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First Time in NYC

We are spending a too-short week before Xmas in NY and would love your advice on the very best:
1. Destination-restaurant I need to reserve now.
2. Don't leave New York without trying...
Before you ask, yes, I'll give you more specifics. We are a mom and teenaged daughter, will be staying in the Theatre District and going to a show most evenings, so dinner will likely be before-or after-theatre hours and we will not be able to go far afield. Our favorite meals are usually Italian; though we love French, Thai, Indian, we confine our meat-eating to a little chicken and fish and are not as adventurous as many of you, so no burgers or steak and definitely no Malaysian pork belly or Batali offal artistry. We would love to try new cuisines that aren't meat-centered. We don't need a great wine list.
We're willing to blow the budget for 1 or 2 memorable food/service/ambience dinners, but of course would like less-expensive recs for the rest of the 3 meals a day.
If you've read this far and would like to recommend a show, please do; we're serious theatre buffs and would love to know what plays/performances New Yorkers(not the Disney/Phantom crowd)are talking about this season- and what you do on Monday!
Thank you, merci, grazie!

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  1. I'm from MS but I have been to Manhattan over 30 times. My all time favorite great restaurants are Daniel, Jean Georges, Il Mulino, 11 Madison Park, Felidia and Babbo. There are others mixed in but Daniel is my all time favorite restaurant in the U. S.

    1 Reply
    1. midtown/theatre district is always tough for me. restaurant row is convenient and has various options. here's a fairly recent link about it from other hounds:


      a lot of people seem to like carmines (italian), which is usually packed. this might just be because of convenience and the huge portions.

      you could also venture down to "koreatown" on 32nd...if you want to get out of the theatre scene.

      2 Replies
      1. re: oystersallday

        Thanks-link doesn't work, though-I'll try to find it. We usually avoid places known for their large portions, but I've seen Carmine's recommended.
        Just realized we'll be at Lincoln Center for a matinee-Telepan?!!

        1. re: oystersallday

          Carmines is a place to go with a large group of college or grad students who want to stuff themselves and get drunk on red wine while listening to people singing "Happy Birthday" at every other table. A single portion will overfeed a mother and daughter.

          1. Tabala: an Indian spiced/American ingredient fusion.
            the bread bar on the main floor is a less expensive.

            also their cocktails are great

            1 Reply
            1. Esca is a Batali place but it's seafood centered and very very light on the meat. Are you guys ok with raw fish? The specialities are "Crudo" preparations with fish, salt and olive oil. It's absolutely delicious and a way to try a small portion of crudo if you've never had it before. Also on 9th Avenue is very good Mexican at a place called Hell's Kitchen. I always have good meals there (as well as drinks if you're interested).

              Enjoy your trip and please report back!


              1 Reply
              1. re: JeremyEG

                Yum! Thanks! Like Batali, just not the weird parts.

              2. There are several places that offer $25 prix fixe lunches. My favorites are Fleur de Sel and Perry St. This has two advantages: (1) You won't be rushed, plenty of time before the play (2) You are paying $25 for a meal that would cost about $60 or more at dinner.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Brian S

                  Thanks! I 'm beginning to think our fine dining may be lunch!

                  1. re: SusanSDG

                    Here's something I wrote about Fleur de Sel. Perry St might be as good:


                2. Dining in the Theater District gets an undeservedly bad rap. The reality is that there are many restaurants there that provide very good to excellent meals. Here are a few possibilities:

                  When it comes to Italian food, there are a boatload of choices, many far better than Carmine's. (Obviously, I would skip it.) My pick would be Roberto Passon, which I and many other Hounds feel is one of the best.


                  Though I've not yet managed to get to ViceVersa, it's another Italian which gets positive reviews from Hounds.


                  dbBistro Moderne is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's upscale take on French bistro cuisine served in a space with stylish contemporary decor.


                  Marseille is a very attractive brasserie serving French/Mediterranean cuisine.


                  Uncle Nick's, on 9th Av., b/t 50th & 51st Sts., is a good choice for Greek food served in a taverna-style setting.

                  On Monday, when most of the theaters are dark, I suggest you head downtown to Devi, on 18th St., b/t B'way & 5th Av. The superb Indian cuisine served there is some of the best in the city, and the space has unusual, elegant decor.


                  Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RGR

                    Thank you!! I suspect I'll have many food memories from this trip!

                  2. When I come into New York for a stay, I usually splurge on a nice lunch and then grab a quick bite for dinner, especially when I'm going to the theatre and don't want to put myself into a food coma.

                    Several "name" restaurants do prix fixe lunch specials that are a bargain. In addition to Fleur de Sel, Bouley, Jean-George, Aureole, etc., all have lunch specials that I'm partial to. I also am very fond have dining at the Tavern at Gramercy Tavern, which doesn't require reservations, and can be as much or as little as you like.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sidwich

                      Thanks! Robert Passon has a $15 prix fixe lunch!

                    2. Though it's not cheap (4 course prix fixe dinner ($59) for 4 last Sunday with two bottles on the low end of the list came to $412 including tax + tip) definitely do Telepan if you're in the Lincoln center area. Or for a really big splurge head to the revamped Picholine.