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would you?

I know you get thousands of posts about visits to NY. I hope your patience hasn't run out by the time you read mine...would you eat here where we've planned to? Unfortunately, we have a limited budget, so we can only splurge on a few meals. We're from Toronto, and love all types of food and are pretty excited to eat our way around the city!

Details: 2 people, Coming to NY May 14-19. Staying at the Holiday Inn 232 West 29th (it was the best we could do!). We're willing to travel anywhere the subway or a cab will take us though.

Dinner reservations at the following:
Monday, May 14: Gramercy Tavern (they don't accept reservations, so we'll just have to wait)
Tues, May 15: Lure Fish Bar
Wed, May 16: Blue Smoke
Thurs, May 17: Sushi Yasuda - sitting at the sushi bar - which chef would you ask for?
Fri, May 18: Lupa (From friend's rec, chose this over Babbo - are we just crazy?)

For breakfast and lunch - I am very excited about the street food in NYC. I know pizza is a contentious issue on this board - I'm going to try as many different types as possible! Of course we'll also visit Ess-a Bagel. In terms of street vendors though, I'm looking forward to eating at the list below - if you should have any suggestions, please let me know:

Dosa Man (Washington Square South and Sullivan St)
Calexico Carne Asada (Wooster & Prince)
Tony Dragonas 62nd & Madison
Kwik Meal - whichever location is closest
Indian Food Cart 53rd & Park
maybe Daisy Mays BBQ or if we can manage to get to Queens the Arepa Lady
The only type of street food allowed for sale in Toronto are hot dogs or sausage - so I'm thinking I might skip Hallo Berlin in favour of more, shall we say, exotic options - unless you think I should go...

If anybody should have a recommendation of where we should eat lunch in Chinatown (love noodles), or where we should venture outside of Manhattan, I would really appreciate it.
Actually, I'd just really appreciate any advice at all - my first visit, I've done lots of research, and I am so damn excited!
Thank you very much.

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  1. In Toronto you are overlooking the poutine. As far as NYC goes, I would honestly cross Lure off the list. It is a scene, and the food I had there was poor. Just about any of the other casual seafood places about town would be a better bet (Mary's, Pearl's, Tides, Ditch Plains).

    You are very unlikely to get a reservation at Babbo at this short notice anyway - maybe a 10.45pm or something. I would just go ahead and enjoy Lupa.

    1. I'm pretty sure Gramercy Tavern does take reservations. I've made them in the past and there is an availability for 8:30 on May 14th on opentable.com .

      I think Hallo Berlin is the best street food in all of Manhattan and is not like any other sausage cart in the city.

      1. Gramercy Tavern doesn't accept reservations? Are you sure? I think you can even make them on OpenTable. I haven't been recently, but when I was researching for my own trip, I got the feeling that they're still kind of in flux after all the transitions in recent years.

        Sushi Yasuda - do ask for Yasuda.

        I'm in the pro-Lupa contingent (although, perhaps not as rabidly as I once was), but I think they're better for a late lunch, now that they're open through the afternoon. No wait, no crowds, and the lunch menu is pretty extensive.

        I would add in dinner at Degustation - do 3 or 4 savory courses there, then go to WD-50 for a dessert tasting menu. I loved Degustation so much I made a reservation for a second dinner there during my last trip. I also really loved Momofuku Ssam Bar, but I've noticed that it's pretty polarizing... people either love it or hate it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: daveena

          Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. As far as I can tell from the Gramercy Tavern, they accept reservations in the Dining Room, but not in the Tavern....and the Tavern is what we were thinking...

          1. re: tochipotle

            One more thing on Lupa, if you're still planning on doing dinner there - unless you can get reservations, think about doing Lupa on a weeknight, and go somewhere with a reservation on Friday night... Lupa's a madhouse on weekend nights...

        2. In Chinatown, try the Dim Sum (actually the name of the place), cheap and authentic. Get over to Brooklyn and in the Brooklyn Heights area try Montague Street, loaded with many really good and inexpensive places.

          2 Replies
          1. re: pmfurdyn

            If you’re going to Brooklyn I would NOT recommend Montague St , there’s a lot better to be had. Try Atlantic Ave, between Henry and Court for some very good and inexpensive Middle Eastern restaurants. Be sure to stop by Sahadi’s – one of the best Middle Eastern groceries in the city (they’re closed on Sundays). Some very good bars on this strip as well. Or go down Court or Smith Streets, the Outer Boroughs board (Why the outer boroughs all get lumped together is complete B.S., but I digress) is full of reviews.

            1. re: pmfurdyn

              Do you mean Dim Sum Go Go? I finally went there with a friend yesterday for an early lunch and found the food very worthwhile and not expensive at all. I would recommend it in general. I've heard that the standard of dim sum is higher in Toronto overall than it is here, however.

            2. Lure is a bit of a scene, but it does have the best raw bar. I prefer the food overall (i.e., non-raw bar seafood), service, and atmosphere at Tides though - I'd highly recommend that instead.

              For Chinese, I prefer Flushing over Chinatown - check the Outer Boroughs board for lots of info and recs - it's a bit of a foodie paradise and well worth the trip. Very accessible via subway (last stop on the 7). There are some great hole-in-wall places for snacks like dumplings, chow mein, lo mein, etc. in Flushing, but my favorite street vendors are all in Chinatown - kebabs, bullet cakes, and the usual chow/lo mein.

              I'm not sure whether there's an Indian cart on 53rd and Park, but "the cart" is on 53rd and 6th.

              Enjoy your visit, and happy chowing!

              12 Replies
              1. re: theannerska

                Switched to Tides on Tues...thanks for the save!

                1. re: tochipotle

                  for the money, id skip gramercy and go across the street to veritas...3 courses are $65-70 these days i think...the food is oodles better and the service is just top notch.

                  tides is okay but if you want a seafood joint, nyc style...you cant beat marys fish camp or pearl oyster bar. no reservations and its crazy at times but youll be fine...leave yr cell # at the door and have a drink nearby. tides is fine but it just doesnt do much for me.

                  if you need bbq, blue smoke is a fine option but momofuku ssam bar is a great idea if you want something delicious and casual. get the terrine sandwich (a banh mi), sweetbreads, spicy rice cakes.

                  yasuda will be excellent of course.

                  definitely go to katz's for a pastrami sandwich during the day. i also recommend spotted pig for lunch as its terribly crowded other times. also, 'ino for lunch in the west village is just always tops. get the truffled egg toast, cheese plate, and quattro panini...the sicilian red is a great cheap wine by the glass.

                  shake shack and corner bistro are other good daytime options.

                  1. re: sam1

                    Veritas's 3-course prix-fixe is $76. It's always been one of our favorites, and I agree with you that Chef Scott Bryan's New American cuisine is superb. Plus, of course, the wine list is one of the most extraordinary in the city.

                    However, keeping in mind that the exchange rate is still a bit negative for Canadians (though not nearly as bad as it has been previously), unless they drink only tap water, it will be difficult for them to escape without spending around $125pp.

                    We've eaten in the Tavern Room since Chef Michael Anthony arrived. The food was excellent, and it will not cost them anywhere near as much as Veritas.

                    I've not been to Pearl's or Mary's, but I'm a fan of Tides. A little jewel of a seafood "shack" with delicious food, very good service, and stylish decor, including a very unique ceiling.

                    http://www.tidesseafood.com

                    Agree completely that a pastrami sandwich at Katz's is an imperative for that quintessential NYC deli experience. And dining al fresco on burgers, fries and soft ice cream at Shake Shack should definitely be on tochipotle's dining itinerary.

                    http://www.katzdeli.com
                    http://www.shakeshacknyc.com

                    1. re: RGR

                      Thanks so much - appreciate this great information. Glad to hear that the Tavern food is excellent! (And you're right about the price, that's why we chose it - we'll spend enough at the other places!) We don't mind waiting, but any time other than 5 or 10:30 that might make sense to go? We'll be happy to grab a drink and wait. It will be our first night and we'll have tourist written all over us!
                      Should have mentioned Katz's in my OP. It's been a while since I've been to Schwartz's...but I've got enough of it in my blood to judge the comparison between the two!
                      Shake Shack is now there too (I know it's almost criminal, but I actually don't enjoy burgers...fries and soft ice cream are another thing all together!)
                      Thanks again

                      1. re: tochipotle

                        Hey, tochipotle, No need to apologize about not liking burgers. If you happen to like hot dogs, Shake Shack also has them, and they're pretty tasty. Btw, re: brendastarlet's post below, S.S. has been open since March.

                        Our dinner at the Tavern Room was on a Sunday evening in late January. I think we got there a little before 10 and were seated immediately. I'd suggest arriving around 9:30 because it's a little past prime, so tables should be starting to become available.

                        Since it appears you are going to fit Katz's into your itinerary, you might want to consider taking my Lower East Side eating "tour." It will give you the opportunity to walk around a very interesting, historic neighborhood while sampling food emblematic of NYC. The tour starts at Katz's. I'm appending it here:

                        LES Food Excursion

                        For the quintessential NYC deli experiences, no place beats Katz's, on the corner of Houston (pronounced "how-stun") & Ludlow Sts. You're there specifically for the pastrami sandwich. When you enter, you will be given a ticket. Instead of opting for table service, do what the "natives" do and get on line for counter service. When you reach the counter, put a $1 for each sandwich in the counterman's tip cup and order pastrami on rye. He'll give you a piece to taste. If you like it (the best pastrami is juicy and has some fat on it), tell him o.k., and he'll make your sandwich, give you some sour pickles, and punch your ticket. Then, continue along the counter for sides – the cole slaw is good -- and drinks. Find seats at a table in the center of the room. (Tables along the wall have menus on them and are reserved for waiter service.) When you’re done, take your ticket to the cashier in front. It's cash only. Note: For the purposes of this tour, unless you have a gargantuan appetite, it would be best to share one sandwich in order to leave room for more tastings along the way.

                        When you exit Katz’s, turn left and continue along the same side of Houston St. You will come to Russ & Daughters, famous for all sorts of smoked fish and many other goodies. It's not a restaurant, but they make sandwiches to go.

                        After leaving the Russes, continue west a couple of blocks until you reach Yonah Schimmel's. Get a tasty potato knish, and make sure to ask them to heat it up.

                        Now it’s time for the quintessential NY drink – the egg cream. So, reverse yourself and head east on Houston until you come to Avenue A. (Note: Avenue A becomes Essex St. on the south side of Houston.) Turn left on A and head north until you get to the block between 7th St. and St. Mark’s Place. Look for a hole-in-the-wall candy shop, closer to 7th, with an overhead sign jutting into the street that says, “Belgian Fries.” (The place’s official name is Ray’s, but there is no signage to that effect.) One of the women behind the counter will make you a delicious chocolate egg cream.

                        When you’re finished licking your lips, go back to Houston St. and make a left (east) one block to Norfolk St. Turn right and walk down Norfolk until it ends at Grand St. Two places to look for at the corner of Grand and Norfolk: Kossar's, for freshly baked bialys (another very NY food) and the Donut Plant (self-explanatory).

                        Next, walking west along Grand St., you will come to Orchard St. Turn right. At 87 Orchard, snack on a pickle from Gus's World Famous Pickles.

                        Then, continue to 97 Orchard, b/t Broome & Delancey, where you will find the Tenement Museum. The tour will show you what life was like for immigrants to NYC at the beginning of the 20th century. ( http://www.tenement.org
                        )
                        Once you have finished the tour, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, right next door at 95 Orchard, is a must for some of the best gelato anywhere.

                        If your sweet tooth is still not completely satisfied, the final stop on this tour should do it. Continue ahead (north) on Orchard, crossing Delancey, then one more block to Rivington St. Make a right and you will find Economy Candy at 145 Rivington.

                        Note: It’s best not to take this tour on a Saturday since some of the spots are closed because of religious observance. Also, Donut Plant is closed on Mondays.
                        *********
                        Hope you have a fabulous visit to NYC and Bon Appetit!

                        1. re: RGR

                          Thanks so much RGR - I already had your famous tour printed out and ready to go. Really looking forward to it! Very nice of you - thank you

                          1. re: tochipotle

                            Hey, tochipotle, Since it was evident in your o.p. that you'd done quite a bit of research prior to posting, I should have figured you'd have come across my tour. lol Of course, I'm thrilled that you plan to take it. :-)

                        2. re: tochipotle

                          Actually, Shake Shack has a veggie burger that is pretty spectacular for the non-burger liking people of the world. They grill a portobello mushroom in place of a burger. If you're there and you're planning to stand in line and you want a little more than a shake and fries, grab the portabello burger instead. Yum!

                          1. re: ballulah

                            ballulah- thanks for this! Definitely what I'll order - sounds delicious.

                          2. re: tochipotle

                            I've been at the Tavern Room recently and if you show up on the early side, weeknight, then the wait should be nonexistent or at least very short. My party of 4 had no wait at all at 6:30pm on a Thursday a weeks ago.

                    2. re: theannerska

                      theannerska--do tell about your fave street vendors in manhattan chinatown. I'm a big fan of the rice noodle cart, chee cheong dun (or something like that). There are severl, with on on bowery, just north of worth.

                      1. re: Produce Addict

                        I've been away from NY far too long to be able to guarantee these are still there (it's been 4 months - if anyone can verify these, please do so!), but my favorites are:

                        - at Grand and Chrystie Park, near the B/D Grand St stop, for curry squid and fish ball kebabs
                        - at the southeast corner of Grand and Bowery for those amazing bullet cakes...
                        - haven't tried this one, but a while back someone on the board recommended one on Monroe, between Market and Catherine.