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Visiting and eating for 1 week in NYC - what not to miss?

I'm looking for suggestions for where not to miss and/or where I can skip. I've visited NYC before, but my friend has not. She doesn't eat beef, and gears towards low-cholesterol food if possible. As for budget, it all depends on whether I think it's worth it...not over $100/pp usually. After weeks of research, here are the places I have in mind:

Day 1
(no rez.) dinner - Hatsuhana or Yakitori Totto

Day 2
lunch rez. - Telepan
dessert - La Maison du Chocolate and/or Minamoto Desserts
dessert - L'Arte Del Gelato
dinner rez. - Crispo, thinking of maybe switching to Tia Pol or Casa Mono

Day 3
breakfast - Clinton St. Bakery
dessert - Jacque Torres Choc. Haven
lunch rez. - Bouley
dessert - Il Lab Gelato, and/or Madeleine for macarons
dinner rez. - Lupa, thinking of walk-in at Babbo
dessert - olive oil gelato at Otto

Day 4
breakfast - Daniel's bagels
lunch rez. - Perry St.
dessert - Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and/or Ceci Cela
dinner rez. - Sushi Yasuda at the bar

Day 5
breakfast - Ess-A-Bagel
lunch rez. - Davidburke & Donatella
dinner - Wu Liang Ye

Day 6
breakfast - Bouchon
lunch rez. - Le Bernardin
dessert - Ciao Bella gelato
dinner - Sakagura

Day 7
breakfast - H&H bagels
lunch rez. - Jean Georges
dinner - maybe Lure Fishbar or Robert Passon

Day 7.5
breakfast - ??
lunch - Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station

I'm open to replace or add or delete some choices, and I'm sure I can add in a few more dessert places to see! :) How does this look and is there anywhere else I should consider?

(I've considered and opted to leave out due to prices, value: EMP, Veritas, Aquavit, Balthazar, Daniel, craft, Robuchon...)


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  1. hmm.. from the top of my head... some tips and suggestions:
    1. try breakfast at NORMA'S at the Parker Meridien Hotel. (the best in town, in my book)
    2. lunch at PEARL OYSTER BAR
    3. lunch at TABLA (interesting flavors!)
    4. instead of LURE, consider DEGUSTATION for something different and fun
    5. instead of CRISPO, if you want good spanish, try this sleeper hit i love called BOQUERIA near the flatiron. great catalan food, authentic and won't break your wallet.
    6. NOBU NEXT DOOR is good for late night dinners.

    all in all, a good cross section of restaurants! im getting hungry just thinking about it! hehe!

    ** LES BERNARDIN is one heck of a restaurant... but this will most probably break the $100 barrier... just in case you didn't know. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: doctorj

      If you go to Degustation, you can go to WD-50 after for the dessert tasting. Kyotofu is also good for dessert.

    2. Wow! Can I come to your lunches with you? They are hard to beat.
      As for your Asian-heavy dinners, I cannot offer you much help but I would definitely and positively keep your Crispo rez and change something else instead.
      A walk-in at Babbo? Mwahahahaha!
      Enjoy your stay in this wonderul Big A.

      1. Your menu seems skewed toward oriental. How about some Indian? I can recommend Chennai Garden on E 27th Street: "kosher vegetarian" and very fresh with a bargain lunch buffet.

        For dessert, find a restaurant in the East Village, and then go to Chikalicious on E 10th St for their prix fixe dessert menu ($12 for amous bouche, your choice of dessrt and petit fours.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gerrymander

          Since the o.p.'s list indicates he's doing desserts primarily after lunch, he would be much better off going to Chikalicious in the afternoon between 3 and 5, when it's bound to be less busy than in the evening after dinner. It's fun to sit at the counter, chat with Chika, and watch as she prepares your desserts. Note: Closed Mon. & Tues.


          1. re: RGR

            No objection to a lunch dessert, but I've gone three times at 8-8:30 PM, and never had a problem with the waiting time...

        2. Hi sjeats,

          Having been to all the restaurants that are on your list, I think you have a great plan! There were some suggestions from other hounds, and I will provide my thoughts here:

          - Day 1: Looks great; If you are doing Yasuda then Totto is better. Hatsuhana is great for sushi but there is no need to do sushi twice. Save it for Yasuda

          - Day 2: Since you are thinking about Lupa / Babbo, again, no need to do Crisp; Try Tia Pol or Boqueria for tapas. I am not a fan of Casa Mono because of the poor service and the extremely crowded seating

          - Day 3: Bouley is great for lunch, but at that price point you can also do EMP lunch tasting, or Cafe Boulud (Restaurant Week prix-fixe lunch at $24). I am not saying one is better than the other, but at this price point you have a lot of options for lunch. If you do go to Bouley, order the cod dish which I think is one of the best dishes on their menu.
          For dinner, try your very best to get to Babbo. Lupa is just not of the same league. Just get to Babbo at 5 or 5:30 and enjoy! You will not regret it.

          Day 4 / Day 5 sound good. Again, if lunch at Davidburke & Donatella is due to their attractive prix-fixe, I will go with Cafe Boulud, or even Fleur de Sel. Both offer much better quality than D&D.

          Also, not sure if you have particular reason to choose Wu Liang Ye, but IMO it is not worth going out for. I will suggest Momofuku Ssam Bar intead. Much more innovative and delicious! (plenty of reviews on this site)

          Day 6: Same comments for Lunch as Day 3. Lunch at Le Bernardin is around $60 before drinks, tax, and tips.

          Day 7: Agree with the suggestion on Degustation and suggestion of dessert tasting at WD 50. Really don't need to bother with Lure (it's ok, but not special)

          Day 7.5: Just a note the going to Oyster Bar is more of a NYC experience, so don't put high hope on the food. Their oyster pan roast is quite good though.

          Will have to disagree with the suggestion of Nobu Next Door. It is not what it used to be and has become a touristy joint with mediocre food. Norma's is highly praised by some, but too me it is again more for tourists than anything.

          Also, please note that a few of these restaurants are not open on Sunday: Yasuda, Degustion, Le Bernardin. Some serve brunch menu on Sat / Sun so lunch menu (or prix-fixe) may not be available. You may want to check menupages.com to confirm.

          If you have any more questions, please feel free to post and I am sure we can all help.

          I hope you have a wonderful trip!

          1. Personally, I would drop Le Bernardin from that list. We have never been so disappointed in a restaurant as we (4 people) were at Le Bernardin. And we have heard a lot of similar opinions from fellow New York diners.

            The food at LB is so overrated (bland is not synonymous with subtle ), and the service is plainly, bad. The only positive thing about Le Bernardin was the sommelier, who was brilliant -and very professional.
            (My husband dined at LB when the original chef and founder, Gilbert Le Coze, was in charge. My husband thought the place was great back then. Not so anymore.)

            I would go to Eleven Madison Park instead, even if it meant spending a lot more money. I would actually go almost anywhere instead.

            Also, for a more reasonably priced alternative: Gramercy Tavern has a "new chef", who used to work as executive chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. After a shaky beginning, he has found his groove at GM, and we just recently had an amazing lunch there. We sat "just" at the Tavern bar (counter) and had a blast. (The staff at GT is just amazingly sweet).
            Fresh ingredients, amazing, subtle flavors, everything was amazingly good! The Carrot & Farro "Risotto", Pine nyts & soy beans was amazing: I had to use a piece of bread to 'lick" the last drop of broth from my plate. We both also loved our Arctic Char, haricot vert, Shiitake Mushrooms & Sweet Garlic Broth. (Again I had to have the last drop of that broth, it was so tasty.)

            I second Tabla and Pearl Oyster Bar. I know lots of people find Spice Market boring and "out" (of style), but my daughter and I enjoyed a terrific lunch there, mostly by picking a lot of different "small" plates -and choosing a great wine to go with that.

            1. Wow-it seems like you already have an impressive list of hot spots and classics. I agree completely will suggestions for Degustation and anti-suggestions for Oyster Bar in GrandCentral-too cheezy. Otto tends to be very crowded, even around dessert time. But if its during the week, you should be fine. Otto also has a nice cheese selection for dessert. Enjoy your stay-let us know how it goes will you?

              1. Thank you all so much for your great suggestions and input!

                doctorj - I'll look into Tabla - it doesn't look like the average Indian food. Pearl Oyster Bar's food looks great! Boqueria sound like what I'm looking for too.

                lanadai - I'm not that into tofu...but I'll check out Kyotofu.

                idia - come join us! ;) I love Japanese food so I thought we could check out the great places that so many people recommend. I know Babbo'll be tough to get in but just thought I'd try.

                gerrymander - I eat Indian food probably once a year. The spices just don't agree with me. Can two share a prix fixe dessert or must it be one per person?

                RGR - I can do dessert probably anytime of the day! :) I'll check out Chickalicious.

                kobetobiko - (do you like fish eggs on your kobe beef? :p) I would try to get in to Totto, but we're arriving on a Sat. so I hope there isn't much wait. I would very much like to try Tia Pol. There are so many choices for lunch but I can only decide on one a day! I've been to Fleur de Sel before. Day 5 we're going to Central Park so I thought I'd just keep it uptown, but I'll check out Cafe Boulud. Chose Wu Liang Ye because we haven't had Chinese planned yet and it's in midtown (we have a show to catch that night). Dessert tasting sounds fantastic! Would we have to order 2 for 2 people or can we share? We can't eat THAT much dessert (even if we tried).

                FoodWine - Aww..I have such high expectations for LB! I'm definitely looking into GT!

                DesperateChefsWives - I'll skip the Oyster Bar and just visit Grand Central Station. As you may see, I love gelato, so I must try that Olive Oil flavor!

                It's a bit challenging to plan the different places since we have show tickets for 3 nights and also have to consider the time traveling uptown/downtown and sightseeing in between the great food we'll have! :D

                We're going in the first week of September, so I think by then Rest. Week is over?

                What do you think about these changes - is this better:

                Day 2 (Sun.) dinner - replace Crispo with Boqueria or Degustation,
                Day 4 dessert - add Chikalicious
                Day 5 lunch - replace DB&D with Cafe Boulud,
                Day 6 dinner - can replace Sakagura with Pearl Oyster Bar. Have a show this night though...will it be too rushed? How long does it take on the subway from West Village to midtown?
                Day 7 dinner - replace Lure with Tabla
                Day 7.5 (Sat.) lunch - Gramercy Tavern (although I don't see reservation available on OpenTable - do walk-in?).

                Will Perry St. be very different from Jean Georges? I could replace a lunch with EMP. Is Telepan and Sakagura good or is there something else more remarkable?

                1. Damn, that's a lot of desserts! You've already got a LOT of my favorites on your list like La Maison, Il Laboratorio, Jacques, Ceci Cela, etc.

                  If you like dessert and having your mind blown, a stop at WD-50 is a must. You can split several different courses with your friend as they're pretty small, but very inventive and tasty. I'd classify it as a notch up from Chikalicious in terms of "wow, how did someone even think of that?" Chikalicious and WD-50 have pretty different price points, vibes, and waits, though and WD-50 may be too expensive for you, but it's fantastic if you can drop the extra cash and drop by after dinner.

                  Don't forget to stop in at Kee's chocolates in Soho, too. Just edges out Jacques and La Maison my opinion for truffles.

                  Norma's is forgettable; I've had much better brunches at other places. Looks like your last day is on a weekday? -- what about a quietish breakfast at Balthazar? Or coffee and a croissant at Patisserie Claude? Hot chocolate and donuts from Donut Plant? Or dropping in on Sarabeth's or Egg or Grey Dog, or maybe Shopsin's?

                  I also wasn't too impressed with Tabla -- it felt like French-inspired cuisine, but dressed up with Indian spices. Maybe try Devi instead, or Tamarind, if you want to do more upscale, interesting Indian. That said, the bread at Tabla was fantastic.

                  I love the new Gramercy Tavern. There are two rooms there, actually, and you can't make reservations for the more casual Tavern Room. I'd drop by on the earlier side for dinner or weekend lunch, and eat there if you want a GT and Danny Meyer experience.

                  Additionally, where's Shake Shack!? I know your friend doesn't eat beef but they make a mean marinated 'shroom burger, too...I'd try to squeeze in Momofuku Ssam Bar, too (my current favorite mid-range place in the city.)

                  If you're pressed for time, don't forget to take the yellow line (taxis). :)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn

                    Thanks kathryn! I will definitely have to see where I can squeeze in WD-50! I'll stop by Kee's when we're in the area; also Mariebelle's.

                    I try to avoid lines and that's why Balthazar and Shake Shack are not on my list...

                    May just replace Tabla with Devi. Is Devi's lunch prix-fixe year round? I can replace Wu Liang Ye with Momofuku Ssam Bar.

                    Patisserie Cloud is new to me...I'll look into this. Have to see where Donut Plant can fit in. We'll skip the Dogs, since my friend doesn't eat beef. We'll check out Brooklyn Ice Cream when we cross the bridge.

                    I'm trying to avoid taking the cab and use the subway - more $$ for food! ;)

                    1. re: sjeats

                      I prefer Tabla to Devi. Just to be clear-the chef at Tabla is from India, but also worked in Europe. His cuisine is more Indian fusion. I find the tastes more subtle and more complex. The room is lovely, especially if you get one of the tables looking out at the park.
                      If you are looking for more classic Indian with an upscale room, then Devi is very good, especially the lamb chops. It's a question of what you want. Take a look at the menus-you can't go wrong, it's more a question of taste.

                      1. re: sjeats

                        One note: if you're gonna stop by Kee's, call beforehand to make sure Kee is there (she's awesome) and go on the early side before they run out of the really good stuff. Mariebelle also has a tiny cafe/chocolate bar in the back, too, if you need somewhere to rest your feet, whereas Kee's doesn't have any seating. But I love Kee's truffles much more.

                        Balthazar on the weekdays is much more chill as the neighborhood has a significantly different crowd Monday through Fridays. Weekend brunch isn't bad, and they do take reservations, too. I'd just call and ask what they have available. Sometimes you might be surprised!

                        And yes, Devi does consistently offer a nice prix fixe, it's not just a part of Restaurant Week or anything.

                        Do a search on here for Patisserie Claude and his croissants. They're quite a conversation starter on Chowhound.

                        Additionally, Grey Dog is a coffee shop, with two locations, not a hot dog place. It might be a good alternative for a quick, drop-in breakfast. Sorry if I wasn't clear! I love Grey Dog's cupcakes, by the way.

                        Oh, and I've seen Donut Plant donuts in several places lately. Off the top of my head Dean and Deluca in Soho (the coffee stand by the Apple Store) and also at Joe, the Art of Coffee, in the West Village.

                    2. Norma's is great...Don't miss dinner at Balthazar on a night that you don't do theater...Do Otto's...Prefer the Tabla Bread Bar to Tabla...Since you like dessert, go to Rocco's Bakery for cannoli and many other delicious desserts...We do a lot of theater when we are in NY, and for that reason we do either late lunches ( much less crowded) or we go somewhere after the theater that stays open late....

                      1. Thanks again all!

                        For female tourists running around the city sightseeing, what's the minimum dress code to adhere for Jean Georges and Le Bernardin? Are there other places on this list that have more formal dress code? Not sure if we'll have time to stop by the hotel to change everyday.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: sjeats

                          I'm assuming you're talking about dinner?

                          1. re: sjeats

                            Jean Georges and Le Bernardin are the only restaurants on your list that require jackets for the gentlemen, and I believe that includes lunch, which is when you are planning to go. So in those two cases, you might want to wear something a little bit dressier. For the other upscale places on your list and discussed here, smart casual is fine.

                            1. re: RGR

                              Jean-Georges doesn't require jackets for men, at least not at lunch. I was recently there and there were even some men in jeans, shorts, etc.

                              1. re: Lucia

                                Jackets are definitely required at Jean Georges at dinner. Thanks, Lucia, for correcting me about lunch. :-)

                          2. Wow, can I come, too?
                            Those who have suggested Pearl Oyster Bar over the Oyster Bar in Grand Central are right on, and lunch is the way to go at the Pearl. Maybe you could peek in at Grand Central, and then take your stomach downtown to be fed.
                            I might also suggest a trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx (the real Little Italy) if you have time. Great markets, great browsing, several of the best bakeries in the city and a nice botanical garden next door.

                            1. Norma's - not to be missed! Others: Bouley (Upstairs Cafe); Blue Ribbon Bakery; Good Enough to Eat; Good; Balthazar - for brunch - Grom Gelato (the queue is worth it!); Chikalicious (the treats and service are wonderful!); Chelsea Market - tons of great bakeries and eateries, including Nicole's, Lobster Place (best Lobster Bisque) and Green Table; Levain Bakery: best oatmeal raisin scones ever and amazing gargantuan chocolate chip walnut cookies; Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery/LES: best cupcakes in city; Dumant Burger in Williamsburg--worth the trip; Una Pizze Napoleanta/EV - authetic Naples pizza; Mary's Fish Camp is Pearl's sister restaurant; I can ramble endlessly about good local foods. I truly hope you take my suggestions and am happy to provide add'l info. requested. Gotham is second to none, except for the high rents and cold winters!

                              1. Strong work but I would do something like pearls instead of Grand Central unless you are going for raw oysters (I did not read the thread so I am probably the 10th person who said this).

                                For breakfast on day 7.5 - unless it is monday
                                Barney Greengrass - soft scrambled eggs nova and onion with two plain untoasted bagles - break off a piece of bagel, put egg on and you have the best breakfast in the universe. Trust me that it destroys anything at Normas.

                                I would also trade H&H for Russ & Daughters. I think this is a major upgrade.

                                I would also throw in Patisserie Claude (I believe he is open - call ahead) - for some of the best eclairs you can find - the regular and coffee are both awesome as is the pain chocolat. They are all as good as anywhere I have been in france.

                                Donut plant is also an interesting dessert option - their doughnuts are pretty delicious

                                If you want a pastrami sandwich - katz's is invincible

                                I will leave the rest for people who actually live in the city as I am just a visitor now...

                                1. I'm back from our fabulous trip from NYC! We managed to get to most of the places but due to time constraints didn't get to all.

                                  Our best meal was at Le Bernardin - the flavors were subtle and the food delicate, and the service was superb. The desserts were amazing!

                                  In the order of how much we liked the places:

                                  Le Bernardin: sublime
                                  Sushi Yasuda: heavenly
                                  Bouley: excellent; so nice, they gave tea cakes as parting gifts.
                                  Jean George: great
                                  Telepan: interesting
                                  Lupa: good pasta
                                  Yakitori Totto
                                  Bouqueria: fun place
                                  Perry St.: could do without - okay food, cold service, out of the way location.

                                  Ice Cream places:

                                  L'Arte del Gelato - THE BEST! So creamy and rich that I had another cone after I finished the first. A little bit too sweet for me but I could live with it.

                                  Ciao Bella - pales in comparison to L'Arte.

                                  Otto - olive oil gelato was interesting, a little salty and sweet at the same time. But not good enough to go back for.

                                  Il Lab - good, but still not as creamy and rich as L'Arte's.

                                  Chinatown Ice Cream Factory - hit and miss depending on the flavor. I would go back for the black sesame - it was delicious and creamy.

                                  Loved the Jacque Torres chocolates, and Maison du Chocolat was great as well.

                                  Most horrible places we went to:
                                  Joe's Shanghai - the nastiest and ugliest soup dumplings I ever had!

                                  Oyster Bar at Grand Central - bland fish, what was that oyster panroast?! (I know we were warned, but this was our last day and were near Grand Central so we tried this place.)

                                  So many more places to visit - I can't wait to go back!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: sjeats

                                    Can I ask why you rated Bouley above Jean George? I'm trying to decide which one to go to.

                                  2. That sounds like an awesome week. Some suggestions (my apologies if I repeat what anyone else has said):

                                    Drop the lunch reservation from Jean Georges. Perry Street will be enough JG for the week. Replace with lunch at GOTHAM.

                                    Don't do Crispo OR Casa Mono. Definitely do both. Personally, I like Lupa more than Babbo.

                                    Davidburke and Donatella is dissappointing. If you want an inventive meal then you DEFINITELY need to go to WD-50.

                                    I wouldn't bother with Lure or Robert Passon. They're good neighborhood spots, but not something to be included on this mammoth tasting adventure.

                                    Balthazar isn't expensive for breakfast (Day 7.5).

                                    I would do Daniel instead of Le Bernadin for lunch on Day 6.

                                    Have lunch at 'ino in the West Village one day.

                                    Have a liverwurst sandwich at McSorley's.

                                    Definitely go to Laborotorio del Gelato. (sp?) The olive oil gelato at Otto IS worth it.

                                    Bouley is awesome.

                                    One of the days, you should eat early, then have a second late night dinner at Blue Ribbon in Soho. Or do a double blue ribbon day, hitting up the main restaurant as well as Blue Ribbon Sushi next door.