Padma Lakshmi's Favorite NYC Eats

The celebrity food host reveals her local haunts
October 13, 2016
by Zagat Staff

Padma Lakshmi is a flavor seeker. Just look at her latest book — The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs — a compilation of the many seasonings that make up all of her most beloved foods. Check out Padma's favorite places in New York to get her spice fill. Also check out our recent Q&A with her here.

Uncle Boons
Thai · NoLita · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.0

This “cutting-edge” NoLita hangout offers a “new-school” take on Thai cuisine via “vibrant flavors” and very “serious spicing” ; an “attentive” team tends the “knickknack” -filled basement space, where “must-try” beer slushies can be ordered from the “cozy” bar; its tiny Mott Street sib is a counter-serve, credit card–only outfit offering a takeout menu based on the original, with some seating available.
Chinese · West Village · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

“Intense” flavors and “innovative” preparations make for “unbelievably good” Chinese plates and “contemporary” dim sum (a “strong suit” ) at these “lively” hangs from Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng; “long waits” (no reservations) and “elbow-to-elbow” seating are the downsides, but “incredible” cocktails help ensure “everyone leaves happy.”
Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
Brunch · East 40s · $$
Food 4.0 · Decor 3.5 · Service 3.7

The “solid menu” offers “ample choices” for “any size appetite” at this East Midtown Turk, a “fairly priced” standby that rolls out the magic carpet to “lots of U.N. types” at lunch; a “relaxed” roof terrace easily trumps the “nothing-special” downstairs.
o ya
Japanese · Murray Hill · $$$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.5

“Flavors like you’d never believe” are found in the “beautifully presented” omakase meals at this modern Japanese in Murray Hill’s Park South Hotel; the “highly original” fare is available à la carte too, but either way expect a “huge price tag.”
Shun Lee Palace
Chinese · East 50s · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.1

The “epitome” of “high-class Chinese” dining, Michael Tong’s circa-1971 East Midtowner delivers “excellently prepared” , “old-school” fare in an “elegant” dining room; OK, so maybe it’s a “bit dated” , and prices are up there, but its “charming” vibe still works for a “special” night out.
Indian · East 50s · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.3

It’s “not your usual” Indian lineup at this “exceptional” East Midtowner, where a “warm” staff serves “beautifully spiced” multiregional plates, plus tasting menus that are a “revelation” for vegetarians and omnivores alike; the “homey” yet “sophisticated” space can get “cramped” , but it’s “perfect for conversation.”
ABC Kitchen
American · Flatiron · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.3

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “hip” Flatiron “winner” “still delivers” with “original” , “all-around delicious” American cooking ordered from a “sophisticated” farm-to-table menu; a “stylish” , “airy” space further justifies the “spendy” tabs – and the “challenge to get a reservation.”