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Feb 4, 2009 02:20 PM

First Visit to NYC - 3 Nights & 2 Days - HELLPP

Hello Everyone, I am bringing my Girlfriend to NYC for her birthday. We live in the Toronto area. We have 3 nights and 2 days and really want to experience, as much as our short time permits, the flavour of New York City. We are staying on Lexington near Central Park. We love to walk and also have no problem cabbing it or taking the subway.

I would like to experience a "real" New York Deli. I have heard of Katz's. Is that THE place to go? Aside from that, all suggestions are very welcome. I won't say that price is not important as the Canadian dollar is not doing well against the USD right now but, if it is worth it, I will pay it.

So, please tell me how to best enjoy the flavours of New York in the short time we have.


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  1. What is the most you are willing to spend on a given meal, including tax, tips, and drinks? Any cuisine preferences? Any avoids or allergies? Are you looking for anything in particular? The area you are staying in is definitely one of the more expensive neighborhoods in NYC so it is good that you are willing to venture outside of the immediate area.

    For the greatest hits of NYC, my list would probably be:
    Bagels and smoked salmon
    Egg cream
    Black and white cookies
    Halal chicken and rice
    Pastrami on rye with mustard (Katz's)
    Pickles (including quarter sours, half sours)
    Recession special with papaya juice from Gray's
    A beer from McSorley's
    Egg and cheese sandwich from a street cart (not gourmet or of great quality but the everyday breakfast of many a New Yorker)
    Freshly baked bread (Sullivan Street, Grandaisy, etc.)
    Lunch at Jean Georges (not on Sundays, make sure you are in the formal room)
    Shack burger from Shake Shack
    A properly made cocktail (fresh juices, etc). from Death & Co
    One of Mario Batali's restaurants (Otto or Lupa for the budget minded)
    One of Danny Meyer's restaurants (maybe the front room at Gramercy Tavern)

    I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:

    Good foodie shopping:

    Essential eats for visitors:

    NYC for visitors from Toronto:

    7 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      I agree with everything on that list and would add:

      Smoked fish platter - Barney Greengrass
      Champagne cocktail at Cipriani then walking a few feet to Grand Central Oyster Bar for some oysters.
      Something cheesy at Artisanal
      Caviar at Petrossian
      Greek Salad at a diner
      Drink and tour of Fraunces Tavern
      Lunch at the Boathouse
      Breakfast at Balthazar
      High Tea at the Pierre
      Drink at Oak Bar in the Plaza

      1. re: bronwen

        I think Russ & Daughter is actually slightly better than Barney Greengrass, but it's been a while.

        Grand Central Oyster Bar is a great recommendation, I heartily concur.

        1. re: kathryn

          i dont think there is anyplace to sit at russ & daughters

          1. re: thew

            They have a bench outside and there is a small park...forget the name...one block away...kinda cold i know but these are Canadians!

        2. re: bronwen

          bronwen, is the Boathouse good lately? I haven't been there in quite a few years. I've played some gigs there and had some of the food they catered; I wasn't impressed, at the time.

        3. re: kathryn

          I'm a big fan of an egg & cheese sandwich but I have to say that anytime I was forced to eat at a breakfast cart I usually took one bite, or sip, then went looking for the nearest waste basket.

          I don't know why I thought of this but you could try eating at La Flor, or Donovan's in Woodside, Queens. From your hotel walk to E 59 Street (if you are staying near 57 St) and take an M32 bus over the Queensboro Bridge. Even at rush hour the ride to Woodside runs about 20 minutes and you will love the view. La Flor can be terrific if you stick with the specials and not the menu. Donovan's is the best place to get a great hamburger and a perfectly poured pint of Guinness.

          La Flor is on the corner of 53 Street and Roosevelt Ave not far from where the bus ducks underneath the elevated train. Donovan's is one or two stops beyond La Flor at 58 Street. The return bus is across the street and runs every ten minutes.

        4. Yes, Katz's is the place to go for pastrami, and if you decide to get another sandwich and don't want to get two pastrami sandwiches, go for the brisket. Ask for your sandwich(es) to be juicy, make sure to tip the counterman at least $1 per sandwich, and don't lose the ticket you'll be given upon entry. If you're on Lexington Av., you can take the 6 train to Bleecker and either walk from there to Ludlow St. and Houston or change for the F or V and take those one stop to 1st Av. for a shorter walk.

          Nice list, kathryn.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Pan

            Yes, that is a great list. Thank you both for your suggestions and your directions. In answer to one question posed, I believe in getting value for my food dollar. If a dinner costs $250 and it is worth it, I will pay it. If I can pay $100 for a great dinner, so much the better. Toronto is very ethnicly diverse when it comes to food and that is why I was looking for places that scream out "You are in NYC" when I visit them. They don't have to be fancy and in fact I prefer more down to earth places than really fancy ones. Bottom line. They have to be good.

            1. re: Attknee

              I didn't go through all the links that kathryn included so it might be already included, but Keens is definitely one of those places that scream NYC and has really good steaks.

              And don't miss RGR's LES food excursion.

              1. re: kobetobiko

                Yes, Keen's is utter NYC, also Delmonico's. Cafe des Artistes is very atmospheric and special and you really should have a drink at Tavern on the Green (don't eat there!) and Russian Tea Room.

          2. Ess-a Bagel for breakfast
            Carniege Deli
            Jean-Georges for lunch (28 prix fixe - best prices in town)
            San Pietro on 54th and Madison is my favourite Italian place and is very cheap

            4 Replies
            1. re: cmm3

              You rate Carnegie above Katz's and 2nd Av. Deli?

              1. re: Pan

                I also side with Pan. Katz and 2nd Av. Deli are rightful classics.

                1. re: cmm3

                  San Pietro is cheap? I've not been for awhile, but recalled it being on the more expensive side.

                2. Drinks at the Top of the Tower in the Beekman Hotel 50th St and 1st Ave, the view is spectacular in all directions. Take a ride on the tram to Roosevelt Island and back

                  1. Well, the big weekend has finally arrived. Looking forward to reporting back to all of you as to how we did. Thanks again for your input and please post any last minute suggestions.