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3 nights in NYC, need help narrowing down choices

My husband and I are celebrating my birthday at the end of the month. We have reservations at Blue Hill Friday night but need help with Thursday and Saturday (my birthday). We get in late from LA on Thursday so would like to go somewhere that's open late (our plane gets in around 9pm so realistically we could eat around 10:30). We're staying with friends near Washington Square. We love all types of food but especially love Japanese, Italian and American. I don't eat a lot of meat but my husband does. We're hoping to go to the theater on Saturday so we'd love some recommendations for places near Broadway where we can get heavy appetizers. I need help narrowing down our choices for a later dinner Saturday night:
Convivio
SHO
Babbo
or your suggestions.
Also, any opinions as to whether we should try Momofuku noodle bar vs. ssam? There's just 2 of us so the fried chicken isn't an option for us.
Thanks!!

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Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

Convivio
45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

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  1. > LA on Thursday so would like to go somewhere that's open late (our plane gets in around 9pm so realistically we could eat around 10:30

    Make sure you plan for delays or a long cab line or missing luggage and/or catching up with friends, etc. Dependent on circumstances, you might not be available to eat until after 11pm or might change your minds and want to get something delivered. What's the nearest intersection to your friends' place? Maybe Otto is close by? They serve until midnight (although the kitchen may close at 11:30pm, I'm not sure).

    > We're hoping to go to the theater on Saturday so we'd love some recommendations for places near Broadway where we can get heavy appetizers.

    If you'll be dining pre-theatre, most places nearby will be slammed with people eating dinner. Make reservations and hopefully places won't give you the evil eye for "only" ordering appetizers. They are, however, quite skilled at getting you out before curtain time; I always make sure to add the curtain time as a note when making a reservation for pre-theatre meals. What show do you plan to see? Have you purchased tickets already? Once you know your theatre location, it's much easier for us to recommend restaurants nearby.

    For your post-theatre meal, note that Babbo is very popular and they might be fully booked already (although your late dinner time might help). Babbo opens its books a month in advance to the numerical date. I would call and make a reservation as soon as possible if you wish to eat there on Saturday night.

    Additionally, cabs can be hard to get on a Saturday night so be sure you account for travel time from the Theatre District to your dinner destination.

    > Also, any opinions as to whether we should try Momofuku noodle bar vs. ssam?

    Have you looked at either of the menus online? Does anything catch your eye? Are you planning to dine at lunch? Are you interested in ramen or not?

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    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      We're staying at Washington Square and 5th Ave. We haven't bought theater tickets yet but are leaning towards Billy Elliot which is at the Imperial Theater (245 W. 45th St. btw. Broadway and 8th).
      I have looked at both Momofuku menus and they both sound great. We do like ramen but if one of the restaurants is better than the other that's where we'd like to go!

      1. re: sharonfiedler

        I'd say Ssam over Noodle. Ssam is a flat-out better and more interesting restaurant anyway, IMO, and there are so many good ramen places in L.A. that you really don't need to be eating ramen in NYC.

        1. re: uwsister

          Agreed -- you don't need to be eating ramen in NYC!

      2. re: kathryn

        If you can't get into Babbo before the theater, I'd try Esca, another Batali restaurant. We went there during Restaurant Week for lunch and the service was some of the best I've experienced in the city. Food was excellent, too.

      3. With so many great dining options in NYC I would seriously recommend avoiding Momofuku- any of them. It's cool to try it once to experience what it is all about but since you are only here for three days skip it.

        I'd recommend Eleven Madison Park, Babbo, Gotham Bar and Grill, Craft, Scarpetta, Convivio, Maialino.

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        Eleven Madison Park
        11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

        Babbo
        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

        Gotham Bar and Grill
        12 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003

        Scarpetta
        355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

        Convivio
        45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

        Maialino
        2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

        18 Replies
        1. re: steakrules85

          I know you didn't have a good experience at Momofukus, but I definitely think Momofuku Ssam is an unique and interesting restaurant worth visiting for a lot of people (I say that because I wouldn't recommend it to vegetarians.) And I'm not even a David Chang fan!

          I do second your EMP and Scarpetta recs, both some of the best restaurants in NYC. No reason for the OP to visit Craft though since there's a Craft in Los Angeles as well.

          1. re: uwsister

            Thanks for your suggestions!
            We have reservations Saturday night at Convivio and lunch reservations at DBGB. I've been to Craft in LA but am not really a steak restaurant fan. I'm going to look up EMP, Gotham Bar & Grill and Scarpetta. Should we have lunch/brunch at one of them on Friday or Sunday? And if either of you have a recommendation for a pre-theater appetizer meal, let me know.
            Thanks again.

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            Scarpetta
            355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

            Convivio
            45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

            DBGB
            299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

            1. re: sharonfiedler

              Scarpetta doesn't serve lunch, only dinner.

              EMP only serves lunch Mondays through Fridays and would only be a possibility for Friday lunch. They do, however, have a superbly valued prix fixe option. Overall EMP is one of the best restaurants in town.

              Haven't been to Gotham.

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              Scarpetta
              355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

              1. re: kathryn

                Went to Gotham a couple months back and my impression was that they serve good food but it's not a "wow" restaurant. Solid, but unmemorable.

                I haven't been to Convivio nor a lot of Italian restaurants in the city, but I can't imagine Scarpetta not being one of the best. We went to Alto and Scarpetta in one week and while we were very pleased with both, Scarpetta was cheaper and more "worth it." Even my husband (not a fan of Italian restaurants) was impressed.

                And EMP, well, it's our (and many other Chowhounds') favorite restaurant in NYC at the moment. I'm sure lunch is great, but I think it's worthy of a dinner res if you can swing it.

                1. re: uwsister

                  > And EMP, well, it's our (and many other Chowhounds') favorite restaurant in NYC at the moment. I'm sure lunch is great, but I think it's worthy of a dinner res if you can swing it.

                  Ditto!

                  1. re: kathryn

                    I'll co-sign this, too. EMP, for either lunch or dinner, is an absolutely stellar meal.

              2. re: sharonfiedler

                I do hope you have a better experience at Convivio than I did. Granted, it wasn't a special occasion, so it wasn't that big of a deal (save for the bill, I guess). I think for those prices you can get better Italian food elsewhere.

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                Convivio
                45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                1. re: linguafood

                  I completely agree. Convivio is disappointing and not worth the pricetag.

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                  Convivio
                  45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    You know, I really didn't want to push this point, which is why I was expressing my hope for the OP to not be totally disappointed and underwhelmed -- as we were, especially given it's a special occasion dinner.

                    But who knows. There clearly are a number of fans of this place, and maybe she'll have a satisfactory evening. Fingers crossed.

                2. re: sharonfiedler

                  Ordering at Convivio is a puzzle to me. The bar is small and completely what I would expect in a fancy place. I like the bar.

                  Dinner in the main room can be loud. Although close, seating is not cramped. The room is loud but that's just the price of poker.

                  Food? I like the pastas. The menu says they are made in-house. The fusilli is wonderful. The grilled octopus, on the other hand, is a serious letdown and should be avoided. Pity.

                  Service is attentive and the vibe very old school. Hope this helps.

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                  Convivio
                  45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

              3. re: steakrules85

                For a short trip, however, I find it nice to mix around cuisines so you don't end up with a bunch of French/Italian/American meals in a row.

                Also keep in mind there isn't really anything like the Momofuku restaurants in LA.

                1. re: kathryn

                  eh, LA has Animal on Fairfax...sort of what momofuku wishes it could be but falls WAYYYY short.

                  1. re: sam1

                    Regardless, Momofuku is distinct from Animal in style.

                    Restraint is certainly not Animal's forte.

                    1. re: sam1

                      I love Animal but I don't see it's similar to Momofuku Ssam other than their carnivorous indulgence. Totally different cuisine.

                      1. re: sam1

                        I have to agree with the others. We live in LA, and Animal is one of our top 3 favorite restaurants in LA ... probably my favorite, actually.

                        That being said, it is really nothing like any of the Momos. That being said, I would choose it over any of the Momos any day of the week.

                        1. re: a213b

                          take away momofuku's faux-asian influences and yr left with a restaurant trying to be creative with meat and pork but overall, does not deliver.

                          animal is a meat-centric restaurant that is inventive and absolutely delicious. thats where my comparison was made.

                          1. re: sam1

                            I guess I see what you're saying, but to me, if you take away the "faux-asian influences" from the Momos, then you've got entirely different restaurants ... you're changing their very DNA.

                            1. re: sam1

                              How is Momofuku "faux-Asian"? I'm Asian (who grew up in Asia) and can't understand why you would feel that way. Maybe Spice Market, but not Momofuku.

                    2. i live right over there on 5th ave. for yr late meal, id consider trying to get into minetta tavern since itll be late and right by the place yr staying at. the food is insane...though heavy on the meat.

                      if you cant get in to minetta, consider ushiwakamaru for sushi on houston off sullivan (a few blocks away). great neighborhood crowd, insanely good sushi...though you have great sushi in LA.

                      im very anti momofuku...the food is just meh. i do like the redhead on 13th street near momofuku ssam for upscale southern food. have dessert at momofuku milk bar though...1 block away. get the red velvet cake soft serve...ive eaten it 3x in 5 days now.

                      1. For Sunday brunch, I'd consider Perry St. Friday lunch, EMP, though Gotham is also open for Friday lunch and is a good deal for that. Convivio is a great choice for your Saturday dinner. Ssam is pricey for what it is but the food is tasty.

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                        Convivio
                        45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rrems

                          Fantastic. We may skip Momofuku Ssam if it's similar to Animal. Too much meat for me! Thanks for all the help. We're excited to eat!

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                          Momofuku Ssam Bar
                          207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

                          1. re: sharonfiedler

                            I have only been to EMP for dinner but I am sure it would be spectacular at lunch as well. Gotham had a $31 prix fixe lunch which is one of the best bargains in town. Both would be great choices for lunch/dinner.

                        2. i was left cold by SHO, and i love momofuku ssam.....