I realize every other post is from visitors to Manhattan searching for the "best" but please have patience and help us (January 1-7)!
We don't know where we're staying yet in Manhattan, but we are looking for:
1. a great deli (anything better than Katz's?)
2. great coal-oven pizza (anything better than Lombardi's?)
3. other low-end eats, cupcakes, Mexican, chocolate, bakeries and snacks near main touristy areas such as 5th Ave shopping, Madison Ave shopping, David Letterman studio, Central Park, museums, Century 21, etc. (are Gray's Papaya, Magnolia bakery, Fauchon or Virgil's BBQ worth checking out?)
4. Looking for a couple of medium-range places (anything better than Les Halles? What about Batali's places?)
5. One high end place that is actually considered somewhat good value - we don't care about wine list (considering Aquavit, Jean Georges, Daniel, Tabla, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, The London, Bouley, Peter Luger or Sushi Masa) I've already been to Craft, Babbo, Nobu, Le Bernardin and Nougatine. Worried that it's too late to get reservations at most of my top picks.
6. unique dessert place - maybe one with trendy desserts with unusual ingredient combinations?
7. trendy lounge or bar with terrific martinis and cocktails (preferably using fresh juices) for the 30-something crowd (not necessarily with great food) preferably without a cover charge
No chinese or japanese. Would also consider excellent Mexican, Malaysian, southern BBQ and anything else not done well in Toronto. Thank you so much! My 3 girlfriends are "poor grad students" and can't spend as much as I'd like on food.