San Franciscan in the Big Apple
Okay, we've got some great food in our city by the bay, but New York is the epicenter of gastronomy. DH is going to a convention, so I have a week to explore. What are the "must tastes" in Manhattan? I am looking for lunches every day (will probably skip breakfast because of the time difference) and dinners for 3 nights. One caveat: I would really like to keep the tab under $100 apiece for dinner, unless the experience is really "knock your socks off" worth $300+ for dinner for two. Thanks so much!
Can you be more specific as to cuisine and area of the city you prefer? Your budget restriction is not a problem. I can start you off with my favorites in that price range but please repost with more info and you'll get better suggestions:
Lunch or Dinner - Lupa, Shimizu, Tia Pol,
You should also try Korean BBQ on 32nd Street. Very yummy. I would also try to eat dinner at Babbo one night. It will push your budget but only by a little if you go easy on the wine. (It is very easy though to run up a big check).
Welcome and enjoy!
Where are you staying? How far are you willing to go? Even Manhattan can be pretty vast. What are your favorite cuisines? Since you're from SF, I might skip, say, the restaurants that do local ingredients/organic/etc. unless you're really interested in that sort of food.
Make sure you set aside time for bagels and smoked salmon, an egg cream, street food (Dosa man? Hallo Berlin? The cart at 53rd and 6th?), a classic NY deli, and pizza. Some of these will be covered by RGR's Lower East Side noshing tour.
you might consider sushi yasuda for your over-the top dinner. i love sf but this place is special. same holds true for keens steakhouse. watch the wine and the sides and you'll only just bruise your $100 pp limit.
lunch options are many and varied. consider fixed price lunch at le bernardin. your penance will be $64 and you'll be eating at a three star michelin restaurant. sf has no counterpart. much lower down the food chain is 21 club. fixed price lunch will run under $40. food is merely ok but you want to go there because ... well, it's "21." same holds true for the original pj clarkes on 55th st.. figure $15 or so for a cheeseburger and onion strings. pretty cheap for lunch at a landmark. eating oysters at the bar at shaffer city is merely wonderful. a bacon cheeseburger at molly's pub is a thrifty way to spend a rainy afternoon. order a pint and bring your tattered james joyce.
others will chime in with lots more options.
Thanks so much for all the suggestions! To be more specific, we will be staying at Times Square (Marriott Marquis) so would appreciate any places around there so we don't have to travel too far back to the hotel after overindulging. There is a sponsor dinner at "21" one night, so we can check that box. I would like to include great pizza, steak, and Italian, as well as little ethnic gems specific to NY (thanks for the tips on street food, too). Is Babbo worth the price? I have seen many posts about snotty service, overpriced food, etc. If I can get in, would it be best to stick to the tasting menu? We have reservations at Balthazar one night (sentimental favorite, since we ate there on our honeymoon) but other suggestions for the remaining nights are greatly appreciated. Looking forward to it!
re: steve h.
Other than the recent posting about snotty service, you'll see that Babbo gets almost all raves on this board. I would not do the tasting as the best dishes are only available a la carte. And yes, it is more than worth the expense.
Some of my favorite meals have been in your wonderful city. I go for the food whenever I can. But as far as I know, there is nothing like Babbo in your neck of the woods so it should be well worth it.
When I think of the West 40s, the only expensive restaurant that comes to my mind as a place that's gotten a lot of positive press and comments is Esca, a seafood specializing Italian or Italian-influenced restaurant. I've never been there, though. Hounds, what's your current take on that place?
I'm afraid that for great pizza, you are going to have to travel outside of the West 40s. I'd recommend Patsy's in East Harlem, though I haven't been there for probably close to a year. If you prefer to go downtown, there are many other places with good pizza. For example, I went to Li'l Frankie's (1st Av. between between 1st and 2nd) again recently, and shared a solidly good pizza and a nice salad with a friend, washed down with a glass of inexpensive Chianti that was actually quite good and went well with the food. (I loved Chianti wines when I was in Siena but find that the ones served by the glass around here often suck.)
If you want a good "ethnic" restaurant within easy walking distance of your hotel, you can go to Ariana Afghan Kebab House on 9th Av. between 52nd and 53rd Sts. I'd never call it a great restaurant, but it's certainly good, tasty, and satisfying, as long as you tell them to hold the dressing on any salad that comes with any main dishes and add the green hot sauce (not the same as Mexican salsa verde) that's on the table. If you do decide to go to Ariana, there's a thread in which I posted recommendations of dishes that I'd be happy to link to. In particular, get lamb and Aushak .
For steak, I recommend Keens, which has been in its 36th St. location, b/t 5th& 6th Avs., since 1885. (New Yorkers consider that walking distance from your hotel.) In addition to excellent food and good service, there is unmatchable old NY ambiance.
For solidly-prepared homestyle Italian near your hotel, a favorite of mine and many other Hounds is Trattoria Trecolori, on 47th St., b/t B'way & 8th Av. Friendly, efficient service and very attractive atmosperics in their new digs.
I would recommend one Japanese sushi splurge.
Lobster roll and oysters for a lunch (or dinner) - Try Pearl's, Mary's or Ed's
A dessert bar, such as Kyotofu, which is not too far from from your hotel
Momofuku Ssam bar - nothing like it in SF - go for dinner only
Also, maybe a charming little restaurant in the west village - such as Little Owl, or Wallse
Personally I thought Babbo was a little overrated, but I'm probably in the minority. It's worth checking out if you can get in.
Pizza- there are lots of choices, but without leaving Manhattan you could try Una Pizza Napoletana, or Lombardis, or Arturos, or Joes for a slice
Since you're coming from SF, I would skip Chinese, Korean and Mexican.
Enjoy your visit!
53rd St and 6 Ave Gyro stand (in front of Hilton) - One of the best lamb gyro platters the city has to offer for $6 but would probably have to wait in the line for 20 min.
Grimaldi's Pizza in Brooklyn is famous. It's worth crossing the river. Subway is close by. (High St or York St stations are close by)
Balthazar is a good choice.
Try Oyster Bar under Grand Central terminal
Try Per Se if you want to experience a 3-Michelin stars restaurant.
I think the key is to go Italian, Italian, Italian and avoid anyting Asian which is much better in SF. Don't believe the Babbo detractors, they are just trying to be contrarian and "interesting" -- it's outstanding and is extremely consistent in my opinion (and quite reasonably priced to boot). Other good Italian places are Po (almost equally hard to get into but you can try the bar), Little Frankie's on LES and Celeste on the UWS -- all three are real bargains too.