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10th Anniversary Trip - I guess our budget would be moderate? Need recs.

My husband and I are going to NYC next year for our 10th anniversary. I knew it would be expensive, and to give you an idea of our budget, we were thinking of hotels in the $200-250/night range, but geez, there's not much to choose from in the city for that.

So I guess also in terms of restaurants, I sort of expect the same. I would say our budget will be moderate according to NYC standards, although by home-in-Orlando standards we live really well. I expect we will spend $200-250 on ONE dinner, but we will be there for at least 3 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. We like cool and trendy, and we're fairly adventurous eaters (but not weird), and we're not late night people. Looking breakfast less than $40, lunch less than $60, and generally dinner less than $100 except for one really nice one. My husband drinks a little, I don't at all, so that could make a more expensive place less expensive, but I don't want to eat anywhere that will "expect" me to order wine. I would appreciate recs, and yes we will be typical tourists trying to eat in Manhattan, Greenwich, and Soho, including one pre- or post-theater meal. thanks!

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  1. And we will definitely want some good Indian food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: starbucksbrew

      Two excellent Indian restaurant you should definitely consider: Devi and Tabla. We haven't been to Devi in quite a while, but we just had dinner at Tabla, and the food was delicious. Though the menu is the same no matter where you sit, I recommend the upstairs dining room, which I feel is nicer (tablecloths) and more comfortable than downstairs.

      Photos of our meal (there were 8 of us) can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

      http://www.tablanyc.com
      http://www.devinyc.com

    2. Can't comment on hotels as the mods here like us to keep the discussion on the food and drink of the city (I'd go to TripAdvisor for that).

      OK, so, in terms of budget, $20pp for breakfast, $30pp for lunch, and $50pp for dinner (except for the splurge dinner at $100-125pp). These are the approx. figures, including tax, tip, and a glass or two of wine with dinner? Yes?

      What types of cuisines do you like or dislike? Italian? American? Spanish? French? Chinese? Japanese? Others? Any allergies or avoids? When you say adventurous but not weird, I assume something like WD-50 is out of the question...can you explain a little more on what you do and don't eat (tripe? sweetbreads? pig's foot? foie gras? duck or squab? raw fish?)

      When do you typically eat dinner, when you say you're not late night people -- 6pm? 7pm? I'm not a huge wine drinker myself, BTW, and I rarely feel obligated to order wine at restaurants in NYC, so you should be fine. Don't feel uncomfortable if you choose to drink only water, tea, or soda!

      I think you'll definitely be able to stay within your budget, especially if you go for cheaper breakfasts and lunches with some meals possibly being traditional NY deli, some burgers, pizza, bagels & smoked salmon, etc.

      These threads may also help:

      Theatre district:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/665318
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/624889
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/628687
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/665859

      Don't Leave NY Without Eating...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610739

      Best pizza
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6484...

      Best pastries:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/499373

      Best foodie shopping:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/585538
      http://www.chow.com/lists/edit/33
      http://www.chow.com/lists/edit/924

      Best breakfast and brunch in NY:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598414

      Best chocolatiers:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/645011

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        keep an eye on the discount hotel sites like hotels.com & orbitz. Depending upon when you want to come, you can get some great deals that way. Friends easily got nice hotels within the $200 including the exorbitant local hotel taxes.

        You may want to try one of the more expensive restaurants at lunch time and spend your dinner budget on their specially priced midday prix fixe. Then go for a really good pizza and salad dinner on your lunch budget (with money left over). Our local tax is 8.875%, so you can factor that in. Don't forget to sign up (for free) at theatermania.com for discount theater coupons.

      2. You all rock! This is super help, thank you so much.

        Yes, I will define "adventurous" a little more. We eat sushi and not just California rolls. Eel is actually my favorite, and we like all other kinds of seafood too. I like venison, duck, and quail, and could be persuaded to try fois gras, but I'm not going near bellies, brains, cheeks, or snake. :) My husband will try anything once.

        We love ALL cuisines - seafood, Greek, Middle Eastern, American, Spanish, Cajun, French, German, Italian, pubs and taverns, and all Asian. Indian is our favorite, and Tabla looks right up our alley! I think that's #1 on our list. The tavern at Gramercy Tavern (not the dining room) looks like our style too, and part of the reason it's our style is because there are a few things I saw on the web menu that are different than what you find on everybody's menu. For instance, when I look for an Italian place, I'm not impressed by the fancy way they dress up their calamari. Everyone has calamari. I can get that at home. On its dessert menu, Gramercy Tavern has pumpkin whoopie pies. That impresses me, because no one else has that (although I will probably make them at home now!).

        And we will def try some street cart fare, how could you not? I'll check the "best of" lists for that and for pizza, and those links some of you gave me.

        For breakfast, I like REALLY trendy. I don't like restaurant eggs, period (I'll eat them at home). At a restaurant, I prefer gourmet pancakes, waffles, meats, and potatoes for breakfast, or cool funky dishes with crepes, donuts, or fancy hot chocolates.

        I was thinking Mesa Grill looks like our style too, and I wanted to go there when we were in Vegas, but we didn't make it there. Is it as good as it looks?

        7 Replies
        1. re: starbucksbrew

          You might want to reconsider not going near "cheeks." They really are delicious. I just had a sensational dish of veal cheeks goulash at Seasonal Restaurant and Wine Bar. Actually, everything we had there was terrific. Service is welcoming and professional, and the ambiance is very pleasing. It's been open about a year and has been awarded a Michelin star. I highly recommend it.

          Photos of our meal here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          A unique -- and seriously delicious -- quail dish is on the menu at SHO Shaun Hergatt. Chef Hergatt's wonderful cuisine combines accents from Australia (where he hails from) and Asia. Service is excellent, and the space is beautiful.

          Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          With regard to Gramercy Tavern, while the dining room has many fans, we've had disappointing meals there. However, the food in the Tavern Room has been uniformly excellent. We were last there in September. Note: Reservations are not accepted in the Tavern Room.

          Photos of our food and the space can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          1. re: RGR

            Haha! Okay, if I find the place that had beef cheeks ravioli on the menu again, either my husband or I will give it a go, and I will try it. LOL Or maybe we will try the Seasonal place.

            1. re: starbucksbrew

              I've never been to Babbo, but beef cheeks ravioli are on the menu there.

              http://www.babbonyc.com/menu2.html#primi

              1. re: RGR

                It's good too! We had it as one of the three pastas we tried and while it wasn't my favorite, it was very tasty.

          2. re: starbucksbrew

            I agree with RGR. Cheeks are becoming mainstream. To me they're very much like short ribs.

            Oh, and bellies. Don't be afraid of the bellies unless you don't like bacon. Bacon is thinly sliced pork belly. Don't confuse belly with stomach when it comes to meats.

            1. re: starbucksbrew

              There's great South Indian food in New York, and it's quite economical. Consider Saravanaas for breakfast, lunch, or dinner or Chennai Garden for lunch or dinner. In case you aren't familiar with South Indian food, Saravanaas is fundamentally a dosa house, specializing in idli (rice flour-based dumplings), vada (savory donuts), dosa (paper-thin filled or unfilled crepes), and utthapam (savory pancakes). Their desserts, especially the Badam Halwa, are also great. Chennai Garden serves all those things, too, and also has North Indian fare. Both restaurants are excellent and will cost you around $20-25/person for a sizable meal; you can spend quite a bit less, but it would be less varied and less fun. :-)

              1. re: Pan

                Second Saravanaas. A real treat every time.
                JeremyEG

            2. on carmine st in the village...absolutely wonderful italian experience. very moderate, google it and you'll see the rave reviews

              -----
              Trattoria Toscana
              64 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

              1. You're adventurous diners, so consider Momofuku Ssam Bar. I believe I spent an even $100 for two dinners there; maybe it was a bit more, including tip. Anyway, it's within your upper limit, it's cool and trendy, and it has a kind of eclectic use of good ingredients and techniques that's not like anything else. Have a look at their menu:

                http://www.momofuku.com/ssam/menu.asp

                5 Replies
                1. re: Pan

                  You know, I've seen the Ssam Bar recommended enough on this board (on lots of threads!) that I'm moving it to my "A" list. :)

                  1. re: starbucksbrew

                    I have to second Pan's advice on a couple fronts. The city has excellent inexpensive Indian food. I love Chennai Garden, and nearby Tiffin Wallah is more trendy, also with great food (I'm no expert on Indian food, I just know that I like both).

                    Ssam Bar -- one of my favorite dining experiences in the city. My husband and I went with my parents, and we all loved it. If you don't make it there for dinner (or even if you do), go next door to their Milk Bar for rich, interesting, delicious desserts (no seating).

                    1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                      I love Milk Bar! They usually have some great soft-serve ice cream and shakes, and I love the Dulce de Leche Cake.

                      1. re: Pan

                        Pan -- I must warn you that the Dulce de Leche cake is no longer available.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          Oh, that sucks. It won't deter me from going back, though.

                2. Ok, so I checked out the Ssam website for reservation info, and it looks like they only take reservations (at least online) if you're ordering the bo ssam. Is that true? Will they take phone reservations? How far in advance? (our trip is still a while off, next year, I'm just an early planner)

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: starbucksbrew

                    Ah, this rings a bell. If I recall, our party of four arrived on a Sunday at 6:15pm in order to avoid having a long wait. We ended up being seated right away, although the restaurant was fairly full.

                    1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                      Ok cool. I think we're going to come in on a Wednesday or Thursday and stay through Sunday, but regardless of which night we go, we are early eaters, like 7:00, and we'll push it to 6:30 or even 6:00 if necessary to avoid the rush.

                      1. re: starbucksbrew

                        You'll be fine. It's good to eat at the bar, if you like that. That's what I did when I had dinner there with my girlfriend.

                    2. re: starbucksbrew

                      Correct.

                      Reservations are only online. Reservations are only for the Bo Ssam.

                      They don't take phone reservations. They don't take any reservations unless you're planning on the Bo Ssam meal.

                      1. re: starbucksbrew

                        You'll be fine at Ssam bar. Grab a drink and wait for a bit. I've never had to wait more than a half hour or so and I really like the energy in the place. A real NYC experience.
                        JeremyEG

                      2. You guys are going to have a blast! If you're open to this many cuisines, you're certain to have a great time. How important is ambiance to you? My wife and I often go to Babbo for special occasions (and yes you should try the beef cheek ravioli!) but it's not a quiet room. Nor is Momofuko but it's also really fun. I guess I would want to know if your 'nice dinner' needs to be quiet and romantic or just killer food. You'll have great food at every place people have recommended here but the atmospheres are very different.

                        Here are my recs:

                        For fancy lunch, Jean Georges.

                        For your nice dinner, I would do Babbo (easily doable within your budget if you don't drink a lot)

                        Trendy breakfast, The Breslin at the Ace Hotel. It's new and so trendy that I haven't been able to get myself to eat there because I usually wander over there in t shirt and jeans and the other customers are much trendier than I. : ) Some of NYC's best coffee is to be found there at Stumptown as well.

                        Momofuko for lunch or dinner. Have fun and enjoy.

                        Saravaanas for affordable and superb Indian.

                        I'd also recommend one trip to an outer borough, even if only a 15 minute train ride. You can put your same posting on the outer boroughs board and you'll get lots of great recs. Often, the value will be better and heading to Brooklyn for a great meal is not at all unusual. If you're willing to head further out, you can find some of NYC's greatest meals at far below your budget.

                        Have a wonderful trip and please report back!
                        JeremyEG

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JeremyEG

                          I had breakfast with some friends at the Breslin recently. My pumpkin pancakes with spiced chili pecan butter was fine, just a little wet/soggy after a while. Not my favorite pancakes ever but not terrible. My bacon was a tad bit over cooked/too crispy, I prefer bacon that's a little more tender. The coffee, as expected, was excellent, and you can order a french press carafe to share with friends.