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Oct 2, 2008 12:11 PM

Solo Mid week breakfast, lunch and dinner

I am a married woman and will be in the city solo for three days and will be staying mid-town (Hilton on 6th). I am looking for some mid-priced recs and will be alone. I would like to be able to bring a book/newspaper with me, at least for breakfast and lunch. I am cool sitting at a bar, as long as it is comfortable. Not having to make reservations would be a huge plus. I am a big walker and wouldn't mind grouping the three days by location (at least for breakfast and lunch). Taking the subway in inclement weather is no problem. I have been to the city many times and would like to avoid tourist traps at all costs. Many thanks.

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  1. This thread should help: - the reports of a married woman visting Manhattan solo

    Her planning threads -

    One of my favorite places for breakfast, relatively nearby is Bottega del Vino - panini, pastries, excellent espresso, etc.

    When you say mid-priced, what are you thinking of in terms of lunch and dinner?

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      Thanks. I actually read the posts you referred to and while they were wonderful, there was so much detail, I lost focus. I guess my age, and hence worsening attention span is coming through. I appreciate the rec on Bottega del Vino.

      I have no hard and fast rule for pricing- I mean mid-priced by NYC standards. I am not looking to go to Per Se, for example. In terms of drinking at dinner, some cool bar drinks (2 max) or a great glass of wine is just perfect for me.

    2. for a more casual, quick breakfast in the midtown area, walk over to amy's bread on 9th ave in the 40s. for something more substantial and leisurely, three good bets are landmarc in the time warner center at 59th st. columbus circle, bouchon bakery, also in the time warner center, and sarahbeth's on central park south, further east.

      for lunch and dinner... wow... can you narrow it down geographically or by cuisine at least? there are so many possibilities! maybe you'd enjoy browsing different options for lunch in chelsea market (great bets are the lobster place, green table, the italian market, milk bar). maybe you could head to the w. village and peek into all the small gourmet shops on bleeker street (murray's cheese, another amy's bread, cones gelato, rocco's bakery, etc...) for a comfortable sit-down meal near there, try blue ribbon bakery, home, pearl's oyster bar. still in the w. village, if you want a good cafe to kick back and people watch, unharrassed for hours, check out la lanterna on macdougal.

      i'd be happy to throw out some more ideas, but perhaps it would be more productive if you could help guide us by narrowing your search by favorite / least favorite cuisines, what you consider mid-range, area of town, etc...

      6 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        Thanks Cimui. Geographically, I know I'm going to spend a morning on the LES, and will probably be in the vicinity of Chelsea and the West Village during the day. I am sure I will end up on the UES as well as the UWS near the museums. In terms of breakfast, weather permitting, I usually walk the perimeter of Central Park in the morning and could go for breakfast on my way back to the hotel at 54th and 6th.

        Cuisine- I am open to anything except Indian and would probably not go out of my way to have sushi since we eat it so much at home. I have been to Several of the Sarabeth's for brunch and also to Bouchon Bakery- both are terrific. Where is the Chelsea Market?

        I was actually thinking of going to Pita Joe for a lunch when I am around Chelsea and wanted to try Chikalicious for a treat.

        Many thanks for your guidance.

        1. re: sherry f

          Here's the list I made that includes those Bleecker St. places, as well as some more (maybe I should divide the list up?)

          Chelsea Market is, I think at 9th Avenue and maybe 16th - and a nice walk from there down to Bleecker St. and the Village, though I'd skip Chelsea Market, myself.

          When I've had a little more coffee, I'll post recs for Museum Mile places to eat.

            1. re: MMRuth

              Thanks so much for the list and the museum mile recs. I think the "list" feature on Chowhound is brilliant.

              1. re: sherry f

                I know - I love it - what a great idea! I'm just getting started on it - I'll do a list later about Museum Mile recs but am glad that thread was helpful.

          1. re: sherry f

            Hi sherry, thanks for the additional details. I'll list a few places I like on the UWS, in Midtown and in the W. Village that fit your criteria (for dinner unless otherwise noted):

            ***** UWS *****

            Higher-end Moderate

            - Ouest (French; white tablecloth without the attitude, has a bar for solo dining; reservations probably necessary nowadays)
            - Telepan (new American / green market; could eat at the bar, I've seen solo diners at tables; reservations encouraged, but I've walked in before, late)
            - Dovetail (new American; no bar, but solo dining at a table doable; reservations probably necessary)
            - Bar Boulud (French; bar / communal table, very solo friendly, walk-ins doable)

            Medium and Lower-end Moderate

            - Spiga (Italian; bar dining and solo table dining doable; walkins doable, but reserve to ensure a seat quickly)
            - Gabriela's (Mexican, a little gringoized; bar dining, solo table dining doable; walkins ok)
            - Thai Market (Thai -- one of the best places in Manhattan, I think, great small plates, very very solo diner friendly, bar dining or table dining available, zero attitude; walkins ok)

            ***** Midtown / Hell's Kitchen *****

            Higher-end Moderate

            - Insieme (Italian, solo diners often seen at tables, no bar dining; walkins probably ok, but doesn't hurt to reserve)
            - Milos (Greek, esp. great for fresh, grilled fish; don't know about bar dining, but solo table diners often spotted at lunch time; reasonable prix fixe; walkins ok)
            - Anthos (Greek; I think I have a love hate relationship with this restaurant; at times it's wonderful for food and service, other times, it's dreadful; reasonable prix fixe)
            - Modern Dining Room (Alsatian; consistently wonderful service and food; on the high end of the scale, better value at lunch time; reservations probably necessary for dining room, not for bar room)

            Midrange to Lower-end Moderate

            - Kyotofu (good homemade tofu, good value set lunches and novel desserts; no reservations nec)
            - Empanada Mama (Venezuelan style empanadas and arepas, downright cheap, has seats available, but not a fancy place; no reservations nec)
            - Tulcingo del Valle (Mexican; no atm, few seats, great tacos, no reservations nec)

            ***** W. Village *****

            Higher-end Moderate

            - Babbo (Italian, hard to get a reservation, but walk-ins are possible, search the board for strategies; very bar / solo diner friendly)
            - Blue Ribbon Bakery (new American; I'm not sure about solo diner conditions, but service is always very nice and my guess is that they'd not only accommodate, but make you feel welcome, also served a great weekend brunch; reservations prob not necessary for dinner)

            Mid- and Lower-end Moderate

            - Gray Dog Cafe (sandwiches and other basic fare, excellent bread, crowded)
            - La Lanterna for a snack or lunch, excellent desserts, and decent coffee, lots of wines by the glass
            - 'Ino (sanwiches, Italian, good wines by the glass, informal and solo friendly)
            - Snack (Greek, lots of small plates available, ok wines by the glass, leisurely pace)
            - Home (good place for an American comfort food lunch; homey, but civilized establishment)

            no reservations necessary at any of these.

            I'm a bit fuzzy brained right now, but i'll add more tomorrow.

        2. Since I'm a great fan of "walking distance from the hotel" I offer the following - all of which pass the "meal with a book test", because I've done it.
          Rue 57 (open all meals) at 6th & 57th;
          Angelo's Pizza (great salads) on 57th bet 6th & 7th;
          Petrossian for a special dinner if you like cavier (58th & 7th);
          Molyvos for Greek, on 7th bet 55th & 56th (or one block lower);
          La Bonne Soupe (great for lunch or light dinner) on 55th between 5th & 6th
          Longer walk to Whym on 9th Ave & 58th St.

          SInce you're in what amounts to the theater district - actually between theater & Lincoln Center, you may need dinner reservations if you want to stay near the hotel UNLESS you want to show up just a little after 7:30 when people are leaving in droves. Check all menus on

          7 Replies
          1. re: Jane A.

            I think Molyvos is a great idea for food and La Bonne Soup isn't bad.

            I'm personally not a fan of Rue 57, since I think it's terrible value for the money (food is sort of mediocre, but expensive).

            OP, another one w/in walking distance of the hotel is Akdeniz for Turkish. Good food (excellent charcoal grilled Turkish meatballs for $10 or $11, I think) and very inexpensive for the area. Easy to walk into, except during pre- and post-theatre rush hour.

            1. re: cimui

              Thank you so much for all of these great posts and ideas. I totally forgot abut Molyvos and have been meaning to go there. It is so handy to the hotel.

              I have been to Whym (and the sister restaurant Eatery), and Vinyl. They are all terrific and very reasonable. I have also been to an Israeli place called Taboon near there on 10th which was great. Interestingly, I have sent many of my friends from home to these places when they are visiting manhattan.

              I spoke to the reservationist at Babbo who was lovely and suggested I get there around 5:15, relax and have a drink at the bar. A friend also suggested Pylos on the LES and Scotto by Fresco for a midtown lunch or dinner.

              I am so excited and really appreciate all the help..

              1. re: sherry f

                Pylos is actually in the East Village, on 7th St., b/t 1st Av. & Av. A.


                1. re: RGR

                  Thanks for the clarification! Is Pylos a good pick? How does it compare to Molyvos?

                  1. re: sherry f


                    I haven't been to Molyvos since shortly after it opened years ago because I wasn't particularly impressed with the food. For Greek food in that Times Square/Theater District area, I prefer Uncle Nick's. Less "fancy" interior but very tasty food and cheaper. Not that I'm against spending more for excellent food, but I didn't think Molyvos was worth the higher cost.

                    We had dinner at Pylos for the first time within the past year. It's much smaller than Molyvos which, iirc, is kind of cavernous. Pylos's menu has many interesting dishes on the menu, and the food is well-prepared. The meatballs were delicious, and the lamb chops were excellent. I Iiked the stuffed pepper but was put off by the fact that they didn't remove the seeds. The decor is attractive, and the vibe is upbeat. There is bar seating.

                    1. re: sherry f

                      sherry f, while i disagree with rgr about molyvos being a better option than uncle nick's (IMO the food is so much better as to merit the higher cost), i agree that pylos is better than either option if you don't mind the subway ride!

                      also... i think both rgr and i would stand behind another greek restaurant in kip's bay / murray hill for grilled fish, should you be interested. it's called "ethos" and serves up good value for your money (about $22 for an impeccably fresh, grilled whole fish of your choosing), with sides and dessert thrown in. the space almost always seems to be crowded, though they don't require reservations -- but it's not hard to get a table if you wait 10 minutes or go ahead of the rush (around 6 p.m.).

                      1. re: cimui

                        Thanks so much for all of the recs. I never ended up going out for breakfast as I was upgraded to the club lounge in the hotel and grabbed something there. I had a great trip and really walked everywhere.

                        I had one lunch at Clinton Bakery and had a new item which was a shortrib sandwich with horseradish creme fraiche and arugula. It was fabulous. The waitress was extremely friendly. I got in just in time as it was packed.

                        My second lunch was at the new shake shack on the UWS. I had a chicken/apple hot dog and it was delicious. Everything is so efficient there.

                        My third lunch was a chopped salad at Barneys. It was wonderful.

                        For dinner, I went to Whym one night and had a mojito (not so great- it was too sweet) and a tuna tartar appetizer and a beet, pear and goat cheese salad. It was OK, not great, but the service was very nice. I took out a slice or red velvet cake from Amy's Bread. To be honest, I thought it was just so so.

                        The second night, I went to The Little Owl and had a glass of a nice italian red (very small amount of wine, but wonderful). I had three appetizers-The boquerones (grilled romaine and a pickled fish that was just OK). The fish reminded me of the jarred pickled herring I used to eat with my late zayda, but the jarred herring was better. I also had the goat cheese gnocchi with lamb ratatouille. It was out of this world, and very filling. Lastly, I had the meatball sliders, which were delicious. I ended up just eating the meat as there was just too much food. The server, David was very welcoming and it is just such a lovely restaurant.

                        My third dinner, I went to Pita Joe at 14th and 5th and had the chicken schnitzel over a salad. I couldn't believe the schnitzel was fried as there wasn't one speck of grease on it. The tahini which I used for the dressing was really great. The salad came with two sides and I had the beet salad and the eggplant, which were awesome. I took a pistachio baklava back to the hotel for dessert and it was great.

                        Overall, I ate very well, and was happy to get around so much of the city on foot. I appreciate all the picks from such knowledgeable hounds. Thank you.