Eight of the Best Specialty Restaurants in NYC Compete for Victory

By: Sarah

this article is sponsored by Chooszing


Download Chooszing on your iOS or Android device and follow me, "SarahFunky", for a chance to win a $30 Airbnb Giftcard! 

New York City is often referred to as the world's "melting pot," a phrase that's perhaps best reflected by the city's vast diversity of food. There are 195 countries in the world and in New York you can find a restaurant that specializes in cuisine from each one. You may not believe it but there is even a North Korean restaurant in NYC (Yang Ji Chon) - a prime example of the immense variety of flavors your taste buds can experience in this urban mixing bowl.

I’ve lived in New York for ten years and consider myself a true New Yorker - I’ve danced in the streets until dawn, sang with Bon Jovi on a subway platform - a feat that can only happen at 2am on the L train - and even had a tearful meltdown in public. I know this city sometimes better than I know myself.

Yet, how well do I know it’s variety of dining options? It has frequently been overwhelming choosing which restaurant to eat at when going out with friends because there are TOO MANY options. Enter Chooszing - the answer to my tummy’s grumbling indecision.

Chooszing is an app that makes it fun and easy to create brackets on anything and everything. Since I was not excited about having the typical Thursday night discussion about which type of food to get, I downloaded Chooszing on my phone and created a bracket to help guide our stomachs in the right direction.

I choose eight types of cuisine that my friends and I enjoy, then selected Zagat rated restaurants that correlated with them. My friends downloaded the app on their phones and created their account - it took two minutes. Soon enough we were off! Within three hours the votes would be in and we would be eating a scrumptious meal.  

First Bracket:

Nobu Fifty Seven (Japanese) vs. Wu Liang Ye (Chinese)

Wu Liang Ye - Zagat says “One of the best Chinese restaurants north of C-town”, this outfit just off Rockefeller Center is known for “lip-tingling”, “real-deal” Sichuan cooking (“bring tissues to deal with your runny nose”); “bargain prices” outweigh the “glum” decor and “indifferent” service. Average Zagat rating - 3.73 (Worth noting that the food rating is 4.5 and avg rating was lowered because of decor rating) - wuliangyenyc.com

Nobu Fifty Seven - Zagat says “This “over-the-top” Midtown branch of Nobu Matsuhisa’s Japanese-Peruvian powerhouse continues to draw a “happening” crowd with “knowledgeable” servers providing “standout” specialties in an “expansive” upstairs dining space; the scene is “loud” but “alluring”, especially “if you can find someone to treat you.” Average Zagat rating - 4.46 - noburestaurants.com

Second Bracket:

Madiba (South African) vs. Meme Mediterranean (Moroccan)

Madiba - Zagat says “The “down-home” South African dishes are “strangely addicting” at this pioneering Fort Greene “original”, where “friendly” folks bring on the “hearty” traditional meals; “fun” digs with plenty of “relaxed” personality help keep “everyone very happy.” Average Zagat rating - 4.03 - madibarestaurant.com

Meme Mediterranean - Zagat says “It’s “great to go with folks and share” to these “affordable” “neighborhood” Mediterraneans dispensing “wonderful” small plates and entrees with “Moroccan flair”; “friendly” service and an appealing “bohemian” vibe will “keep you returning”, unless the “tight-packed tables” make you feel like you're “flying coach.” Average Zagat rating - 4.16 - memeonhudson.com

Third Bracket

Maialino (Italian) vs. La Vara (Spanish

Maialino - Zagat says ““Danny Meyer does things right, as usual” at this “love song to Rome” overlooking Gramercy Park, where “sublime” farm-to-table Italian fare and “stellar wines” come in “delightful”, “buzzing” digs via a “welcoming” pro staff; scoring a reservation can be “challenging” (though the “bustling” front bar welcomes “drop-ins”), and while prices run “high”, at least “the tip is included.” Average Zagat rating - 4.66 - maialinonyc.com

La Vara - Zagat says ““Quality and originality” merge at this Cobble Hill Spanish “delight”, which “hits new heights” with “exceptional” tapas that highlight Moorish and Jewish influences; the “passionate staff” maintains a “warm, casual vibe”, so it’s “no wonder” the “tight quarters” are typically “packed.” Average Zagat rating - 4.33 - lavarany.com 

Fourth Bracket

Los Tacos No. 1 (Mexican) vs. Llama Inn (Peruvian)

Los Tacos No. 1 - Zagat says "“Outrageously good” tacos made with “super-fresh” fillings headline the short, “top-notch” Mexican menu at this Chelsea Market stall (“just look for the long line”); there’s “zero seating”, but food is delicious, “cheap” and are “worth standing for.” Average Zagat Rating - 3.86 (worth noting their food rating is 4.7 and avg rating was lowered because of decor) - lostacos1.com 

Llama Inn - Zagat says ““Big, bold” flavors come across in the “devilishly creative” Peruvian dishes at this Williamsburg hot spot where the mix of “inventive” pisco cocktails and an “in-the-know” crowd makes for a “great bar scene”; the “cool” airy space has lots of counter seating (plus some tables), and there’s also a rooftop for drinks and snacks.” Average Zagat Rating - 4.26 - llamainnnyc.com

After an intense three hours of voting the decision was made - Los Tacos No. 1 was the winner with Nobu following closely in its footsteps at number two. Now I suppose we’ll simply have to go to Nobu another night!


Download Chooszing on your iOS or Android device and follow me, "SarahFunky", for a chance to win a $30 Airbnb Giftcard! 

This post was sponsored by Chooszing, however, the opinions are my own. To download Chooszing go to the app store on your Andriod or iPhone device. The app is free. To learn more visit chooszing.com.