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LA Chowhound in NYC – need “must try” recommendations for three lunches and four dinners

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Hi NY Chowhounds! A Los Angeles Chowhound here. My husband and I are visiting NYC at the top of July and I need your recommendations.

We are staying with our friend in SOHO area but willing to travel for good food. I am arriving late, like 8pm at JFK, so one of the four dinner place is for a late night dinner. We like places like Gramercy Tavern and Waverly Inn. We have been to places like Babbo, The Spotted Pig or Per Se. We also love pizza, and we always visit John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker St. when we're in town. When we went to Per Se, we enjoyed the food but our server was such a stuck-up and he completely ruined our dining experience. We’d be glad to pay for great food and experience but do not tolerate such arrogance. As for cuisine, we’re pretty open for anything.

Since my husband does not care for breakfast (egg stuff), we prefer to have a nice cup of coffee and some pastry for light breakfast and save our appetite for great lunches. So some recommendations for such coffee place would be appreciated.

The last but not the least, I would love to have a cup of coffee in the famous New York Greek coffee cup. This is not for the taste but for an experience. Being a foreigner growing up watching American movies and TV shows, I always wanted to have a cup of coffee in that blue paper cup. Now I live in America and every time I go to NY, I look for one, but I have never seen one yet. Where are they?! I’d love to find one during my next trip! Thank you!

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

Babbo
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

Waverly Inn
16 Bank St, New York, NY 10014

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  1. I will be the first of many people to make this recommendation, you must go to Eleven Madison Park (EMP). Fine dining + NYC = EMP. For a nice but less high end place I would also suggest checking out SD26, just had a wonderful meal/time there. And if you happen to be done near the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) you have got to try one the Moderns resataurants, Bar Room (semi casual) or the Dining Room (fine dining) or at the very least have a drink at their bar.

    Good luck with the coffee cup search, I have actually seen a ceramic version of the paper cup you are speaking of.

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

    SD26
    19 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010

    1 Reply
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      and, that ceramic cup is available in the gift shop of the MoMA, if you end up going that way. They also have a location in SoHo.

    2. RIP:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/nyr...

      1. For wonderful food and service, you must go to Eleven Madison Park. I had an incredible dinner at EMP last week, and I just received the sweetest "thank you" note from the captain who took excellent care of us. He even sent the label from the bottle of wine that we had. In my book Eleven Madison Park = CLASS!

        If you and your husband are looking for great food in a casual environment, and (still) one of the hardest reservations to obtain, I highly recommend Momofuku Ko (either for lunch or dinner). I've dined many times at Ko, and the restaurant seems to be a destination spot for visitors. The food is delicious and creative. Service is definitely not "stuck up". There are only 12 seats, and reservations are obtained on the Momofuku website (7 days in advance for dinner; 14 days in advance for lunch). Reservations are gone (usually) within 60 seconds for dinner; it's a bit easier for lunch reservations.

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

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

        1. may i ask what are your favorite places in LA to get a sense of what you go for?

          2 Replies
          1. re: sam1

            Hatfield's is our most recent high-end course menu experience. Animal, Tar Pit Bar, Jar, Wilshre, and Polo Lounge for steak tartar.

            For Italian, we like Madeo, Giorgio Baldi or Angelini Osteria. For Pizza, we like Pizzeria Mozza.

            We like good sushi but we always go to our friends restaurant, Sasabune.

            We like French but do not have a favorite at this point. I like Indian but my husband used to live in NYC and a little picky about Indian, so we have no favorites in LA.

            There are many good Korean BBQ in our Korea town (Parks BBQ, Chosan Galbi). And The Palm is our choise for steak dinner.

            1. re: Ashibi

              awesome...hatfields and animal are my favorites in LA as well.

              with that in mind, a couple of recommendations:

              for your late dinner, try blue ribbon bakery...closes late and the food is excellent...nothing revolutionary but a solid meal in a great space...late night, nothing beats it...id go to the bakery on downing street rather than the original on sullivan street even though that's in the heart of soho.

              some other favorite spots for me lately:

              prune...for lunch...a classic but for lunch its a cheap, solid neighborhood spot that is perfect on a quiet afternoon.

              keste...skip johns...tons of new pizza places opened and keste is my favorite of the bunch...across the street from johns...

              vinegar hill house...in brooklyn...one of my favorite restaurants and a great night out. take the F train to york street or take a cab across the manhattan bridge. the wait could be 1 hour or more but dont fear it...just have a drink in the back. walk home across the brooklyn bridge...and don't forget to have their pork chop, any of their pastas, and guiness cake for desert.

              northern spy food company...very san francisco-esque...lots of market offerings, cheap and delicious food.

              barbuto...on a nice evening, nothing beats barbuto for roast chicken...there are lots of people who agree so be prepared to wait.

              minetta tavern...hugely hyped but solid...big night out sort of place and near soho. look into going here on your first late night actually...otherwise, be prepared to wait.

              as for coffee...my favorites are la colombe in tribeca (their soho branch is ok but too loud), gimme coffee in nolita, cafe grumpy in chelsea, and joe the art of coffee...multiple locations.

              and look at joseph leonard for a nice relaxing lunch in the west village.

              i think you'll love all of these.

          2. Since you like Gramercy Tavern, I suggest you look into Craft or Hearth.

            For a different Italian restaurant than Babbo, Scarpetta is excellent and highly recommended.

            If you liked the Spotted Pig, what about the Breslin?

            For pizza, I don't really think much of John's on Bleecker unless they're significantly improved the amount/quality of the cheese on the pie. Do you like more Naples style pies? Perhaps try Keste which is also in the West Village or Motorino in the East Village. Or Co. aka Company in Chelsea. Personally out of all of those (and Grimaldi's, Lombardi's, John's, Patsy's) I am really loving Motorino lately.

            For a nice cup of coffee and a light pastry breakfast in Soho, you have a lot of options especially if you walk towards the West Village.

            For coffee, Joe the Art of Coffee (in the West Village), Ground Support, Jack's Stir Brewed (also in the West village), or City Girl Cafe. I'm not a huge fan of Aroma. I haven't tried Local yet.

            For pastries, you can go to Village Tart, Caffe Falai, Ceci-Cela, Balthazar Bakery, Oro Bakery, Columbine, or Birdbath. Joe has donuts from Donut Plant, and I think Ground Support & City Girl have pastries as well.

            The pastry counter at Dean and Deluca will have a lot of options from different purveyors around town. And there's also Grandaisy bakery (which is run by the ex-partner of the guy who does Co. and Sullivant Street Bakery).

            http://newyork.seriouseats.com/manhat...

            As for the "We Are Happy to Serve You" cup, good luck. I haven't seen one in ages, especially since street vendors just use whatever cups are cheapest to buy in bulk.

            Overall, for more upscale places that are popular, I would make reservations ASAP since it's already the 9th of June and a lot of places book up quickly in the summer due to tourism.

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

            Ceci-Cela
            166 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007

            Babbo
            110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

            Caffe Falai
            265 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

            Oro Bakery and Bar
            375 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

            City Girl Cafe
            63 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

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

            Ground Support
            399 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012

            Village Tart
            86 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

            Motorino
            349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

            1 Reply
            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks for your recommendation. We went to Ground Support and Ceci-Cela. I liked both of them. They are two totally different cafes but very charming on its own way. I like the pastry at Ceci-Cela very much.

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              Ceci-Cela
              55 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

               
               
               
               
               
               
            2. For lunch if you don't mind taking a cab I recommend Cafe Boulud @ E 76th. Harry Cipriani Restaurant on 5th at Central Park is a fun place my wife likes when she's shopping because the food is excellent, the atmosphere is nice, they are open 7 days/week and it's close to Saks, Bloomingdales, etc. I also like Aureole at 42nd but I liked the one off Madison better because my wife liked to shop on Madison. It moved to 42nd. Le Cirque on 58th is fun for lunch and I like the Boathouse in Central Park for lunch or late afternoon drinks. I also really like The Water Club on 30th for lunch. It has a stunning view of the E River and seems kind of quiet at lunch. Dinner there would be nice also. Have you been to The River Cafe under The Brooklyn Bridge. It's one of my all time favorites for view and atmosphere. The food is average but worthy.

              Balthazar is open until 12 PM I think so that would be a good late night dinner for you since it's in SOHO. Have you been to Jean George's or Daniel. I like them both. Eleven Madison Park is a favorite of everyone's. Make sure you go there one night. Since you like Gramercy Tavern what about Gotham Bar and Grill. I hope you have a nice trip. Good luck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Littleman

                I'll 2nd that emotion for Baltahazar. Great place. And I was way impressed with Toloache. Most excellent gourmet mex and tequila bar.

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                Toloache
                251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

              2. It's been a while since my visit, but one of the most memorable dining experiences I've had in Manhattan was at Degustation. The restaurant is tiny (only seats 12 I think) and the seats are arranged at a bar that encircles an open kitchen where you watch the chefs prepare everything. The menu is small plates and everything is incredibly inventive. It's also extremely reasonable pricewise - they do a 5 course tasting menu for $50ish, or you can make your own by ordering 5 different dishes (or really, however many you want) and pay only slightly more. When I was there, they served us two extra courses as well, on the house. I think the bill for two was around $120 - less than half the price of a lot of the higher-end places in town, and the food was incredible (I thought it was better than Daniel, for instance). Plus it's a unique experience. Just do it!

                1. I am here at NYC safe and sound, and I have reservations at EMP and DS26, thanks for your recommendations. One question. My friend is interested and got an reservation at THE LION. I have never heard of it. I believe it is a new place by the owner of Wavery Inn? What do you think?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ashibi

                    for the blue coffee cup...the diners used to use them more than the street vendors. maybe stop by a local diner to see.

                    1. re: Yaxpac

                      Thanks, Yaxpac. I will try that!

                  2. If anyone else is looking for those blue coffee cups and wants a specific spot to find them, they have them at the deli on 2nd Ave between 25th and 26th. (Just got one today!)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: brighton312

                      Thanks for the info! I will check it out next time I am in NY.