The port in a storm: At65 at Lincoln Center, where my friend treating me to “Carmen” and I wound up after getting shut out of Bar Boulud, Ed’s Chowder House, P.J. Clarke’s and Rosa Mexicano and after fleeing Oneals on realizing not a single overpriced thing on the pre-theater menu appealed to either one of us (in fairness, I would have settled for crab cakes if I had not had them for both lunch that day and dinner the night before). I think we both decided to imagine we were in Europe rather than acknowledge it was just a lobby cafeteria with table service, but the smart hostess and sharp waiter helped with the illusion. So did the $10 flatbread with sausage and broccoli rabe, and Donna’s Italian wedding soup (for $4.75). I don’t know what I was thinking ordering the house salad, so I deserved a couple of bits of artichoke and a lot of mesclun. Pinot blanc at $10 a glass was a better deal than the $11 sauvignon blanc at Oneals, too. WIGB? Absolutely. That waiter was outstanding. Points off, though, for not printing a phone number on the receipt when salient details are so hard to come by online.
The reliable: Land Thai Kitchen on the Upper West Side, where my consort and I went to lay down some wine absorption before our second birthday party in two days and where we got just what we expected. I had suggested Recipe, but the menu was only eggs and sandwiches at Saturday lunchtime, and we could have had those at home, so it was funny that the couple at the next table struck up a conversation about their love of both restaurants (same owner). My vegetable spring rolls were better than Bob’s outsized vegetable dumplings, but he won with chicken curry over my beef thing (for once I decided not to think about sourcing, only about laying down some wine absorption). For $8 a lunch, it’s hard to complain. WIGB? After Bob tries Recipe, but absolutely. 450 Amsterdam Avenue near 82d Street, 212 501 8121.
The overhyped: Kesté Pizza & Vino in the West Village, where four of us met up after another friend’s opening at Leica Gallery and where the pizza was just as Italian as promised — doughy and soggy — while the vino was priced as New York gouge-y as it could be ($25 for a half-carafe that would go for 3 euros in Rome). We didn’t have to wait too long outside for a table, as the deceptively charming host promised, but the one we snared happened to be right under a speaker blasting Gloria Gaynor-era noise and right next to the bus pan where plates were steadily tossed in crashing piles. Right next to it was a table of chunky guys polishing off the first round of a pizza apiece who said it was so much like Naples you should watch your wallet. The special, loaded down with burrata and clumps of fresh basil, was satisfying because of all that cheese if not all those clumps. But the $16 capricciosa was the same as it always is anywhere in Italy: too much topping (mushrooms, artichokes, ham, cheese) on sodden “crust.” We also split the house salad, with mozzarella and grape tomatoes, and the Toscana, with a few slices of pear and sloshed-on balsamic vinegar. Too late, we realized we should have ordered a bottle of white for $38 plus a half-carafe rather than three stingy pours at $25 a pop. WIGB? I hope not. But stranger things have happened in that neighborhood. 271 Bleecker Street, 212 243 1500.
The lame: Dos Toros Taqueria off Union Square, where I waited in a ridiculously long line after buying my $8.40 eggs at the Greenmarket (subway fare included) and after deciding Chipotle’s portions are just too huge. I give the counter crew credit: Special orders did not upset them. They just kept doing their leisurely thing even with people out the door. By the time I got to the front I only wanted a quesadilla, and it was the oddest I’ve ever had: two slices of cheese on a fast-steamed tortilla half-melted on a griddle, then topped with pico de gallo, hot sauce and guacamole (for an extra 92 cents) and folded up like a letter, or a flat burrito. The tortilla was especially strange, almost more fat than flour (one day I will find something that approximates what my neighbors in Arizona used to make every day). The guacamole was respectable, but the ratio to tasteless cheese was way off. I guess it’s just what I deserved, though, for thinking hipster Mexican was worth a wait.