A Taste of New York

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 18 2008 12:00 AM ET

If you're hungry
for it, it's here. Without a doubt, the best destination
for a culinary adventure, New York has got every world
cuisine on the menu. If you're craving something
specific -- Puerto Rican, Vietnamese, Senegalese, or
even Scottish -- it's on the boil, grill, or over the coal
in this city. Tuck in and discover New York's whole world of
flavors.

Fresh Sheet
Taste the finest flavors of Lyon at renowned chef Daniel
Boulud's new Bar Boulud, where charcuterie star
Sylvain Gasdon helms the blades. A counter and tasting table
provide the perfect vantage point for discovering
bistro gems, from coq au vin to steak frites.

Translating as
“little shoe” in Italian, La Scarpetta has dipped its
elegant toes into the Meatpacking District and made
its own distinct footprint on the culinary landscape. A busy
bar precedes a cozy dining room where regional Italian
and Italian-American classics reign.

The casual Kampuchea celebrates Cambodian
street food at communal tables within sight of the bustling
open kitchen. Ratha Chau's thrilling Southeastern
Cambodian fare offers an explosion of tastes, from
Lemongrass Smoked Duck Breast to specialty Katiev white rice
noodle soups.

Graze theGayborhoods

Hell's Kitchen
Though not yet known as one of New York's top
restaurant neighborhoods, Hell's Kitchen is certainly
on the culinary rise, and is meanwhile home to the
city's famed Restaurant Row on 46th Street between Eighth
and Ninth Avenues. Although hopelessly tourist-laden,
the strip includes some decent options (the
Italian-cuisined Becco being among the most popular)
that are undeniably convenient for a pre- or post-theatre
dinner (though superior Italian can easily be had a
few blocks further afield at ViceVersa. The gay incursion into
the neighborhood has naturally brought shamelessly gay
dining to the table, among the more popular (and fortunately
better) of this ilk being the French-Asian HK and the Asian-Asian Bamboo 52. Thanks to its mix
of mingling nationalities, Hell's Kitchen also offers a vast
bounty of small under-the-radar dining options, many of
which take part in the wonderful International Food
Festival that commandeers Ninth Avenue between 37th
and 57th Streets the weekend after Mother's Day every
year.

East Village
Cheerfully priced options and long-established
restaurants and cafes with character reign in the
laissez-faire East Village. Try the more upscale Knife and Fork, which charts
new East Village territory by merging top-notch prix
fixe dining (best new outlet in the city, say TimeOut NY
readers) with the wonderful laid-back vibe the neighborhood
does best. David Chang of Noodle Bar fame now brings
us Momofuku Ssäm Bar, which offers
truly inspired Asia-influenced cuisine, featuring such
unexpected wonders as an impressive collection of
Southern country hams. Upscale Asian fusion with a
flirtini chaser may have been unthinkable not so long ago on
Avenue C, but thankfully Nolia (158 Ave. C, at
10th St; 212-228-8103) has come along to prove that it
can be done, and done well.

West Village
Restaurants in the historic West Village run the gamut
from downscale dives to delectable date dens. At Mas (farmhouse), slats of antique
barn hang overhead as delighted diners tuck into culinary
marvels from the Provence regions. The trout piscator
and monkfish in black olive paste are particular
standouts of this Greenwich Village gem. Lupa is a casual bistro-style
Italian restaurant in the Village offering perfect
pasta and delectable, savory fare to a mixed (gay/straight)
crowd. Celebrity chef and part owner Mario Batali
(also of the aforementioned Babbo) puts plenty of
interesting pork, fish, and vegetable items on the
menu, so there's something for everyone. Another great local
Italian bistro is Extra Virgin, serving up
creative Mediterranean on one of the neighborhood's lovelier
tree-lined blocks.