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Dec 31, 2007 07:58 AM

First time to NYC...

...well, for my husband at least. I've been a few times, but that was 8 and 10 years ago, on a shoestring budget. We're only in town a total of four days, and while we are hitting many tourist spots (Empire State Bldg, anyone?), we do love good food.

My goal is to hit some really great spots and mix them in with "famous" spots. After doing a few searches on the boards, I got some great jumping off points. I do, however, have a few spots left to fill in. We may just wander around fill them in (as that's what we like to do from time to time), but I'd hate to miss out on some gems. Plus, if it's too cold outside, I'm not going to want to wander around. We'd love to hit Gray's Papaya, a good deli, and have a great slice of pizza. Where we currently live is, well, restaurant-challenged.

Ok, here goes, 4 days in NYC:

Night 1:
Keen's -- Hubby and I both like steaks and wanted an institution that was tasty. Hubby is a huge scotch fan, and I read they have a great scotch bar. Thought about Peter Luger, but frankly, our flight is incredibly long, and I don't want to schlep.

Day 1:
breakfast -- Midtown East suggestions?
Lunch -- Any thoughts on good lunch around the Natural History Museum?? Is the food inside good?
Dinner -- Trying for Babbo. I use one of his cookbooks all the time, so I'd really love to try it. I know it's not everybody's top pick. We shall see. If we don't get a table/bar seat (they're already booked!), we may head to Little Italy for something tasty there.

Day 2:
breakfast -- good thoughts around midtown east-bordering west?
Lunch -- We'll probably hit the Met, the MOMA, or the Guggenheim. Any good suggestions there? Is the restaurant in the Met tasty?
Dinner -- This will depend on whether or not we go see a show. We may hit Gray's Papaya for an afternoon snack and then head to the show and on to DB Bistro for after show dinner.

Day 3:
breakfast -- something in Soho --we have some stores we'd like to hit down there.
lunch -- Nobu on Houston
Dinner - pre-Lincoln Center at Bar Boulud if it's open. If not, maybe Josephina's. Any other places to get a nice snack pre-Lincoln Center? Post-theatre, we're thinking Esca. My husband was drooling over the menu.

Day 4:
LateBreakfast-- Downtown?

Here are some things we love, love, love:
Korean Barbecue
Regular Barbecue (was thinking Hill Country if we go)
Seafood (Mary's Fish Camp sounded fun and tasty)
Chinese food of any sort
French Bistro (I think french onion soup and a glass of beaujolais is divine)
Pho (although the consensus on the boards seem to be that there isn't great Pho in Manhattan. I can get great Pho on the West Coast.)

If only they served Korean and Texas Barbecue for breakfast!!! I'm seriously wavering on DB Moderne. I think I'd rather hit a late night Chinatown spot...or Korean BBQ.

Hm, I think that's it. So many other restaurants look good, but I don't want to spent a lot of time running uptown and downtown. We'd rather eat tasty treats near where we will be actually seeing some sights.


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  1. Hubby might like having a "flight" of 4 scotches before/after dinner in the bar at Keens. Very nice atmosphere.

    For the UWS, I'd actually hit up Barney Greengrass for breakfast (assuming it's not a Monday), and then go to the AMNH. And then get some snacks from H&H/Zabar's, Grandaisy, Jacques Torres, and Grom, etc. afterwards.

    Skip Little Italy for Italian food. For your Batali fix, consider Otto (you can eat pizzas at the bar, BTW, and the olive oil gelato is rightly famous), or make a last minute reservation at the Enoteca at Del Posto (they take reservations only on that same, starting at 10am or so).

    If you're going to MoMA, have lunch at The Modern next door. The Bar Room is sleek and impressive, and the food is quite good, too. Make reservations as it can be crowded during lunch.

    Breakfast in Soho has to Balthazar.

    Bar Bouloud opens today, FYI.

    For Chinese, if you like Szechuan food and can handle stuff that's spicy, my new favorite is Szechuan Gourmet. It's very close to the ESB.

    For seafood, if you like oysters, you might want to go to Aquagrill or Lure Fishbar (they have a very reasonable happy hour), both in Soho.

    For a late breakfast downtown, I'd do Shopsin's or Clinton Street Baking Company.

    The problem with trying to get tasty treats near tourist sites is that most of the really top tasty treats in Manhattan aren't too near tourist sites. But there's good food no matter where you go as long as you know where to look...particularly because we have so much great cart/truck food nowadays: Treats Truck, Wafels and Dinges, the Dessert Truck, 53rd/6th, Dosa man, etc.

    I hope you have space in your itinerary for RGR's famous Lower East Side noshing tour:

    For more quintessential NY foods and restaurants check out these threads:

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Ooooooooooooooooooh... the LES tour sounds fantastic!

      These are great links. I wonder why they didn't come up in my various searches. :)

      Thanks for the suggestions. Isn't it always like that with cities and tourist sites? I looked at Otto. Maybe we'll hit that instead of Esca. We both really enjoy seafood. My husband will be so happy about the Scotch flight! What a great idea!

      Thanks again for the links and the suggestions. It really is incredibly helpful. Actually, it's about 20x more helpful than my hotel concierge is!!

      1. re: Miss Andi

        You're welcome!

        Lucky for us, there are always hidden gems in and around tourist areas (Keens and Szechuan Gourmet, which are near Penn Station / ESB, for example).

        FYI Shopsin's has odd hours. Check their site and/or call ahead. I just heard they're closed until the 8th for vacation.

    2. When I want something near the Mus of Nat History, I generally use Isabella's - 77th St. at Columbus Ave. Basically it's across from the SW corner of the museum complex. Others who know the neighborhood better, may have another idea.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jane A.

        Thanks for the suggestion. I just checked out their menu. It looks very yummy and perfect for lunch!

        1. re: Miss Andi

          Okay, here are some of my thoughts.

          Next to MOMA is the famous The Modern which is pricey but dramatic with their glass overlooking the MOMA.
          If you want to be a bit more thrifty, do what we did and go to La Bonne Soupe right down the street from MOMA, request upstairs, and enjoy their wonderful soups, salads and sandwiches. (You will love MOMA!)

          Next, do not miss a NY institution, Katz' deli.

          For snacks before dinner in the Lincoln Center area, go to Le Pain Quotidien across the street from the fine Asian restaurant Shun Lee W (our favorite neighborhood place) and you might even want to dine at Shun Lee for dinner as well.

          As for Esca -- GO!! The seafood is excellent and your husband will be very happy.

          Keens over Peter Luger any day for steaks though I don't really think that the steak places necessarily have it over the fine restaurants who also serve steaks. (I expect an influx of chowhound dissers on this last statement but I stand firm!) [g]

          If Bar Boulud is open when you get here, I'd love to hear from you because I really want to try it.

          Have yourselves a spectacular time in the Big A.

      2. You mentioned the Empire State Building-you are in the right area for Korean food-my pick would be Mandoo Bar (kimchee dumplings!)-

        Near the Museum of Natural History-depending on the day-check out the brand-new Dovetail-I haven't been yet, but I loved Chef Fraser's food at Compass:
        You might also consider Telepan, one of my regular spots.

        I like Esca, if you stick to fish and pasta-especially the raw choices.

        I would avoid Josephina's...check out the bar at Cafe Gray instead.

        I like the Bar Room at MOMA.

        Near the Met, consider Cafe Sabarsky.