1) CHENNAI GARDEN (nice, affordable Indian);
2) BASTA PASTA (nice atmosphere, food & wine);
3) "orgasmic" Grand Marnier souffle at LA CARAVELLE (wah! they're closed now!);
4) excellent Cuban sandwich from HAVANA CHELSEA;
5) any nontouristy restaurant in CHINATOWN (I'm always blown away by the price-quality ratio of food in C-TOWN);
6) ENNJU (great atmosphere, especially on weekends, for sushi);
7) ATOMIC WINGS (best place so far that I have discovered for chicken wings);
8) CAFE SPICE (quality Indian in a pleasant setting);
9) THAT MEXICAN FOOD TRUCK -- can't find them on W. 14 St. anymore; someone said they are at 96 St. & Bway -- wish they'd return; great tacos!!
10) CORNER BISTRO -- always-great Bacon Cheeseburger
11) AQUAGRILL -- always-fresh seafood and great fish specials; pricey but reliable; AND
12) PEARL OYSTER BAR -- always lovely Lobster Roll.
Would love to hear others' surprise discoveries. I'm especially interested in finding great Thai and Vietnamese places. THANKS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!