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New Year's Eve EVE (12/30) Dinner in Manhattan - NOT STUFFY

Here's my dilema...I'll be in NYC for new years and I need a restaurant to go to with my girlfriend. We're both from DC, originally from Philly, and KNOW how restaurants can be when you're choosing blind. I've been through the small plates (how many will it take to feed me tonight!), the stuffy restaurants, the fancy preparations that you hate to eat, the "what is this, what does this mean, garnished with what?".

I want a good meal that I don't have to think about - one where we're comfortable, get good food, and feel relaxed. I don't mean inexpensive (price isn't an issue), I don't mean casual, but I mean comfortable. Think BlackSalt or Zola in DC, or most BYOs in Philly. Good, solid food with no pretensions.

So, where should I go? I thought of Mesa Grill only because of name recognition, but beyond that, I'm lost in NYC beyond that the NY Times tells me. Anytime on 12/30 works for us, and I know I have enough time to get into MOST places. We'll be staying at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, but I'm really open to anywhere in Manhattan.

Thanks in advance for the advice!!!

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  1. Here's how I would think about it:

    1. You need to be close by. New Year's Eve means that taxi cabs are impossible to get.

    2. The stretch of 9th Avenue between 42nd and 57th is a culinary gem with tons of options...and it's close by to you.

    3. Pick a cuisine on that stretch and know that if you sit down at 10:00 PM, you'll pay an extra fee for "a midnight champagne toast" which is just a way to bid up the price a bit on a busy night.

    Italian? Roberto Passion
    Turkish? Turkish Cuisine
    (check Chowhound for other cuisines and "9th Ave")

    1 Reply
    1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

      Looks like OP is asking about 12/30, not 12/31 so he'll be lucky to avoid the NYE ripoffs.

      Maybe you should start with a look on opentable.com. this way you can take a look at locations, menus, and availability. Narrow it down and throw it back out there for the board.

    2. Maybe I should clarify a bit too...I did Opentable, and I'm looking on NYTimes, but what I'm coming up with are a ton of stuffy, "this is a special occasion" type of place. I want a place where you'd go during the week to get a solid, good meal. Maybe I'm just looking for a restaurant that I'll have to REALLY dig around for, but I'm hoping for some guidance from you all out there.

      Oh, and this is 12/30, not 12/31. I know that is a death day for restaurants...

      Thanks!

      1 Reply
      1. re: winger1930

        My advice stands, aside from the taxi cab advice. Walk over the 9th Avenue and pick a place. These are all functional, not too fancy, places.

        Or come to the Village and try a number of places: Snack Taverna, Malatesta Trattoria, Agave, just to name a few.

      2. I agree with NAtiveNewYorker that there are many good options on 9th Av. No restaurant there that I can think of would be considered a "special occasion" place, but the best ones (and that's a matter of opinion) are the kinds of places where NY Hounds go to when they want a solidly prepared meal any day of the week.

        One of my favorites on 9th (corner 44th St.) is Marseille, a very attractive, comfortable brasserie that serves excellent French/Mediterranean cuisine.

        http://www.marseillenyc.com

        On the other side of B'way, dbBistro Moderne, on 44th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs., is more upscale, yet still casual. This is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's modern take on French bistro cuisine. Needless to say, the food is first-rate, and the space has stylish contemporary decor.

        http://www.danielnyc.com/dbbistro

        There are literally hundreds of possibilities in other neighborhoods. I don't know anything about the D.C. restaurants you mentioned. Perhaps, if you would tell us what kind of food they serve, describe their ambiance a bit, and tell us the cuisines you prefer, we might be able to come up with some other suggestions.

        Btw, the night before New Year's Eve is a Saturday. That is a prime night for theater, so the restaurants in the vicinity of the Marriott are definitely not going to be empty.

        1. Thanks for all the suggestions! As for the places I mentioned in DC, they're both modern american food. Zola is upscale, but their food goes along the lines of updated American classics. Decor is very modern and very trendy, but the food doesn't have that same feel, which is why I return there often. BlackSalt, on the other hand, is the neighborhood restaurant that EVERYONE is going to in DC. Serves extremely fresh seafood cooked simply, in a very simple setting. The ambiance is perfect too - lots of open space, some booths, and fairly brightly lit, so you do feel like you're in a restaurant, but not one where you're rubbing elbows with the elite. Its the kind of place you have a diverse mix of corporate, family, and locals.

          Hope that helps - I'll take a look at the recommendations as well...

          thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. re: winger1930

            Take a look at Taboon. On 10th ave 52nd. st. Interesting take on Mediterranean/Middle Eastern - and the best bread you'll ever taste!