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first visit to NYC

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  • yosh1 Oct 9, 2009 10:45 AM
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I am surprising my GF with a trip to NY at the end of Oct for three days. It's our first visit and i'd like to sample some quintessential NY food. My choices so far:
Amy Ruth's
Russ and Daughters
Oyster Bar and Restaurant (maybe a little touristy, but that's ok)
We'll be in Queens so I was thinking maybe Sripraphai (i tried Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas based upon chowhound recs and it was amazing). I am also tempted by Peter Luger's, but haven't good experiences with steakhouses in the past (Cut in LV, Murray's in Minneapolis, Delmonico in New Orleans), is it worth it? Perhaps for lunch? Jean-Georges and EMP have really good deals at lunch so i'm thinking one of those as well. Finally, is all the hype about momofuku justified? Would a visit to SSam or the noodle bar be worth the line-ups? Any advice on my choices or suggestions on new ones would be much appreciated.

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  1. Wow you've done your research. I think you have some pretty great choices for someone who's never been to the city before. Of your selections, I would probably skip Patsy's and maybe try one of the newer pizza restaurants (Motorino, Keste, Veloce, Co. etc) as pizza, especially neopolitan, is sort of all the rage these days. Also, not a fan of Oyster Bar. Peter Lugers is definitely quintessential NY and wonderful but if you don't like steak, then you don't like steak. If it was the vibe at Cut that you didn't like and not the food (which I found to be stellar), Peter Lugers is very different. It's a really casual sort of old school boys club atmosphere. Absolutely no "scene". Oh and I'm a big fan of the Momofuku restaurants as I believe are most people on these boards. Definitely worth checking out one of David Chang's places. Have a great trip!!

    5 Replies
    1. re: mla19

      We're going to be in the village to see the halloween parade so i thought about Keste for dinner before, but the reviews i read were mixed. And with Peter Luger's, the problem is there really is not much better than a really good steak. You just never know how good the cut you get on a certain night is going to be. So I keep saying I'll never do another high-end steakhouse, but...

      1. re: yosh1

        I really liked Kestes pizza myself. More so than Motorino or Co. but I've only been to each of those places once. In that area you could also try John's, which is a classic NY pizza place, or not too far away in Nolita is Lombardi's. I think the reputation of Peter Luger's is pretty consistent over the years. Their porterhouse is known all over. Also, while it's pricey just like other steakhouses, it's not really "high end" in the sense that, as I mentioned, it's not sceney or formal. People go there for the food and the history, not for the atmosphere.

      2. re: mla19

        I agree... skip Patsy's and go somewhere like Lombardi's instead. Peter Luger is justifiably famous, but it's such a particular place... if you only have a few days in NYC and you're a little gun shy about expensive steak houses, try something else. You're not going to be missing the best steak on earth.

        1. re: chorosch

          No, not Lombardi's. Patsy's is way better, of the New York coal-oven type. And yosh1, if you prefer to be in the general area of Lombardi's than up in Spanish Harlem, Arturo's is also way better than Lombardi's, if the same type (New York coal-oven pizza).

          1. re: Pan

            There are probably a couple dozen places better than Lombardi's.

      3. Katz's and Russ & Daughters are on my well-known self-guided LES noshing tour. Here's the link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493333

        3 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          Thanks RGR. Would you pick Keen's over Peter Luger's? The reason i keep going back to it is it's reputation as the best steak on earth (at least that's what we hear out in the boonies)

          1. re: yosh1

            I've never been to Luger. Yes, there are many who think the steaks there are "the best steaks on earth." But there are also those who disagree.

            Keens is our favorite NYC steakhouse. It's been in its 36th St. location since 1885. Thus, in addition to delicious food (the signature is their legendary mutton chop, though the steaks and lamb chops are not exactly too shabby)) and excellent service, there is the unmatchable Old New York ambiance -- walls filled with authentic American memorabilia and row-upon-row of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings. There are also smoking pipes belonging to famous people dating back to the 19th century in display cases in the vestibule.


            1. re: RGR

              I've been to Luger's, and while it's definitely good and I don't mean to dismiss it, I feel like it might be a let down for you. I've had great steaks there, but also some experiences that weren't as good. But of course, I live in Brooklyn and can get there in 10 minutes. If I were coming in from out of town with huge expectations, I'm not sure it would top my list.

        2. My girlfriend and I had a very enjoyable dinner at Ssam Bar, topped off with a visit to Milk Bar next door. I thought our dinner was high-quality and a very fair value, but it didn't blow me away the way it's blown some other people away. Then again, I haven't been blown away by my lunches at Jean Georges, but I still recommend lunch there and do suggest you go. And Ssam Bar is an interesting and uniquely eclectic style of cuisine. I haven't been to the Noodle Bar but I would say yes, go. Katz's is great and definitely merits a visit. Get pastrami, of course, and if you want anything else, get brisket and make sure you ask for it juicy (if it's not juicy, it's too dry and doesn't taste great).

          1. i have reservations for JG for monday lunch and Marea for a late Sat dinner (~10). these are not set in stone, as i could swap EMP for JG, or try Scarpetta or Convivio instead of Marea. Anyone with any thoughts?

            7 Replies
            1. re: yosh1

              Having done both JG and EMP for lunch (EMP recently, JG in the Spring), to me it's no contest -- EMP hands down. We loved it so much for lunch we went the next night for dessert in the bar after a terribly disappointing meal at SD26, and then made two more reservations (one for dinner and one more for lunch) for while we are still in town.

              I have not been to Marea, but I LOVE both Scarpetta and Convivio, and you absolutely cannot go wrong with either. That being said I've seen generally positive reviews for Marea, too.

              Just adding my $.02

              1. re: a213b

                from what i've read, EMP seems more like the atmosphere we'd like. excellent service, beautiful space, but perhaps not a formal or 'uptight' as JG. I have a reservation for mon lunch

                1. re: yosh1

                  JG at lunch is not stuffy and fairly informal for a high-end, Michelin-starred restaurant. You don't even have to dress up for lunch.

                  1. re: yosh1


                    Glad you're having lunch at EMP. To whet your appetite in advance, here are links to photos of some of the dishes on the current 2 for $28 menu.





                    Lobster: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    Note: There’s a hefty supplement for the lobster but, imo, well-worth it.

                    And some photos of the space:




                    Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                    1. re: RGR

                      looking at your photos helped me decide on going to EMP. Everything looks great. Any recs on the 2 for $28 menu? Also, can you add dishes like @JG? Thanks

                      1. re: yosh1

                        Yes, you can add dishes. My wife and I just had lunch last week, and I HIGHLY recommend the Chicken Veloute with Sweetbreads to start and the Venison for a main. SOOOO good!

                        And you really cannot go wrong with any of their desserts, and oh how we love that Tart Cart!

                        1. re: yosh1


                          All the dishes in the photos are, of course, those we've had (so far). If I had to choose one appetizer and one main from those, they would be the egg and the lobster (presuming you're o.k with the $15 supplement).

                          We have also had some of the other dishes on the menu (heirloom tomatoes, tete de cochon, beef, chicken) but with different accompaniments.


                          Ah, yes! The Tarts Cart. :)



                2. If you go to Russ and Daughters for a later breakfast, you can stroll up a few blocks to McSorley's afterward for a beer. McSorley's takes a lot of heat on this site for the bridge and tunnel crowd it attracts at night, but during the day, it's a pretty cool spot. Definitely worth popping in just to see. Open in the 1850's and hasn't been cleaned since!

                  1. As far as halloween sat for a late night dinner, i was thinking maybe going to NY noodletown after watching the parade instead of Marea. i would still like to do Italian, tho. Besides Convivio and Scarapetta any advice? How about Al di La in brooklyn?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: yosh1

                      Love Al Di La - truly wonderful food- (Venetian specialties), superior quality that would be double the price if it was in Manhattan. Be aware, however, that they don't take reservations. As for the Oyster Bar, it is not a tourist place, quintessenially NY and has some very good seafood.
                      Amy Ruth has good, not great, soul food. Is there a particularly dish you're looking for? Other places to consider are Miss Maud and Miss Mamie's Spoonbread, Shark Bar and Rack and Soul (for the best fried chicken). Avoid Sylvia's at all costs- it is a tourist joint, good food long, long ago, but not now.

                      1. re: Ann900

                        chicken and waffles

                        1. re: yosh1

                          For chicken and waffles, Amy Ruth's is probably the way to go. For fried chicken alone, Rack and Soul