An 11 Stop Tour of Chinatown & Little Italy for Under $15 a Head

An 11 Stop Tour of Chinatown & Little Italy for Under $15 a Head

Photo of Kenji Lopez-Alt

There's a mix of the best of Little Italy and Chinatown, sweet and savory, food and drink, and old and new.

11 Places
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    You can take a look at the display case at Ferrara on Grand between Mott and Mulberry, but you'll find better atmosphere, better pastry, and a better time at Caffe Roma, a few blocks west of Vanessa's.
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    What you want here is the sesame pancakes. Wide, sesame speckled discs are shallow fried until golden, crisp, and puffy in a specialized wide cast iron pan. The Peking Duck Pancakes are probably the best deal on duck in town.
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    There are dozens of five to a buck dumpling shops in the neighborhood, but Prosperity's got some of the best. The Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings are plump and juicy with delicately crisped skins.
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    The Egg Custard Tart ($1.10) placed in the top three in our Best Egg Custard Tart in Chinatown taste test. The crust is a little too crumbly for our tastes, but the filling is light, eggy, and just sweet enough.
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    The decor still looks like an airport from the '70s, and the dumplings continue to reign supreme in the thin-and-stretchy-dough-pouch-filled-with-savory-broth-and-meat category.
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    Its worth a walk through even if you dont buy any food. Just be careful--the brigades of old ladies wielding fold up shopping carts have no compunction about ramming you if you linger too long in front of the live frog display.
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    The Steamed Pumpkin Buns and Salted Egg Buns are the most uniquely delicious menu items, though the Pork and Vegetable or Barbecue Pork Buns might be the biggest crowd pleasers.
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    Order the fresh salted mozzarella, to be consumed with your bare hands on the street. If you're lucky, there'll be fresh porchetta for sale!
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    A dive bar lover's dive bar, complete with inappropriately positioned tattoos, old men with oxygen tanks nursing beers, and the occasional roaming biker crew.
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    You can order a whole falafel sandwich for $6.25 or a falafel sampler plate with 6 balls of falafel & a tub of tahini for $4. Im partial to their harissa flavored falafel, but their green and their red are also fantastic.
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    The standard slices are fine, but what you really want is the Spicy Spring ($3.75), a Sicilian style slice topped with a spicy tomato sauce, house made fresh mozzarella, and natural casing pepperoni, the kind that curls up into crisp grease chalices.
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