Here's my shortlist, does it seem right?
Hi all, coming to NYC with the GF in early oct. We'll be in town from sat. to tues. Here's what I had in mind mostly based on what I read here and what we like and places we feel like trying. The sole restriction is that the GF is allergic to both fish and seafood and we're not to big on organs and the likes. Shooting mostly for casual places since we'll be walking all day and won't want to change for dinner. These are vacations after all. So here it goes.
Lunch : Otto followed by Chickalicious
Dinner : Salt, The Place, Casa Mono or Craftbar
Lunch : Shake Shack
Dinner : Babbo (if I can get a reservation), Crispo, Lupa (already went last year though) or even Caccio e Pepe or Barbuto
Lunch : Devi
Dinner : Upstairs David Bouley, Salt or The Place (both these places depending on what we do on sat.)
How does this all sound? Are we missing something or are we on our way to a few good meals? Nothing is all definitive as it's a work in progress but we,re oping to enjoy good food and good wine in a fun, be it quiet or loud, atmosphere. Doesn't need to be romantic and we don't mind dining at the bar.
Saturday go with Casa Mono for dinner. The others are just OK. Sunday my pic would be Babbo then Crispo. Barbuto isn't great and while I'm a fan of Cacio e Pepe, I don't like it as much as Crispo. My other Italian suggestions would be Apizz and Peasant. Monday night definitely go to Upstairs--it's really special.
I like your lunch pics, although if you're looking to do a prix fixe lunch, I'd probably choose something like Perry St., Jean-Georges, or Bouley instead.
I'd say to nix: Salt, The Place (I think it closed), Craftbar, Shake Shack
Fill in with: August, The Stanton Social (unique concept), Markt, Landmarc, Lavagna
I haven't tried most of the places on your list, but I do have a couple comments.
Many will agree that the best part of eating a otto is the dessert... their gelato is outstanding. So you might not feel like squeezing in another dessert meal before dinner. However, chickalicious (I haven't been) certainly could work as a between meal snack if you have a while between lunch and dinner. As for otto, the wine, cheese and meat plates are great. The service, pizza and pastas are inconsistent and can be disappointing. I like it, and always do enjoy my pizza or pasta that I end up with. On the other hand, my husband has been disappointed and won't recommend it any more.
We loved Babbo... just call on the exact number day of the month prior to that sunday you want to go. It's worth it :)
The Place was a little disappointing. We've only tried it once, and were really looking forward to trying it cause it's supposed to be a consistent, romantic spot. About half of what we ordered was great, the other half just wasn't special. Service was pleasant but slow with our drinks. I'd give it another try if we lived closer.
I always recommend Alta - it's fun, lively, and you get to try many different small plates. The cocktails are great and there's a decent selection of reasonable wine. Do a search here for reviews. They do serve a good amount of fish, but it's no more than 1/4 the menu - I don't think you'll have a problem choosing from the rest.
If you decide to replace Otto, I'd suggest picking one of the favorite brunch spots on this board for Saturday. Our favorites are Blue Ribbon Bakery and August.
Chikalicious doesn't have huge portions, and if I recall correctly it opens at 3pm, so the idea for a mid-meal snack is quite good.
As for Otto, the daily special pizza is usually good, and I also like the lardo (if it doesn't scare you). And damn if that olive oil gelato isn't something special.
Banjara is nice but I'd shoot for something nicer if you're on vacation. Maybe Tamarind? I like it better than Tabla (although I haven't eaten at the Bread Bar).
While we're on the subject of delicious prix fixe lunches, try out Devi for some inspired mid-priced Indian.
I might also add a special NYC brunch to your list (Balthazar? Five Points? Clinton Street Baking Company?), as well as some pizza (from, say Patsy's in East Harlem)? I also love Blue Ribbon Bakery (god, that duck club and bone marrow).
What about Momofuku Ssam Bar for some lovely pork and local produce dishes? Gramercy Tavern in the Tavern Room for New American?
Agreed on Tamarind over Banjara and Tabla, but just thought I'd be that guy who points out that the OP was already leaning towards Devi in his original Monday itinerary, although I'm sure the voice of support is appreciated - I for one agree that you can't go wrong there or at Tamarind if you're looking to jump several steps above the standard Indian lunch buffet in price, quality, and atmosphere.
I also strongly encourage your Shake Shack plans, naysayers elsewhere on this board be damned. Just know what you're getting into, and be prepared to order according to your preferred taste:
- If you like a thin, well-salted in-n-out style burger, go for the single shack burger - if you don't need to bother with special sauce, just get a cheeseburger but make sure to specify lettuce and tomatoes (unless you don't want them, although I think the fresh contrast of these are particularly essential to what makes the burgers here work).
- If you prefer a heartier burger (more like a standard pub burger), definitely go for the double. Few people realize that you can specify rare vs medium on any order (though nothing in between), and this creates a whole new dimension when you prefer your meat with a bit more pink.
- Fries are forgettable(crinkle-cut), but better than last year. The Chicago and Birdwurst dogs are packed with fresher ingredients than you'll find elsewhere in the city, but they're sort of just a pleasant distraction from the main attraction, in my opinion.
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You can specify the done-ness to which you'd like your burger, but my friends have experienced that sometimes this causes...mess-ups or slow-downs.
Personally, I'd do a single Shack burger (lettuce/cheese/tomato/Shack sauce), splitting an order of fries with a friend, and then going back for a frozen custard. I think the Shack sauce + a nicely medium-rare patty with a good salty edge is what makes the Shack Burger work best.
If you want to do Shake Shack (and I'm all for it), in order to avoid the humongous line, it would be best to get there just before it opens at 11. So, make it Sunday brunch instead of lunch.
If you're considering Cacio e Pepe, you might want to think about going to its new sister restaurant, Bocca, on 19th St., b/t Park Av. S. & B'way. It's got a very different, more hip vibe than CeP, and delicious food.