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Help plan our trip to NYC more inside

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Help! Heading to NYC in late December (Fri-Tues), looking for some interesting food experiences. Budget: we are willing to spend a bunch of money for great experiences. Caveats: we don't mind dressing up, but we're suburban young professionals, not hipsters and we don't want to feel out of place in a loud, "sceney" restaurant. Also, sadly, my partner doesn't do seafood.

Thoughts so far, please help with comments or better suggestions:

1. Steak - Peter Luger's Sat night if we can make a reservation, otherwise Keens or Strip House.

2. BBQ - we want to check out some NYC 'que, maybe Daisy Mae's or RUB or Virgil's

3. Korean BBQ - maybe Ma Dang Sui? What's good here? My partner has never had it and we want a good first experience.

4. Peking Duck House - or any better suggestions for this dish?

5. Pizza - Una Pizza Napoletana, Lombardi's or John's; where should we go, don't want to trek to Brooklyn again

6. Other thoughts: Lupa, Babbo, Picholine, Casa Mono/Bar Jamon

Other ideas, especially for unique food experiences? - Thanks!

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  1. 1. Keens is very easy to get a reservation and also has some of that history NY feel so it's a very nice backup if you can't get into Luger's.

    2. Virgil's is definitely more of a chain, I'd take that off your list.

    3 & 4. I'll let other hounds chime in, as I don't think I have enough experience.

    5. I'd do Una Pizza Napoletana over the other two BUT it's pricey, inconsistent (but when it's on it's ON), and not really NY style pizza. It's Naples style. If you want NY style, you should look elsewhere. Have you considered Patsy's of East Harlem?

    6. All great choices but do note that all of Batali's restaurants are VERY popular. They take reservations one month in advance to the numerical date. Call as soon as the books open (10am I think, I would call to double check). Hit redial as many times as you need to. Good luck!

    For unique food experiences...there's a lot of options: Degustation, Sushi Azabu, halal street carts, Dessert Truck, Flushing malls, Kabab Cafe, the list goes on.... Here's a post I wrote elsewhere:

    1. Peking Duck House serves excellent Peking Duck at both their Chinatown and East side locations. East side spot is less crowded and a bit more roomy than the Chinatown branch.

      1. Avoid RUB at all costs unless you like less than mediocre 'cue served in a frathouse environment. In Manhattan, I'd suggest Blue Smoke. Kind of upscale BBQ, but quite good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brooklyn1966

          While I disagree about there being a frat house environment at RUB -- at least, when we were there -- We have had mixed experiences, so I wouldn't recommend it.

          I don't think the bbq at Blue Smoke is particularly good (though their burger is excellent).

          My pick would be Daisy May's. Cafeteria-style service and nothing in the way of decor. But who cares? The bbq's delicious.


        2. I think kathryn's suggestion of Keen's for steak and Patsy's of East Harlem are right on!

          Though, it won't really take you much longer to go to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn for pizza. It's just on the other side of the bridge and is just as close to midtown as the East Harlem Patsy's. And is my personal favorite.

          For BBQ, I recommend Blue Smoke. Plus, there is a jazz club downstairs and they also have lots of non-bbq offerings if you want the option.

          Degustation is a great option for a unique food experience. And a terrific value. Could be a great alternative to #6.

          1. Blue Smoke definitely for 'cue. For a truly NY experience, check out a set at the Jazz Standard downstairs, where I believe they serve the complete Blue Smoke menu.

            1. 1. Do Luger's for steak if you can get a resrevation.
              2. Dinosaur BBQ is awesome and IMO better than any on your list.
              3. & 4. Wouldn't be on my list but different strokes for different folks. I'd skip both and go to any of the Momofuku joints instead.
              5. For whole pie, I'd go to Lombardi's. For pie by the slice, try Artichoke pizza. I posted earlier about their sensational Sicilian slice that I still can't get off my mind.
              6. I had an amazing meal at Casa Mono a couple of weeks ago. Each plate was better than the next. The steak dish in particular is a stand out as were the pumpkin croquettes. But the space is small so I'd go at a more "off" time.
              Other ideas:
              Check out Shopsin's on the lower east side for breakfast or lunch. Their menu is very unique and creative. I'd alos go to Pearl Oyster Bar for lobster rolls. Spotted Pig is another spot that would be nice to try at an "off" time. Corner Bistro for burgers. Good luck and have a great trip!

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChowDiva

                I'd agree that Dinosaur is fabulous, though I haven't been to Blue Smoke. Also, it's a trek, and the wait can be rough (though you can eat in the bar.)

                Agree that Degustation is a good choice, as is Momofuku Ssam bar.

                For pizza, we always take people to Johns of Bleeker. Or you can walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and go to Grimaldis. Wear warm clothes!

              2. #3 -- I would stick with Madangsui and their BBQ dishes. I'd get the Yang Nyum kalbi (as this is what most people expect when they hear of Korean BBQ). If you want some variety, you can order one order of Yang Nyum kalbi and one order of Daeji Bulgogi (BBQ Pork in spicy sauce). There's a great variety of banchan. You'll probably have more than enough food for the two of you with two BBQ orders. No need to order appetizers unless you want to.