HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Need a Great Restaurant Near Madison Square Park - E 26th Street Area

I have a business lunch with 5 colleagues that I need to quickly coordinate for this Monday 9/14. We just opened an office in this area and I am looking for a good place to celebrate the opening of this office.

I know about Houston's, which would be perfect, but they don't take reservations. I am also aware of Blue Smoke but not sure that is appropriate.

Can people please recommend some things? I am open minded at this point and just looking to make sure people have great food and a memorable meal - and I would like to make sure that the restaurant takes reservations!

Thanks very much in advance.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Although getting a reservation at Eleven Madison Park these days is next to impossible, since it is lunch time you may want to try them first because it is an excellent restaurant and right where you need to be.
    iTrulli is right around the corner and has excellent italian food.
    If you're looking for steak, Wolfgangs is much better than Houstons on 33rd and park. And Artisanal is a great french brasserie at 32nd and park which would be good for a group of 5.

    1. Bar Stuzzichini
      i Trulli
      Black Duck

      1. I second Wolfgang's and Artisanal (although the service at Artisanal can be pretty snotty at times and it's kind of a hectic and crowded room), but there's also Primehouse (a far better choice than either in my opinion) which is on the corner of 27th and Park which would be great. I'd also suggest Les Halles on Park between 28th and 29th. Is it the world's greatest? Probably not, but it's far better than Black Duck. Pamplona on 28th isn't bad, and they almost never have people in the dining room so getting a reservation should be a snap. However, they do fill up with an after work bar crowd and it's a small room so you'll hear the bar crowd all the way in the back. Also, it's not the most celebratory joint - sort of dim and hushed in the dining room. It's a study in contrasts! Also, while it can be pretty raucous, don't forget Dos Caminos on Park and 26th. Big place, lots of tables, not the greatest food but it can be fun if you're in the right mood.

        1. If you can't get Eleven Madison Park, you should try its sister restaurant Tabla. Excellent food and service. I've gone to Tabla for both business and social lunches and dinners.

            1. Eleven Madison Park is far and away the best restaurant in the immediate area, the lunch prix fixe is a great deal ($28 for 2 courses), and lunch reservations aren't too difficult to get. However, if you're looking for something with a Houston's or Blue Smoke vibe, EMP is certainly more upscale and formal in comparison. That said, I think it's the best choice by far as long as people dress up fairly nicely (jackets not required).

              Also, why Houston's? It's quite good for a chain, but there are so many more interesting options.

              2 Replies
              1. re: hcbk0702

                "Eleven Madison Park is far and away the best restaurant in the immediate area, the lunch prix fixe is a great deal ($28 for 2 courses), and lunch reservations aren't too difficult to get."

                While I certainly agree with the first part of this statement, the situation with regard to lunch reservations has changed radically since EMP became a 4-star. Previously, one could call up the same day and get a table for lunch in the dining room or even walk in. No more. They are now fully booked for lunch well in advance, and when we were there last week, they had to turn away a party of four who walked in. Reservations are not accepted for the bar, so you can walk in and have the 2 for $28 menu there.

                1. re: RGR

                  I agree it's harder, but looking on Opentable for lunch on 9/14 for 5 people, both 12:30 PM and 1 PM are available as of this minute. Lunch is still much easier than dinner.

              2. Gramercy Tavern (some other on this block: Veritas, Pizza Fresca, Mizu Sushi)
                Tabla (has the "bread bar", right next to park)
                Avoce (right next to park)
                Blue Smoke
                Barbounia (too far south?, some others in this area as well)
                Wolfgangs on Park (a top 3 steakhouse in Manhattan for me)
                Black Duck (see if they have jazz night)
                11 Madison Park
                Blue Smoke (see if Jazz Standard downstairs fits bill?)
                Il Truli
                Resto (i've never been)

                3 Replies
                1. re: shanshan

                  Actually, Resto wouldn't be a bad option. See if you can get the big table at the front of the restaurant. I think it's called the "farmhouse table" or something else equally twee and inaccurate. But it's set very far apart from the rest of the room, and the food is pretty terrific.

                  1. re: shanshan


                    You seem to have missed the part in the o.p. about this being a business *lunch*.

                    Veritas does not serve lunch.

                    1. re: RGR

                      yup.. missed that part. I think Novita could be an option.. they used to do catered lunches so they may be open at lunch..