It’s no surprise that there’s a lot of good food in Manhattan. But many people limit their culinary experiences to the restaurants in Midtown and Broadway areas. We’ve developed a culinary route that’ll acquaint or reacquaint you with some great places you might otherwise miss. It’s partly a walking tour route, but you’re not going to want to take it without a subway to move you along the farther routes.
The route starts in Grand Central Terminal. A brand-new food market has just opened, in October, 1999, with a great variety of selections of cheeses, meats, breads, spices — you name it. When we got there in mid-October there were still some booths available, and we’ll certainly be back to see who comes in.
The next leg of the route is to go crosstown (you can pick up the S train for this at Grand Central) and then up to Broadway at West 80th Street for Zabar’s. Although there’s an imaginative array of food there, the real strong point of Zabar’s is the wide selection of kitchen appliances on the second floor. If you’re a cook, this is definitely the place to look around, even if you ultimately decide to do your purchasing by mail order.
If you’re the kind of person who likes celebrity haunts, the next stop is 259A West 55th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. It’s a tiny place called Soup Kitchen International, a locale made famous by the sitcom Seinfeld.
Next, head south to Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue to the locals) at 14th Street, for Balducci’s. It doesn’t have the size and selection of Zabar’s, or of Dean & Deluca further on the trip, but the food is excellent. One qualification is that if you’re in Balducci’s looking for some bread, you may want to go a block up Avenue of the Americas to Ecce Panis. If you haven’t had lunch by this point, Ecce Panis offers sandwiches along with a wide variety of loaves of bread.
Or, you can go back across town for lunch at The Second Avenue Deli (156 Second Avenue, at 10th Street). A New York Times article hailed this as the best of the kosher delis in New York. We recently sampled the corned beef and pastrami, and can testify that these were the genuine article.
Then back to Broadway. Remember that Broadway is on the East Side in Lower Manhattan, so it’s not as far as you might think. At 560 Broadway (at Prince Street) you’ll find one of the high points of the route. As a matter of fact, if you have limited time, skip directly from Grand Central terminal to here. Here is Dean & Deluca. Dean & Deluca has a pretty good selection of cookware. There wasn’t as much as Zabar’s, however, and it seemed a little more expensive. Dean & Deluca did have a nice cookbook section, containing many of the classics. In any event, the real appeal of Dean & Deluca is the selection and quality of the food. Everything about it is superlative. Even the sushi is prepared on-premises (as opposed to Zabar’s where it’s good but bought from the outside, so it can’t be special ordered).
A few blocks southeast of Dean and Deluca are the Little Italy-Chinatown neighborhoods a few blocks southeast. Centered around Mulberry Street, this area is something of a gastronome’s paradise. Keep in mind, however, that while Chinatown offers both restaurants and ethnic grocery stores, Little Italy has more restaurants and fewer grocery stores.