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First Time in NYC-Looking For Restaurant Recommendations!

My boyfriend and I are going to be in NYC from Dec 30-Jan 2 and we'll be staying at the Carlton Arms hotel which is on the corner of 25th St and 3rd Ave. I wouldn't call us foodies but we love good food and all cuisines. We're looking for some recommendations of places we must go to while we're in town, whether it be street carts, a little hole in the wall or a gourmet restaurant. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. do a search on the manhattan board for "kip's bay" and "gramercy park", the neighborhoods you are in / near. you'll find a lot of hits.

    among other things, you'll probably find referenes to casa mono (tapas joint) and penelope (best for brunch).

    it'll probably help you get suggestions if you narrow down your request by neighborhood, cuisines, and price range.

    8 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      We're pretty much open to go to any neighborhood within the city. As for cuisines we like Mexican, Asian (Korean BBQ, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Dim Sum), and French. We would like to have one nice dinner (100/pp w/o drinks), one prix fixe lunch, a few bargain places and then some mid range places. I hope that helps..

      1. re: siserila

        yup, that's great.

        you're in a perfect area for s. indian (look into saravannas and chennai garden / wander around 29th and lexington) and korean bbq (madansui in particular, but lots of other places on e. 32nd).

        walk or take the 6 train north to the east 40s for a lot of great japanese. aburriya kinosuke is good for a small plates meal, sushi yasuda excellent for sushi.

        i'd suggest yasuda for your really nice dinner. he'll stay within that price range.

        -----
        Madangsui
        35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

        1. re: siserila

          if you like Dim Sum, you should check out Restaurant 84. I went there the other day and i must say the food and price is amazing. $1.80 for each Dim Sum dish!! can't go wrong with that! try their roast pork bun, it's the perfect little snack.

          Also, they have shabu shabu at night.

          hope this helps.

          -----
          Restaurant 84
          84 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002

        2. re: cimui

          I would only do the places for bbq on 32nd that use wood not gas. go to kanoyama for sushi, soba koh for soba, katz's for pastrami, golden unicorn for dim sum, Toon's for thai. E.6th st for lots of indian or closer to you 28th and lexington

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            What place(s) on 6th do you like? I live in the East Village and don't eat Indian food on 6th St.

            I disagree with your preferences on Korean BBQ. Madangsui is great because of the quality of the meat, etc. Wood vs. gas is not the only criterion.

            Oh, also, why Golden Unicorn? I haven't been there in years, but never really found a huge difference in quality between big eating halls like Golden Unicorn, Harmony Palace, and Jing Fong, whereas Dim Sum Go Go is quite a bit finer and more consistent.

            1. re: Pan

              Pan, you are right about the Korean, as far as wood vs gas is not the onoy criteria. Kan Suh was however better when they used wood years ago. The meat quality at 32 w 32 is good and they use wood.
              As far as dim sum,,, Golden Unicorn's quality as of late is excellent . far far far superior to the overrated Jing Fong. DimSum a GO GO loses the feel of dim sum having no carts. Some dishes are creative , the food is good, but you pay more for no reason. Good for those prefer shitake dumplings over chicken feet. Ive never been to harmony palace. 30 Pell formerly called Hong Gung and has had several names since used to be my favorite place, i have not been there in a year ,last time quality was poor. CHatham has good dim sum but no carts and limited variety. King Sea Food is definitely a good choice for dim sum, limited in tourists because the name doesnt imply dim sum, on weekend you can beat the crowd ,, it is a good size place but never have to wait, the variety is great. They have separate area where they prepare fresh turnip cakes and more , very good place.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                I agree with you about Kang Suh. I appreciate your dim sum recommendations. Where's King Sea Food? That's one I don't know. I don't have any inordinate love for carts, though: I don't eat carts. And by the way, the chicken feet are pretty good at Dim Sum Go Go.

              2. re: Pan

                I would agree with staying away from the indians on E.6th Street as the quality is not good. I have a theory that all the food food comes out of one kitchen linked to all the restaurants by a tunnel..because no matter which one i eat in it all tastes the same!

          2. also search for places in "murray hill."

            1 Reply
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              good suggestion.

              here's a long thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540370

              (i particularly like ali baba and ethos in kip's bay /murray hill.)

            2. one more suggestion...not a restaurant, but definitely check out Kalustyan's at 29th & Lex. amazing international spice/food market, and they have an indian deli upstairs.

              1 Reply
              1. Olana would be a very nice place for your special dinner, is only a few blocks from where you are staying, and will easily fit your budget. Eleven Madison Park would also qualify, and the food is wonderful. If you would like something more unusual, try Degustation, and have the 10-course tasting (only $75). You sit at a counter and watch the staff prepare the food in the open kitchen right in front of you, something you will not normally find other than at sushi bars.

                16 Replies
                1. re: rrems

                  EMP for a prix fixe lunch would work. (sadly no $100 dinners, there.)

                  1. re: cimui

                    The 3-course prix-fixe dinner is $88.

                    1. re: rrems

                      you're right -- looks like they still offer it. i'd heard they'd gotten rid of that option for some reason.

                      1. re: cimui

                        Thank you everyone for all the suggestions. I asked my boyfriend about our budget and instead of $100pp for dinner, we're going to raise it to 150-175pp. So that may give us a few more options for a nicer dinner.

                        One more thing, we're planning on going to a concert at MSG for NYE. Any suggestions for an early-ish dinner?

                        1. re: siserila

                          $100 pp without drinks should be quite enough, actually. rrems's suggestion of EMP is a very good one. three courses actually feels pretty substantial given that you also receive a plate of amuse bouches before the meal and a plate of mignardise after.

                          other great places i love in town: the modern dining room in midtown, ouest on the uws (kind of a pain for you to get to), gramercy tavern (also with a good-value prix fixe and very close to you on e. 20). the weather isn't all that conducive to sushi and sashimi, but it is the season for fantastic uni, so you might want to bundle up and think about paying soto a visit. it's in the w. village. (b/d/f/v to w. 4th st. stop)

                          my only suggestion for MSG: eat in another neighborhood and then go. good food is not impossible to find nearby, but it's hard.

                          1. re: cimui

                            I think we'll definitely go to Eleven Madison Park. What is the suggested attire or what can you get away with wearing there?

                            1. re: siserila

                              a lot of folks like to go there partly in order to dress up. there's a grand ballroom feel to the place with its enormously high ceilings and oversized vases. that said, last time i took my college aged little brother, he insisted on wearing his standard uniform of wrinkled khakis, a t-shirt (solid color) and sambas with white sport socks. the wait staff was perfectly nice to him. i'd feel comfortable in anything from a suit for work (could just be a shell with skirt or trousers) to a cocktail dress.

                              1. re: cimui

                                Do you think nice jeans and a nice collared shirt would be acceptable?

                                1. re: siserila

                                  I really would not wear jeans to EMP and I don't remember seeing anyone do so when I've been there, though it doesn't look like it's explicitly prohibited. EMP's website just says "We ask that you wear proper attire. No shorts, t-shirts, or sneakers are allowed."

                                  BTW, if you want to do additional research, I've found that one of the better ways to search is to focus on a cuisine. There are lots of posts out there debating the "best bbq in nyc" or "best korea" or "best sushi", etc...

                                  Hope you have a really enjoyable visit, siserila.

                                  1. re: siserila

                                    For dinner at a "nice " restaurant in NY, most places are not casual. Many diners come directly from work, and business attire, suit and tie for men, dress or suit for women,is the norm.

                                    In the $100 price range pp of your French pick, most people will be dressed for a special evening out. Many restautrants have a dress code. YTou might want to ask when you call and reserve.

                                    1. re: Fleur

                                      Dress code: "No shirt, no shoes, no service." Just kidding. But seriously, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like most restaurants in New York nowadays have guidelines, more than actual dress codes such that if you show up wearing jeans, they will bar you from entry or otherwise give you grief. The days of "jackets required" are largely past. But yeah, a phone call before you go never hurts, that's for sure.

                                      1. re: Pan

                                        Pan, I think you are right about "guidelines" for many places. Jackets are required for men at places like RIVER CAFE.

                                        IMO, it is nice to dress up for dinner at a really nice restaurant. At many of the top restaurants in NY, people go to celebrate a special occasion, or are tourists. It seems to me that aside from my own personal taste, it is out of respect for the other diners that people dress appropriately.

                                        People make reservations long in advance for DEL POSTO or CHANTERELLE, or similar restaurants to celebrate a special birthday, engagement, anniversary, and arrive to find other diners dressed like slobs. Not a pretty picture.

                                        1. re: Fleur

                                          Fleur, I beg to differ on the respect for other diners you should dress up. In the days of Lutecel where they required not only a jacket but a tie also , and the Russian Tea Room would give you an embarrassing waiter's jacket if you didnt have a jacket ,, the "uniform" of jacket and tie is an absurdity ,,, In some places that required jackets , celebreties would wear just sweaters, especially Bill Cosby. I agree on drawing the line with no tank tops , shorts, etc ,, but even the no jeeans rule is kind of stupid. If you wear jeans and sport jacket it dresses it up , yet it is still jeans,, so "no jeans" doesnt even make sense.. I think if you want good food, and you arent dressed "properly" money talks,, if you pay you can play. If you feel embarrassed dressing unlike other patrons , then it is your choice to leave. Restaurants should serve all who want to eat there. They can discriminate against women in Saris, men in turbans or jalabas ,, dress from other countries based on a jacket required rule ,, or I've seen "no hats' in a few restaurants , specifically aimed at minorities who they knew would wear hats,,,, its about the food , not the dress. and if you have the money to eat at the "fancy" places,, go and enjoy ,,, I personally went to one of those places with jeans and sweat shirt recently ,, ordinarily id have dressed better, but i was real casual , running around uptown (the stuffy area) , and was hungry ,, I asked the maitre d" if its ok the way im dressed, that i was hungry and was in mood for caviar,,,, they welcomed me , as slobby as I was dressed,, they economy is certainly loosening dress codes, business is not being turned away ,,, So wear what you want and eat what you want ,,

                            2. re: siserila

                              I'm not sure when Madangsui opens (are they 24 hours, like most other Korean restaurants in the neighborhood?), but they serve delicious Korean barbeque at more like $50/person, with an excellent 8-dish banchan (complimentary side dishes) plus a free bowl of dwaenjang jigae (spicy, hearty soup based on spicy bean paste). Good service, moderately upscale ambiance (for example, compared to the diner-like atmosphere of a place like Han Bat, but not a real high-end place like Jean-Georges), but a good value and not expensive. 35 St. between 5th and 6th Avs.

                              1. re: Pan

                                Thank you everyone for the suggestions. The help has been much appreciated.

                                1. re: siserila

                                  We enjoyed Turkish Kitchen, which is on Third Ave between 27th & 28th. As far as something near MSG, the is Khean's Chophouse for steaks as one choice. Also, if it turns out the weather is good and you want to walk from your hotel to the Garden, you can stop at Artisinal which is on 32nd(?) right off Park Ave.

                    2. Gramercy Tavern...Wolfgangs

                      1. Go to the lower East Side, Rivington and Ludlow, where you'll find "Inoteca." I was exposed to Puglia wines there and the food, Italian Tapas style is superb.

                        El Sombrero at Ludlow and Norfolk has decent Mexican for cheap.

                        Check out the Essex Street Market for global food items.

                        S

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: wsguerin

                          I'm another fan of Inoteca. I've only ever been there for a late-night meal or snack after some barhopping, but I'm sure the food is just as good for dinner at a normal hour. High-quality food at fair prices, plus good service. They do business the right way.

                          1. re: Pan

                            I love inoteca (and ino) but apparently so does everyone else! Oh, how long the waits can seem...

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Mmmm...yes...Inoteca! Good food, ambiance, fair prices. And for Jane the Plumbers like myself, the staff there is more than happy to translate every single Italian item on the menu.

                          2. Oh, this should get a discussion going. The best street cart is the Wurst Cart at 54th near 5th. It's a German brathaus on wheels and there's always a line...really nice guys doing it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: wsguerin

                              yes, i really like that place. it's the hallo berlin wurst cart to be precise -- but it is a little bit out of the way for the OP and in the winter, sometimes their presence is spotty.

                              street cart cuisine in nyc is a much discussed (but still exciting) subject!

                            2. Wow, this thread has taken off.

                              I have actually been to New York City quite a few times as I lived in the Hudson Valley for about 6 months. It is my boyfriend who has never been to the city. I've used Zagat's but I'd prefer get opinions from people because I feel you can get better recommendations.

                              I do have two more questions though. Where would be a good place to get breakfast? And of course, real NY pizza?

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: siserila

                                one popular weekday breakfast and weekend brunch spot not far from you is penelope. i think they're supposed to be pretty standout for sweet breakfast items (like waffles, french toast, muffins). their savory breakfasts (the only things i've ever had there) are good, but on par with plenty of other places in town.

                                in the same area, if you walk up second ave. 10-15 blocks, you'll be near sarge's and second ave. deli, both good options for traditional jewish deli fare at all hrs of the day, including breakfast. sarge's has a hockey puck-shaped latke that i like and good pastrami and tongue. i love the chopped liver at second ave and the smoked fish platters are pretty good. second ave. deli has a lot nicer decor if that's impt to you.

                                a short subway ride or healthy walk down to the east village will bring you to prune, which has a good and well known (and crowded), brunch ONLY on weekends.

                                at both penelope's and prune, go early or be prepared to stand in line for a bit on weekends.

                                also a good number of brunch places around union square, if you'd prefer to window shop menus before you pick.

                                my favorite chowhound breakfast / brunch guru on this board is kathryn, who posted earlier in this thread. do a search for her name and "breakfast" or "brunch" and you'll see a lot more, reliable suggestions. at least that's what i do when i need a brunch place in an area of town i'm not as familiar with.

                                i wish i could be of more help wrt pizza. but i don't really feel qualified to comment since it's one of my least favorite foods (i know, i know... i'm a mutant). places that i know are popular include patsy's in harlem, john's pizza (some controversy), artichoke (i think not traditional ny style). there is a LOT of hot debate about what ppl consider the best pizza in the city, on this board, though, if you look for it.

                                it's totally kosher to start a new thread for these topics if you look and don't find what you're looking for.

                                1. re: siserila

                                  I'll give you a couple of ideas on breakfast/brunch.

                                  (1) Cafe Mogador on St. Marks Place between 1st and A has a very popular weekend brunch, but their weekday breakfast, with only a few fewer items, is quite good, and I think the restaurant opens early. (Menupages says 9 AM, and Mogador's own website doesn't seem to show their hours, but I thought they were open at 8 AM [or at least used to be - I'm not usually up that early]. You could always call them and ask.) If you do go there, I can really recommend their egg dishes, such as Moroccan Eggs (poached, with spicy tomato sauce, homefries and pita), Middle Eastern Eggs (two eggs any style with hummus, tabouli, Middle-Eastern style chopped salad and za’atar pita), and Halumi Eggs (poached, with roasted tomato, halumi cheese, olives, Middle-Eastern salad and za’atar pita). They will give you spicy harissa sauce if you ask for it, and Moroccan tea is a refreshing wakeup call. http://www.cafemogador.com/default.htm

                                  (2) Balthazar. I have to add a caveat that, believe it or not, I've only been there once so far, and it was for brunch on Columbus Day this year, but I found the experience thoroughly enjoyable and the quality of the food exemplary. The place really reminded me of very good brasseries in Paris. They are definitely open early: Starting at _7:30_ Monday to Friday, and 8 on weekends. You definitely need reservations for weekend brunch, but if you go really early in the morning, you can just walk in. Check it out: http://www.balthazarny.com/

                                  Mogador would cost you well under $20/person for breakfast/brunch, whereas Balthazar cost me around $50, I think, maybe a bit closer to $60 including tip.

                                  1. re: Pan

                                    You guys have been awesome so far.

                                    I have another question, what are your thoughts on Asia de Cuba? I really like that type of cusine but I've heard mixed reviews.

                                    1. re: Pan

                                      Balthazaar is impossible to get into w/out a res.

                                      1. re: 2slices

                                        When I was there, the staff told me that if you show up before 10 AM (I think they said), you can just walk in without a problem. Have you found you need reservations for an 8 AM breakfast there? Please do tell.

                                        siserila, I haven't been to Asia de Cuba, but I'd suggest that mixed reviews should give you at least some pause when the place isn't cheap.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          Yeah breakfast is easy, and pretty quiet and local. You can sometimes get dinner at the bar on a weeknight. I've only done it solo tho.

                                    2. re: siserila

                                      I just discovered what is now my favorite pizza in the city last week. My office ordered in pizza from Bella Napoli. It's a restaurant/pizza place on Madison in the low 30's. So good, has an interesting seasoning to it. My current favorite slice.

                                    3. Here's my list, nothing too obscure but not too touristy either. Everything I list here could start a major war, but we like it that way. (Yankees suck!)

                                      You have to go to an old style NY steakhouse - Im a Peter Luger's (call ahead), 2nd place goes to Sparks.

                                      Katz's Deli (2nd ave deli is closer to u but Katz is a much better experience and better food IMO. Only order pastrami or corned beef. I don't like carnegie or Stage Deli's)

                                      Corner Bistro (burgers IMO not overrated, DONT listen to the shake shack ppl)

                                      Congee Village (chinese, others will say Joe's Shanghai, i disagree w/ them)

                                      Joe's pizza (NY style slice. )

                                      Lombardi's (coal oven tourist pizza trap, my fav but not worth a 45 min wait. order ur pie well done. If it's too busy go to John's on Bleeker)

                                      Peasant (northern Italian, this is a personal favorite)

                                      Balthazaar (bistro, great food atmosphere, get a res)

                                      Sushi (oi this is hard, I like Bond st, get some hot dishes too. Not cheap)

                                      Nyonya or "New Malaysian" (i love Malay food, if you've never had it I'd check it out)

                                      Grays Papaya or Papaya king (street dogs are yuck & the OG Nathan's is FAR)

                                      Old Towne Bar (near you, ye olde atmosphere bar. Not a must go but I like. RIP Chumleys)

                                      Balthazaar (great NY french bistro for food and atmosphere. Get a res)

                                      Wine Bar (my fav is Aroma. Love love love this place, it's a sleeper. Great staff and theyre generous with the tasting. It's tiny so expect to sit at the bar or call for a res. Very good food as well)

                                      If you go early (before 12 - 2pm) you can get an amazing meatball hero at Aleva Cheese Shop in Little Italy. Dont tell anyone, it's truly a secret. I should add on that Little Italy sucks. Skip it all together. I wouldn't even bother to visit, but if youre there get that hero. OMG its so good.

                                      I'll let the others suggest the high end haute cuisine. Personally I love Craft. It's near)

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: 2slices

                                        Gottta second visiting Katz's Deli for the complete NYC experience, but to add to it you should also check out Russ & Doughters (179 East Houston St.) for the best smoked fish, herring & caviar anywhere...

                                        1. re: 2slices

                                          The cheese shop is actually Alleva:

                                          http://www.allevadairy.com/

                                          Lots of interesting recommendations, and I agree with you on some of them (Katz's, Congee Village, Balthazar). Disagreed on Lombardi's, unless they've drastically improved since the last (and I mean probably LAST) time I went there, when everything was too thick and their clam pizza was a totally dried-out mess. That WAS a few years ago, truth be told. About Malaysian food, have you tried Skyway?

                                          1. re: Pan

                                            yeah i went to skyway once. Wasn't knocked out. Maybe I just like the nyona setting better. I havent been to New Malaysian in yeeeears.

                                            Re Lombardis. I live very close by and have eaten there twice in 7 years. But believe it or not they do great delivery. It comes quite fast, which you would never expect. But like I said, if you don't order the pie well done, it's kinda yucky. You have to stress well done too, last time i ate on the premises it still wasnt well done enough for me. I've never had the "famous" clam pie.

                                            1. re: 2slices

                                              There isn't much decor at Skyway, true, but they serve the best Malaysian food I've had in New York - though it's been some time since I've been back to either Nyonya or, really, any other Malaysian restaurant.

                                              I get your point about Lombardi's. Well done. Yeah, that makes sense. And if it's delivered, even quickly, it cooks a little longer in the box.

                                        2. I would suggest Degustation, serving Spanish/french tapas. It is perfect for two people, since you will be seated side by side at a counter in front of the chef. The value is great for the quality of food and the unbeatable setting (expect maybe $50-60 a person including tax and tips, w/out drinks) for dinner. About 20 blocks from your hotel and you can even skip dessert (which is quite good) and walk to the desert truck or the new momofuku milk bar.

                                          1. About a half hour ago, I saw a recommendation for burgers at Molly's, 3rd Av between 22nd and 23rd. A supplied link whetted my appetite...

                                            http://www.winedanddined.com/2008/11/...

                                            1. I've read mixed reviews about Asia de Cuba so I think we're going to pass on it. Thanks for the heads up.

                                              I can't wait to go to Spitzer's, they have some great beers there.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: siserila

                                                Well I've started to make my reservations but I still have a few holes here and there.

                                                Tuesday we're going to go eat lunch at Laut and then we have dinner reservations at FORGE. Thursday night I have made reservations for Allen and Delancey, but I think I may change them because I've heard some mixed reviews since Ferguson left, any suggestions? Then, Friday we have lunch reservations for Olana.

                                                I would really love to go to EMP but to make a long story short I am only going to have jeans with me for the trip.

                                                We still need a place to get an early dinner on Wednesday/NYE around Madison Square Garden and somewhere to get lunch on Thursday. We're planning on going shopping on New Years Day, so any suggestions for places around 5th Ave/Madison Ave?

                                                Thanks everyone!

                                                1. re: siserila

                                                  siserila,

                                                  So, you want to go to EMP but are only packing jeans? While I don't think they're correct attire for dinner, we just had another superb lunch there, and I noticed quite a few young men and women wearing jeans. They will not be open on New Year's Day, but if you can move things around and open a lunch slot on another day, go for it!

                                                  In case you haven't heard, they have entirely reconfigured the lunch menu: Two courses for $28, each additional course = $14, each dessert = $12. And in line with this new format, they've also put together a short wine list, including full and half bottles, for $28.

                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                    I would like to go to EMP but I was told that jeans would not be appropriate. I will definitely check into eating there for lunch.

                                              2. Ahhh!! I went today for dim sum and it was awesome! the service was not shabby at alllll, considering it was in Chinatown. I hate being rushed out of restaurants, but workers were very laid back and friendly! thanks!

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: Foodtastic

                                                  I can't tell who you're replying to, so I don't know where you went. Where did you go?

                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                    I wanted to thank everyone for their recommendations, my boyfriend and I had a fabulous time in the city. I'll write a more detailed review later but we went to FORGE, Lamazou, Allen & Delancey and the Dumpling House. We loved everything but Allen and Delancey, unfortunately the service and the food were lacking.

                                                    1. re: siserila

                                                      Glad that most of your experiences were positive. Sorry to hear about the disappointment at Allen & Delancey. We've not been there, but to be honest, the recent departure of Chef Neil Fergason would make me hesitate to try it right now.

                                                      1. re: RGR

                                                        I was hesitant to go as well but I figured we would give it a try anyway. We loved the atmosphere of the restaurant. The food wasn't terrible, it just wasn't as good as it could've been. You can just tell the restaurant is a little off kilter.

                                                        If you haven't been to FORGE, I highly recommend that you visit. The food and service were fabulous.

                                                        1. re: siserila

                                                          We haven't been to Forge. To be honest, it's in a neighborhood we rarely dine in.

                                                          Mark Forgione's father, Larry, was a pioneer in the New American/seasonal cuisine movement. His restaurant, An American Place (in the space where Artisanal is now located) was very popular. We ate there once, but sadly, I was not exactly wowed.

                                                          I've read mixed reviews about Forge, so I'm happy that you had such a stellar experience.