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Coming to NYC and need some foodie help

  • n

Hey everyone,
My wife and I are coming in to celebrate our 1 year anniversary in NYC with some sightseeing and lots of good eats. We're very adventurous eaters, don't shy away from any type of cuisine, love street food and high end as well. We'll be in town for 3 days and would like help for ideas during our trip. I've searched the boards and other sites, and would like some help/suggestions. We'd like to spend around $20pp for our meals (not inc. drinks, etc), except for dinner on Saturday where we'd like to have a more romantic place, at around $60pp (preferably prix-fixe or a tasting). I know its a tall order to ask of you all, but suggestions are really appreciated. Here is our itinerary, so restaurants nearby would be most welcome:

- Lunch near South Street Seaport - no ideas yet!
- Dinner near Greenwich Village/SoHo - no ideas yet!

- Lunch near Central Park/UWS/UES - thinking of picnic in Central Park or a light lunch...
- Pre-theatre "snack" (theatre is near Times Square) - ideas were Margon or Biryani cart
- Late dinner (kind of fancy?) - some ideas I had are Telepan, Balthazar, Casa Mono, Kittichai and TOWN

- Lunch in Harlem - maybe Amy Ruth's, Dinosaur BBQ or Miss Maude's?
- Early dinner near Grand Central Terminal - my idea was Szechuan Gourmet

I'd also appreciate any suggestions for places to go for late-night drinks with a laid back - i.e. no loud music - vibe. Thanks for the suggestions, and I'll be sure to post up reviews when we get back!


edit: we eat anything, really, but aren't fans of Italian or "American" (i.e. simple burger and fries, etc.). A great pizza, Southern soul food, Cajun, etc. are however, all welcome!

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  1. There are many threads on South Street Seaport/Fidi (Chinatown is also a good option). You might want to do a search. What type of cuisine and price range?

    Casa Mono is not fancy. It's a small casual place. Balthazar is a lively french bistro and is also fairly casual, not fancy IMHO.

    6 Replies
    1. re: financialdistrictresident

      And I think your Chinatown idea is a good one, and is a nice way to save some money on lunch, that might be then allocated to another meal. Banh mi at Saigon Bakery and some dumplings else where, plus ice cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory would make a good lunch in my book.

      1. re: MMRuth

        I'm craving lunch at Big Wong right now . . .

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          I haven't been there - any particular dishes that you like there?

          1. re: MMRuth

            We usually get the roast duck or the rice with salted fish and chicken. A side of greens with sauce. No ambience. Inexpensive and good.

            I also like the place near PS1, Noodletown?

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              Thanks. I'll check out Noodletown as well.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Actually it's J.M. Family Noodle Restaurant (on one of my older menus. I noticed the menus in the restaurant have a slightly different name now), 19 Henry Street (near PS1). I usually get a barbecued rice plate (roast duck on rice $5-ish). I've tried the roast duck noodle soup and vegetable noodle soup.

    2. A quick comment on Saturday night - I've not been to Kittichai for a couple of years now, because I wasn't enthralled with the food there, particularly given the cost. It is nice to have a cocktail outside in front of the hotel though. Maybe someone who has been more recently than I will chime in.

      I love the food at Casa Mono, but it is a bit cramped, and can be noisy, so might not be what you are looking for in terms of romantic. Also, while I always enjoy going to Balthazar, I don't think of it as romantic either. You might want to look into Le Gigot, in the Village, which has excellent French food, cozy ambiance and a well priced prix fixe with good selections on it.

      On the UES, near the park is a place I like called Via Quadronno, that has wonderful panini, that you could either eat there, or bring to the park. Or, if the UWS is more convenient, you could pick up food for your picnic at Zabars/Fairway/Citarella.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        MMRuth, Le Gigot is a good suggestion. We went earlier this year, it's very good. Le Gigot is small so it can get lively. nader, if you make a reservation at Le Gigot suggest you ask for table in back corner just before the hallway to kitchen, etc. It's a nice quiet spot.

      2. > Dinner near Greenwich Village/SoHo - no ideas yet!
        It can be challenging to keep it under $20pp in these neighborhoods. Maybe Rhong Tiam (Thai)?

        > - Lunch near Central Park/UWS/UES - thinking of picnic in Central Park or a light lunch...

        Keep in mind these are 10-3pm is prime brunching hours in NYC, so if you want to do a sit down meal you might be fighting the crowds.

        If you want to picnic in Central Park, I'd do takeout from Shake Shack, or maybe some take out nibbles from Salumeria Rossi, Whole Foods, Bouchon Bakery, or Zabar's. Of course, you should probably have a backup plan in case it's raining.

        > - Pre-theatre "snack" (theatre is near Times Square) - ideas were Margon or Biryani cart

        I see you've been reading midtownlunch.com. Are you certain these folks are out and about on weekends?

        Since you mentioned great pizza as a nice to have, how about an early dinner at Co., in Chelsea? They open at 5pm for dinner. One pie per person puts you at just under $20pp.

        > Saturday where we'd like to have a more romantic place, at around $60pp (preferably prix-fixe or a tasting).

        $60pp before tax, tip, and drinks is pretty low for a tasting menu. Have you looked into Degustation?

        > - Early dinner near Grand Central Terminal - my idea was Szechuan Gourmet

        Great choice.

        1. the seaport sucks for food...yr best bet is to go eat in tribeca and walk over...for lunch, i suggest walkers...old school bar and grill...great crowd, solid food, great drinks. or bubbys on hudson a block away...food is less amazing but its always a pleasant scene. walking distance to seaport...maybe 5-8 minutes.

          dinner in greenwich/soho...on the cheapish side, check out bianca, cash only, no reservations italian...solid fare, semi-romantic. or da andrea for better italian on 13th off 5th ave...less romantic but best italian in my opinion. or check out ino on bedford for small plates, italian meats and cheese and wine...everything is excellent and cheap.

          for lunch near central park...see if le bonne soupe is reopened by then...they had a fire but should be open any day now. great for simple, casual french fare and cheap.

          margon isnt exactly a light snack sorta place...unless you split the cubano sandwich perhaps. great joint though...a favorite of mine.

          dinner on sat? id skip that lot...look into perilla or barbuto or little owl if you can get in...romantic, solid food places, good nights out...barbuto is a bit more lively.

          for drinks, check out brandy library or angel's share...on a more laid back tip, try tavern on jane, walkers, or keens bar.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sam1

            OP said they weren't big fans of Italian, aren't Bianca, Da Andrea, and 'ino all Italian restaurants?

            I love Brandy Library and Angel's Share but both of them can reach full capacity by the time late night rolls around, so there may be a wait to get in.

            1. re: sam1

              sam1, there are a few, limited options in Seaport North. I respectfully disagree that "seaport sucks for food." Onda, Tables Tales Cafe, Made Fresh Daily are all good.



              Second your Perilla suggestion.

            2. Re: $60 prixfixe for Saturday, you could look into Convivio. The setting in the hidden-away Tudor Square Park is very nice, and while the resto might not be called totally romantic (although the outdoor tables could qualify), the price and food quality are exactly right. $59 for a four-course prix fixe that's really, really good. It is Italian but quite unusual, not red-sauce by a long shot.

              Re: Sunday near GCT, a fun choice is Sakagura, an underground (literally) sake bar with yummy Japanese bar food. A more adventurous choice than Szechuan Gourmet, especially if you are doing Chinatown the day before.

              1. I work near the Seaport and am happy to report that there are lots of good food options now.It used to be a culinary wasteland.The places at Pier 17 aren't good by and large.But the surrounding area has lots of good choices.The best bet is to take a walk on the stretch of Front Street that runs between Fulton Street and Peck Slip.You won't need reservations at most of these places for lunch and can see what looks good to you.Some of the restaurants I recommend are Suteishi(very good good Sushi and other Japanese food), Il Brigante for thin crust pizza,Onda(Brazil/Argentina),Salud(Spanish/Cuban),Stella Maris and Nelson Blue both of which are considered gastropubs
                for lack of a better description.There is also a very good steakhouse,MarkJoseph,nearby.
                Also there are several places on Water Street,running parallel to Front Street.It's a very charming area with cobblestone and friendly restautanteers.They all have their menus posted out front so you can see what they have to offer.Just stay away from the Pier and tha main square,which has bad over-priced food.Sorry if this is a rambling response,but I highly recommend this area for lunch.All in all it will be a very charming and tasty experience.You can easily pull up a street map of the area on Google.

                7 Replies
                1. re: TooLooseLaTrek

                  TooLooseLaTrek, with all due respect, I cannot recommend Salud!, Stella Maris. Nelson Blue is pretty much a bar (some of their apps are good). Seaport North's Onda is quite good. Suteishi is decent, not for sushi conoisseurs . . . I had really bad sea urchin there once. Their barbecue eel is quite good.

                  Have you tried Made Fresh Daily or Table Tales Cafe yet?

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    No,not yet.Do you recommend them? I like Barbarini a lot,but didn't recommend it because it is Italian,but no pizza.

                    1. re: TooLooseLaTrek

                      Barbarini is okay (coffee, soup, etc.) and value priced. Acqua is better. Both Italian so I didn't suggest them either. I've only been to Il Brigante a few times (mostly tourists and business lunch crowd). I think Onda and Table Tales Cafe ($26.50 three course prix fixe dinner) are two of the "very few," best in Seaport North. Made Fresh Daily is a lunch place. I posted a link to my experience someplace in this thread . . .

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        Went back and read your post on Onda and others from the above link.Lots of good info.I agree that Onda is one of the best Seaport North spots.First went a couple of weeks ago and have been back twice since.Liked the flatbread app. topped with skirt steak.They didn't have the duck version.The pork spare ribs are also good as is the cuban sandwich and Churrasco(skirt steak with chimichurri sauce).The wine selection isn't big,but they have some interesting
                        choices at reasonable prices.

                        1. re: TooLooseLaTrek

                          TooLooseLaTrek, glad you enjoyed Onda. I need to go back but my choices are limited there since I don't eat red meat. I've already eaten my way through Table Tales Cafe, Onda and Acqua menus :)

                          Of course, there's always The Paris, not that great foodwise but a favorite for us locals. And value priced. I always get the salmon salad when I go there.

                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            It does seem like an area called the Seaport should have a good seafood place,but I can't think of one.I went past a place several months ago on South Street,a little north of Pasanella and Son Vintners that was getting ready to open and I think they were going to feature seafood but I haven't been back since.Don't recall the name.

                            1. re: TooLooseLaTrek

                              TooLooseLaTrek, your observation was one of the issues that was addressed in the Seaport Charette awhile back. I believe the restaurant was Fishmarket:


                              It's supposed to re-open (per the bartender at The Paris). Not sure if it will be same owners or seafood. None of the seafood places around here are great. Sometimes Carmine's has decent sole or soft shell crabs almondine (large ones). The last time I went to a "seafood" restaurant it was Aquagrill. Have not been to Le Bernardin yet.

                2. thanks for all of the suggestions! convivio looks like a nice spot for the dinner (the others either close too early - the show ends at around 10:30pm - or aren't as ethnic as we usually like). Any other suggestions of upscale to semi-upscale ethnic eats in midtown that are open late? Anything but Chinese would do (having enough of that already during the weekend)...
                  Also, suggestions on Harlem eats would be really appreciated too, maybe something out of the ordinary in the area that we should definitely try while in town.

                  thanks again!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: nader

                    Re: Post-theater

                    The Bread Bar at Tabla serves until 11:30 p.m. It's on the corner of Madison & 25th St, a short cab ride from the Theater District. The Indian-style cuisine is tasty, and the interior space is very attractive. If the weather is conducive, there is a pleasant outdoor terrace facing Madison Square Park.


                    If you like seafood, The John Dory is on 10th Av., b/t 15th & 16th Sts. The food is excellent, and the fish-themed decor is kitchy and eye-catching. Not exactly romantic, but the overall ambiance is very pleasing, especially because the music they play is very enjoyable, i.e., not deafening and no pounding beat. They serve until midnight.


                    Btw, Town has closed.

                    1. re: RGR

                      What about kefi? I keep hearing great things about it on this board - would it be OK for a nice night out? Or is it too casual?

                      1. re: nader

                        We've not been to Kefi, but from what I've read, it's casual.

                        If you're looking for a Greek restaurant that's a bit fancier, there's Molyvos, in the Theater District area, on 7th Av., b/t 55th & 56th Sts. We haven't been there in ages, so I can't provide a current opinion of the food.


                        Edited to add: On Saturday, they serve until midnight.

                    2. re: nader

                      This is more, I believe East Harlem/Spanish Harlem, but for something different, look into Bistro Itzocan - Mexican ingredients, some French techniques. Excellent and well priced food.