Visiting New York -- Alone
Good day all,
I'll be visiting New York the first week of September. My home is in Toronto. I am coming alone and will be staying at the West Side YMCA (West 63rd St.). I am looking for recommendation on places to eat that would be reasonable for a single diner.
I have a decent amount of money to spend since I saved on accommodations -- any suggestion is welcome on that front. I'm going to the Gug, to MOMA, to the MMFA and then for a drive through the city on my last day. Suggestions mostly in Manhattan would be preferred -- but, I'm not stuck on any particular location in Manhattan. Cabs are cheap in NYC (I know, not as cheap as last year though).
As for specific requests:
I am particularly looking for seafood recommendations to take advantage of being closer to the coast. Last time I was in NYC I went to Mary's Fish Camp and it was very good with excellent food, prices and service. I would certainly go again (and might). Part of why I went to Mary's was for their Fried Clams as I had look on Chowhound looking for recs. for traditional fried whole belly-clams. Mary's clams were good -- but they were light-fried in a tempura style batter. I'm looking for more traditional Maritime style (Shediac-style) fried clams -- usually battered and crumbed and then fried. So, a seafood place with a maritime/new england style and fried clams on the menu.
I am also looking for a recommendation for Mexican. Toronto has most every ethnicity covered; but, our Mexican options leave something to be desired (the only good places is so painfully slow I don't go to it).
I enjoyed eating at The Modern in the MOMA last time. I doubt I'd like to do it alone though. Someplace a little livelier with a similar, classic 'noveau French' menu and nice white wines (Rhineland Reislings preferred) by the glass. Please, somewhere with either a torchon of Foie or other Foie on the menu. I hope this is obtainable.
If there was a good Northern, Yunannese or Sichaun Chinese restaurant that serves portions appropriate for a single diner. There is tons of Cantonese places in Toronto and I have found a few northern and sichaun places -- but, none that portion appropriately for single diner. Heck, I'd probably take really good Cantonese that fit the bill too.
Japanese that is different that I could get in Toronto. Either someplace serving top-notch Kaiseki or a very good sushi place with an interest in fresh fish (and not just the usual stuff too).
Anywhere else you're dying to recommend for my situation.
Thank you all for your time and efforts. I will post back on where I go when I return.
Sushi is always perfect for a single diner, I think. My favorite for the fish is Yasuda. My favorite for the chef (and good, if not perfect, fish) is Shimizu. Shimizu san is low key and maybe slightly shy, but he is very nice. Onigashima and Sushiden are also good. Yasuda and Onigashima are most likely to have unusual offerings. Yasuda somehow always ends up with good uni.
As for foie gras, I am especially partial to preparations at Megu (wrapped with kobe beef and fried) and the 21 Club (grilled and served with peaches). The wine menus at both include some excellent reislings and other sweeter whites that would pair well. The 21 Club does fish of all kinds beautifully. For something slightly less outrageously priced, North West on the UWS has a good, pan seared rendition with pears and red wine sauce, and a very nice wine list. (There's a Grgich gewurztraminer that would pair wonderfully, I think.) I can't speak for solo dining at the 21 Club, but I have seen comfortably solo diners at Megu and North West.
Turkish: The charming Zeytin on 85th & Columbus.
Asian: Across the street from Lincoln Center is the very popular Shun Lee.
I don't claim it to be the be/all-end/all of Chinese restaurants but it enjoys a good reputation and is right in the neighborhood.
A pleasant enough Italian restaurant for neighborhood food and perfect for a single -- La Fenice on 68th & Broadway.
Rosa Mexicana is right across the street from Lincoln Center -- another popular dining place.
A block from the Metropolitan Museum is a small, unknown charming gem of an Italian restaurant called Giovanni's Venti Cinque. Not cheap but worth it. Don't miss this one!
Some of these will be repeats, but here are some ideas:
-Definitely Pearl Oyster Bar for your New England seafood experience.
-For great Mexican food that is also a fun scene and affordable and unlike other places in the city is La Esquina, I very highly recommend trying this place. Amazing grilled corn and tacos.
-Mixed service but very good at Turkish Kitchen.
-Having just eaten at Eleven Madison for the first time I can highly attest to the fact that it is more than worth the splurge. Although I was there with a group I noticed a really welcoming looking bar that seems like it would be great for a single diner. Also, their wine list is fantastic.
-I don't really have a Japanese rec (Jewel Bako came to mind, but I haven't been so can't really suggest it). But what I do think will be a fabulous un-Toronto meal that is also wonderful for a single diner would be a meal at Degustation. It is small plates, they have a tasting menu if you are interested, sort of molecular gastronomy tapas (but much better tasting than that sounds). Its a great meal, the place has only 16 seats and you sit in front of the chef and watch him prepare these beautiful dishes. I think it's a must do!
For sushi and foie gras, how about Sushi of Gari? The fish is fresh, and the chef serves his own innovative nigiri creations, each piece dressed with it's own sauce. One piece I had was a decadent, seared foie gras nigiri - sinfully good. There is a Gari on the East side, and one on the Upper West Side; I've only been to the UWS location. Sit at the bar and have omakase; you'll be in good hands.
You might also try Riingo, which is run by Marcus Samuelsson (sp?) of Aquavit fame. Fusion Japanese - Western cuisine. I recall a delicious salad dressed with uni. There was also some wonderful foie gras and sushi.
For another Japanese recommendation, Hiroko's Place is a fun place to go. It's casual and they often have live music. They serve Japanized versions of Western foods such as spaghetti with mentaiko or nori, gratin, etc. which are ubiquitous in Japan, but not so common in NYC or elsewhere. I think it's in SOHO.
For Mexican, try the taco truck (Sobreruedas) on SW corner of 96th and B'way. They are there every evening serving cheap, satisfying food to the many Latinos who work in the area. Follow w/movie or performance at Symphony Space, a block away.
I 2nd the rec. for Itzokan if it's the same as Cafe Itzokan in E. Harlem. Ive only been to the one in E. Harlem, which is unique b/c it serves French-influenced Mexican Food.
I'd also like to recommend Alto. Named after Alto Adige, a region in Italy bordering Austria, the restaurant serves Italian food w/an Austrian accent - quite diffferent from your usual Italian. While I haven't eaten there alone, the service has been so gracious that I imagine that they would treat a single diner quite well. It's located mid-town.
If you'd like, I can give you more specific addresses. Have a wonderful stay in our fair city wherever you go!
PS oops, almost forgot to mention the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station - all the oysters your heart could desire, and of course everything else on the half shell...
I love Rocking Hors, in chelsea, for Mexican, very fresh and yummy drinks. I'm also a fan of both locations of La Palapa, though the west village might be better for a solo diner as there is a nice small bar area, I'm not sure of the east village local. I don't know how authentic they are, but again the food is fresh, service is friendly, the prices are fair and the margaritas are great.
Tides does have very good fried clams and oysters. They are the traditional style and you get a large portion. Also very nice service.
My favorite foie gras in the city is Jean George's brulee. (It may also be on the menu at tit's cheaper naugaten room where you can get one of the best lunch deals in the city, for truly top notch food. It is casual and there is bar seating. (I liked the foie gras at EMP but it was a bit too rich and creamy for me and I found it complicated to eat).
Have a great trip!
Suenos is Mexican fusion, not Mexican, strictly speaking. But it's great.
Incredible vegetable enchiladas, and I heard very, very good things (mostly happy noises, since the people in question were having quiet foodgasms rather than talking) about the pork and shrimp dishes, like the stuffed chilies rellenos. The dessert -- guava and banana empanadas -- almost made me cry, it was so good.
Also, though it may be a bit "bright" and crowded/loud for dining alone, Pio Pio does fabulous Peruvian on the Upper West Side.
For modern Mexican cuisine, I would recommend Maya or its sister restaurant, Pampano (same chef). At both, you will find inventive, delicious food, excellent mojitos, and friendly, efficient service. Maya's decor has Mexican flair, while Pampano's interior is stylishly contemporary. Pampano also has a very charming terrace on the second floor for al fresco dining during fine weather.
i agree re SUENOS has slipped a lot. i have gone back to eating at ROCKING HORSE nearby and now only drink up the happy hour margs at SUENOS.
in fact this is timely as we ate at RH tonight. i had a refreshing special watermelon marg, a side of mixed greens salad w/ lime and for a small main a wonderful tamal w/ avocado and shrimp (whoops do they call them prawns in canada?).
Tides, on the Lower East Side, is a teensy fish/seafood "shack" with excellent food. Fried clams are on the menu though I don't know how they're prepared since I don't eat clams. The decor includes a truly unique ceiling.
Two places for very good Turkish cuisine: Turkish Kitchen, on 3rd Av., b/t 27th & 28th Sts., and Ali Baba, on 34th St., b/t 2nd & 3rd Avs.
As a foie gras addict, I recommend the following:
At Veritas, on 20th St., b/t B'way & Park Av. S., Chef Scott Bryan's New American cuisine is first rate, and his seared foie gras preparations are always delicious. The restaurant is known for its wine list, one of the most extraordinary in the city. There is bar dining.
At Eleven Madison Park, Chef Daniel Humm is serving an absolutely sensational layered foie gras torchon with bing cherries, accompanied by a small dish of foie gras creme brulee that is to-die-for! You can dine at the bar there, but you would have to check to see if the foie gras is on the bar menu.
Tocqueville, on 15th St., b/t 5th Av. & Union Sq. W., has a luscious foie gras torchon on the menu. A very generous portion for $22 and definitely worth it!
Thank you very much, Eleven Madison park looks very tempting and has a very, very nice wine list (Vin Jeune -- by the glass! As well as some Spaetlese Reislings).
Tides looks good too. I don't mind dining alone at a table.
Thank you particularly for providing me with the links. How very thoughtful.
You didn't mention tapas, but I'd recommend the bar at Boqueria -- 19th Street between 6th and 5th -- as a pleasant place to sit by oneself and be comfortable in your solititude or in chatting with others near you -- either way goes. But go early. It gets very crowded. Food is very good and atmosphere is surprisingly friendly for such a trendy place. This is one of the only trendy bars I can think of where a woman could sit by herself without being harrassed -- you didn't identify your gender, but it is a factor (alas) in answering your question.
For Japanese, Meriken on 7th Ave and 21st (give or take a block) has good, fresh sushi and some unusual menu items (though I don't know how different from Toronto options) and would be an easy place to sit solo for male or female.
FYI--Ian, Meriken is closed and it is now Momoya. Don't go out of your way for it, trust me. Most hounds will tell you NYC lacks great Mexican food but I love this little joint in the East Village called Itzocan. It is teeny tiny and you will def feel comfortable sitting alone. Also, a super fun nabe to walk around in before/after dinner. Itzocan is on E 9th between 1st and A. Good Australian ice cream place around the corner on St Mark's between 1st and A. Have fun!