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Best neighbourhood to stay/eat in during visit to NYC

My husband and I are planning a long-weekend (5 day) visit to New York City at the end of May (from Toronto). Though we plan to do lots of touristy things (museums, shopping, etc.) one of our main interests is food. We hope to hit a few upscale restaurants for dinner (hopefully not pretentious -- just really excellent food), as well as hit some cheap and cheerful/ethnic/etc. places. We have pretty broad interests when it comes to food.

I haven't had a chance to do any thorough restaurant research yet on this board (though certainly will be) but was hoping for a bit of assistance in deciding where to stay, as I'd like to book the trip within the next day or two. We're considering staying in Midtown (Murray Hill, perhaps). Would this be a good home base for a culinary tour of NYC? If not, any other suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Midtown/Murray Hill would not be as convenient to dining hot spots and cheap/non-Western ethnic mom and pop restaurants (although Hell's Kitchen has a good number of spots and there are a bunch of Japanese restaurants in Midtown East).

    If your main interest is eating at the "foodie" establishments, I would recommend staying south of 14th Street (but above Canal). However, midtown is much more convenient to the Natural History museum, MoMA, The Met (opera), the Met (museum), Central Park, Grand Central, Times Square, and 5th Ave/department stores.

    There are some great restaurants in Midtown and north of midtown but I would say that they are more densely clustered together in Soho, West Village, East Village, Lower East Side, etc.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/622136

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      On first thought, my reaction was much the same as the other posters: Murray Hill is one of the least foodie neighborhoods around. However, if you are just here for 5 days, it actually could work out decently well if you want to be close to a few good spots as well as museums. There are some excellent options within (longish) walking distance: the Modern, Convivio, and Aquavit, among others. Less excellent ethnic options-you would be near Curry Hill, but most of the places there are somewhat mediocre. However, across town in Hells Kitchen there are some excellent possibilities. IN reverse, you could stay in one of the newer boutique hotels in Hells Kitchen (Midtown West) a bit away from Times Square (avoid! avoid!) and be closer to ethnic spots/farther from some of the higher end places, though you would be near Col's Circle with Per Se.
      Downtown has a greater number of excellent foodie options: East Village with a slew of good ethnic/inexpensive spots, West Village with more classic options, and many higher end places interspersed. However, they are farther from most of the museums or other traditional tourist options. You would need to weigh this accordingly.
      In the end, no matter where you stay, the subway system is relatively efficient. Keep in mind however, that it is much easier to travel north/south than east/west; ie, it is often easier to either stay mainly on the east or mainly on the west side.
      Enjoy the planning!

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      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      Convivio
      45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

      1. re: orthorunner

        Many thanks to everyone for their suggestions so far. It's very helpful to know that travel is easier from north to south than east to west.

        We'll be somewhat restricted by budget -- we're not looking for somewhere super-cheap, but not the Plaza or Four Seasons either. Most of the mid-range options seem to be in midtown (and it's possible that that's where we may end up), but I'm now eyeing a few in Chelsea and the Upper West Side as well.

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        The Four Seasons
        99 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

        1. re: torontofoodiegirl

          We're booked in Tribeca. Thanks everyone for your help!

    2. The "foodie" places and cheap eats are so spread out and very few are by the museums. I would pick the best hotel deal you can get and just travel from there.

      1. Murray Hill may be one of the least foodie neighborhoods in the city- - not a great choice of restaurants or food stores. I would also avoid the theater district - Times Sq area unless you want to be in an area crammed with mostly tourists (or if, for example, your first choice if you were a tourist in Toronto would be to stay in the Eaton Center) You're much better off in downtown nabs like Tribeca, the West Village or Chelsea. Many of the museums, theater district and other places you probably want to visit are no more than a 20 minutes subway ride away.

        1. Hi. Im not sure what your price range or what kind of hotel you're wanting to stay at.... but maybe the ganseevort or the standard in the meatpacking district would be good. There are plenty of nice restaurants (none of them are the top 5, but some are certainly in the top 20 or 25) and its a pretty hip and young neighborhood.

          if this trip is intended to be really high end (both interms of hotel and restaurants) i think the Mandarin Oriental at columbus circle would be appropriate. Its right above per se(arguably best restaurant in the city) and is across the street from jean georges (probably a top 5) and is near le bernardin (a top 5).

          also, if a high end hotel is your preference, there are plenty of old fashion hotels along central park south including the plaza. The four seasons is beautiful (never been to the one in the city but have been to the restaurant there - l'atelier de joel robuchon[which is great]) but is hundreds of dollars.