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Aug 16, 2006 05:57 AM

Need recommendations for Chicago friends on NYC food vacation

Hi Chowhounds,

My friends are coming into town for a NYC eating vacation on Labor Day weekend. They are staying in Murray Hill.

This time it's out of pocket though they are used to expense account places in Chicago such as Moto and David Burke's Primehouse. The primary criteria are 1) it's good (actually very good to superlative) and 2) it's a New York experience - no steakhouses or Mexican. I would like them to be really amazed and not just at the bill at Per Se. I'm also trying to stay away from the tourist or tourbook cliches such as Babbo.

So far, here's the plan:

Thursday Dinner: Babbo at 5:45

Friday Lunch: TBD
Friday Dinner: Gramercy Tavern? The Modern?

Saturday Lunch: Tabla Bread Bar?
Saturday Dinner: Per Se at 6pm

Sunday Lunch: Patsy's/Grimaldi's or Nolita/LES walking tour
Sunday Dinner: Blue Hill (Village)at 8pm

Monday Lunch: Shake Shack or Fleur De Sel?

The dinners will be expensive so I'm hoping for some really good lunch spots.

I know that Babbo is a bit cliche but all the restaurant managers and bartenders tell me it's great regardless. A bunch of the other restaurants are like that. However, Blue Hill should be a good NY experience. Chefs have recommended Peasant or August.

The walking tour might include Ciao Bella gelato or Laboratorio di Gelato, Di Paola's cheese shop, Bar Jamon, etc.



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  1. I'm not so familiar with high-end places in New York, but though I'm in the minority here, I was pretty underwhelmed by my one and only visit to Fleur de Sel (I see no reason to return, in fact). Laboratorio di Gelato has some interesting flavors like Malt (~malted milk balls), and I recommend them.

    The cheese store you're looking for is actually Di Palo:

    [courtesy of


    Di Palo Fine Foods Inc
    200 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013
    (212) 226-1033

    1. There is nothing "cliche" about Babbo.

      Friday lunch- How about Saigon Bahn Mi for a quick bite and it is right by Di Palo fine foods. Seating is the only problem, but if I recall there is a small park a couple blocks north.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ChrisZ

        Yes, the little park is at the corner of Spring and Mulberry.

      2. I recommend Falai for dinner one nite(lower east side) Also for lunch maybe Casa Mono(mario batali's tapas place on Irving Place)If you go on saturday, you can go to Union Square Farmer's Market.

        1. You may want to substitute Lombardis instead of Patsys/Grimaldi for your one lunch since it is more historic and is essentially in Nolita. You can combine it with your walking tour. I would throw in one of the Batali joints, whether it be Babbo, Lupa, or even Otto. Peasant is very good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bobby06877

            I just think Lombardi's is underwhelming. Sure, the place oozes history, but the pizza just isn't that good. I'd take Patsy's East Harlem over Lombardi's any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Grimaldi's, too, but given that it's been probably a couple of years since the last time I was there and I've been reading a lot of reports of their inconsistency here, I won't argue for them too strongly. I will say this: If you do go to Grimaldi's, get on line before opening time (which is noon, I believe), because that's when their oven is hottest.

            1. re: Pan

              I did not suggest Lombardi's for their food as much as for its location in Nolita for his walking tour.

          2. Here are my thoughts regarding your dining plans thus far.

            Friday Lunch: TBD

            Since you're going upscale at dinner, I'd put Shake Shack here. Go early, i.e., "brunch" between 11 a.m. and noon, to avoid the extremely long lunch line.

            If it's raining, but you still want a good burger, you can head to one of two nearby spots: Molly's, on 3rd Av., b/t 23rd & 24th Sts., or Blue Smoke, on 27th St., b/t Lex & Park Av. S.

            Another indoor alternative would be Casa Mono.

            Friday Dinner: Gramercy Tavern? The Modern?

            I'm not a fan of GT and have not been to The Modern yet. My strong recommendation would be Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm's cuisine is exquisite, and the space is beautiful.


            Saturday Lunch: Tabla Bread Bar?

            While I like Tabla's Bread Bar, unless you are hell bent on eating outdoors on the terrace, I would substitute Devi. Sensational food that is authentically Indian (as opposed to Bread Bar's Fusion-style Indian), and the $24.07 3-course lunch prix-fixe is a bargain.


            Sunday Lunch: Patsy's/Grimaldi's or Nolita/LES walking tour

            My LES Food Excursion has become rather (in)famous. Here's a link to a thread where you can find it (scroll down):


            If you decide to do it, my only caveat is to *do a lot of sharing* in order not to be so full that you will ruin your appetite for your Blue Hill dinner that evening.

            Monday Lunch: Shake Shack or Fleur De Sel?

            Since I've moved Shake Shack to Friday, I heartily endorse Fleur de Sel. I'm a big fan and have had many delicious lunches (including several $25 3-course prix-fixes) and dinners there.

            Hope your friends have a great time and Bon Appetit!