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Jan 23, 2010 04:58 AM

5 days in the City with my Sister

Hi all. I've been reading tons of posts on here over the last couple of weeks and doing lots of research, but would love some feedback.

My Sister is coming over from England to visit and we are driving down to NYC for 5 days in early March. We both love a good drink, so this will be quite a boozy trip. We're looking to do lots of eating and drinking and generally have a fabulous, girly time. We want a mix of loud, boisterous, fun places, and also restaurants we can sit in for hours chatting over a couple of bottles of wine. We are both 40ish, so we like lively.....but not half naked. Those days are long gone! We are staying in Midtown West (8th Ave). We both love Italian, Mexican and American food. Nothing too out there.

The first night (Saturday) we have booked Two Times Square, the restaurant inside the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square. I know it's not the best food in the world, but the view is stunning. This is my sister's first time in NY and she will be blown away by being right there. Also, we won;t get to NY until late and this is near the hotel so will be easy.

After reading lots of posts I had decided to try to book Five Points for Sunday brunch, but they only had a table available at 2.30pm and I wanted something earlier than that. So suggestions for a good girly brunch with champagne would be very helpful. Balthazar's maybe?

We really want a meal in Little Italy. I've seen that lots of people seem to look down on the restarants there but we really want to be able to say we've done it. I've narrowed that down to Vincent's or Lombardi's.

We have booked Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar for lunch on the Monday as that looks like a fun place. We also want to go to the Bubble Lounge, even if only for a glass of champagne before dinner.

I'm thinking maybe Keen's for dinner 1 night. Is the atmosphere good there?
Any reviews of St. Andrew's? My sister loves Scotch and apparently they have the biggest selection in NY so that might be fun for her.

Another restaurant that looked interesting was Hell's Kitchen for Mexican.

Also, I've always wanted to spend time in Greenwich Village and/or Tribeca but have somehow never managed to. Not sure if that will be breakfast, lunch or dinner, or maybe even the whole day down there.

I'd like to try 5 Napkin Burger too as those burgers look delicious! Or is Shake Shack better?

Any suggestions or thoughts would be most appreciated....thanks!

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  1. shake shack over 5 napkin for sure.

    1. For brunch, Five Points also takes walk in tables, they don't take a whole lot of reservations because of this. But I do like Balthazar but it's not super girly. More like a French brasserie type feel -- loud, bustling, a little cramped, faux weathered. In the West Village, you could also do Blue Ribbon Bakery for brunch (no reservations) as well as Little Owl (also no reservations), which are both in nice, scenic parts of the neighborhood. Locanda Verde in Tribeca is also fantastic and takes reservations, but the neighborhood isn't as cute and quaint at the West Village.

      Lombardi's is not in Little Italy, BTW, if that matters to you. It's in "Nolita." As for actual Little Italy, it's visually interesting but I've never had any good experiences at restaurants there (and I really dislike how they'll post people outside EACH restaurant trying to talk to you as you walk by).

      The atmosphere at Keens is very old school New York. I love it because it feels like you're dining in a place steeped with history. If you like scotch, go to Keens, they also have a HUGE list.

      For Shake Shack, it depends on your tolerance for crowds/lines and how much you like thin style patties with a special sauce (IMO the Shack Burger is the best one thre).

      1 Reply
      1. re: kathryn

        Locanda Verde looks great, thanks for that suggestion!
        And maybe we'll try to walk in for Five Points because I really did like their Brunch menu.
        thanks for the response.

      2. I enjoyed my 5 Napkin burger, and it's a sitdown place with table service. Shake Shack is a self service counter type thing with long lines and waits. The UWS branch has tables inside but it's a quick in and out situation. I like the burger there in its category.

        Brunch suggestions: DBGB, Craftbar, Gramercy Tavern front room. Balthazar might be fun too, but it is VERY LOUD and I personally cannot stand it at peak times.

        Keen's is wonderful. Go.

        If you must go to Little Italy, I'd chose either Luna or Il Cortile, depending on how "fancy" you want.

        But know that Little Italy is really nothing more than a couple of blocks full of tourist-laden restaurants.

        10 Replies
        1. re: gutsofsteel

          ok, I'm gradually becoming convinced to give Little Italy a miss. I guess it's just an image that suckers in tourists like me.

          And after these replies, I'm thinking I will book for Keen's for sure


          1. re: Juswus

            meh...nothing special happens there. if you want to sit down and have an italian after dinner drink and dessert, go to veniero's.
            If you want a sit down burger, go to JG of my favs.

            1. re: smokeandapancake

              My favorite sitdown burger (other than at Luger's) is at the bar at Wolfgang's at lunchtime.

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                5 Napkins has comfortable tables, attentive service, not so good house beer and some pretty dull burgers. Injecting the ground beef with fat to make a juicy burger doesn't work. The beef taste and the fat taste are too dissimilar. I have no need to go back.

                1. re: steve h.

                  They have a terrific beer list. Don't drink the house beer, that's all. It's kinda weird that you would single out their house beer when one considers their beer list.


                  They have a couple of different burger styles - which one did you try? I had the one with the brisket in it and I liked it fine. I'd go back there if I need to eat in that neighborhood. Would I make a special trip to go there? No.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    If it's a house beer then you expect they have to stand behind it. Simple as that.

                    The signature burger is juiced. The natural beef juices and the injected liquified fat/beef broth combo have different flavors. This is not good. My lunch buddy tried the lamb burger. I had a quarter of it. It was not very good.

                    Service was very good. I like beer. I can get good beers elsewhere. At the end of the day, there is nothing compelling at 5 Napkins.

              2. re: smokeandapancake

                that cheesecake at Veniero's looks amazing!

              3. re: Juswus

                instead of suffering a meal in Little Italy, why not pass through on your way from Chinatown, see it, have a cannoli, and pick up a pound of orecchiette from Piemonte. it's a cheap souvenir to take home and will prolong the feeling of being on vacation.

                1. re: coasts

                  Brilliant idea. Last time I walked through I just stopped for ice cream from a stand. I think maybe that was for the best judging from the reviews. thanks.

                  1. re: Juswus

                    For cannoli, skip any place that has them pre-filled as the shells can get soggy. Try Rocco's on Bleecker or Bruno's on La Guardia for freshly filled cannoli.

                    See these, too:

            2. On Hell's Kitchen.. I have eaten there many times pre-theater and it is has been consistently good. Another good place is Toloache which is on 50th between Broadway and 8th. You can check out their menu here to see if it would interest you and your sister.
              If you want to have your Mexican meal downtown, you can try L'Esquina on Kenmare Street. You will need to book in advance. I think they also do brunch.
              I second Locanda Verde in Tribeca and Bar Artisanal is also down there if you want to take a break for some wine and cheese.
              Have fun in the city!

              1 Reply
              1. re: elkaynyc

                How have I missed Bar Artisinal before?!! That is perfect! I've read the name many times on here, but must have forgotten to look them up. Thanks so much, I love that suggestion.

                The food at L'Esquina looks delicious and I've never even heard of them before so thanks again.

              2. Keen's and Locanda Verde are great choices. I would add, in the West Village, Bar Blanc for dinner and Perry St. for lunch. Other ideas for midtown are Marseille and Convivio.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rrems

                  Marseille looks absolutely perfect too! Great suggestion, thank you.

                  Locanda Verde looks great too....especially the breakfast menu!