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New York City

aldea restaurant new yorkIt's always possible to stumble upon an unforgettable meal in New York City -- an oven-fresh slice of perfect pizza, delicious Chinese food in Chinatown or a haute-cuisine dinner by candlelight. And dining out here need not break the bank, with restaurants and food stands to suit literally every budget. If you're going to one of the more popular places in town, it's worth calling ahead for a reservation, especially if you're going on a weekend or your party is larger than two. Listings below are just the tip of the iceberg; check out nymag.com/restaurants for more dining news and recommendations.

Aldea is a Portuguese offering in the Flatiron neighborhood. Main dishes (which change frequently) include options like sea-salted Chatham cod and the restaurant's signature dish, arroz de pato (rice, duck confit, chorizo, olives and orange).

Casa Lever is hot, hot, hot! Experience inventive Italian dishes in a futuristic setting in the landmark Lever Building. Traditional caprese, seafood ravioli with red snapper, and breaded veal Milanese are just a few of the mouth-watering options. Reservations are a must.

The Oyster Bar at Grand Central is the one and only and has been stationed at this location -- on the terminal's lower level -- since 1912. It's famous for the daily selection of oysters, fresh fish and rich pan roasts. If there is a price next to an item, it's on the menu that day. The long wine list is all-American. Diners have a choice of eating at the oyster bar -- a long, zigzag counter with checkered tablecloths -- to watch the preparation or in the handsome wood-paneled saloon and bar.

Dining out in Harlem -- casual or not-so-casual -- is a no-brainer these days. Consider Kitchenette Uptown for the most incredible buttermilk biscuits and perfectly poached eggs. It's still hard to get a table at Rao's (southern Italian), and Amy Ruth's has what some say is the best Southern cooking north of Virginia.

Cabana is a highly rated spot at the South Street Seaport, popular for great Mexican food, great drinks and great river views! The sauteed shrimp with garlic and white wine is divine. There are two other locations around the city.

In warm weather, Gigino at Wagner Park offers terrace dining facing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The view could not be better, and the moderately priced Italian food lives up to the setting. In the off-season, the tiny inside dining room retains a view from behind glass.

The Food Court at Grand Central Terminal opened after the complete restoration of this magnificent 1912 railway terminal. The tile-valuted lower level houses a long line of ethnic food counters -- Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Thai and more. Kosher sandwiches and soups are also available. Patrons sit at tables decorated with railway memorabilia. It gets very busy at lunchtime, but the terminal is a quintessential destination itself.

Say what you will about this beloved 24/7 joint, but some say Gray's Papaya is a rite of passage, even for locals. They serve up the best slim and snappy hot dogs in the city, along with frothy fruit drinks that tout a secret ingredient. Its current locations include Greenwich Village (Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street) and the Upper West Side (Broadway and 72nd Street -- the original).

At Stage Deli, brisk and brusque comes with towering corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, homemade blintzes and out-of-this-world matzo ball soup.
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