Want to impress friends from out of the country
I have two dear friends coming to the U.S. for the first time from Jordan and I really want to wow them with some great culinary experiences. Unfortunately, I just moved here from San Francisco so I'm still learning the scene. So I need your help. Here's what I'm looking for:
1) Best bagel place in NY for breakfast
2) Best deli in NY for lunch
3) Really standout restaurant for dinner that has not only amazing atmosphere but also is a real culinary experience. I'm open to all types of cuisine but the most important thing is that it's somewhere you've gone that you thought was really unique and special.
1. Sit down or take out? Will you be ordering a bagel sandwich with smoked salmon?
For example, the smoked salmon is heavenly at Russ & Daughters but they only offer counter/to-go service. They will make you a sandwich and have several varieties of spreads and salmons and toppings, though. The bagels are not really anything out of the ordinary, though, but I think in general, the complaint is that bagels in NYC have really gone downhill overall.
2. I assume you mean Jewish Deli like Carnegie, 2nd Ave., or Katz's?
What will you be ordering? Matzo soup? Pastrami on rye? etc. It really depends on what you plan to eat as some places are stronger/weaker than others.
3. What's your price range? Will you be footing the bill for all three of you, perhaps? Atmosphere? Neighborhood? Any preferred cuisines? Avoids? Allergies or other dietary considerations? Assuming a party of 3, is that correct? Make sure you account for tax, tip, and wine/drinks (if you guys drink). When do you plan to dine? The popular restaurants book up fast.
Where have you dined so far during your time in NYC? What did you like or dislike? It's easier to make a recommendation if we get a sense of your tastes. Additionally, since you're from SF and there is some NYC-SF crossover, a list of your favorite places in SF might also help guide the conversation.
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:
Best mixology / bespoke cocktails:
Top Ten Bars for Beer Snobs
Manhattan for 5 days over New Year
Recommendations for "an adventure"
Other hounds' itineraries/reports:
Additionally, you can peruse the menus of many restaurants on menupages.com. And OpenTable.com 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 accommodate you or put you on the wait list.
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 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 (not sure how much upscale dining you wish to do except for your one standout meal but planning the right clothing can sometimes be difficult for travelers).
Restaurants that require jackets:
Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011
113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003
16 Bank St, New York, NY 10014
Wow your posts were incredibly helpful.
As for your questions Kathryn, they are coming the last week of May. It will be four of us dining (two couples). Preferably we'd like to find a gem of a restaurant that is very unique but not incredibly expensive. In San Francisco terms, I'd love to find a Bar Crudo instead of a Gary Danko. If we were in SF we'd probably take them either to Bar Crudo or Blowfish Sushi. As for NY, the only place on your list I've been to is Gramercy Tavern. The food was excellent I'd like to take these guys somewhere where the ambiance/experience feels a little more unique.
If you want uniquely New York, I would suggest Keens, which has been in its 36th St. location since 1885. Thus, it has incomparable Old New York ambiance, i.e., walls covered with American and row-upon-row of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings, plus pipes belonging to famous people dating back to the 19th century in display cases in the vestibule.
As far as the food goes, true we aren't talking haute cuisine, but NYC is known for its steakhouses, and Keens, imo, is top of the heap! Tthe steaks are superb, and there is, of course, the signature mutton chop (definitely unique). Everything else, from apps to dessert, is delicious as well. Service is pleasant and attentive.
The secret to keeping the costs at a reasonable level is one word: sharing. As in most steakhouse, sides are always for the table. However, steaks are enormous, so they can be shared. For example, presuming normal appetites, the fabulous porterhouse for two can easily be enough for three or four people.
Photos of our most recent dinner at Keens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...
Ess-a-bagel (on Third Ave) for best breakfast bagel
Katz's deli for lunch (or Barney Greengrass)
Marea for dinner Or WD-50 Or Corton
541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002
239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013
240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019
NB: WD-50 is a pretty out-there restaurant that plays with taste, texture, form, etc. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to someone unless I knew they were really into that style of cooking. (Overall, I don't think WD-50 is all that delicious whereas I think similar restaurants in other parts of the world are much more successful in execution).
50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002