Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
Dim Sum Go Go
Cantonese food cooked lightly and enticingly. Dim sum ($2.50-2.90 at lunch; $3.45-3.95 at dinner) that's "delicate—a favorite is one stuffed with mushrooms."—Elaine Louie, co-author, The Shun Lee Cookbook. 5 E. Broadway; tel. + 1 212 732 0797.
Middle Eastern quick fare in a hole-in-the-wall West Village storefront. Open 365 days a year, 11 a.m.-5 a.m. Falafel sandwich unparalleled—anywhere. 119 MacDougal St.; tel. +1 212 674 8685.
A Korean restaurant famous for its naeng myun, "a perfectly balanced one-dish meal: fine noodles in a cold beef broth, topped with paper-thin slices of beef brisket, lightly pickled white radish, cucumber, and half a hard-boiled egg."—Elaine Louie.17 W. 32nd St.; tel. +1 212 967 1900.
Archetypal smoky-crusted New York pizza baked in a coal-fired oven in Little Italy. 32 Spring St.; tel. +1 212 941 7994. www.firstpizza.com
Bread Bar at Tabla
Enjoy "wonderfully flavorful riffs on Indian street food and breads—best accompanied by a tart tamarind margarita."—Jennifer Josephy, cookbook editor. 11 Madison Ave.; tel. +1 212 889 0667. www.tablanyc.com
"True American cooking: well-executed turkey burgers and fried-fish sandwiches, juicy Neiman Ranch hot dogs, excellent market vegetable platters, blue-ribbon-caliber seasonal fruit pies and layer cakes."—Gabriella Gershenson, Eat Out editor, Time Out New York magazine. Two downtown locations: 210 W 10th St.; tel. +1 212 741 7971 and 173 Ave. A; tel. +1 212 677 2033.
Sleek, discreet Japanese yakitori and home-style cooking—skewered meats and vegetables, grilled organic chicken, raw quail egg and scallions over seasoned rice—in Midtown. "Order sake; a waitress pours it from a magnum into a clay carafe at your table."—Gabriella Gershenson. 251 W. 55th St.; tel. +1 212 245 4555.
Pan-Latin comfort food in the East Village."Tuna ceviche fragrant with coconut milk and cilantro; drink to order when live music starts: icy kiwi roska (pureed kiwi with vodka)."—Gabriella Gershenson. 145 Ave. C: tel. +1 212 505 6559.
A SoHo oasis that's "remained its authentic self for more than two decades. Consistent and flawless. Yellowtail sashimi so fresh it has that tiny undertone of sweetness."—Elaine Louie. 113 Thompson St.; tel. +1 212 925 8923.
Italian small plates get a "refined touch from a Japanese-run kitchen in the East Village. Try squid-ink risotto, lamb bolognese, pork belly with onion sprouts."—Gabriella Gershenson. 228 E. 10th St.; tel. +1 212 387 9545.
Nosh on mezze—small servings of largely flavorful Greek dishes—or "come for the well-priced pre-theater repast—5:30-6:45 p.m. (starting 5 p.m. on Saturday), $36. Carnegie Hall and New York City Center are short walks away."—Jennifer Josephy. 871 Seventh Ave.; tel. +1 212 582 7500. www.molyvos.com
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Bivalve hotbed since 1913—literally below sea level, under newly renovated Grand Central Terminal. Vast selection of briny options, from all sorts of oysters (oh, the stew) to arctic char. Tempting sandwich menu. 89 E. 42nd St.; tel. +1 212 490 6650. www.oysterbarny.com
New York's Holy Grail for food critics—and diners. "No one in New York cooks fish better than Eric Ripert."—Jennifer Josephy. Fine service. Ace of a sommelier. 155 W. 51st St.; tel. +1 212 554 1515. www.le-bernardin.com
Inventive food full of unexpected flavor combinations. For a special lunch, "no bigger bargain or more pleasurable dining experience in town."—Jennifer Josephy. One Central Park W.; tel. +1 212 299 3900. www.jean-georges.com
The bar is a lovely, intimate room, "the perfect sybaritic background for a great meal with classic French service that manages to be both formal and warmly welcoming."—Jennifer Josephy. 60 E. 65th St.; tel. +1 212 288 0033. www.danielnyc.com
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