Pupu Par Excellence
The Food: Playful Pan-Asian platters, perfect for sharing: radicchio and romaine leaves to stuff with spicy marinated beef; spring rolls whimsically paired with a potato knish; toothsome chicken shumai; hot sesame-slicked edamame; and a pile of toasted pita points with three zesty chutneys of the day.
The Drink: Appealing wine and beer list, plus novelties like a $35 Châteauneuf-du-Pape tasting flight and eight-year-old sherry-style sake.
21 W. 17th Street, 212-691-8888
Frites for All
Cafe de Bruxelles
The Food: They don't ask you; everything comes with fries. Thick, fleshy, golden frites, that is, nestled in a sheath of paper and served in a silver cup like a blessed Belgian sacrament. Skip the burger; go for the moules. The lovely zinc bar with a view of the beer selection is the best seat in the house.
The Drink: Twenty-five Belgian brews, all served in their corresponding glasses, at the proper temperature, and nary a frosted mug.
118 Greenwich Ave., 212-206-1830
Fabulous Finger Food
The Food: The Venetian tea sandwiches and one of the best croque monsieurs in town are dainty but delicious. Ordering the Prosciutto Tower -- a triple-tier cascade of Parma ham, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and melon -- is the Cipriani equivalent of joining Don Shula's 48-ounce porterhouse club.
The Drink: Bellinis, of course, but also some inspired cocktails like the Perfect Roger, a succulent, citrusy concoction.
Grand Central Terminal, 212-973-0999
Duck, Duck, Goose
The Food: Some bars offer complimentary Goldfish. D'Artagnan gives you a bowl of fritons (duck cracklings). Think duck: duck confit, duck soup, duck salad. And foie gras: stuffed into prunes, molded into terrines, and burgerized into a brioche bun. Great bread, cheese, and charcuterie, too.
The Drink: A fat-cutting, post-meal shot of white Armagnac served in a baseless glass designed to discourage tentative sipping.
152 E. 46th St., 212-687-0300
The Food: Hungry young night owls and the random post-shift chef (Mario's a regular) snack on crisp pressed panini, soft, crustless tramezzini, and a fleet of bruschetta -- all rendered exceptional by first-rate ingredients and brilliant condiments. The truffled egg toast has a cult following.
The Drink: Wine by the glass, carafe, or bottle. And great fresh OJ at brunch.
21 Bedford St., 212-989-5769
Gourmet Grilled Cheese
The Food: You've got to love a place that caters both to genteel palates, with radishes to dip in salt, and unregenerate fried-food fiends, with bacon-wrapped dates and fried oysters. Not to mention a grilled-cheese sandwich with garnishes that vary seasonally (ramps for spring, fried eggs for winter).
The Drink: A classic cocktail or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap.
9 Jones St., 212-229-9999
The Food: Stay high and dry in the crimson-hued bar above the moat-ringed dining room, eating your way through Luis Bollo's exquisite mouthfuls of aïoli-tinged tortilla; a sliver of seasoned Manchego and nugget of quince; vinegary piquillo peppers; and pungent sobrasada slathered on toast.
The Drink: A food-friendly sherry, serrano-chili margarita, or hot spiced buttered rum.
109 Ludlow St., 212-982-5714