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My New York itinerary -comments and suggestions please!

Hi all!
I'll be in NYC for only three nights. This is my third (short trip) here. Hoping to try new places so, with that said:
I've been to Babbo (three times!), Gramercy Tavern (dinner), Le Maison du Chocolat, Di Fara's, Grimaldi's, Otto, Russ and Daughters, (that place with the pastrami sandwhiches... brain fart with the name!), "The Cart," Grey's Papaya, as well as Tony Dragonas' saurkraut dog cart too. All these places I've loved because they're so uniquely New York (I am from L.A.). For this trip I've planned sofar:

Thursday dinner: Gotham Bar and Grill

Breakfast- (need a suggestion)
Lunch- Shake Shack
Dinner- Aureole (We have reservations here but, if we catch a show Friday night instead of Saturday, we will probably end up at "The Cart").

Breakfast- Balthazar's
Lunch- Gramercy Tavern (in the Tavern part of the restaurant)
Dinner- (hoping to see a show so, something quick... maybe I'll hit up "The Cart" again). If we are unable to see a show, we might try to get into Pastis, which I'm fearing we will have nil chance of getting into. I'm nervous because we might not be able to find a decent place to eat that has seating!!!

Brunch- Prune

So... there's my itinierary with all its quirks and what not. Do you think that the places I've picked are a good representation of what is unique to New York, and are chowish places to dine in New York?

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  1. For Friday breakfast - how about Sarabeth's? Almost the same menu as brunch, with none of the wait.

    Or even just bagels and lox, at Ess-A-Bagel.

    Katz's is the pastrami sandwich place, I think...

    1. You should consider adding Chocolate Haven on West St. at the lower end of the village to your itinerary. Get the sundae or the ice cream cone or the ice cream chocolate chip cookie sandwich and some of JT's truffles to go.

      If it is convenient, Brooklyn Diner makes a nice breakfast. Also you may want to check out The Noho Star:


      And yes, Katz's is the place for the pastrami sandwich.

      1. Breakfast Friday - Barney Greengrass, 86 and Amsterdam. Smoked fish. My favorite is sable.

        Shake shack - I've never figured out why this place gets raves. I mean, it's a good burger, but not some sort of buger epiphany.

        7 Replies
        1. re: plf515

          You have a good point there... Although I've never been to Shake Shack, I'm wondering if I should skip it because California (L.A. and S.F.) both have excellent burger joints. I definitly wouldn't want to waste a meal at a place the can be easily replaced by some west coast joint. I guess the reason why I wanted to go there in the first place is because people on this board talk about it all the time... but the real question is, "Is it unique to New York, and can't find anything like it anywhere else?"

          1. re: banquisha

            I think Shake Shack is just the opposite, although I don't have much experience in other cities.

            What's unique about shake shack is that....here's a Hamburger shack serving good burgers and stuff, and IT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF MANHATTAN.

            If you were on a burger quest, tracking burgers all over the country, I'd say GO FOR IT. But unique to NYC? No.

            1. re: plf515

              It's not just that the Shake Shack is in the middle of Manhattan. In my view, the thing that makes it unique is that it's in a NYC park (Madison Square Pk.) and one cannot eat inside. Instead, there are plenty of outdoor tables and chairs where people can relax and enjoy their food. So, I only go to the Shake Shack is when it can be an al fresco dining experience. When the weather is not conducive, I prefer to get my burger in that neighborhood at Molly's.

                1. re: plf515

                  Anyone from LA that has access to IN-N-Out Burger will not find Shake Shack all that special at all...

                  1. re: Ora

                    Agreed. But if you really want a burger at a place "unique to New York," head to Peter Luger's. I would also suggest Spotted Pig (if you like roquefort).

                    1. re: Hungry Esquire

                      What impresses you about Spotted Pig, and how recently were you there?

        2. Yes. Katz is the place I was thinking of! I have to say that it was a rather disappointing New York meal for me.
          However, the MOST unique experience to New York I've had thus far is "The Cart." I can't even find food like that in L.A. inside a restaurant. Having it out of a cart makes the experience that much more unique to New York!

          1. How about Florent for either breakfast on Friday? Hearth or Red Cat would be other nice dinner options.

            1 Reply
            1. re: m de p

              I actually have updated my itinerary to include Hearth due to the heavy amount of praise it has gotten here! I will be going there on Saturday night :-D

            2. In Chelsea Market, 15th St/9th Ave. there are a few breakfast options. 202 has amazing breakfast pastries, scones, banana bread. Amy's Bread - try the soft dinner rolls with butter or their french breakfast with coffee. There's a french place a bit further back that makes eggs. The italian market makes a good espresso. And It's a unique locale.

              1. At Aureole, if you have room, try the Tasting Menu. I haven't had the current one but they are consistently good. If not, the Foie Gras, Lobster dishes are spectacular.

                1. Breakfast: Vaselka (9th St. and 2nd Ave)
                  Lunch: Oyster Bar (Grand Central)
                  Dinner: Bridge Cafe (Water and Pearl, next to Brooklyn Bridge)

                  1. If Pastis is booked on Saturday night, you can always head down the street to Florent for late night eats.

                    1. Clinton Street Baking Co for breakfast on Friday. You can avoid the ridiculously long weekend brunch wait!

                      1. Shake shack is an average burger, below average fries and a waist of an opportunity in my opinion.. You are visiting New York City, we arent known for our incredible burgers.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Daniel76

                          I have to disagree re: the fries. Had some last night for the first time in a few months and was very pleasantly surprised. I don't know if they're doing something different or if I just got a new batch, but the fries were crisp w/a great potato taste. If it's a nice day and the line is reasonable, the SS is a great place to relax and take in the NYC setting.

                          1. oh my goodness
                            so many great places and not enough time...
                            I was just there
                            and I always eat lunch at
                            Republic -
                            - 37 Union sq W, New York, 10003 - (212) 627-7172
                            no matter what I have had it is excellent
                            last time my son got the pork chops and they were to die for

                            we did have dinner at Gramercy Tavern and it was excellent

                            when I get a mesage back from my son. There is a Cuban place that should not be missed.....there ids always a wait...it is very tiny...but the best Cuban corn and their mussels are to die for...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: lindatn

                              Where oh where is this Cuban place?!
                              There isn't a whole lot of good cuban in Los Angeles...

                              1. re: lindatn

                                Don't know where you are from but Republic is just average at best. Nothing special. Don't waste a meal there if you are visiting for only a few days and have to allot meals accordingly. Same with Cafe Habana - they are known for their elote and as a hipster hang-out. I think the OP's choice of Sophie's is better. (unless in the neighborhood - Nolita - and really jonesin' for cuban)

                              2. as soon as he lets me know I will tell you
                                it is so wonderful I can't even say how good.......

                                1. ok I just called his cell phone
                                  he is out having a great time
                                  he also thinks I am nuts.....I always have such fun there

                                  Cafe Habana
                                  17 Prince St | At Elizabeth St

                                  In traditional dives, taste often surpasses style. Café Habana is no exception. The cramped quarters in this Cuban-Mexican eatery, located on a residential corner off Elizabeth Street, may scare away patrons desiring cushy seating and quiet conversation. But the perfectly seasoned roasted pork, grilled steaks and sautéed chicken makes this café a delicious dining destination. The Mexican-style grilled corn, a gooey mixture of fresh corn topped with chili powder, melted cheese and lime, is a crowd-pleasing, albeit messy, delight that comes with a cup of individually wrapped toothpicks. Follow the corn with the marinated skirt steak with rice and beans, and a mojito, and soon you'll forget all about the sardine-like setup. — Joy Armstrong

                                  The space is tiny, so prepare yourself for at least a half-hour wait to be seated. Once you make it inside, settle in and try not to move until after the meal. Otherwise, you'll bump the waitstaff.

                                  Recommended Dishes...Cuban corn ------ mussels
                                  Cuban sandwich, $6.75; sautéed chicken breast in garlic and lemon sauce, $11.25; mango and jicama salad, $6.95

                                  Daily, 9am-midnight

                                  Nearby Subway Stops
                                  N, R, W at Prince St.
                                  Reservations Not Accepted
                                  and it iis inexpensive

                                  1. For breakfast I would agree with the Barney Greengrass rec...also Pastis for breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you choose Florent....for full effect, go late night. If on the upper eastside I like to bring out of towners to Payard for lunch.

                                    And I love the Shake Shack for burgers and a concrete and Republic for a quick and yummy lunch if you are looking for asian noodle soup in Union Square. Also, if in the area...hit City Bakery for a hot chocolate.

                                    Are you really going to eat a full breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday?!?!? Good luck!!!

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: jenniebnyc

                                      Heck yes!
                                      In fact, here is my updated itinerary:

                                      Thurday dinner: Pastis (I was able to get reservations... YAY!)

                                      Breakfast@ Rupert's Hello Deli, mainly because of this link:

                                      Lunch@ Sophie's Cuban

                                      Dinner@ The Cart (we're catching a show that night so, this would be quick and perfect!


                                      early Brunch@ Pastis
                                      Lunch@ (debating about Shake Shack... still trying to decide where to go!)
                                      Dinner@ Hearth or Gotham Bar and Grill???

                                      Do you think that going to Pastis twice in one short trip is too much?

                                      1. re: banquisha

                                        Sounds good! So as not to repeat a restaurant I might try Balthazar for breakfast rather than Pastis (same owners...same concept).

                                        Oh and Bouchon Bakery in Time Warner is great for breakast lunch and/or sweets if you are on the Upper West side.

                                        Have a great time in the city!!

                                        1. re: jenniebnyc

                                          HI! I think I've met you and your brother before. I was the girl sitting at the bar, having dinner in Babbo, during THAT Blizzard. If it is indeed you, it's so nice to see you here!
                                          Are there good places to eat around the Time Sqaure area? It seems extremely non-chowish here because of the large amount of tourists.

                                          1. re: banquisha

                                            Yes. Your best bet is to walk to 9th Av. There are a bunch of worthwhile places in the 40s and lower 50s. For example, Grand Sichuan is between 50th and 51st, Ariana Afghan Kebab House is between 52nd and 53rd. You can do a search for "Hell's Kitchen" or "Pre Theater." The quotation marks won't help, but in that case, just search for "Hell's" and "Theater."

                                    2. Looks like you are only staying in Manhattan. Well, what about the middle of the night? After the opera my family heads down to Chinatown for a noodle place on Mott (wonton noodle or something like that) that is open all night and makes fabulous soups and chow fun and the best veggie dumplings I have ever had.

                                      1. So I had to cancel my reservations at Aureole on Friday since we're catching a show instead.
                                        I've also decided to skip lunch at Gramercy Tavern because I've been there already. I'm having a hard time deciding where to eat my lunch instead. I'm still debating whether or not I should go to Shake Shack. What are better alternatives in Manhattan?
                                        For Saturday, I'm now going to Pastis (again) for brunch since my friends from L.A. wanted to see "The Sex and the City" place. Is this too much Pastis in one trip???
                                        For lunch, I'm going to Sophie's Cuban since there isn't a lot of decent Cuban in L.A.

                                        For dinner on Saturday...
                                        !!!!!!!I'm trying to decide between dinner at either Gotham Bar and Grill or, Hearth. I'm having a hard time deciding! HELP!!!!!! Which of the two will I miss most in L.A.??

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: banquisha

                                          Well, I like Hearth better than Gotham, but both are good

                                          1. re: banquisha

                                            Luckily, i have been to most of the places on your itinerary.

                                            Some comments:
                                            Shake shack has some really good burgers. My office is next to the park, so i eat there quite frequently. I have also lived in San Fran and LA and have gained a few lbs on in-n-out. If you are in a burger mood, try it. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to eat there, but you won't be dissapointed.

                                            Both Hearth and Gotham are great. I would choose Hearth just because its a little different and more laid back, but you really can't go wrong with either. I would say gotham is more of a nyc experience.

                                            I like Pastis, but if you are trying to do some good brunch's, try something new. 2 different places are Bubby's Pie (in tribecca) and Mesa Grill (Bobby Flay, near union square). I have never had a friend come back with any comments less than great on both of the restaurants.

                                            And if you like steak... i would never leave the city without going to striphouse. A standard for all steakhouses.

                                          2. If you really want a burger and the weather is nice Shake Shack is a no brainer. But yes, you can probably get a burger at In and Out that is similar and better. So, go knowing you are there for the "city" feel of sitting in the park while you are eating your burger.

                                            Have you considered Momofuku Noodle Bar for lunch? If you like ramen and pork buns this is where I would go.... or again, I like Bouchon Bakery.

                                            1. Lunch@ Sophie's Cuban? I wouldnt even call this takeout joint a true representation of cuban, much less manhattan.

                                              2 Replies
                                                1. re: banquisha

                                                  As someone who travels to Cuba a lot, I personally like Little Havana on Cornelia or Margon on 46th Street... two completely different vibes, but great food.

                                              1. I saw on our local news channel, NY1, that Shake Shack got a really bad health inspection report pretty recently (September)?

                                                I think everyone else has you covered with suggestions on other spots :)

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: erin07nyc

                                                  If you just saw that reports on NY1, it's *old news*. The Health Dept. report you are referring to came out several months ago. At the time, it got a lot of hype -- too much, in my estimation -- and, given the continuing long lines, it didn't stop most people (including me) from going there. Plus, Danny Meyer took immediate steps to clear up the problems, so it's quite safe to eat there.

                                                2. Forget Shake Shack, Pastis is OK, like Gotham, Cafe Habana is just OK, Katz's is Katz's.

                                                  None of these require any explaination and you will thank me for these suggestions because they are original and wonderful in their own ways:

                                                  Breakfast: Vaselka (9th St. and 2nd Ave)
                                                  Lunch: Oyster Bar (Grand Central)
                                                  Dinner: Bridge Cafe (Water and Pearl, next to Brooklyn Bridge)

                                                  1. Oops: Bridge Cafe is at corner of Water and Dover, not Pearl.