my wife and I recently returned from a week long vacation in New York and we had a fabulous time. the city appears cleaner and safer than during the days of my youth (in the 70s) and everywhere we went, we ran into friendly, helpful people...whether passengers on the subway, food servers, etc.
In doing research (here and elsewhere) on places to eat, my criteria was low to moderate prices, with very good ratings for food and ambience. The research paid off -- I can't think of a place we both did not enjoy.
Two places in particular that I will briefly mention:
Cafe Asean (Asian with a a Vietnamese flair) at 117 W. 10th St., bet. Greenwich and 6th Ave. We enjoyed dinner on their outside patio one Sunday evening (it helped that the weather was absolutely perfect). I invited a sister of mine along. The three of us sampled five appetizers and two entrees -- enjoyed them all. Quality and freshness, portions, atmosphere -- all very good indeed. And the check was very light -- in fact, at most of the restaurants we went to, I paid no more (or less) than I do at a moderate restaurant in Phoenix.
Tsampa (Tibetan) 212 E. 9th St. (bet. 2nd and 3rd Aves)
A romantic atmosphere; very large portions; very fresh ingredients; wonderfully prepared and flavorful. My wife and I wish that they would open a branch in Phoenix. I would go back again and again if I could. And again -- an insanely light check. What an incredible bargain for New York.
Well... you lucky people. All of the marvelous little restaurants... bicycling in Central Park, the museums and galleries. What a fabulous city. Thank you.