of 37th St. and 9th Ave.
Buongiorno - A neighborhood gem on the corner of 38th St. and 9th, pricier that Dunkin D’s but much better coffee and pastry.
Duane Reade - Don’t laugh. This Duane Reade on 10th Ave. and 37th St. is the closest place to the Javits Center to get drinks and snacks on your way to or during the con. They recently expanded their food section and have sandwiches and pre-prepared meals that will be cheaper and probably better than anything you get inside the con.
Some great places on 10th Ave…
Tehuitzingo’s - A hidden gem. Arguably the best and most authentic taco joint in the city is right on 10th between 47th and 48th. It’s a hole in the wall, almost literally. You go to the back of this Mexican deli where there’s a small window you order $2.00 tacos from the lovely two women working there. It doesn’t get any more real or any better. Simply delicious! Best in the city, if you ask me. Try the tongue! http://www.yelp.com/biz/tehuitzingo-deli-grocery-new-york
The Pony Bar - Everyone who’s been to NYCC knows about Lansdowne, one of many a comic creators’ favorite drinking spots while in town. But the owners recently opened The Pony Bar up the block, which has quickly become one of my favorites in the city. The Pony is a wonderful American craft beer bar. Their beer menu changes daily, sometimes hourly even, based on what they get in and what the sell out of. I have had more amazing beers here that anywhere else in recent memory. All beers are $5 with a great food menu to boot. Try the tempura green beans! And they even display their changing beer menu in real time online: (At 45th St.) http://www.theponybar.com/
Hallo Berlin - A 10th Ave. classic, between 44th and 45th! An important stop on many a late night pub crawl. Sausage and beer served at communal picnic tables. http://www.halloberlinrestaurant.com/
Lansdowne Road - The aforementioned “official con pub”, one of almost all NYCCers regular stops. Sure to fill up quickly at lunch, but still the closest place for a good burger and a beer. If you go, be sure to try their special “Pickleback” too! (At 43th St.) http://www.lansdowneroadnyc.com/
Moving over from 9th Ave. which is a wonderful stretch of eateries and watering holes…
Shorty’s - Probably the shortest walk from the con center, a near authentic Philly cheese steak joint. (Not cheese steak “sandwiches”, mind you!) A little divey, sure, but the food is good and cheap. (At 41st St.) http://www.shortysnyc.com/
Delta Grill - Cajun food. Tasty jambalaya and fried chicken, a great selection of Abita beers, wonderful daily food specials. (At 48th St.) http://thedeltagrill.com/
Balkanika - A newer market/take out joint specializing in Balkan and Mediterranean foods. Try the Cevapici! (At 48th St.) http://tinyurl.com/2bxo3vq
Mee Noodle - One of my oldest haunts in NYC. Great, simply-prepared Chinese food, not overly done or overpriced. Their sizzling platters rock, and the meat dumplings with Peking meat sauce over noodles still one of my favorites dishes in the city. (At 49th St.) http://meenoodleshopnyc.com/
Island Burgers and Shakes - A smaller, but better burger joint, if you ask me. And X-Men editor Nick Lowe constantly raves about their chicken burgers. (At 51st St.) http://islandburgers.ordersvc.com/
Kyotofu - Japanese desserts, pastries and more importantly… sake! (At 48th St.) http://www.kyotofu-nyc.com/
Co. - An artisanal pizza joint. Probably some of the best personal pies I have ever eaten, here in NYC or in Italy for that matter. (At 24th St.) http://www.co-pane.com/
Txikito - Chef Alexandra Raji’s Big Apple ode to Spanish tapas. An adventurous menu that can do no wrong in my mind. Always inevntive and outstanding. (At 24th St.) http://www.txikitonyc.com
Grand Sichuan - If you like spicy food, bring your hankering for heat here. One of the three best Chinese restaurants outside of Chinatown, in my opinion. The jellyfish is the best in the city, and their spicy chicken with dried chili peppers is orgasmic, but be ready for the burn. (At 24th St.) http://www.thegrandsichuan.com/chelsea
Expanding up and out a bit, but still in West Side range….
Yakitori Totto - One of my top ten restaurants in all New York City! On 55th and 8th. An authentic Japanese yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) joint. Absolutely wonderful! But super small. Make reservations! I recommend sitting at the counter and getting any of the daily specials right away as they sell out quickly. DO NOT MISS their bonchiri if you go! http://tottonyc.com/
Ramen Totto - A Japanese ramen joint from the same owners a few blocks south on 52nd between 8th and 9th. They serve a chicken based soup called paitan. No reservations taken so you have to line up, and sometimes it is a LONG wait. But so worth it! I highly recommend the spicy miso ramen. And just order double noodles (kaidama) right up front. http://www.tottoramen.com/
Szechuan Gourmet - Easily one of the other three best Chinese joints outside of Chinatown, along with Grand Sichuan from earlier up the list. Nice and spicy! Makes every “Best of NYC” list I can think of. You will regret not ordering the pork belly with chili leeks if you go. http://szechuangourmet56.com (At 56th St. But there is also another location on 39th and 6th.)
Pam’s Real Thai - Not much to say about this place that already hasn’t been said. Voted the best Thai in NYC by every newspaper or critic at some point. Real Thai food. An extensive menu you should experiment with. Don’t play it safe with Pad Thai. Have fun, especially with the specials. They have this spicy minced chicken dish sometimes that is to die for. And sweat for. Cash only. Located at 404 W 49th St between 9th & 10th Ave. http://www.pamrealthaifood.com
Danji - The new kid on the block that’s attracting all the attention these days. Well deserved attention too. Korean tapas, plain and simple; traditional on one side of the menu, “with a twist” on the other. With only 30 or so seats, this place fill up quick and the lines get long, but I’d advise sitting at the bar. The sliders are where it’s at, both pulled pork and bulgogi. Get an order of both and one of their refreshing mixed drinks to wash them down. Located at 346 W 52nd St. between 8th & 9th Ave. http://www.danjinyc.com/
Valhalla - A new West Side beer pub. I love the Pony Bar, but Valhalla has a different beer selection and unique vibe. And beer cocktails! Good beer cocktails. With a kitchen that is open till 2am! Located at 815 9th Ave between 53rd & 54th St. http://www.beermenus.com/valhalla
Esposito’s Pork Store - If you are one of those folks renting an apartment in NYC for the con and have a kitchen of your own, I highly recommend you hit Esposito’s and buy some sausage to grill up on your own. They’ve been making their own sausage since 1933 and no one in NYC does it better in my opinion. I personally prefer the sweet Italian with provolone. Located on the corner of 9th Ave. and 38th St. http://www.espositosausage.com
A few other suggestions around the city…
On Tap - The local beer bar inside Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. Great brews and good, reasonably priced food.
Empellon Cocina - Best new Mexican in town in my opinion. You can check out my previous post about them here. Downtown at 105 First Ave. between 6th & 7th.
Whitmans - Home of the Revis, probably my favorite new burger in the city. Also downtown at 406 East 9th St., off 1st Ave.
A Voce - Incredible Italian in the Time Warner Center. Fantastic food, great wine list, nice views of Central Park. Reservations recommended. Don’t miss the pork belly and spaghetti with sea urchin. And the limonciello cocktail is out of this world! http://www.avocerestaurant.com/
Marea - The 2010 James Beard Award winner for “Best New Restaurant”. Reservations a must, and hard to get at times. They have gotten hype for their crudos, which I did not particularly care for and think you can get better raw fish at any number of sushi joints in NYC. But Chef Michael White is a maestro when it comes to pasta and they are simply stunning here. The red wine braised octopus and bone marrow fusilli is one of those dishes you need to try before you die. http://www.marea-nyc.com/home.html
Rosa Mexicano - Mouth-watering modern Mexican. Their table-side guacamole, hand-made tortillas, moles, salsas and fajitas are a must! http://www.rosamexicano.com
Cafe Zaiya - An amazing Japanese bakery and sandwich shop, with a selection of hot Japanese entrees in the afternoon, like curry rice and tarako spa. Zaiya is over on the East Side, near the Library, but is the perfect place to go to pick up sandwiches and bentos before the show. I highly recommend any of their Japanese style fried chicken sandwiches or their beef “menchi” hamburger. Soft serve green tea ice cream too. Located at 18 E 41st St. between 5th & Madison. http://www.zaiyany.com
Osteria Morini - Chef Michael White’s latest restaurant, much more homey and “local” than Marea and Ai Fiori. Same great food you have come to expect from his places, but without the stuffiness and attitude. Everything on the menu is top-notch, especially the pastas and roast meats, and the cocktails are exquisite. Some of my favorites in the city. It gets a little noisy, but that’s part of Morini’s charm, in my opinion. Reservations a must! Located at 218 Lafayette St between Kenmare St & Spring St. http://www.osteriamorini.com
Eataly - Batali and Bastinaich’s new institution to everything Italian. A pantheon of pasta, pizza and prosciutto! Just go and take it all in. There are numerous restaurants to chose from inside, depending on whatever you are in the mood for. I recommend grabbing a sandwich from the Rosticceria, eating at the bar at Manzo, and/or going to the Birreria on the roof for a pint and a snack. The food is all fantastic, no matter what you choose, (and you should try more than one!) and you can get groceries to go to boot. It’s an experience not to be missed. Really. Just be sure to bring your appetite. Located at 200 5th Ave. http://eatalyny.com