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did my homework first, but still need some help with trip itinerary

Howdy!

We are a 30ish couple coming from Montreal for a five day trip. We'll stay around 1 E and 1st, but will be walking around all day. We don't have a limited budget, but frankly multi-course white tablecloth dining doesn't wow us that much. We are in desperate need to fix our hankering for Japanese, seafood and pizza (three food groups that are not well represented in our otherwise fair city). In our trips, we'd like to have a set list of candidate restaurants in hand but no fixed itinerary, and rather decide as the day progresses. So places with no reservation policy or bearing the possibility to get last minute reservations are ideal for us (so no Babbo unfortunately). Traveling to other boroughs is an option (we are planning a trip to Brooklyn and Queens anyway).

I've started working on a master list to take with us, but there are gaps to fill and choices to make. Do I have any duds in the below list, or missing anything else that I won't regret eating? Spicy cheap food from obscure regions of the world and all forms of pork/seafood are always welcome.

Breakfast/brunch

Barney Greengrass
Prune
Blue Ribbon
Russ & Daughters
Espresso (Cafe Grumpy and Abraco and Gimme! and Ninth Street and more. I LOVE coffee, please give me more coffee suggestions. I'll drink them all)

Lunches

Sripraphai (during our excursion to Queens)
Food cart/ street food
New Green Bo (eaten there and have fond memories, but open to alternatives)
Di Fara (on our trip to Brooklyn)
Southern food (Amy Ruth or Miss Maude?)
Some midtown lunch (suggestions welcome)
Zabar (provisions for a post Moma picnic)

Dinners
Japanese beer food (Totto or Otafuku)
Japanese (Yasuda or Sagakura or Gari, but which one?)
Momofuku ssam / Milk
Una Pizza Napoletana
Ippudo ramen
Indian (Saravanaas or Devi or Dawat?)

Snacks

Sullivan Street Bakery
Grand Central Oyster Bar (snacks as in oysters)
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Cake (Sugar Sweet Sunshine or Crumbs)
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
Need more salty snacks

Missing in my list: I am still in search of non churrasceria Brazilian (requested by boyfriend) and Burmese (requested by me).

I also inquired about bars in another thread, but suggestions about intimate neighborhoody bars where you can actually converse are always welcome.

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  1. very nice homework...a few notes:

    breakfast:
    definitely get the french toast at blue ribbon...its the best ive had.
    coffee? also check out la colombe on lafayette in soho and on church in tribeca...best espresso in the city in my opinion. also good is jack's on 10th street and joe the art of coffee with various locations in the city. if you make it to park slope, check out gorilla coffee. and if you are in park slope on a sunday, the brunch at applewood is insanely good.

    lunch:
    i grew up in brooklyn and i dont have the patience for dealing with difaras anymore. i actually think the sicilian slice at artichoke pizza on 14th street is actually better. i stand by that claim.
    midtown lunch? for cheap and awesome, check out margon on 46th off 6th ave. great cuban served by dominicans. wed is pernil day...get extra garlic sauce on it.

    dinners:
    i cant really share any great izakaya in nyc but sakagura across the street from yasuda on 43rd is a great cooked japanese spot...located in an office basement...youll like it...get the chocolate souffle for dessert.
    yasuda is my pick for best sushi but only eat at the bar. if you can only get a table, id skip yasuda completely. also great is ushi wakamaru on houston off sullivan in the west village.
    i think the momofuku places are overrated...ippudo's akiomaru (sp?) ramen is insanely better. and get their hirata buns...miles better than momofuku.
    una pizza nepaletano is a total ripoff in my opinion. i just dont get it nor do i want to. mediocre pizza with attitude and high prices...biggest scam in the city to me.

    id add shake shack for burgers, keens for steak, perilla for new american, moustache for cheap middle eastern, and barbuto for their chicken. also check out inoteca for great italian and freemans for brunch only.

    as for bars, im a scotch guy and i dont like lame scenes. i like keen's bar, brandy library (getting lame though), smith and mills, walkers, tavern on jane, blue ribbon wine bar, angels share, and johnnys bar on greenwich.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sam1

      NB: the Blue Ribbon Bakery french toast is made from challah. I prefer mine made from brioche and it didn't seem that amazing to me. Good but not excellent.

      For Yasuda and, Ushiwakamaru, if you want to sit at the bar, reservations are highly recommended. I've definitely seen people turned away from Ushi, thinking they could just walk in.

      1. re: sam1

        BTW, have you only been to Momofuku Noodle Bar or have you been to Ssam Bar, Milk Bar, and/or Ko? Your comment is about ramen and pork buns, but Momofuku Ssam Bar doesn't serve ramen.

        1. re: kathryn

          ive been to noodle, ssam, and milk...not ko...

          the food is merely ok...i just find it to be so hyped that it turns me off completely. for ramen, ippudo beats momofuku...same with pork buns. the one thing i loved...the ssam banh mi...they took off the menu.

          the milk bar and the desserts are ridiculously sweet but they are good for what they are.

      2. Your list looks pretty good to me. I'd make a weak argument for Shanghai Cafe on Mott between Canal and Hester for Shanghainese - weak, because I don't really like any of the Shanghainese places in Chinatown that much. New Yeah Shanghai on Bayard has nicer decor in the back, but I was disappointed with the food on my last visit or two. New York is stronger in Cantonese, Sichuan, perhaps Chao Zhou, and many hounds claim, Fuzhounese cuisine (I have yet to really explore that much).

        There is no Burmese food to speak of in Manhattan. If you have your heart set on Burmese, check the Outer Boroughs board (which you should do, anyway).

        For your Midtown lunch, how about a spicy Sichuan-style lunch at Szechuan Gourmet, 39th between 5th and 6th?

        Also, since you like spicy food, consider getting a banh mi or/and banh mi ga at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery, Mott St. between Hester and Grand. It's one of the best value sandwiches you can find in New York. [Edit: I forgot to mention: Lunch only; closes around 6 PM.]

        As for bars, you really are going to be in bar central. Just walk around and check out any bar that doesn't seem too crowded. There are so many all over the East Vilage/Lower East Side that you'll find places that are OK with you, even on weekends.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pan

          Second Szechuan Gourmet. Some of the best Chinese in Manhattan. Also checkout midtownlunch.com for more leads.

        2. I forgot to mention:

          If you have any interest at all in a good neighborhood mainstay that serves Moroccan-, Middle Eastern-, and French-influenced food and has excellent breakfast/brunch every day, you should go to Cafe Mogador, on St Marks between 1st and A. I'd really recommend going there on a weekday, not for weekend brunch, which is overly mobbed unless you go really early (like before 10 or so, I guess).

          Have a look at Kathryn's annotated brunch list, too:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598414

          1. Brazilian - I know there are other places, but the one with which I am familiar is Zebu Grill, on E. 92nd Street. We were there on Thursday - as always, my husband enjoyed the fejoada, and the empanadas were excellent. I had skewers with lamb sausage and grilled vegetables.

            14 Replies
            1. re: MMRuth

              They have feijoada??? On a Thursday at that! Wow, we'll have to check THAT out when we're there next month.

              1. re: c oliver

                They have feijoada (thanks for spelling) every night. It's about four blocks from us. Great caiparinhas (SP??) too.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  I wouldn't consider feijoada without caiparinahas (correct spelling!) - that's plural you notice??? It sounds like a spot for the four of us, perhaps. Sim?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Do they get the sugar from Brazil? Otherwise the caiparinahas will be a sad imitation . . .

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      Really? We always thought it was the limes. Sounds like you've done some "tests" :) I know the caiparinhas we've made here in the U.S. haven't been the same but thought the ambiance might have been part of it. No sandy beaches.

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        Why do you say that about the sugar? My understanding is that refined sugar = sucrose, and all sucrose is the same. Or is the sugar used in Brazil not refined?

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I remember buying some sugar in Brazil (so I could make caiparinhas here) when I was there on business and the locals explaining it was the sugar that made the caiparinhas . . .Now I'm curious and will post on the South Anerica Board to find out.

                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            I asked b/c my husband used to work in a sugar mill (in the US) and when I asked him about it, he gave me the information I posted above. Next time he goes to Brazil, I'll ask him to bring back some sugar and do a taste test!

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Thanks, MMRuth. I posted on the South America Board. Let's see what the hounds in Brazil have to say . . .

                      2. re: c oliver

                        Sorry, wrong spelling: caipirinhas.

                        1. re: chow_gal

                          Actually, it's spelled both ways.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    Little Brazil on 46th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue. Used to work near there. Don't know what's good anymore.

                  3. russ & daughters has no place to sit or anything - it is a shop not a restaurant.

                    i don't know miss maude, but i like amy ruth's

                    yasuda is better for top notch traditional sushi, gari for modern creative sushi. I have not been to the west side gari, but like the one on 78th st.

                    i love ippudo, but it is costly- as far as ramen goes, but not by any other standard.

                    the latest indian place to tickle my fancy is dhaba in curry hill

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: thew

                      Miss Mamie, Miss Maude, and Spoonbread are all the same folks - it's been a few years since I was in NYC so I don't know if all are still going. We were at the place on 110th on the West Side and the food was wonderful - bountiful portions, everything utterly delicious. Never been to Amy Ruth's - we learned about the sisters from the Martha Stewart show and think what you want of her, she looks for the best of everything.

                      I'd also suggest a brunch, lunch or afternoon coffee and pastry at Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie, a relatively new German/Austrian-focus art museum on 5th Avenue a few blocks south of the Met(ropolitan Museum of Art). The pastries are the sort of thing that used to be available farther east when the Yorkville section of Manhattan was still dominated by German immigrants.

                      In general, I'd take advantage of the opportunity to experience cuisines NOT available in my home area. Where else are there as many options as in NYC?