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mid-priced dinners

I am planning a trip in May with my husband and looking for some ideas of mid-priced dinners (say, $50 a head not including wine). We will be trying a few higher end places but can't afford to do so every night. We pretty much eat all types of food but particularly keen to get the true New York experience (we're from London, so looking for things that we can't get at home!). We have a few more casual places pegged for lunches (eg Katz's, Shake Shack, Grimaldis, Gray's Papaya, some chinatown dim sum), so looking for proper sit-down meals but without premium price tags. Happy to spend a little more if it's really worthwhile. If it helps, the more expensive places on our shortlist (thanks to extensive reading of the board!) are Collichio and Sons (HUGE Top Chef fans!), Babbo, Convivio, Sushi Yasuda, Gramercy Tavern). Feedback on these welcomed too - we will probably go to 2/3 higher end places, and 2/3 mid priced.

We'll be staying near central park but happy to travel round manhattan!

Thanks!

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Gramercy Tavern
42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

Shake Shack
Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

Sushi Yasuda
204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

Convivio
45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

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  1. In terms of pricing, don't forget to budget for tax (nearly 9% here) and tip (15-20% though my gut tells me that New Yorkers tend to tip on the higher end).

    If you're a huge Top Chef fan, Perilla (Harold from Season 1's restaurant) is much more gently priced than C&S. Any reason you're not considering Craft?

    If you like Italian, Babbo is quite good but just a little bit over $50pp dependent upon what you order. I really love Babbo but have been taken by Scarpetta (more fashionable) and Peasant (more rustic) as of late.

    I don't think you can get near your price point with Sushi Yasuda and still be happy but there are other sushi alternatives like Kanoyama or Ushiwakamaru that get you a bit closer dependent on what you're looking for (quality nigiri, I assume, and not cooked dishes).

    For Gramercy Tavern, were you thinking the Tavern Room or the formal dining room? The formal dining room is more expensive but the Tavern Room is right in your price range and is very comfortable and friendly.

    Another Londoner just posted an inquiry a bit similar to yours, searching for items that are uniquely NY. Like them, it might behoove you to look into options for BBQ, burgers, and steak while in the USA.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/700337

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    Perilla
    9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

    Gramercy Tavern
    42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

    Babbo
    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

    Sushi Yasuda
    204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

    Kanoyama
    175 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

    5 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks for your reply! Great advice. We don't mind spending more than $50 a head on a few meals, just don't want to do so every night (or it might impact on our other - shopping - budget!!!)

      Was planning on C&S rather than Craft as I understand that's where Collichio is spending most of his time these days. Do you think we'd have a better experience at Craft? Happy to take advice if the quality is better.

      1. re: uniqueusername

        Haven't been to C&S yet as my friends have had decidedly mixed reviews. But I do always have a great time at Craft.

        1. re: kathryn

          Hey Kathryn,
          Have you been to Craft lately? Their current tasting menu looks REALLY good but I haven't seen lots of recent reviews.
          JeremyEG

          1. re: JeremyEG

            It's bit a little while, and also, I never get the tasting menu since I prefer to order a lot of items to share. Maybe someone else can share their experience.

      2. Agree with Perilla -- good, cozy and fun.
        Would try Lupa as a substitute for Babbo if you want the Batali experience.
        Would also suggest checking out Pearl Oyster Bar. You can keep it in your price range depending on what you order but more importantly I think it's the sort of NE seafood you won't see in London. (And last time I was there I saw Gail from Top Chef waiting for a table....)

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        Lupa
        170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

        Pearl Oyster Bar
        18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

        Perilla
        9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

        Babbo
        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

        3 Replies
        1. re: JMJD

          :D
          I love the idea of a Top Chef Stalking food weekend!!

          Thank you for the advice, I hadn't heard of Pearl Oyster Bar so will check it out, and Perilla too!

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          Pearl Oyster Bar
          18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

          Perilla
          9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

          1. re: uniqueusername

            Pearl is delicious. I second the rec.
            JeremyEG

            1. re: JeremyEG

              having checked out the website I have no issues at all in wholeheartedly throwing myself behind this recommendation! It looks splendid!