On the Road Eats: SoHo
In the neighborhood south of Houston Street, the skyscrapers and wide avenues that dominate other areas are replaced by smaller cast-iron buildings and narrow streets lined with delicious restaurants.
On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Bobby didn't hesitate in naming Balthazar's French Fries as the perfect crunch food. Locals also swear by this brasserie's perfection of all foods Parisian, like Steak Frites and Boudin Noir. Pressed for time? Stop by the bakery next door and snag a crunchy baguette.
When Rachael Ray craves a big old plate of pasta, she heads to Lupa, a Roman trattoria. The casual setting ties into its homey plates, like rustic Spaghetti alla Carbonara or the favorite, Ricotta Gnocchi. Diners rave over the newest "Roman-style" late-night menu.
For a fancy cocktail, Bobby turns to none other than Pravda. Here, homemade potato chips come with caviar and crème fraîche and martinis rely on Pravda’s signature house-infused vodka, inspired by Russian and French flavors. Feeling bold? Try The Gogol with horseradish vodka.
4. Kee's Chocolates
Claire Robinson is sweet for the handmade confections at Kee's Chocolates on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Stop by the SoHo shop and sample her favorite, the Creme Brulee Chocolate: "It's a masterpiece," she says. "You have to pop the thing in one whole bite."
5. Rice to Riches
Rice to Riches has converted many people over the years, including Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien, who called their rice puddings chilled perfection. Here, plain rice is welcome, but it's only one of 20 flavors, including French Toast and Rocky Road. Choose from a dozen toppings like Cloud 9 Whipped Cream.
6. Pino's Butcher Shop
Old-world Italian butcher shops live on in Pino's Prime Meats, a simple Sullivan Street storefront that has inspired legions of loyal local followers. The staff is friendly, personal and always eager to help.
7. Joe's Dairy
Swing by specialty Italian cheese shop Joe's Dairy on Sullivan Street for ready-made sandwiches and charcuterie-style snacks. Bobby swears by the mozzarella, made daily and served fresh or smoked.
8. Francois Payard Bakery
World-famous pastry chef Francois Payard makes the holiday yule log cake, Buche de Noel, so well he inspired Bobby to challenge him to a throw down. The classic but casual French patisserie also excels in simple sandwiches, salads and irresistible pastries, from croissants to tarts to macaroons and more.
The tacos at Aarón Sánchez's taqueria come in almost a dozen choices. From Short Rib Barbacoa to "Acelgas" (kale, nopal and cauliflower), Tacombi will have a taco for you. Want more? Start with a corn truffle tamale or spicy pork quesadilla. Wash it down with any of the aguas frescas.