AMERICA'S GREATEST FOOD CITIES
New York City Underground
If you're looking for an off-the-grid food experience, David Chang is your man. The chef behind Momofuku's mini empire (five avant-garde Asian joints and counting) takes his dan dan and dumplings seriously.
Why my town
"Other cities might have a better version of a certain cuisine, but few towns on earth have the culinary range of New York. Chefs are drawn here because they want to cook in New York—and nowhere else."
Ultimate hunger fix
"You can get in and out of Grand Sichuan really cheaply, but I like to order three times as much food as necessary: spicy braised beef; dan dan noodles; Aui Zhou chicken; the hot pot with noodles, fish, and cabbage; and several bottles of Tsingtao." 229 9th Ave., thegrandsichuan.com, entrées from $9.
Chinatown pit stop
"Great N.Y. Noodletown is open until 4 a.m., so I've ended a lot of nights there. I go for the roast pork on rice and the ginger scallion lo mein, which I totally stole and turned into the ginger scallion noodles at Momofuku Noodle Bar." 28½ Bowery, 212/349-0923, entrées from $4.
Thai worth a field trip
"It took me years of hearing about SriPraPhai before I actually made it to Queens. It was a scorching day, and I sweated buckets into my spicy catfish salad. Make the trip, and order anything you've liked in another Thai restaurant—it will be better." 64-13 39th Ave., sripraphairestaurant.com, papaya-catfish salad $10.
"Katz's Delicatessen is jammed with tourists for one reason: the pastrami sandwich. Order it on rye with mustard and nothing else, and ask for tons of pickles." 205 E. Houston St., katzdeli.com, pastrami sandwich $15.
"You've got to love Artichoke on 14th Street—it has a Staten Island vibe right in the East Village. The Sicilian slice is the way to go." 328 E. 14th St., artichokepizza.com, slices from $3.50.
"If I'm out late, I'm usually at PDT. The cocktails there are so well done, and I always end up eating one of the deep-fried hot dogs they serve with tater tots. There's one called the Jon-Jon Deragon that's smeared with cream cheese and sprinkled with everything-bagel spices. It is beyond good." 113 St. Marks Pl., pdtnyc.com, cocktails $14, hot dogs $6.
"In the summer, I like to hit the Union Square Greenmarket and pick up a carton of strawberries from Mountain Sweet Berry Farm. Then I get myself a yogurt from the Milk Thistle farm stand and eat them together on a park bench." 17th St. and Broadway, cenyc.org/unionsquaregreenmarket.
At my place
"Momofuku Milk Bar is the quickest hit. Go for pork buns, cookies, and the carrot cake soft-serve—it's no seats, no servers. In and out." 207 2nd Ave., momofuku.com/milk-bar, pork buns $9.