Just back from my first trip to your wonderful city, and I wanted to thank everyone for the recommendations. I soon figured out that I didn't have as much time to go from place to place as I had imagined, but I did manage to squeeze in at least two sit-down dinners during my stay.
I kicked off my trip by eating at a mediocre pizza shop in Times Square since I had to be there for work reasons. Obviously a lot of the places there cater to the tourist, so I wasn't surprised to find the pizza super oily and not exactly the chewy/thin slices I had dreamed of. No matter. The next day I spent many hours sitting on a bench in Battery Park, looking at the water on a beautifully clear and sunny day. My friend and I then went into China Town on a mission to find a good Peking Duck. We chose the Peking Duck House (I know, so obvious but hey- we figured we couldn't go wrong) and it was excellent. The crispy skin and tender duck meat was perfect with the thinly sliced green onions and cucmber rolled with hoison sauce in what must be a close cousin to the flour tortilla. The egg rolls that my friend insisted on ordering (I usually like a little green in my meal but the fried/fried thing is alright I suppose!) were hot and crunchy- very satisfying. Spying Ed Koch at the next table reinforced the notion that we had made a decent choice.
The next couple of days were spent consuming pizza and bagels from various places in Brooklyn, and ending up at the same local bar every night. Apparently this pub (Buttermilk) just opened a few months ago but it seems to be packed every night. Good music and really great bartending made it a pleasant place to down some decent Pino Grigios and Patron (not together, of course).
My last night, we decided to go to Les Halles (being an admirer of Mr. Bourdain) and we were not disappointed. I especially loved the casual and bustling feel of the place- I was worried that it might be stiff and snooty, simply because of the notoriety, but was relieved when I saw the waiters in jeans, darting around busily. We started with the Tartiflette (gratin of Reblochon cheese with bacon and fingerling's potatoes)- slightly pungent, extremely gooey and just plain fantastic. You know you're having a good meal when you have strings of cheese permanantely hanging from your mouth. Although the combo of that, a good bottle of wine and the bread basket would have made The Perfect Meal, I couldn't leave without trying the meat. I had the NY Sirloin w/ frites and salad, my friend had the Filet. I have to admit, I've had better steaks, but the fries were incredible. We finished the meal off with a couple of glasses of port and the chocolate mousse- I loved that it was a milk-chocolatey flavor since dark chocolate is far more common. All in all, a great meal, and I have to admit it was comforting to see Mr. Bourdain dining at the table behind us.
So there you have it, my culinary adventure (albiet short) of NY, complete with very NY-esque celeb sightings (hey, I live in LA and get tired of the usual 'beautiful people' thing). I vow to return and attempt to deepen my foray into NY city cuisine.