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recommend the 2 best restaurants a visitor cannot miss out on

arriving from toronto next week.....time for some culinary tourism.

can anyone suggest any must go to restaurants? ill be staying for 2 nights. also....lunch recommendations and cool lounges for nightlife would also be greatly appreciated. thanks!!!

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  1. Next week as in Sunday? Or later on in the week? I'm asking because it can be more difficult to get in on, say a Friday than a Tuesday.

    Hard to give recommendations on "must go" restaurants without more parameters. Dining solo? Do you prefer dining at the bar? Are you OK to wait a long time if a place is very busy? Any preferred cuisines? Atmosphere? Neighborhood? Price point, including tax, tip, and drinks/wine? Any avoids, allergies, special needs, things you're looking for?

    We're not really supposed to comment on "nightlife" here BTW.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      ya i guess i was pretty vague! well no not solo....party of two. im arriving in for the weekend...friday & saturday. price is not really an option...im looking for more high end restaurants. i just want an amazing and very memorable dining experience although im certain i will find it as nyc has so much to offer. as for cuisine...one fusion option would be nice and a general one too. sorry i guess my vagueness remains!

    2. Previous threads that may help:

      Don't leave NY without eating these foods
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610739

      Pizza in NYC
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6928...

      For cheap eats, try out some street food:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701278

      I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

      Best brunch:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598414

      Best foodie shopping:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/585538
      http://www.chow.com/lists/edit/33
      http://www.chow.com/lists/edit/924

      Best mixology / bespoke cocktails:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609073

      Top Ten Bars for Beer Snobs
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/572919

      Manhattan for 5 days over New Year
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/676209

      Recommendations for "an adventure"
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/672614

      Other hounds' itineraries/reports:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611116
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597021
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604369
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609656
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/589834
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610739
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/623860
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679481
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/686791

      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. OR ask if it's possible to drop in and eat a full meal at a bar. A surprisingly number of upscale restaurants serve their full menu at the bar! But not all do, so call ahead.

      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).

      The short list of restaurants that require jackets:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6857...

      If anything catches your eye, feel free to post a rough itinerary or list of spots you want to hit and we can give feedback that way. I find it's nice to do a mix of different genres of food, varying levels of fanciness, etc. to get a feel for the rich and diverse NYC dining scene.

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

      Babbo
      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

        Kathryn, this is an awesome post :)

        We will be taking some first timers around this weekend. Since we have so little time, we are focusing our dining on neighborhoods (EV, LES, Chinatown) and food they don't have at home.

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          Can I come, too? :)

          1. re: kathryn

            I wish we had time for Astoria and RGR's LES tour . . .no Greek food or bagels/bialies in Saratoga you'd want to eat :)

      2. we're from toronto and we were just there this week and i must say that of the 3 dinner restaurants we went to (Agozar, Momofuku Ssam and Asia de Cuba) Momofuku Ssam was my favorite. Since the dollar is almost at par the amount of food we consumed was pretty reasonable. We were there on Tuesday night, arrived at around 5:30/6ish and were seated right away. It does get busier the later it gets. For the two of us including beer (1 each) the bill came up to about $140 pre tax and tip. and we ate a lot, we had the fuji apples with jowl bacon, country ham, spanish makerel, diver scallops, 6 oysters and steamed buns. I would almost compare it to Guu but as opposed to a pure japanese izakaya type food, it's a good fusion of japanese, korean, chinese and north american.

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

        Asia de Cuba
        237 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016

        1. some places i love -

          momofuku ssam

          wd-50 - costly(seriously) fun and innovative

          craft - hve not been in a while, so i cannot vouch if the quality has dropped, but it's tom collichio's flagship

          sushi yasuda

          grammercy tavern

          matsuri

          sakegawa

          sigiri - cheap sri lankan

          redhead - good pubby place w/ great fried chicken and a good burger

          public

          italian village pizzeria

          marea (have not been but it's top of the list to try)

          the modern (also not been, also at top of try soon list)

          i could go on and on and on, so i'll just stop

          1. Two best? That's difficult. Depends on your tastes, really.

            That said... If I had to pick two, and only two, I'd probably say WD-50 and Eleven Madison Park. For lunch, get the $29 Prix Fixe at Del Posto. The best $29 lunch you could possibly imagine.

            Other recs, off the top of my head...

            Pricey: Gramercy, Babbo, Falai, Marea, Scarpetta (hmm... a lot of Italians right off the bat... I must be craving it...) The Modern, Tabla...

            Mid-range: Momofuku Noodle Bar (or Ssam), Prune, JoeDoe (I know, I know, some will be detractors on that last one... But hey, I dig what he's doing, AND he makes a slammin' brunch...)

            Chinatown Seafood Greats: Oriental Garden, Fuleen's, Ping's...

            Venture to Brooklyn: Rosewater, Henry's End, Applewood...

            Nightlife / Lounges: Stanton Social has great food and drinks, but the crowd can be very douchebaggy, especially on the weekends. Otherwise, any of the big "cocktail renaissance" places you've probably already heard about: PDT, Death & Co., Mayahuel, Apotheke, etc...

            Really, we have too many restaurants here. Tough to narrow it down without knowing a little more about your personal tastes. All I'd say is stay away from anything where you might find something similar back home. Like, don't bother with steakhouses and such - we have some good ones, sure, but I'm also sure you can get good dry-aged steaks in Toronto as well.

            -----
            WD-50
            50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

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

            Babbo
            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

            Del Posto
            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

            Stanton Social
            99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

            Fuleen
            11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

            Momofuku Noodle Bar
            171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

            Oriental Garden
            14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

            Ping's
            22 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

            Falai
            68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

            Prune
            54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

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

            JoeDoe
            45 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10003

            Apotheke
            9 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

            Mayahuel
            304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

            Marea
            240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

            Tabla
            11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

            The Modern - Dining Room
            9 W. 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

            1 Reply
            1. re: sgordon

              Perfect description of the crowd at SS.