Let me preface this by saying that I was not feeling 100% for my 4 nites in NY, appetite just wasn't what it usually is. But it had been more than 3 years since I'd gone to NY and I was going hell or high water. That said, I hit some fun places:
Meatpacking District: drinks at the nice bar at 5 Ninth and a good reasonably priced lobster risotto at Nero across the street. Couldn't believe nothing was over $22 there. Decent service, really started jumping around 9PM on a Thurs. nite. Also couldn't believe the long line outside the cupcake place in the West Village.
Mesa Grill on 5th Ave. is a great airy 2 level space, started with special margaritas at the bar ($12 or 14 each). Began with a great Caesar salad and duck taco for 3 of us to split. My lamb shank was Flintstone sized and very good but I could only make a small dent in it. Nice strawberry rhubarb cake to finish. 3 entrees, 2 apps, 1 dessert for $129, not bad. Ended the nite with drinks at the Algonquin for a bit of old New York.
Mancora, a Peruvian restaurant on Smith St. in Brooklyn, provided a great deal for brunch: $7.50 w/ an alcoholic beverage of your choice (tho they had no mimosas). The sangria was nice and they did my eggs perfectly (and there had to have been more than 2, or even 3), served with cubed potatos sauteed w/ peppers, onions and tomatoes. Woefully under toasted English muffin but great thick hot sauce. Worth checking out.
Liked the suggestion here for Stanton Social but it was too crowded Sat. nite so we ended up at Palodar around the corner on Ludlow for a nice Cuban influenced meal of spiced rubbed chicken, tuna tartare and head on shrimp w/ rice. Loud and lively, good mango drink, very reasonably priced (entrees ~$14-19). Drinks at the Living Room after, that area was really fun.
Sun. brunch at Taboon at 10th & 51st, very middle eastern. Not crazy about my "brown eggs", basically hard boiled slices that looked like mushrooms served on eggplant and their special bread with a sauce. One friend got Taboon benedict which is w/ steak, one french toast (no maple syrup), and two got a dish of eggs in a tomato type sauce, one with lamb sausage. Prices $10-15. The bread they serve is great.
Pricelined a hotel for my last nite there, great deal of $120 for the Times Sq. Hilton. Wanted to hit the Oyster Bar at Grand Central but it's not open on Sun. so after much wandering, found McHale's on 8th and 46th. What a cool old place, from the 1920's I think. Dark, big booths and bar in one room and rounded banquettes in the cocktail lounge. The bugers looked great but too huge to eat that nite so I went with a grilled cheese w/ bacon and tomato, but it was the biggest grilled cheese you've ever seen. Served w/ fries for $6.75, margarita was $6. Awesome place.
Snacks: good iced coffee at the Hip Hop Cafe around E. Broadway, but she went nuts putting the cream in; expensive ($2) apricot donut at Doughnut Plant which was fine but I didn't see any old fashioned plain which is my usual taste test; bialys seemed fine at Kossar's two doors down on Grand but I think the Stop & Shop ones might be almost as good (is that sacrilege?); had a decent choc. chip cookie at Amy's Breads on 9th Ave. just cuz it was easy to carry on the bus, really craved the choc. bread pudding w/ whipped cream or red velvet cake, they looked amazing; egg bagel w/ scallion cream cheese at Times Sq. Bagels was everything I hoped it would be.
The number of places to eat boggles my mind (and Boston isn't a horrible eating city), will have to get down before another 3 years and be completely healthy (altho I managed to hit quite a few places).