What Lower Manhattan Restaurants Do You Consider Essential?

Clinton Street Baking Company's pancakes
Clinton Street Baking Company's pancakes

Creating our inaugural list of 99 Essential Restaurants™ in Lower Manhattan came with months of endless obsessing: Our initial brain dump unearthed more than 200 contenders, which only swelled before we began to whittle, tweaking our final docket until the very end.

We set only two official parameters when we began: The restaurants had to be located below 34th Street in Manhattan, and they had to have opened before January 1, 2013.

But that left a lot of gray area in determining what was essential -- and what was merely a good, solid neighborhood restaurant or, perhaps, an old joint riding on its reputation alone. Each restaurant that made the final list was scrutinized endlessly -- we wanted to ensure that every place we included was one that helps define the Lower Manhattan culinary fabric.

As the deadline drew closer, removing or adding a restaurant came with a fresh re-examination of everything else we'd previously considered essential -- if we bumped one because its chef had recently departed, for example, was there another place that also needed to go? And what should replace the disqualified spot?

With our process in mind, we'd like to know what you think should have been on that list of 99 Essential Restaurants and what you think we should have removed. So please, leave us a note in the comments.

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