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Apr 15, 2010 08:36 PM

Torontonian's in search of good, unique to Manhattan food next week!

So my husband and I are visiting for some R&R next week arriving Monday and leaving Thursday. In Toronto we have a lot of the same types of restos as NYC, however we would love some local suggestions that aren't kitchy and touristy. I know and understand some touristy venues are required, but I would really love some feedback!

We're staying at the City Club Hotel in Midtown but we're willing to check out anywhere within a 20 minute cab-ride radius.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. 20 minute cab ride = most of Manhattan will be in play. Not sure where City Club Hotel is in Midtown seeing as, well, I live here, so providing cross streets is most helpful. Midtown is also rather wide going from east to west.

    It would be helpful if you provided more concrete parameters for your search other than "local suggestions that aren't kitschy or touristy." We do have restaurants that BOTH locals and tourists enjoy.

    Any picky eaters in your party? Will it always be just you and your husband? Cuisines that are preferred? Atmosphere or features you're looking for? Fancy or casual? Bustling or very quiet? Upscale or divey? Hip or laidback? Reservations preferred or not (note that since you are coming in a few days a lot of places will already be fully booked -- a lot of visitors and locals reserve tables 3-4 weeks in advance)? Do you mind waiting in line? Any specific neighborhoods you plan to be in? Price range? Are you working around sightseeing, commitments to see friends, Broadway shows, etc?

    It's most helpful if you have some places in mind and are searching for feedback on an itinerary. Manhattan has literally thousands of restaurants, and it's very difficult to provide useful recommendations without extra information.

    It's most helpful to give a specific dollar amount per person, INCLUDING sales tax (about 9% nowadays) and tip (15-20%) in addition to wine/cocktails/drinks/etc.

    Previous threads that may help:

    Don't leave NY without eating these foods

    Pizza in NYC

    For cheap eats, try out some street food:

    I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour (but note that Guss' has moved, do Pickle Guys instead):

    Best brunch:

    Best foodie shopping:

    Best mixology:

    Top Ten Bars for Beer Snobs

    Manhattan for 5 days over New Year

    Other hounds' itineraries/reports:

    Additionally, you can peruse the menus of many restaurants on And is handy for making reservations. However, not all restaurants are on Open Table, and for the ones that are, they don't put up every single available table, so call if you can't find the time and date you want. The good ones will try to accomodate you or put you on the waitlist.

    Restaurants in NYC take reservations usually 31, 30, 28, days in advance or similar. Sometimes restaurants take them by phone 28 days in advance but ALSO limit OpenTable to 27 days in advance. So the OT limit might be different from the phone limit. It's not a perfect tool but extremely helpful if you're not dead set on the MOST popular places.

    The most popular places will book up the day they open up their books. BUT you can ask to be put on the waitlist or call day on the day of and ask about cancellations.

    The hardest restaurants to get into are Babbo (one of the most popular in the city), Momofuku Ko (they only take reservations online 6 days in advance at 10am and have only 12 seats), Rao's (every table "belongs" to a regular), Waverly Inn (did it ever officially "open"?), Minetta Tavern (non VIPs usually get stuck with the 6pm or 10pm slots), Gramercy Tavern (democratic but VERY popular), and Union Square Cafe (ditto). Places that recently opened and have gotten good reviews can also be hard to get into if you don't call early enough (like 4 weeks in advance or 10am on the dot 1 month in advance). Also, there are only a handful of places left in NYC that are jackets required, and none require ties.

    Pickle Guys
    49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

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

    110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

    Minetta Tavern
    113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

    Momofuku Ko
    163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Waverly Inn
    16 Bank St, New York, NY 10014

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks so much for the suggestions, i will have to take a few hours to check out those links/threads!

      City Club Hotel is at 55 West 44th Street.

      Neither of us are picky eaters and will pretty much eat anything. It will alwasy be just the two of us. My husband has been to NYC but it's be eons ago, and I've never been. No specific types of cuisine preferred, just good food. Casual, laid back for the most part is what we're looking, we do NOT enjoy snobby joints. We may do fine dinning once or twice. We prefer a happy medium between bustling and quiet. We will definately do divey. We don't mind waiting in line as long as it's not a crazy 1.5-2 hour wait. We plan to spend a day each in downtown, midtown and uptown. We do plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, Central Park, The Met, Guggenheim, SOHO, Chinatown, FAO Schwartz, Empire State and we might catch a show. We don't have a price as in we don't mind paying top dollar for good food, but we're also not interested in overpaying for over-rated, poor service and bad food.

      We don't have an itinerary per se, we actually plan on winging it once we get here.

      1. re: jeannieh20

        > We don't have an itinerary per se, we actually plan on winging it once we get here.

        I definitely recommend making one (even a rough one) or else you might find yourself wandering around the neighborhood hungry and lost or IN that 2 hr wait for a table (popular no-reservations places in Manhattan routinely quote 1-2 hr waits) or late for your Broadway show.

        Additionally, some of the tourist attractions you mentioned are not as rich in Chowhound-worthy destinations in the immediate area.

        Central Park: the park is HUGE so it really depends if you're closer to UWS or UES
        The Met: did you mean opera or museum?
        Guggenheim / FAO Schward / UES: can be a difficult, more pricey part of town unless you plan carefully
        Chinatown: ditto, there are gems in the neighborhood but also tourist traps
        Pre-theatre meal: make reservations or risk missing your curtain time
        Empire state building: can be difficult in the immediate vicinity, recommend going to Koreatown

        1. re: jeannieh20

          As always, kathryn has generously included my tour in her round-up. :)

          dbBistro Moderne, one of 4-star Chef Daniel Boulud's restaurants, is located in your hotel. Though upscale, not nearly as pricey as Restaurant Daniel, his eponymous temple of haute French cuisine. At db, it's contemporary French bistro fare. Delicious! The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is a 3-course pre-theater prix fixe for $45. Best to make reservations.

          Photos of our most recent dinner at db:

          Note: Nobody in his or her right mind is interested in overpaying -- or, for that matter, paying at all -- for "over-rated, poor service, and bad food." :)

      2. Ino
        Grace's Trattoria

        1486 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021

        Grace's Trattoria
        201 E 71st St, New York, NY 10021

        5 Replies
        1. re: liz8000

          For a top notch meal near south end of central park, you have great options: Chef Michael White's Marea, the eponymous Jean-Georges, and though you won't be able to walk into Per Se, you can get your taste of Chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center. If you want an authentically NYC meal downtown, get in line and wait your turn for the Michelin-starred burger at Chef April Bloomfield's gastro-pub The Spotted Pig.

          Also, here are my thoughts on some NYC classics.
          You should eat chinese food. So eat great chinese food at Szechuan Gourmet in either of its 2 midtown locations.

          You should eat bagels. Head to the Upper West Side and grab one from H & H.

          You should get an extremely sophisticated cocktail at Please Don't Tell in the East Village.

          You should go to one of Chef David Chang's Momofuku restaurants. Every New York foodie has been to at least one. He's got Ma Peche in Midtown (very new), Noodle Bar ad Ssam Bar both in the East Village.

          Per Se
          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

          Bouchon Bakery
          10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

          Spotted Pig
          314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

          Szechuan Gourmet
          21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

          Please Don't Tell
          113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

          240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

          Ma Peche
          15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: UnderemployedInNYC

            thanks so much for the suggestions. we just checked david chang's momofuku and would love to try either noodle bar and/or ssam, but noticed they don't take reservations except for their large party/pre fix dinners. is that right? would you expect a long wait for Tuesday night dinner for 6:30??

            1. re: jeannieh20

              That's correct. No reservations accepted except for the bo ssam at Ssam Bar and the fried chicken dinner at Noodle Bar. Not sure about the wait at 6:30. But the earlier you can get there for dinner, the shorter the wait.

              1. re: jeannieh20

                The wait really picks up around 7. I went to Ssam for dinner last night at 6:30 (and thursday is a busier service than tuesday) and we were able to sit quickly.

                If you end up at Ssam, I recommend the pickles, rice cakes and the pork buns (two of his dishes that are always on the menu). The lo mein with ramp and trout roe is a new seasonal addition to the menu and blew me away. Everything that Chef Chang's menus stand for is in focus here- plays with texture and temperature and unexpected flavor pairings to take something familiar and make you reevaluate how you have ever eaten it so carelessly before. If you end up at Noodle Bar, my favorites are the momofuku ramen and the chilled spicy noodles.


              2. re: UnderemployedInNYC

                Toronto has an enormous Asian population and some of the best Chinese restaurants in North America- certainly many far better than Szechuan Gourmet. So suggesting Chinese food really doesn't make much sense unless they were to head to Flushing

                Szechuan Gourmet
                21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

            2. If you have a hankering for Latin, you can try Pio Pio, on east 34th, for a very informal but delicious lunch or dinner of Peruvian chicken, with spicy sauce on the side. It is a great representation of the dish and they are very well known.

              You also may want to try some BBQ. It isn't terrific in NYC but it is likely better than what you have up your way. For places to try there are many. Also, Colichio & Son, downtown on Tenth Avenue, very new, is worth checking out. Good luck.

              Pio Pio
              210 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016

              1 Reply
              1. re: comiendosiempre

                we booked a table at Agozar for monday night then Maze for tuesday night. any reviews/suggestions?

                324 Bowery, New York, NY 10012