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Visiting NY for 3 days over Easter

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Hey all

First time Chowhounder here.

I’m visiting Manhattan for 3 days over the Easter Weekend from Ireland and I’d like to try out some classic NY restaurants. My hotel’s just off Times Square but I’ll be out and about a good bit so I don’t mind where they are. Ideally I’d like try a Pizza Place, a BBQ and a Mexican.

Pizza: John’s on Times Square sounds good and would be convenient. Or it worth going to some other place like Gimaldi’s or Lombardi's?

BBQ: I know NY isn’t going to be the best place for authentic BBQ but I’d say anything would beat our attempts in Ireland! I was thinking of Blue Smoke. Sound good?

Mexican: Quality seems to vary a lot from what I’ve read. I was looking at places like Agave, Zarela, Rocking Horse and Maya. Anyone have any other rec’s?

Thanks!

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  1. Pizza: Grimaldi's is my favorite, but John's is good too and much closer to where you're staying.
    BBQ: Blue Smoke is great, good choice!
    Mex: Mama Mexico, Mercadito, La Palapa, Cafe Frida, El Centro (close to where you're staying and owned by the same guys behind Hell's Kitchen)

    1. Hello! I would recommend visiting Blue Smoke, or if you are adventurous try trekking to Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem. For Mexican, I highly recommend El Maguey Y La Tuna...its nothing fancy, however great prices and Mexican food.

      If you are near Times Square, try venturing to 9th Avenue, there are lots of great restaurants and bars. Perhaps brunch at Eatery or Vynl?

      1. You should try to include a deli and a steakhouse.

        Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts., on the Lower East Side, is a quintessential NY deli. You are there specifically for the pastrami. Do as the natives do and opt for counter service. You'll receive a ticket when you enter. Get on line and when your turn comes, put a $1 in the counterman's tip cup and order a pastrami on rye. He will slice a piece for you to taste. The best pastrami should have some fat on it and be juicy. If you give him the o.k., he will make your sandwich, give you a plate of pickles, and punch your ticket. Continue along the counter to your left for drinks and sides. (I like their cole slaw.) Tables along the wall are reserved for waiter service, so find a seat at a table in the middle of the room. When you are finished, surrender your ticket to the cashier at the front. Cash only.

        http://www.katzdeli.com

        When it comes to steakhouses, my favorite is Keens, which has been in its 36th St. location since 1885. Great steaks, chops, etc., and unmatchable old NY ambiance, i.e., walls filled with memorabilia and row-upon-row of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings. Be sure to check out the bar room where a portrait of Miss Keens in all her glory (!) hangs above the bar.

        http://www.keens.com

        Enjoy your visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

        1. I'm going to add some dissent on BBQ - while Blue Smoke is pretty good (and btw, their club Jazz Standard is a fantastic place to see live music), I really like RUB on 23rd between 7th and 8th. RUB doesn't have as many side dishes as Blue Smoke but I think their meats are better.

          John's is a good substitute but if you can make it out to Grimaldi's, it's definitely worth it. And if the weather is nice that weekend you can take a walk along the park nearby that has a great view of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.

          Another pizza place that has an old NY feel to it is Arturo's on Houston. I haven't had the pizza in awhile but it was good when I went there.

          Enjoy your visit.

          8 Replies
          1. re: pellegrino31

            Thanks for the recommendations everyone. I think I've got a plan worked out for where I'll eat. Anyone have any comments?

            Friday Night: Grimaldi's Pizzeria and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory for dessert.

            Saturday: Brunch at Vnyl
            Lunch at H&H Bagel Midtown east
            Dinner at Rocking Horse Cafe

            Sunday: Breakfast at Norma’s
            Lunch at burger joint
            Dinner at Blue Smoke

            Monday: Breakfast at Times Square Hot Bagels
            Lunch at Katz's

            I'll be around the Met Museum on Saturday, and the Museum of Natural History and Midtown on Sunday so does any one have any other ideas for lunch around there? And how do the breakfast/brunch selections look?

            My mouth is watering already...

            1. re: Aidoscuz

              The area immediately surrounding the Met Museum is quite tony, so there is not much in the way of inexpensive and very moderately-priced restaurants. There are a few dining options inside the Met. There is a cafeteria in the basement with a variety of hot and cold stations, but I've never tried it. I can highly recommend the Petri Court Cafe. Excellent food, good service, and a spacious room with very nice ambiance, including a view of Central Park. You can see sample menus and prices here: http://www.metmuseum.org/visitor/dini... .

              For dining outside the Met, if you want a wonderful splurge, Cafe Boulud is nearby, on 76th St., b/t 5th & Madison. This is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's second-tier restaurant, but the cuisine is first-rate, and it's much more casual than his eponymous temple of French haute cuisine. Service at C.B. is polished, yet cordial, and the small dining room has attractively stylish contemporary decor. During lunch, in addition to the pricey a la carte menus (there are 4), they offer two prix-fixes: 2 courses for $30 and 3 courses for $38. Both are extremely good values for food of this extraordinarily high caliber.

              http://www.danielnyc.com/cafeboulud

              Just to note that since brunch is eaten late in the morning, people usually skip lunch. In line with that, Vynl starts serving brunch at 11 a.m. So, if you are considering having lunch in or near the Met on Saturday, you might want to re-think your dining plan for that day.

              1. re: RGR

                Yeah, I'd say I'll be having pretty big breakfasts/brunches and then a snack in the afternoon rather than a full lunch, something like a bagel or a street vendor hot dog :) Does Zabar's have a place where you can eat in or is it just a food store?

                I was wondering about reservations. I presume Grimaldi's doesn't take them, but would I need to make reservations for Blue Smoke and Rocking Horse? And what about Norma's and Vnyl for breakfast and brunch?

                1. re: Aidoscuz

                  For Norma's, reservations are always a must! Going to Vynl on a Saturday, you will also be up against some of the pre-matinee crowd, so a "yes, make reservations." And the same goes for Rocking Horse, particularly since you plan to go on a Saturday, which is a prime night for dining out. When it comes to Blue Smoke, if you want a table, it's best to make a reservation. They do accept walk-ins, but the wait for a table could be long. There is also a bar where you can be served food. You could get lucky and snag a seat there. However, the couple of times we've been to Blue Smoke, the bar area has been a zoo. You do have it planned for Easter Sunday, so it's possible it could be a slower night there -- but, maybe not.

                  It's been quite a long time since I've been to Zabar's, so unless something has changed, I don't think they have a place to eat in. If the weather is conducive, you migh consider putting together a little picnic and enjoying it al fresco in Central Park, which isn't too far away.

                  1. re: RGR

                    Thanks for all the advice RGR, it's really helpful. I think I've got everything planned to perfection now - If I think of anything else I'll post back!

                2. re: RGR

                  I've been to Vynl on saturdays much earlier than 11am, and anytime before noon should be ok without reservations, especially for a small group. After 12 however is quite a madhouse.
                  If you are headed towards the Museum of Natural History earlier in the day on Sunday, you may want to visit Barney Greengrass instead of Norma's for brunch/lunch, particularly if you're into fish. Its a really old-school and interesting place, serving great smoked fish. Oh also, the Museum of Natural History has a free open jazz concert on first fridays with your regular tickets(which happens to be good friday!) at 7.30-8.30pm. I've never been there but it looks really good, so you may want to consider going on friday late afternoon instead of sunday if interested.

                3. re: Aidoscuz

                  Monday after Easter is still Passover. Call Katz's first to make sure they are open.

                  1. re: gysup

                    Katz's is not a kosher deli, so they do not close for Jewish holidays.

              2. You should make sure to get some roasted peanuts, a pretzel, and maybe some hot dogs from the street vendors :)

                1. Try some sould food to die for at Charles Southern Style Kitchen on Frederick Douglas Blvd(8th Ave) and 152nd. First time I had it, I almost cried, and at $9.99 for all-you-can-eat, it's one of the best deals in town.