Top 10 Restaurants I've Been to in New York City (not really in order). Please keep in mind we are far from high rollers and live in the neighborhood of Washington Heights which has a huge culinary shortage.
Tao - could be considered a chain because there is one in Las Vegas and is decidedly tourist-ridden, but the food is delicious and the prices are high, but not out of this world for a special occasion.
Carmine's - Family-style Italian - always go with a group and don't miss the lemon butter chicken which isn't on the menu and the "tugboat" which is a scaled down version of the "Titanic" ice cream dessert. I've been many times, usually when friends or family is in town, and each time is very fun and memorable.
Ollie's - the Upper West Side location at 86th St. seems to be the best. All of the locations do their menu slightly differently but the General Tso's chicken here is my favorite in the city. Service is very fast and prices are cheap.
Saigon Grill - We tried this place because it was in Columbia's Guide to the City and went back many times for the lightning fast service, amazing spring rolls, yummy Vietnamese dishes and the ability to accommodate large groups at a moment's notice.
Yu II - I had to include Yu II because it's my favorite Washington Heights restaurant though we don't go too much because it's sushi and you can't eat that every weekend.
Citrus Grill - We went here for Valentine's Day and were subjected to a special overpriced menu. It was still really good though, but is better on regular days for half price.
Ruby Foo's - I just love Asian food. Good service and atmosphere.
La Vela - Inexpensive Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side. I've tasted several of the dishes and love them all, especially the Pollo Al' Forno.
Max's Soha - I loved that the employees were willing to move heaven and earth (and all of their other customers) to fit Charlotte's stroller in this tiny restaurant near Columbia's main campus. The prices are amazingly low and I've been back a couple times for the rich, lasts-for-two-meals lasagna.
**Had to leave off some of the great restaurants I went to during working lunches. I think everything tastes great when you're not paying, don't you?
Mars 2112 - Where do I even start? We went here with friends several years ago and I still vividly remember the sickening "ride" you HAVE to take to get to the eating area, the absolutely overpriced terrible, alternating rubbery and rock hard food, non-existent service (yet a 18% automatic tip added on) and the rat that Helaman spied in the corner.
Maxine's - No one in my family appreciated the huge portions of semi-frozen entrees or the fact that you were subject to a "sharing fee" if you wanted to split it with someone in this Times Square joint.
Roxy's - Owned by the same peeps as Maxine's featuring $20 sandwiches with absolutely nothing but meat on them (not even a swipe of mayonnaise) and never-ending fees.
The Good: We've had many good times with visiting friends and family here eating the delicious, rich ice cream and amazing frozen hot chocolate. I've loved our girls' mornings out here chatting in the rain and freezing temps while we wait.
The Bad: Employees of this restaurant are complete snobs and the service reflects it. They also don't allow strollers (even folded up ones) though once some of our friends coming straight from the airport brought about 200 pounds of luggage and there was no problem with that. There is usually a 2-3 hour wait to get in, though once you get in you notice that a LOT of the tables are empty. Last but not least - we all know about the closing due to roaches.