Eat uP: Favorite Meatpacking Dining Spots

31 10 2009

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The Meatpacking District is a tricky beast: so trendy you want to hate it but so bare boned you want to love and reminisce about the early 90’s Meatpacking–chock full of bad kids, tranny hookers and meatpacking factories; where the coolest (and only) bars were Hogs and Heifers (still there) and Hell (sadly, not).

I started my career in the Meatpacking District and continue to work there today and I love everything about it except the prices, which in some cases are completely justified and in others, completely not.  Clients ask me all the time about the best dining spots and I’ve compiled a list of my faves.  While they may not be Zagat top rated or Time Out trendy, they are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of tastes.

Bonsignour (35 Jane Street @ 8th Avenue)- Perhaps a bit more West Village than Meatpacking, this small café offers the freshest, most interesting lunch at the most reasonable price. Offering everything from curry chicken salad to jambon et beurre (ham and butter) sandwiches on a delicious baguette, Bonsignour caters to many tastes and budgets. While it’s primarily a takeout place, it does offer limited seating (3 tables). Recommended: timbales, paninis, curry chicken salad, cous cous salad.  Price Range: Under $20. Alcohol: No. Reservations: Not needed.

S’nice (45 8th Ave @ West 4th St)- Do you know how hard it is to plan a meal that includes meat eaters, a vegetarian and two vegans and ensure that everyone is happy with their lunch? Incredibly! Until I found S’nice, which is one of the best vegetarian places in New York, satisfying even the pickiest of meat eaters and vegans alike. Recommended: sesame chicken wrap (aka Thai “chicken” wrap), triple-decker tofu club, quinoa salad. Price Range- Under $20. Alcohol: No. Reservations: Not needed.

Zampa (306 West 13th St)- Zampa took over our beloved Costantino, which made some of the best salads in New York, so we were immediately skeptical, but three years later, it proves to be a Meatpacking staple for both lunch and dinner, offering the freshest salads and sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese plates, and specialty plates. The wine list is impressive and the coffee is always fresh. Recommended: salmon and lentil plate, chicken and avocado sandwich. Price Range: Under $30. Alcohol: Beer and Wine only. Reservations: No.

Standard Grill (848 Washington St @ West 13th)- God, I wanted to hate the Standard Grill, I really did.  It’s super trendy, super hyped and somewhat annoying but it’s so damn delicious. Situated on the Washington Street side of the Standard Hotel, the Grill offers a reasonable and delicious wine list, scrumptious parmesan and radishes served at every table and the most incredible roast chicken I’ve had in years. The desserts are also not to be missed, in particular the cheesecake with seasonal fruit.  Recommended: oysters, Million Dollar Chicken, cheesecake, white burgundy. Price range: approx $150 for 2. Alcohol: Full bar. Reservations: Recommended.

Fig and Olive (420 West 13th bet 9th and Washington)- I’m not going to lie, they are kind of bitchy and uptight at Fig and Olive, but I love going for wine and crostini. If you can put up with major attitude and a staff that thinks they’re God’s gift to the west side, Fig and Olive definitely offers tapas with a flair. Pretend you’re important, order small plates at the bar and don’t expect your wine glass filled very often. If you’re in for uninterrupted conversation, staring at good looking people and lite fare, this is definitely the place. Recommended: crostini, wine, specialty drinks. Alcohol: Full bar. Price range: $50 for 2. Reservations: Not needed at the bar. Recommended for dinner.

Fatty Crab (643 Hudson Street )- Fatty Crab looks like a total dive from the outside but offers some of the best Southeast Asian food in the city.  I don’t love the wine list, but the short ribs are to die for and the pork buns are the closest I’ve come to Momofuku. Recommended: short ribs, pork buns, watermelon salad. Price Range: Approx $30 per person. Alcohol: Beer and Wine. Reservations: No.

Craftsteak (West 10th @15th Street)- I am a huge fan of Tom Colicchio and his Craft empire, so it’s interesting that I’ve waited until tonight to try out Craftsteak. While it lacks some of the charm and sophistication of Craft and Craftbar, Craftsteak offers front room dining without reservations at half price with their Halfsteak menu. Although I’d recommend skipping the $9 and $10 wine lists and opting instead for a $48 bottle of Languedoc, the half menu is pretty solid and far less formal. Recommended: chicken wings, half steak with fries, lavender-infused Prosecco, pumpkin cheesecake. Price Range: Approximately $120 for 2 with alcohol. Alcohol: Full Bar. Reservations: Not at Front. Recommended for Dinner.

Del Posto (85 10th Avenue)- The crème de la crème of the Meatpacking District, Del Posto is a throwback to old school glamour. Pricey, dressy and completely delicious, Del Posto is not a place to cut corners but to order a little bit of everything. Pastas are hand made and in my opinion trump the secondi menu; the wine list is extensive. Recommended: pastas, lobster salad. Price Range: $25-30 main courses. Alcohol: Full Bar. Reservations: Recommended.

Ara Wine Bar (24 9th Avenue)- Although not technically a restaurant, Ara is one of my favorite places to grab a drink and a few bites after work. The food is limited to cheese plates, charcuterie and tandoori pizza, but the wine selection and ambiance are first rate. Go to the back for ultimate relaxation. Recommended: tandoori pizza, mediterranean plate. Price Range: $8-15 wines/food. Alcohol: Full Bar. Reservations: Not necessary.

Let’s face it, there are hundreds of places to hit in the Meatpacking District, but why deal with places that are overpriced, overhyped and underwhelming when you don’t have to? Happy Dining!

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