I often think I don't eat out much, but when I look over a list like this, I realize it's completely untrue. What follows is an eclectic set of restaurants, bars, cafes, and bakeries that I frequent. Modest and reliable places dominate this list, though some restaurants are reserved for special occasions. While I still plan to eat out in 2009, with each passing day in the recession, more fine dining (Hoppin' John and sparkling wine, for example) takes place in the home.
Enjoy! You can always walk it off (or maybe not - be sure to consult the chart following the list):
(CLOSED) Rhong Tiam (541 LaGuardia Place): Good Thai; now take-out choice #1 chez moi
Gemma (335 Bowery): warm and inviting trattoria visited multiple times in 2008
Marumi (546 LaGuardia Place): consistently good Sushi
Temple Bar (332 Lafayette): the best martini in a dark, mysterious bar
(CLOSED) Prime Burger (5 E. 51st St.): (image inset) burgers and fries, and much more, in a nostalgic setting. Across the street from the side entrance to St. Patrick's Cathedral; very near Rock Center. Leave the crowds and sneak into Prime Burger.
Jane (100 W. Houston St.): everyday fine dining downtown
(CLOSED) Bellavitae (24 Minetta Lane): beautiful food at this cozy wine bar.
Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia St.): comfort cooking
Square Diner (33 Leonard St.): comfort food to the max in Tribeca
Pegu Club (77 W. Houston): cocktails as cultural history.
Snack Taverna (63 Bedford St.): Greek-French
(RELOCATED) Payard's Patisserie & Bistro (1032 Lexington): Old New York feel with French comfort food.
Po (31 Cornelia St.): affordable, consistent Italian tablecloth restaurant
Patisserie Claude (187 W. 4th St.): no one makes croissants like this
Blue Ribbon Bakery (35 Downing St.): whatever bread they're selling
Moishe's Kosher Bakery (504 Grand St.): old-fashioned Jewish Bakery with delicious babka
Caffe Reggio (119 Macdougal St.): what a Village cafe should be.
The Boathouse Central Park (E. 72nd St. & Park Drive North): The perfect place for a cocktail after getting lost in the Ramble
MarieBelle Cafe (484 Broome St.): Take a friend out for a hot cocoa
71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea Bar (71 Irving Place): cozy cafe for writing a great short story
Ed's Lobster Bar (222 Lafayette St.): Yes, the lobster roll, to be sure, but we also liked the drinks.
And, now in the spirit of post-holiday diet anxiety - WOTBA'S CHART!
Distance needed to walk off common New York foods for a 140-pound person walking at a moderate pace (approx.):
slice pepperoni pizza (200 cal) = 1.9 miles
cafe latte grande (260 cal) = 2.5 miles
bagel (320 cal) = 3 miles
chocolate croissant (340 cal) = 3.25 miles
pad thai (380 cal) = 3.5 miles
black and white cookie (430 cal) = 4 miles
NY cheesecake (480 cal) = 4.5 miles
cupcake (557 cal) = 5.0984 miles
pastrami sandwich (1010 cal) = 9.5 miles
Image: Prime Burger, 5 E. 51st St.