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Visiting in Dec. Help with recs?

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Wife & I will be visiting NYC for 4 days in early December, staying at a friend's place in Chelsea. Hoping for 2 nice dinners and a few casual spots. Here's what I'm currently considering. Please let me know if you agree/disagree with these, or have alternative suggestions. Sorry for such a broad post...I'll search the boards for more specifics on individual spots- just haven't had time yet. Thanks!!!!!!

Really want to head out to Peter Luger 1 night. Aware that everyone has their own favorite steak spot, but it's such an institution...

Per Se- top of list, though I'm hoping to go to French Laundry after the holidays, & would rather spend $1K over the entire weekend rather than at 1 meal.
Prune
Spotted Pig
Gramercy Park
Pearl Oyster Bar (better than Mary's?)
Oyster Bar at Grand Central?

Also, might have to sample Gray's Papaya?
Shopsin's- worth checking out since the move?

I won't even ask about pizza...another post.
Thanks again, and can't wait to eat my way around Manhattan!

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  1. Sorry...I meant Gramercy Tavern (not 'Park), of course.

    1. I might swap Per Se out if you are going to the French Laundry in the future, and put in one of NYC's other fine dining establishments. Most of your choices seem to be American/British/eclectic. What about something French, Italian, or Japanese? Where are you traveling from, are there certain cuisines there that are better represented in NYC?

      I think the general feeling on CH is that Oyster Bar at Grand Central is more about atmosphere and history than the oysters these days. I love the oysters at Aquagrill, BTW, as an alternative.

      Shopsin's is definitely worth checking out! Not for the faint of heart or easily offended or those concerned about allergies/dietary restrictions. But be aware of their limited hours. I'd also read up on Shopsin's before you go (Calvin Trillin's essays, the new cookbook).

      You might also be interested in Papaya King. The dogs sure are tasty but oh so bad for you. I usually split a recession special with someone else so I don't accidentally eat two. Gray's Papaya is actually an imitator of Papaya King:
      http://www.papayaking.com/html/histor...

      1. I was at Gray's Papaya in July. Upper West side. The experience was fun because when you're in there, you know it's all locals . Constant flow of people coming in and out. Service is pretty fast. Just hot dogs and lots of different juices to try. Hot dogs were good. Nice snap to them. Bun was grilled a bit. The hot dog with the sauerkraut and onions is very good . Honestly, I didn't care for drinking papaya juice with my hot dog. Other than eating at Costco, cheapest meal you'll ever have. Price was about $3.50 for 2 hot dogs and a papaya juice!!! I don't think it's urgent that you rush over there though.

        1. "Pearl Oyster Bar (better than Mary's?) Oyster Bar at Grand Central?"

          I'd recommend Ocean Grill for raw shellfish.

          "Also, might have to sample Gray's Papaya?"

          It's really nothing special and I wouldn't go out of your way to eat there. If you want real sausages try Heidelberg.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ShinjukuAce

            I had a great dinner at Heidelberg recently - am way behind in "reporting back" lately - loved the Weiss wurst.

            I like Pearl Oyster Bar better than Mary's, but just a little bit more. Neither are a great place to go for raw bar, I think, as they usually have only one kind of raw oysters, and one kind that is fried. My husband loves the steamers. I've still not tried the Oyster Bar at Grand Central, but also like Aquagrill - excellent selection of oysters.

          2. Prune - definitely a great choice.

            I'd also recommend Dovetail or Balthazar for brunch. Brunch is big in NYC but most places serve really typical dishes and these places (including Prune) stand out a bit from the rest.

            Oyster Bar, I agree with the others. I only eat there because it is close to work.

            If you decide on Shopsin's, definitely try to get there early, before noon. There are only about 5-6 tables and they fill up quick.

            Where are you visiting from? NYC also has great izakayas/yakitori joints, my favorites being Sakagura, Soba Totto and Yakitori Totto. There's also Hakata Tonton (which specializes in pig's feet but they also have other dishes like lobster fried rice) and Ippudo, which is my top choice for ramen since Chikubu closed down. I throw these suggestions out there because not a lot of cities have such a wide variety of different kinds of Japanese food.