Still riding the wave of a cupcake craze it almost single-handedly created a decade ago—when its flagship location was featured on Sex and the City—is Magnolia Bakery, located mere steps from Radio City Music Hall. A cupcake is a must, just to say you had it, but the true shining stars are the muffins and blondies. A small counter allows stand-up nibbling while you watch the cake decorators performing their craftwork.
On the corner of 51st and Park, thrifty lunchers line up 50-deep to this blue food truck serving Greek specialties like souvlaki (skewered pork), lamb, sausage, pita sandwiches and Greek salads. Feta and tzatziki sauce make everything go down easier, and the lightning fast service after ordering makes up for the line time. Little-known bonus: they'll even deliver within a 5-block radius of the truck.
Xi'an Famous Foods
Anthony Bourdain's recent televised visit raised the visibility of Jason Wang’s Chinese eatery specializing in affordable, hand-pulled, hand-ripped noodles. Available both in and out of soups, they're spicy enough to please the most ardent heat seekers. "Burgers" are Chinese flatbreads similar to English muffins, stuffed with shredded stewed pork or spicy cumin lamb. Consult the menu photos to guide your selections, then order over the counter. We like the notices stressing the importance of consuming the noodles while they're still at optimal temperature and immersion time. So resist the urge for takeout and enjoy the noodles onsite, ensuring the intended experience.
Located at the Chambers Hotel along with its sibling Má Pêche, the latest outpost of David Chang's expanding empire showcases the chef's reinvention of the fried chicken sandwich. It's crispy, juicy, well seasoned and notably larger than the potato roll that houses it. Unlike its elder (by a few months) Fuku in the East Village, this one has a deep, constantly changing menu of test items like “fuku bites” and “fuku fingers,” pickled mussels, Sichuan pork flatbread and Chang’s take on the stuffed cheeseburger known as the Juicy Lucy.
Fogo de Chão
Brazilian barbecue and fine dining rarely go hand in hand, but elegance and attentive service are the hallmarks of this meat lover's paradise. Your table receives never ending visits from "gaucho chefs" wielding sword-sized skewers of chicken, sausage, pork and several steak cuts to the table, which they carve onto your plate upon request. The expansive “market table” of seasonal salads, fresh vegetables, cheeses and seafood selections will keep even the most meat-phobic in your party happy. Though a national chain, it's a small scale one, with typically only one location per major American city.
The second floor Indian might not have the poshest stairway leading up, but fear not: the dining room is very inviting. The compact menu features Indian classics like Chicken Tikka Masala, made easy and affordable with a 3-course prix fixe option. BYOB, but they've got you covered, taking care of the uncorking and wine.
Brick walls and metal seats give this unassuming nook the cozy feel of a cafe even though it's a fast food burger joint minoring in bagels and salads. You can't go wrong with any of the burgers; just don't forget the rosemary fries.
Radiance Tea House and Books
An oasis of tranquility within the city offers an array of Chinese and Japanese teas, along with Chinese cuisine. Your best bet on the menu is the pork belly buns, but the better bet sticking with the teas to make the most of the space itself, which is ideal for recharging.
You’re not in Kansas anymore, so do pay attention to what’s behind the curtain at Le Parker Meridien, because this hidden spot—with graffiti-clad walls defining a grungy adolescent basement vibe—slings one of New York City’s most popular burgers and one of the first highly touted ones of the new burger era. The 5-ounce, all-chuck patties deliver a potent char from the grill and a pillowy softness. Fries will remind you of the fast food classic. Brownies and drinks are the only other items on the compact menu.
There’s fried chicken, and then there’s chicken katsu, a breaded-and-fried cutlet with more intense crunchiness. Two locations within close proximity offer the proteins pork filet, pork loin, chicken breast, chicken leg and shrimp—with or without curry. Revel in the interactive approach to the toppings that lets you grind sesame seeds into your own sauce at the table.