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MARGON
136 West 46th Street, 354-5013

The persistence of this ancient and superb Cuban lunch counter—a stone's throw from Times Square—is a testament to the excellence of the food and the fierce loyalty of its regulars. Made right in the front window, the Cuban sandwich is as streamlined as the '50s finned Caddies that ply the streets of Havana, and Margon gets all the basics right, from the pungent red and black beans to the crisply fried tostones. The menu rotates by weekday, and my favorite entrées include the chocolate brown oxtails, mellow fricasseed chicken, and fried kingfish. And don't miss the best octopus salad in town. ¢

Location Info

Map

Vanessa's Dumpling House

118A Eldridge St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Chinatown

Sophie's Cuban Cuisine

96 Chambers St.
New York, NY 10007

Category: Restaurant > Cuban

Region: Financial District

Bottino

246 Tenth Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Chelsea

Periyali

35 W. 20th St. #A
New York, NY 10011

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Chelsea

Pigalle

790 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY 10019

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: West 40s

Atelier, Ritz-Carlton Hotel

50 Central Park S.
New York, NY 10019

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: West 50s

Cafe Sabarsky

1048 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10028

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: East 80s

Sokobolie

2529 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY 10027

Category: Restaurant > African

Region: Harlem

Cafe Steinhof

422 7th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Park Slope

Carolina Creek Restaurant

87 Utica Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11213

Category: Restaurant > Soul Food

Region: Crown Heights

Castro's

511 Myrtle Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Brooklyn

La Piazzetta

442 Graham Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Brooklyn

Taqueria la Asuncion

206 Knickerboker Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11237

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Bushwick

Eddie's Sweet Shop

105-29 Metropolitan Ave.
Jamaica, NY 11434

Category: Restaurant > Dessert

Region: Jamaica

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More About

¢ Cheap eat
($10 meal available)
$ $10-$20
$$ $20-$35
$$$ $35+
Price guide per person
V Vegetarian friendly
L Open late (past midnight)

For hundreds of more restaurants check out the eats page.

UPPER EAST SIDE


AL BARAKA
1613 Second Avenue, 396-9787

Penetrate deep into the interior and discover a perfect imitation of a restaurant in Marrakech hidden deep within the souk, with low-slung settees and fabric-strewn sofas. Ferried on ornate metal trays, the food duplicates the pungency and style of Moroccan cooking better than that of any other place in town. Notable appetizers include moist and violently red merguez, and zaalouk—an eggplant puree closer to Sicilian caponata than Middle Eastern baba ghanoush. And even though the b'stilla is available in the authentic pigeon formulation (farm raised says the menu), I'd rather have any of the intense tajines. $$


CAFÉ SABARSKY
1048 Fifth Avenue, 288-0665

Ensconced inside the diverting Neue Galerie, Café Sabarsky is a Viennese café and konditerei, an offspring of the West Village's Wallsé that outshines its parent. The short dishes make for perfect museum-hopping snacks, including a charcuterie platter (the most challenging feature: double-smoked raw bacon), a generous salad of jumbo asparagus in a slightly sweet lemon-dill sauce, and savory smoked-trout crepes with horseradish crème fraîche. The hungrier can move on to sandwiches, to entrées like boiled-beef tafelspitz, or to pastries, of which plum crumble sided with a cloud of whipped cream was a favorite on a recent visit. $

ABOVE 110TH


EL MUNDO FRIED CHICKEN
4456 Broadway, 567-9325

Roll down the steep escarpment from the Cloisters, and you'll find yourself at El Mundo. A neon sign in the window burns, "Fritura de Toda Clase," and they're not kidding. Chicharrón de cerdo are stunning pork-roast arcs, each piece artfully layered with paprika-dusted crispy skin, not-quite-rendered fat, and meat of concentrated flavor and intriguing density. The French would call it confit. This Dominican lunch counter also makes good chicken, either fried or rotisseried, but the more adventuresome will order sancocho, a rich chicken stew thickened with pumpkin and sporting all sorts of vegetables. ¢


SOKOBOLIEL
2529 Eighth Avenue, Harlem, 491-3969

While most West African restaurants offer only three or four set meals at a time, this convivial Harlem establishment mounts a daily menu that features a dozen or so Guinean and Senegalese specialties. There's always one leaf-based sauce ("sauce de feuilles," the national dish of Guinea), made with either spinach or sweet-potato leaf, and often there's a fricassee of chicken in palm sauce, and a peanut-laced stew of smoked fish that has the intriguing texture of driftwood. Less challenging Senegalese staples like grilled lamb chops ("diby") and steak with onions are also available. Open 24 hours! ¢

BROOKLYN


(new) CAFÉ STEINHOF
422 Seventh Avenue, Park Slope, 718-369-7776

Lowballing the recent Austrian dining phenomenon, Steinhof offers a $12 Wiener schnitzel that's turning heads all over Park Slope. The beer selection, too, is admirable, and there are plenty of munchies to go along with it, including a smoked-trout-and-potato salad, a Teutonic cheese-and-charcuterie platter, and a range of budget sandwiches, of which the meatloaf was a surprise favorite. If you're feeling flush, indulge in the Central European wine selection, but by all means avoid the $5 goulash special on Mondays, when the kitchen is otherwise closed. $


CAROLINA CREEK
87 Utica Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, 718-493-5907

After touring the Weeksville Houses, a miraculously preserved African American village founded after the abolition of slavery in New York in 1827, we dropped in at Carolina Creek for refreshment. This fish-and-chips shop specializes in fried whiting, by filet or whole fish, matched with some of the best french fries in Brooklyn, made from fresh potatoes with little bits of skin adhering. As an additional fillip, the pork ribs are also excellent, mantled with a thick sauce that's not too sweet. The extensive menu is delivered with real Southern hospitality at this mainly carryout establishment—where you can also dine in at the lone table. ¢


CASTRO'SV
511 Myrtle Avenue, Clinton Hill, 718-398-1459

Serving the dining needs of Pratt students for the last decade, Castro's conveys cheap Mexican meals of a rib-sticking sort. The tacos are oversize and dividable, made with two soft corn tortillas, and the vegetarian cheese enchiladas are not only stuffed with cured cheese, but have planks of fresh cheese on top as a bonus. Skip the appetizers, because all platos come with guacamole, salad (bring your own dressing), and a pile of warm tortillas. For some real heat, select puntas de res en chile chipotle—strips of beef in a brown sauce spiked with incendiary smoked chiles. ¢

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