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Destination Guide

In all its diversity, New York City social life revolves around dining out. Whether a powerbroker pays hundreds for a meal at Asia de Cuba or a slacker collects pennies for a slice of pizza, each experiences Gothams unique culinary fusion. Add lively conversation with friends, and you?ve found the real New York City. With so many ethnic influences, so many talented chefs making a name for themselves, so many hotspots, so many hidden gems, so many delis, so many diners?New York offers something for everyones palate.

Diners enjoy gastronomic delights across the five boroughs, but the following districts are particularly noteworthy.

The old-monied dine at prestigious and elegant classics like The '21? Club and Le Cirque. Meanwhile, cell phones ring and young turks wheel and deal at up-and-comers like China Grill and JUdson Grill. Superstar Jean Georges Vongerichten reinvents fine dining at his eponymous Jean Georges and the French-Asian Vong. For something completely different (but quintessentially Big Apple) true New Yorkers stop by the famous Carnegie Deli for a massive sandwich.

Hells Kitchen
A few steps west of the Times Square tourist traps lies this former slum now transformed into an enclave of eclectic eateries, many ideal for pre- and post-theatre dining. From the gilded and stodgy Firebird to the chic and sexy Luxia, theres something for everyone. Old standards like the family run Chez Napoleon and the aptly named Landmark Tavern coexist with trendy newbies like Bar 9 and Revolution. The Cupcake Café supplies some of the best desserts in town.

Gramercy and Union Square
The citys new center of fine dining boasts top-rated, understated establishments like the Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café. The exceptional Latin American Patria plus yuppie gathering spots Park Avalon and Candela provide additional excellent options. A neighborhood rich in history, the landmark Petes Tavern still draws a relaxing pint and serves up old-fashioned pub grub after over a century.

West Village
World-class restaurants like the neuvelle favorite Gotham Bar & Grill and the stunningly romantic One if By Land, Two if By Sea work their magic in the brownstones of this historic neighborhood. Along the villages crisscrossing streets lie cozy favorites like Home and retro-enclaves like The Grange Hall. Meanwhile, the celebrity chef Mario Batali continues to shine at his delightful Pó.

East Village
Funky, inexpensive ethnic restaurants and hip bars draw people from all over the city. Well-known bargains like the Life Café, the Kiev and the Dojo are usually filled with local hipsters and students as well as visitors. With gentrification, the slick and trendy followed in the form of bohemian bistro Opaline. Meanwhile, traces of old New York can be found at The Second Avenue Deli and Lanza. If you crave dessert, stop by the famous Venieros for some pastries and espresso.

Where the art world congregates, trendy dining establishments will follow. The Mercer Kitchen serves some of the citys most innovative cuisine while the worlds most fabulous people vie for tables there (not to mention a couple of blocks over at Balthazar). Elsewhere amongst the galleries and posh shops, black-clad sophisticates socialize at oh so very Soho classics Raouls and Boom. Sunday morning locals make their way to Jerrys for Eggs Benedict and other brunch favorites.

Among Tribecas spectacular loft spaces, masterful restaurateur Drew Nieporant has created a mini-kingdom for himself, along with friend and investor Robert DeNiro. Nieporant offers diners amazing Japanese at Nobu, fine French and stellar burgundies at Montrachet, new fangled Middle Eastern at Layla and New American at Tribeca Grill. For something outside Nieporants empire try the flashy Odeon or just sip Champagne at the Bubble Lounge.

Little Italy
Thats Amore! Along bustling Mulberry Street old-country restaurants blare Frank Sinatra into the street while barkers summon the crowds. For those who love red sauces with their pasta or veal, choices abound. From Pellegrinos to Puglia, its difficult to go wrong. For pizza, Lombardis serves some of the best pies in the city.

Like a trip to Asia without leaving Manhattan, the scores of restaurants on Chinatowns dynamic streets offer every variety of Asian cuisine (often at bargain prices). Dozens of places serve the ever-popular dim sum, but 31 Division Dim Sum House rises above the rest. Meanwhile, Joes Shanghai is the place for dumplings. For those seeking Chinese style barbeque Big Wong fills the bill, and if one craves noodles at 3am, New York Noodle Town always hits the mark.

What? Wheres my Peter Luger, you say? How could you have not mentioned the Tavern on the Greens crystal room? Or what about the River Café, with its glorious views? New Yorks Citys selection of uniquely amazing places to feast and imbibe is ever growing, ever changing and always exciting. For the big picture, look here.

Melissa Nurczynski