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New York Neighborhood Restaurants – A Taste of Local Fare

In a city constantly adding the latest and greatest new restaurants and celebrity chefs, there remain plenty of neighborhood fixtures filled with regulars that have stood the test of time. If you’re looking to explore the city as an undercover tourist, pop into any of these reliable New York neighborhood restaurants for a taste of local life.

Jubilee – Midtown French Bistro With Killer Moules Frites

A French friend introduced me to this neighborhood bistro years ago, and we’ve never been disappointed. Their moules frites are second to none. The marinière (white wine and shallots) and poulette (creamy chicken broth) are my favorite varieties. And don’t leave without a taste of the moelleux au chocolat (molten chocolate cake with caramel ice cream), which we dubbed the “chocolate bomb.” – 948 1st Ave. (bet. 52nd & 53rd St.)

Bella Blu – Rowdy Upper East Side Italian

A friend who lives right around the corner brought me here for an unforgettable meal. My Paccheri pasta with veal ragú was cooked to perfection, and Raffa had a simple chicken milanese the size of her plate. The long wait, loud décor and louder music only added to the experience. Ask for an after-dinner shot of Sambuca to finish the meal. We poured a little on a plate and lit it on fire (like Raffa’s Italian grandfather used to do), and no one even noticed. – 967 Lexington Avenue  (East 70th Street)

La Nacional – Authentic Spanish Tapas (and Atmosphere) in Chelsea

Opened in 1868, La Nacional is located in the Spanish Benevolent Society. The flag hanging outside is the only indication of the cantina within. Here you’ll enjoy the best tapas in the city on wobbly wooden tables in a candlelit room decorated with portraits of of bullfighters. In the back room, TVs blast soccer games and telenovelas as men play cards. My recommendation: try everything on the menu, especially the grilled garlic shrimp, chorizo, octopus, and of course, Chef Lolo’s signature paella.

Arturo’s Pizzeria – Coal-Oven Comfort in Greenwich Village

An unpretentious menu, live jazz and authentic coal-oven pizza make this dive on Houston Street one of my favorites. It’s been around since 1957, and pizza blogger Adam Kuban sums it up so perfectly as a place for “meeting up with friends and not thinking too hard about the pies, all while you enjoy each other’s company.” It’s the “kind of charm that can’t be manufactured. The New York of old.” — 106 West Houston St. @ Thompson St.

Pete’s Tavern — NYC’s “Oldest Surviving Bar”

When I lived near Gramercy Park, I would always bring visiting friends and family to Pete’s as a kind of tourist attraction, although there aren’t many tourists to be found at this Civil War-era pub and neighborhood hangout. Over the years I realized it was in fact the perfect bacon cheeseburger accompanied by Pete’s signature brew that brought me back again and again. — 129 E. 18th St.

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