Everyone has really different tastes, so there are very few spots that I feel comfortable recommending with no reservations. Thus, only two in the "You will thank me" group. But, there are lots of places that I enjoy and that I think others might also - but I don't think they are transcendent, and they have obvious weaknesses. That's this group.
Porchetta, East Village | This is a decadent sandwich. Made out of Italian porchetta oozing fat, grease, and taste, the sandwich leaves you feeling full, satisfied, and quite frankly, if you finish the whole thing, a little bit sick. It's a 10 dollar sandwich, which is a bit much for sitting at the counter, but very tasty. I would definitely go back and share a sandwich with someone and try some of the sides at the same time.
Bar Boulud, Upper West Side at Lincoln Center | One of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud's five NYC establishments, Bar Boulud is actually one I can comfortably splurge on. A reasonable prix fixe menu runs between 30-40 dollars depending on the entree. The meal started out poorly with an underwhelming tomato and garlic soup, but got better with my glorified grilled ham and cheese, and ended stunningly with the best dessert I have had in ages - a delectable roulade. The roulade alone made the meal worth it.
Bleecker Street Pizza, West Village | Recommended as the best pizza by my friend, I have to say that I was not disappointed. The crust came out with a nice crunch and the Nonna Maria was really special. And, at less than 3 bucks a slice... worthy. Pizza is hard for me to see as special, but I would take a small detour in the village to eat at Bleecker Street.
Linger Cafe & Lounge, Near Atlantic Center in Brooklyn | This little spot doesn't fit in as well as others, but it's a cute, new cafe that serves some of the best coffee I've ever had (at Manhattan prices - 3 dollars for a brewed) and some enticing food also. I had a tasty home-made egg salad sandwich for dinner (again, not cheap at 7 bucks) and the other stuff on the menu sounded good too.