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Classic "New York" Restaurants

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I am planning a birthday for my best friend and need some suggestions. We just moved to Brooklyn, so I am planning a "tourist" day/evening in New York where we will visit classic New York tourist spots and act like visitors for a day. I need help with my meal planning. So far here's what I was thinking:

Breakfast: Norma's, H&H Bagels or Sarabeth's?

Lunch: Stardust Diner (don't they sing there?) or Lombardi's?

Dinner: The Palms, Frankie and Johnny's (doesn't have to be a steakhouse, but was trying to think of something classic New York)

Drinks: The Plaza?

Obviously, I need some help. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Breakfast: no on Norma's (too sweet, mediocre quality, overpriced, bad coffee). H&H is more of a takeout spot and they won't make you a sandwich or anything. If you did it, hop into Zabar's to get smoked salmon and cream cheese, and bring a knife. Sarabeth's is nice but not really "classic NY" -- for that experience, go to Barney Greengrass instead! That's a blast from the past. Read up on smoked salmon:

    http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2008/08...

    The problem with "classic" NY is most old/famous/historic places are coasting by on reputation and history. The notable exceptions are the Keens' Steakhouse (great choice for history buffs and scotch fans), Katz's Deli, maybe some of the pizza shops.

    For lunch: Lombardi's is OK but not the best pizza in town, however, it is conveniently located for a tourist. Note that the current Lombardi’s is a few doors down from the original location on Spring Street, but it still uses a decades old coal burning oven, one of the few grandfathered into Manhattan’s fire code.

    Dinner: A great historic steakhouse in Manhattan would be Keens, as mentioned above.

    Drinks: For drinks, other options might be Bemelman's in the Carlyle, the bar inside the Four Seasons, the one inside the Waldorf Astoria, the one inside the St. Regis, or Campbell Apartment in Grand Central. Too bad Chumley's is still "renovating" .....

    Oh, and for more low-rent/divey, McSorley's in the East Village. Sawdust on the floor. Food options include saltines and cheese. Two types of beer: light and dark. Very popular on the weekends.

    See also these threads:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/510452
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/552823

    And the famous RGR self-guided walking tour of the Lower East Side:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/530587

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks for the suggestions! I think its going to be a hard balance to keep it decent food but still NY themed. Love the Barney's Greengrass suggestion!

    2. Just gotta say this: please don't subject yourself to Lombardi's. Yes, granted, it's a tourist spot, which is what you seem to be looking for. But there's a reason for that: there are enough tourists coming to NYC to keep the place going for the next gazillion years without having to worry about bringing back repeat customers. Service is appalling, prices are high and, honestly, the pizza is so not worth it.

      1. Came here to suggest mcSorley's, Campbell Apartment and Four Seasons....

        1. There's the Oyster Bar in Grand Central. Good drinks suggestions already, but there's also the Algonquin, if you're into the round table vibe.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cavafan

            i sent some coworkers there for oysters..(granted it was dinner time) they were not impressed. said the space was nice, but food wasnt too great..

          2. At "Ellen's Stardust Diner", the food is mediocre diner food, but the singers are actually quite good - they hire aspiring Broadway performers.

            I'd recommend the Algonquin for drinks.

            1. As I don't much eat breakfast, I'm not much help there!

              As for dinner, I begin with mourning Gage and Tollner, once in a building that now houses a TGIF. Shudder.

              That said, I think you may have good luck at some classic NY bars that serve food. Here's a link that might help:

              http://gonyc.about.com/od/barsnightli...

              I fully second the idea of the Campbell Apartment.

              And indeed, the Palm Court is now opened at the Plaza.

              2 Replies
              1. re: BratleFoodie

                Reviews on other sites on the Palm Court have been pretty brutal. That said, I enjoyed a drink at the Rose Bar at the Plaza - not sure of the Oak Bar has reopened yet.

                1. re: BratleFoodie

                  The Gage and Tollner building now houses vacant space and a For Rent sign. Amy Ruth's (moderators, note the Manhattan reference <g>) was supposed to move in, but that seems to have fallen through.

                2. i'd rec the grand central OYSTER BAR. lunch only. sit up at the oyster bar. order some oysters and a bowl of chowder. the selection is amazing.

                  1. Gotham Bar and Grill. As classic and classy as it gets.

                    1. when i think classic ny for dinner, i think 21 club. still holding their own in the food dept somewhat as well.

                      1. Yes, they do sing at Stardust Diner, but if you mean the bar at the Plaza Hotel - the Oak Room - it hasn't re-opened yet.

                        1. For 'classic' Manhattan neck-cranking nightlife and celebrity sightings I would also include Elaine's on the upper east side for a late nite visit...