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Where is "IT" at?

saltysweet Aug 3, 2009 12:18 PM

I am travelling to Manhattan with some friends and one in particular likes to feel important. So, in that vein, where would one go to be 'seen' and 'see others'? To make it interesting, and to make it more chow related than just an exercise in 'plating', I've broken it down to three questions:

1) Where would you go to be seen? Hottest spots in the city
2) Where would you go to see others? Celebs, alas!
3) Where would you go to eat or drink that would blow the socks off your friends back home three months from now when that becomes the hottest place to be seen and see others? (yay! I'm ahead of the curve)

Please note, this is food related so I'm only looking at places to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks or late night snack.

Thanks so much!

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  1. Bob Martinez RE: saltysweet Aug 3, 2009 12:32 PM


    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Martinez
      saltysweet RE: Bob Martinez Aug 3, 2009 12:39 PM

      For which category?

      1) To be seen ie hot spot
      2) To see others ie celeb spot
      3) To go where it's so in, it's not even 'in' yet.

      1. re: Bob Martinez
        windycity RE: Bob Martinez Aug 4, 2009 10:56 AM

        Lols, I thought you ere just being random to mess with the poster then I recalled that there is such an establishment, sadly.

      2. MMRuth RE: saltysweet Aug 3, 2009 12:44 PM

        This thread might help:


        There was another recent one on celeb sightings but I can't seem to find it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MMRuth
          RGR RE: MMRuth Aug 3, 2009 02:51 PM

          Here's that other thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/638989

        2. i
          itryalot RE: saltysweet Aug 3, 2009 01:15 PM

          I am curious as to why they don't choose the best quality of places to dine. Some of them mentioned are less than authentic cuisine.

          24 Replies
          1. re: itryalot
            planetjess RE: itryalot Aug 3, 2009 02:48 PM

            As far as I can tell, the OP is unconcerned with the quality of the food. Which, to me, makes chowhound a strange place to ask. Quite seriously, a better resource would be to sit with a pad and pencil and click through the archives of Page Six and Gawker Stalker and write down the boldfaced names of the places where celebs are spotted.

            I do not understand how the categories "1" and "2" are supposed to be different from each other. I am flattered but also confused as to how we're expected to have any idea as to category "3".

            That said, sure, Spotted Pig and Da Silvano and Il Cantinori. Waverly Inn and Monkey Bar and Charles and Minetta Tavern.

            One further observation--a lot of celebrities live in New York City, but the ones that I see are generally not trying to be seen. The celebrity "culture" here is not like L.A.--many of them are just trying to eat dinner like anybody else, and will therefore try to avoid "hot spots" like the plague. Unless you're just hoping to run into the cast of Gossip Girl, in which case you can play East Village street corner bingo on any given night and have a decent shot.

            1. re: planetjess
              MMRuth RE: planetjess Aug 3, 2009 02:49 PM

              Yes - I keep mentioning that I see a lot of them in my Carnegie Hill neighborhood, but it's not a chowish destination, and they tend to be under the radar, and left under the radar.

              1. re: MMRuth
                foodie4life RE: MMRuth Aug 4, 2009 11:38 AM

                Like some of the above posters, I'm failing to see the differences between the 3 categories so I'll just respond generally.

                The ones planetjess mentioned fit the bill but most aren't really new. Minetta Tavern is definitely appropriate and I'd also add Standard Grill and Locanda Verde. Also, I went to the Harrison in TriBeca and saw some celebs there, maybe because it's a little less in the spotlight.

                You need to book months in advance at Minetta and you need an "in" but the food is really sublime. Surprisingly despite how trendy it is I was dining with a bunch of old fogies when I went, so I can't say that I saw any celebrities.


                1. re: foodie4life
                  MMRuth RE: foodie4life Aug 4, 2009 12:52 PM

                  Actually, you can get a table at Minetta by calling on the same day, albeit a very late table. Also, they told me that they release tables freed up by cancelled reservations at 4:30ish. I called then, and there were tables at 9:30, rather than after 10:30. Still too late for me though!

                  1. re: MMRuth
                    steakrules85 RE: MMRuth Aug 6, 2009 05:31 AM

                    Does Minetta accept walk-ins? How long would one wait on a weekday at around 5:30?

                    1. re: steakrules85
                      MMRuth RE: steakrules85 Aug 6, 2009 12:40 PM

                      That I don't know. But, it might be worth calling, The person with whom I spoke was very friendly.

                      1. re: steakrules85
                        foodie4life RE: steakrules85 Aug 7, 2009 07:57 AM

                        I don't think they publicy accept walk-ins but the 2 cute, well-behaved gentleman eating next to me said they had arrived early and charmed the hostess into a table. You could try that?

                        1. re: foodie4life
                          steakrules85 RE: foodie4life Aug 7, 2009 10:36 AM

                          Haha no need to rely on my great looks and witty charm to bag a table at Minetta. I got very lucky today and called to see if they had any tables for 5:30 and they did! I couldn't pass it up so I will be there tonight and will report back on the meal. Just trying to decide now what I want to get.

                2. re: planetjess
                  saltysweet RE: planetjess Aug 5, 2009 11:23 PM

                  I'm asking for what is the 'hot spot' where people feel fabulous and you want to be 'seen' as if you are the celebrity - the cool in place to be, where everyone looks good and fun and friendly and you leave at the end of the night saying ‘man, I am one popular cat.’ to yourself. #2 Is the place to gawk at others; the celeb hangout or hot spot and the place that will be hot in 6 months...that's hopefully the place with the coolest crowd (as found in option 1), best food or drink or interesting ambience, food or drink but isn’t the publicly popular place that #1 is. A discerning Chowhound might be just person to sniff out such a gem with those super sensory olfactory senses.

                  1. re: saltysweet
                    Spends Rent on Food RE: saltysweet Aug 6, 2009 07:27 AM

                    I have a friend like this...

                    Every time they come into the city they want to eat "where Uma Thurman, Russel Crowe or Donald Trump are eating"

                    What I try to explain to them is that I see celebs eating out all the time at restaurants you'd never think of. There are scene-y clubs and bars... but outside a handful of restaurants (waverly/ monkey bar/ minetta) you are just as likely to run into celebrities at any restaurant in the city.

                    So back to my friend... every time it's the same thing, they arrive we talk about the reservation I made, why I made it, then they pick up US Weekly or People and points to a picture of Gisele walking out of a restaurant, and says how about we eat here instead. So we do. And guess what... the food's mediocre and no Gisele.

                    Restaurant's I've been to with this person: Buddakan, Nobu, Morimoto, Asia De Cuba, Del Posto (because they hoped to see batali - who I see more at the USQ green market than I do at any of his restaurants), Le Cirque, Cipriani...
                    Number of Celeb sightings at any of these places: 0

                    On the other hand I've run into celebs at: Prune, Craft, Bar Pitti, Crema, Una Pizzeria (RIP), Irving Mill, 16 chairs... the list goes on.

                    Of all these places, maybe Bar Pitti could be the one where you can watch the world go by... or Balthazar. But make sure you choose a place that has good food, so you have something to console yourselves over if the celebs don't show.

                    1. re: Spends Rent on Food
                      ESNY RE: Spends Rent on Food Aug 6, 2009 07:37 AM

                      I've seen Batali on the bench outside Casa Mono/ Bar Jamon holding a bottle of wine more than I have at any of his restaurants.

                      1. re: ESNY
                        kelea RE: ESNY Aug 6, 2009 08:06 AM

                        Wouldn't hanging out at Chelsea market guarantee you see at least ONE food network star? Saw Bobby flay the last time i was there. There's Amy's Bread or the espresso bar you can park yourself and just people watch

                        1. re: kelea
                          Miss Needle RE: kelea Aug 6, 2009 02:19 PM

                          I'm not so sure about that. I don't think all of the shows are taped there, and a lot of it may be behind-the-scenes people (eg. the Bob Tuschmans). Bobby Flay lives in the building next to Chelsea Market so you're probably more likely to see him there than some of the other stars. But I have seen Cat Cora after an Iron Chef taping there.

                        2. re: ESNY
                          planetjess RE: ESNY Aug 6, 2009 10:17 AM

                          Re: Batali--don't know if he's the kind of celeb that the OP is looking for, but as of a couple of years ago, I'd see him pass through the intersection at McDougal and West 3rd Street at least a couple of times a week between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Sometimes with small child. Always with orange clogs and bermuda shorts over hairy legs. All times of year.

                          1. re: ESNY
                            whitneybee RE: ESNY Aug 9, 2009 02:43 PM

                            I walked by Momofuku Noodle Bar one day last fall and saw Batali and David Chang (and two other people I couldn't identify) having lunch near the window.

                        3. re: saltysweet
                          hcbk0702 RE: saltysweet Aug 6, 2009 08:13 AM

                          If anything, a "discerning Chowhound" (whatever that means) would be distrustful of any place that builds itself up as some sort of celeb hangout and actively tries to cultivate a sense of hipness. Why would you seek out opinions about food/wine etc. from celebs when they tend to know nothing about it? The vast majority of them don't care about food quality. For me, if there's someone in the kitchen who seriously cares about his/her craft and is passionate about cooking great food, I'm happy, regardless of what the place looks like. In fact, a lot of the smaller, hole-in-the-wall type joints won't look trendy at all, since all of their money and energy is poured into the food. I love places like that.

                          And frankly, what you describe as the "coolest crowd" where "everyone looks good and fun" sounds a whole lot like "pack of insufferable douchebags" to me. But I guess we're looking for different things; I don't eat to see or to be seen or to impress people by being "in" on the scene. My focus is great food and finding people who are honest and genuine about it.

                          1. re: hcbk0702
                            stephaniec25 RE: hcbk0702 Aug 6, 2009 08:32 AM

                            I agree with hcbk. You aren't going to find the type of place you are looking for very easily in NYC. In LA, celebs go out with the purpose of being seen by paparazzi to get photos taken but you will certainly not find that here. New York is a great food city so my recommendation is to go out with the primary purpose of eating well then visit the typical clubs and VIP rooms if you want something with the coolest crowd, however that may be defined. The restaurants aren't really the place for that.

                            1. re: stephaniec25
                              JungMann RE: stephaniec25 Aug 6, 2009 10:05 AM

                              I don't think it's as difficult as you make it out to be, stephanie. The wide open garage-style doors at Delicatessen were designed with the insecurities of gawkers in mind so the self-important can show-off their savvy with every other aspiring-celebrity-turned-administrative-assistant south of 14th Street! And you might even spot a celebrity walking to the Met if you can snag a sidewalk table!

                              1. re: JungMann
                                planetjess RE: JungMann Aug 6, 2009 10:22 AM

                                Yes, but then you are eating at Delicatessen.

                                i still think the categories are not really all that different from each other, but am more convinced that the request has nothing whatsoever to do with chow. Therefore, with no compunction, I reiterate: Check Page 6 and Gawker Stalker. Minetta Tavern, Monkey Bar, Charles. Chances are good at any of those that if you don't get celebrities, you'll get a fair number of douchebags wanting to be looked at as they look at others--which is, I think, the closest that NY comes to L.A.-type celebrity culture (for comparison, it is no secret whatsoever exactly where many celebrities live--EXACTLY--yet note the absence of hawkers selling maps to stars' homes on our streetcorners). The rest of the time they walk among us largely unmolested and only briefly ogled--almost as though they were human beings. Food's supposed to be pretty good at Minetta, so I'd start there. One could also spend a sunny Saturday camped kitty-corner across from the entrance to Pastis. At *some* point between 11 a.m. and midnight, some celebrity *will* want some french onion soup.

                                I'm seriously trying to be helpful. If I weren't, I'd send him to Shopsin's.

                                1. re: JungMann
                                  stephaniec25 RE: JungMann Aug 6, 2009 12:51 PM

                                  I meant it's difficult to recommend someone to go to a place where they are guaranteed to see celebs. We don't really have constant celeb hangouts minus maybe Waverly or Monkey Bar.

                              2. re: hcbk0702
                                City Kid RE: hcbk0702 Aug 6, 2009 08:58 AM

                                I couldn't agree more and wherever these places are I would avoid them. Sounds too much like the high school cafeteria. One of the fun things about living in NYC is that you see celeb's all the time, but it's no big deal and that is probably why they like living here. The trick is to see them but pretend you don't.

                                1. re: hcbk0702
                                  Miss Needle RE: hcbk0702 Aug 6, 2009 02:27 PM

                                  In defense of the OP, if you look at another one of her posts, it seems that she's got a pretty decent food lineup for this trip already. But I guess she just wants one trendy restaurant for the "experience." While it's not my thing, I know a lot of people who are really into celebrities.

                                  To the OP, my vote would be for the outside seating at Bar Pitti (but I'm not very knowledgeable about celebrities and generally don't notice them until somebody else points them out to me).

                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                    saltysweet RE: Miss Needle Aug 8, 2009 09:36 PM

                                    Thanks for getting it. I live in a big city with 'celebs' all around and I don't care who I see or meet and I too mostly don't notice until it's pointed out to me. I am just trying to please everybody. The question I have about Bar Pritti and Minetta (which sound like the two most interesting places to check out), are they worth it for more that the people watching? Is the food any good? Drinks any good?

                                    1. re: saltysweet
                                      Miss Needle RE: saltysweet Aug 10, 2009 05:53 AM

                                      Yeah, I know a few people who go really go ga ga over celebrities. I haven't been to Minetta Tavern (yet), but have read very positive reviews about their food (especially for their steak and Black Label burger). Bar Pitti is good. Actually, DH says he's had the best tripe dish ever there -- though I tend to disagree -- especially since I think my tripe is better ; ).

                                      Actually, I think Minetta Tavern may be a better place to see celebrities. You do have to plan very carefully and make reservations in advance though.

                                      Wherever you go, I hope your friends get to see somebody famous -- though sometimes it can be so random. Just saw Tyra Banks and her date dressed up in black tie near MOMA on Saturday night.

                          2. s
                            stephaniec25 RE: saltysweet Aug 4, 2009 12:11 PM

                            As others have said, celebs in NY don't dine at the hotspots in an effort to be seen as they do in LA. They just go to neighborhoody, low-key spots. That said, you might see someone famous at Minetta Tavern, Balthazar (which isn't a hot spot at all anymore but solid standby), Spotted Pig, and La Esquina. No promises though.

                            I'm not sure if you are looking for good food or just a scene.

                            FYI The person that said Ninja was certainly joking.

                            1. c
                              crovito RE: saltysweet Aug 6, 2009 09:03 AM

                              I hesitate to answer but here is my opinion on your questions ( the mix of all three ):
                              - Monkey Bar (for sure)
                              - Cipriani downtown (for sure)
                              - Weaverly Inn
                              - Minetta Tavern
                              - Balthazar
                              - Spotted Pig
                              - Rose Bar

                              I do agree that celebs in NY do a good job of staying low key

                              1. financialdistrictresident RE: saltysweet Aug 6, 2009 12:21 PM

                                saltysweet, suggest you tell your friend to look up Ninja on Late Night Shots.

                                I hear Saratoga is the summer place to be and Alec Baldwin dines at Chianti. You might want to do a search of the Tristate Board.

                                Please let us know where you end up and report back on your experience.

                                1. s
                                  saltysweet RE: saltysweet Aug 8, 2009 09:32 PM

                                  Thanks to all who responded and sorry if the post did not seem CHOW related. I don't care about celeb hangouts or pretentious places. I have a friend travelling with who does and hence the query.

                                  I was hoping to hear of the 'new and up and coming" places where foodies in NYC might go before the 'regular' folks hear about it and fall in love. That was my point three. For example, I was at Momfuku long before it was beloved here. I heard about it from an industry person who recommended it and I'm very glad I did.

                                  I have no idea if the comment about Ninja is a joke at my expense or not as I'm not a New Yorker. I'm just trying to take the little time I have in the city and spend it as gastronomically pleasantly as possible. I'm also trying to please people with different tastes and different interests and was hoping I could 'kill a few pheasants with one stone'.

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