One of the best places for a burger is the Corner Bistro (331 W. 4th St., at Jane and 8th Ave., 212/242-9502), a dark pub with creaky wooden booths and an excellent jazz jukebox. A burger here costs $7.
For dessert, hit Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleeker St., 212/462-2572) of Sex & the City fame. This café spawned the cupcake craze and can be argued to be the best of all the cupcake joints in the city.
The city’s best pizzeria is John’s (278 Bleecker St., near 7th Ave., 212/243-1680), where the New York–style pies are thin, crispy, and low on grease. Pizza is sold by the whole pie only, no slices. Expect long lines unless you come during the off-hours. A medium pizza costs $12.
Mexicana Mama (525 Hudson St., 212/924-4119) offers a simple Mexican menu in a diminutive space, warmed by its bright blue walls and proximity to the kitchen.
Pearl Oyster Bar (18 Cornelia St., 212/691-8211, $21) is a New England clam shack in the heart of the Village. Try the sublime lobster roll.
Low-key, low-ceilinged Cafe Loup (105 W. 13th St., near 6th Ave., 212/255-4746, $22) is a Village institution serving a wide range of excellent French fare.
A longtime favorite among connoisseurs of Italian food is comfortable, brick-walled Il Mulino (86 W. 3rd St., between Thompson and Sullivan Sts., 212/673-3783, $60), serving traditional Abruzzese fare.
The sleek and fashionable Gotham Bar and Grill (12 E. 12th St., near 5th Ave., 212/620-4020, $38) has won numerous top awards for both its design and food.
In the Meatpacking District, find Pastis (9 9th Ave., at Little 12th St., 212/929-4844, $16), an airy, ultra-hip bistro complete with excellent food, beautiful people, and reasonable prices.
Not far away is Spice Market (403 13th St., at 9th Ave., 212/675-2322, $22), a neighborhood hotspot that’s as acclaimed for its lush Eastern decor as it is for its Southeast Asian fare.
Bleecker and MacDougal Streets are known for their many Italian coffee and pastry shops. Among the best are Cafe Dante (79 MacDougal St., 212/982-5275) and Caffé Reggio (119 MacDougal St., 212/475-9557). Tea and Sympathy (108 Greenwich Ave., at 13th St., 212/807-8329) features a British-style afternoon tea.
Sturdy old White Horse Tavern (567 Hudson St., at 11th St., 212/243-9260) was once a writer’s hangout; Dylan Thomas drank himself to death here. Now the tavern caters mostly to a collegiate crowd. Outdoor picnic tables are set up in summer.
Blind Tiger Ale House (281 Bleeker St., 212/462 4682) is considered one of New York’s top craft beer bars with a prodigious selection of draft beers and an upscale bar menu.
In the Meatpacking District, find the raucous, testosterone-filled Hogs & Heifers (859 Washington St., near Gansevoort St., 212/929-0655), where they put on quite a show. Bartenders dance on the famed Coyote Ugly bar and purposefully give customers a hard time, while crowds spill out onto the street.
Among gay bars, the low-key Stonewall (53 Christopher St., near 7th Ave. S, 212/488-2705) is named after the landmark riots. Across the street sprawls the Monster (80 Grove St., 212/924-3558), featuring a drag cabaret. Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St., at Morton St., 212/924-3347) is a popular lesbian bar, drawing largely professional crowds.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition