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Favorite Restaurants in Manhattan

Hello all,

I know there are thousands of restaurants in Manhattan, so why is it so hard to choose my ideal dinner spots?

My idea dinner includes:

Great natural ingredients
Classy Casual Dining
Warm friendly wait staff
Cooked just right!
Not overly salty or bland. I like TASTE!

I really liked Lupa, which is a good example of what I look for in a restaurant. Also if you have been to places in SF, even the nicest places over there are pretty laid back with GREAT food.

I am from DC, which values stuffy service...

I have looked at the James Beard listings and found the following: Any good?

Terrance Brennan
New York, NY

Floyd Cardoz
New York, NY

Wylie Dufresne
New York, NY

Gabriel Kreuther
The Modern
New York, NY

David Waltuck
New York, NY

A Voce
Chef: Andrew Carmellini
Owner: Marlon Abela
New York, NY

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Chefs/Owners: David Chang and Joaquin Baca
New York, NY

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Chef/Owner: Joël Robuchon
New York, NY

Tom Colicchio
New York, NY

Michael Laiskonis
Le Bernardin
New York, NY

Thanks for the help.


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  1. All the restaurants you list are good (although I think many would say that Chanterelle no longer justifies its high price point): but it is such a range of styles and prices that I think people will find it hard to comment. However, if you are looking for a laidback atmosphere, Lupa style, you can omit most of them - Le Bernardin, Chanterelle, The Modern, Picholine, Robuchon (even at the bar) are all quite upscale and formal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Wilfrid

      i did not find robuchon formal at the bar... its comfortable,but sophisticated

    2. Any specific price ceiling? Dinner at Le Bernardin is pretty pricey, and so is L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

      I agree with Wilfrid in terms of stuffiness. Oh, and the Modern's Dining Room is kinda stuffy, BTW, but not the Bar Room.

      Specific types of ingredients or cuisines that you favor? That list is all over the map with Italian, Indian-influenced, Asian-fusion, Altasian, etc. Do you require a tasting menu? Great desserts?

      WD-50 is "molecular gastronomy," i.e., experimental and that style of cooking might not go over well with some folks (similar to minibar in DC).

      1. Just want to point out that Eric Ripert is the Executive Chef at Le Bernardin. Michael Laiskonis is the Pasty Chef.

        1. All these places are right out of the three-four star book. Let's provide some not-so-obvious choices for our fellow Chowhound. My list includes the underrated Urena, flavorful, imaginative cuisine (think foamy modern Spanish); Amalia, Suenos, Compass (a hidden gem on the UWS), Calle Ocho, Annisa (romantic, causal and original), Stanton Social or Suba for some LES funk...ah, so many places.....

          1. Momofuku is very good but is at a very very different price point than the others it is a very different type of dining, less expensive and more rushed. I really like the Modern - the service is nice, helpful, and casual enough in the BarRoom, but what I like the food and the room - the room is fun and laid back, a little boisterous without being too loud, and not too fancy but definitely a little more glamorous than Lupa. The food is excellent with a lot of seasonal influences and fresh flavors.

            I hope you enjoy your trip.

            1. blue hill may meet your requirements from posts i've read here on chowhound. i havne't been yet, but have reservations for next week!
              nice atmosphere, not too stuffy.
              focus on local ingredients..

              1. I have not been to A Voce, but my in-laws (great eaters) went and said the food was excellent (not too sure about the stuffy factor). Less formal but relaxed and not at all stuffy is The Little Owl (you'll have to wait, though, since they do not take reservations). I always recommend Veritas, where the food is superb and the wine list unmatched- it is sleek, but rather small, and the service is very friendly. Gramercy Tavern, another Colicchio restaurant, in the front room, is another good bet.

                6 Replies
                1. re: sed231

                  A Voce is definitely not stuffy. The problem I found there is an insanely high noise level when the room is full. However, during the warm weather months, you can escape that by dining on their outdoor patio.

                  I agree completely with your description of Veritas, one of our favorites.

                  And, btw, Tom Colicchio is no longer associated with Gramercy Tavern. He severed his relationship with Danny Meyer last year. Michael Anthony, formerly of Blue Hill, is now GT's executive chef.

                  1. re: RGR

                    I haven't been to Gramercy Tavern in about a year and a half. Is the food same/better? Do they still have that martini with the tomato and basil?

                    1. re: sed231

                      Chef Anthony has totally revamped the menu in both the Tavern Room and in the more formal dining room. His style of cuisine is quite different from Colicchio's, and the meal we had in the Tavern Room earlier this year was delicious. I had previously eliminated GT from our list because of disappointments with the food while Colicchio was still in charge. Now, I'm looking to trying the dining room.

                      I don't know about that martini. You might check the website to see if it's listed.


                      1. re: RGR

                        I think the Little Owl is a great choice if you can walk in. Also, another similar restaurant that is I think is underrated is the Goblin Market. Check it out, it seems like it meets your criteria. Also, I think Hearth would be a nice choice as well. Great seasonal menu, very good service, and not too stuffy.

                        1. re: RGR

                          Great update! I hadn't been in so long because, although the meals in the Tavern Room continued to be good, we had a couple of disappointing experiences in the dining room. That martini, if they still have it, is awesome.

                    2. re: sed231

                      the little owl does take reservations...you will just have to wait a few weeks before you get one...

                    3. I am in a minority here but I still love Chanterelle, however, it is not casual by any means.
                      The food at Tabla is quite good as is Bobby Flay's restaurant, Bolo.
                      I have been to A Voce twice. The first time we had an incredible meal. I was there recently and although the food was still very good, the service was horrible and I would not rush back.
                      I have not been to Little Owl but I do have an upcoming reservation. Based on what I have heard, this may be the place for you.

                      1. Thanks ALL!

                        I am going to try Blue Hill, Lupa (again), Little Owl, Ninja (for 4th of july fun), Shanghai Cafe (favorite soup dumpling!), and Ramen Setagaya. Wish me luck!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: CheapEats

                          i love lupa...still. and the little owl is such a nice newish spot. try the pork chop--amazing!
                          i'm trying blue hill next week...

                          1. re: CheapEats

                            Shanghai Cafe???? Have you tried soup dumplings elsewhere? Joe's Shanghai, Yeah Shanghai Deluxe and Moon House all have superior soup dumplings. Shanghai Cafe had very thick, doughy wrappers with an oily broth the last time I ate there. In fact, the last time I ate there everything was so disappointing that I could never imagine returning.