Union Square Cafe - 212 243 4020 - 24 E16th St

The Union Square Cafe is a stylish, comfortable place right off Union Square. The food is modern American at its best, with a distinct Italian influence. As usual, with a Danny Meyer establishment, the USC makes one feel at home right away. If you are starving, order a plate of the garlic fried potato chips to work on while dealing with the menu. Otherwise, you cannot go wrong with any of the pasta dishes as an appetizer, be it fettucine with bottarga or braised beef, fois gras and parmesan cheese, malfatti with tomato sauce, tagliarine with endive cream and pancetta or spaghetti with wild mushrooms. We have also loved the fois gras risotto and the snails, organic natch, with polenta.

For a main dish, try; the savory soft shell crabs with a remoulade, the veal breast stuffed with sage and cheese, the red snapper in saffron broth with artichoke hearts. If you are really hungry and not feeling very adventurous, fall back on the wonderful smoke angus beef steak with mashed potatoes. Or, you can try their classic tuna burger; it is surprisingly good with all the garlic and mustard. It is really hard to go wrong ordering at the USC, though it may be hard to get reservations. Don't panic though, they serve lunch and if you get there before noon and are willing to hang around, they often have room for walk ins.

The wine list is excellent. We always order by the glass and have always done well by asking the staff what works with what.

There is nothing flashy or showy about the Union Square Cafe. They just serve wonderful food and have wonderful service.

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