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NY First-Timer Needs Help

Arriving Wednesday morning early (9-5), staying through Saturday morning (9-8). Staying at the Doubletree Times Square on Broadway (Midtown, from what I can gather).

I live in Arizona and have never spent any time in NY, so I am seeking advice for great NY food for the few days I will be in town.

Specifically, no restaurants that are Mexican/Southwest (we get plenty here in AZ) and preferably no celeb chefs/restaurants with outposts in Las Vegas because I can get plenty of that out west too.

A short list of doable places (meaning we can get in) for 1 nice dinner on either Thurs or Fri night, and the rest recommendations for NY classics, ethnic eats, lunch, breakfast, dinner for the other nights, etc.

We will travel for good food and aren't scared (we don't think) of cab fares or the subway.

Thanks!! Feel free to point me to other posts if there are similar requests to mine.

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  1. I might add that reasonable prices (beyond the 1 nice dinner out) are ideal if possible, and that we are open to any type of cuisine.

    1. Here are a couple of diverse suggestions:
      Seafood: Tides
      Italian: Crispo (highly touted on this website)
      Turkish: Zeytin 85th & Columbus
      Mediterranean: Marseille (a popular choice in the theater district)
      Eleven Madison Park (a class act)
      Lunch: Le Madeleine (theater district)
      Deli: Katz'
      And that one romantic night out: Vice Versa 51st St. in the theater district

      1. New York is a huge brunch town but it appears you'll be leaving too early to take advantage of that. That said, you can get a fabulous weekday breakfast at Clinton Street Baking Company, with the best blueberry pancakes in town.

        Can you give us an upper limit for your nice dinner? $100? $200 pp? What about wine? Any cuisine in particular?

        For NY classics, make sure you look for RGR's Lower East Side noshing tour.

        In any case, here are some recent threads for NYC first timers:

        1. For downtown options, I've always had good food at Acme (on Great Jones Street, just off Broadway), which has a Cajun-influenced menu, and Cedar Tavern on University Place, which is basically really tasty pub grub. (They had a roast beef sandwich on garlic bread that I still crave, 7 years after eating one.) Be aware, though, that service can be a little pokey at both places. If you're at all interested in NY history, you might be amused to know Great Jones Street was once wall-to-wall brothels, and Cedar Tavern goes way back & was once a popular Beatnik hangout. For great NY-style pizza, I recommend Pizza Mercato on Waverly Place, just west of Broadway. For good Chinese, I recommend the Peking Duck House, which is headquartered in Chinatown but recently opened a midtown location not too far from you. Another option in the vicinity of your hotel is Virgil's BBQ, just off Times Square. (Reservation recommended; the place is always packed.) If you've got a sweet tooth, you really should check out Veniero's, a great Italian pastry shop that goes way back. It's on 11th or 12th St. in the East Village, I think between 1st & 2nd Aves. If you've got a hankering for seafood, I recommend the Blue Water Grill on Union Square. Good luck!

          3 Replies
              1. re: katydid13

                Quite a few months ago - not really sure exactly when. They are converting the space to condos. Initially there were rumors that it was going to reopen - and that they closed the bar while building higher floors. But subsequent rumor was that they sold the actual bar - as in the dark wood structure holding the alochol. I'm glad they didn't scap the bar, as it was beautiful.

          1. Unless you have great Thai in Az, I'd suggest a trip on the 7 train to Woodside for a meal at Sripraphai (how come I can never remember how to spell that?). Plenty of info on this board if you search the name. Recommended are the red curry with chicken and sour bamboo shoots, green curry with duck, whole red snapper (offered a few different ways).

            1. head to babbo. arrive early thursday (5 p.m. or so) and sit at the bar. drink for a bit, congratulate yourselves on navigating the subway system to greenwich village, then order the pasta tasting menu. leave happy. really happy.

              molly's pub is great for a bacon cheeseburger and a pint. you can pip down to union square on the subway (you do have a metrocard, right?). molly's is special. no counterpart in arizona.

              september has an "r" in it. visit shaffer city for lunch. best oysters in town.

              views: sunset drinks at the rise bar (ritz carlton in battery park) will knock your arizona sox off. take the water taxi to river cafe for dinner if too much is never enough.

              have a good time.

              1. Here's a list that mixes NY standards with a few off the beaten path.

                Blue Ribbon Bakery on Downing and Bedford streets in the West Village is fantastic American style comfort food at reasonable prices (for New York). The desserts (particularly the bread pudding) are killer.

                Momofuku Ssam bar at 13th and Second Avenue in the East Village is very trendy but don't let that dissuade you -- the food is outstanding, particularly the pork buns, the spare ribs and the fried cauliflower.

                I agree entirely with the recommendation to go eat at the bar at Babbo, expensive but worth the splurge.

                Amazing 66 on Mott street in Chinatown is the hidden gem in Chinatown, really, really fresh food, and delicious.

                The Tavern room at the Grand Central Oyster bar is always a treat - I get manhattan clam chowder and the lobster roll.

                Peter Luger's steakhouse in Williamsburg Brooklyn is worth the cab ride and the wait, or you can have almost the same menu without the history at Wolfgang's on 33d and Park Avenues. Get the bacon appetizer and prepare for steak overload.

                For a splurge, try the bar at Jean-Georges on Columbus Circle. Cheaper than the main restaurant and the food is just as good.

                I also agree with Katz's on the Lower East Side, a New York institution with amazing pastrami sandwiches.

                Finally, saving the best for last, I would not miss il Bagatto, on East Second Street between Avenues A and B. There's a post on my blog about it with all of the detail, but simply put, the food is fantastic, authentic Italian, the atmosphere is warm and inviting, the prices are very very reasonable and the wine list is amazing.

                3 Replies
                1. re: maxinnyc

                  All of you are so amazing and generous with suggestions!! Thanks, and if possible, keep em coming!

                  I'll report back

                  Re: cost for nice night out, hopefully less than $200 total if possible for 2.


                  1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                    third the rec for eleven madison park.

                    you might also consider 'a voce' for upscale italian, 'tabla' for haute indian, and 'gramercy tavern' or 'union square cafe' for classic american.

                    and finally, for a truly great 'only in new york' pizza adventure, take the subway down to city hall, go for a beautiful, leisurely stroll across the brooklyn bridge, and have lunch or dinner at patsy grimaldi's in brooklyn. i know you have pizzeria bianco in phoenix, but this is an entirely different and uniquely nyc experience.

                    bon appetit!

                    A Voce
                    41 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

                    1 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

                    Tabla street cart
                    11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      oops, here are the rest of the links...sorry.

                      Gramercy Tavern
                      42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                      Union Square Cafe
                      21 East 16th St., New York, NY 10003

                2. I second Eleven Madison Park for dinner.

                  Go to Chinatown for Chinese food - not midtown. I don't have a favorite place to recomend for a meal, although I suppose I favor NY Noodletown these days. Stop by Mei Wai Lai (64 Bayard) for a pork bun that you can eat while you walk - and since you're from Phoenix, I'm sure you'll keep your temper while they ignore you. But just walk around there a bit.

                  No reason to be scared of the subway, but you might prefer buses where you're above-ground and can see what's going on.

                  1. I was given the following recs for Korean restaurants in midtown (in a neighborhood now known as Koreatown, which is just a few blocks from Times Square).


                    1. I looked at your past posts and it looks like you have pretty eclectic and adventurous tastes. If this is your first visit to New York, you might want to think of food itineraries that include sights and experiences that enhance the dining. Since you're staying in midtown, walk across 42nd Street, visit the library and Grand Central--stop at the Oyster Bar and have some shucked oysters or a pan roast for lunch--sit at the counter where they shuck 'em. You might have your fancy dinner at Impero, which is at the far end of 42nd Street in Tudor City. It overlooks the UN, it's quiet, elegant, romantic and the food is very good. If you go to the Met, a great lunch choice is Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie at the corner of 5th Ave & 86th St for modern Viennese cooking--the strudel is great, and the Klimts and Schieles upstairs are beautiful. Have a cocktail at the Bemelmans Bar in the Hotel Carlyle--the murals are historic, and the bartender Tommy is a monument--ask him about Harry Truman. You can't leave New York without trying a pastrami sandwich at Katz's on Houston Street--you could tie it in with a visit to Russ and Daughters, Kossar's Bialys, Moishe's bakery and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: whs

                        great recs....oh, how i miss kossar's bialys! and if you're going to the lower east side, you have to try the pickles straight out of the barrels @ guss' pickles. you'll never taste a better or fresher whole- or half-sour.

                        Guss' Pickles
                        87 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Thanks all!! It went so fast, I have to go back soon to see (and eat more).

                          I ate at Bar Masa and found it to be good - not lifechanging - but it was fun to see Masa and Per Se.

                          Then, drinks at the rooftop bar at the Met, truffles from La Maison du Chocolat, dinner (burgers) at Rare, then lunch at Katz's (LIFE CHANGING PASTRAMI!!), then popped into Russ and Daughters and Moishe's bakery, walked through Little Italy and Chinatown (loved the fish markets) then a drink at Rise Bar at the Ritz, then dinner at Esca (loved it!!).

                          Then, a slice from La Familia in Times Square, then a hot dog from a random street vendor (but there was a line!), lunch at Chelsea Market, walked by Pastis (but wasn't hungry, so just gawked at paparazzi) and some random sushi at a very bad sushi bar (won't name names).

                          This doesn't include the myriad bars we visited (Hudson Bar at the Hudson Hotel, Room 55, Carnegie Club, Libary rooftop bar, a few hidden West Village gems, and many more) - overall I just fell in love with the City and really appreciate everyone's advice.

                          Rode the subway, saw Central Park, 5th Ave, Madison Ave, the Met, Wall Street, Battery Park, World Trade Center site, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, Chelsea, TriBeCa, West Village, Rockefeller Center (top of the Rock), Grand Central Station, a film being filmed on the street near Grand Central Station with Robin Williams and Kelly Preston, United Nations, Century 21, H&M, etc.

                          Oh, and had a bagel and lox shmear that was killer - forgot the name of the place (I know, bad!). Also had a horrid bagel and lox shmear at Penn station. :)

                          Thanks again everyone, hopefully I will be back soon to try more of your great recommendations!