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First time to NYC, planning restaurants for trip on a budget

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Hi all,

I know you guys probably have requests like this all the time but I'm planning a last minute trip and trying to get the restaurants I want down so I don't waste any meals on something subpar.

I'm looking for some advice on my first trip to NYC. My girlfriend and I are there from the 27th to the 1st. I am not really a big spender but I also don't have a set budget that I have to adhere to, just trying to enjoy ourselves without spending too much. Also to note...my girlfriend is not really a "chowhound" person....

I've made a few reservations and have plans for a few restaurants already, please give me your input on what I have chosen so far.

Degustation: I have reservations for dinner, was planning on having the 10 course tasting menu.

Jean Georges Nougatine: They have a very affordable lunch prix fixe that I want to try (my plan is to try these higher tier restaurants at lunch to make them more affordable and have the cheaper options for dinners)

Le Bernardin:To be honest I don't even usually like fish dishes other than sushi however I want to see what the hype is about. They have a $70 prix fixe for lunch, is it worth trying for me? Is it very stuffy there? I made a reservation for lunch and they reminded me that jackets are required for dining. Neither of us drink wine, so I fear we may be a bit out of place. I'm still not sure yet if we will keep this reservation or not.

I'm a big sushi lover so I want to try out Yasuda but I'm a little hesitant because I heard it can get very expensive. My girlfriend will not be indulging too much at yasuda like I will be (she doesn't really appreciate it that much), are there cheap options that she can dine on there? I'm thinking of cancelling Le Bernadin lunch and going for Yasuda instead.

Other things I have on my mind: NY Pizza somewhere (definitely...not sure where though), mexican somewhere maybe, shake shack, momofuku (noodle bar or ssam???)..maybe ippudo or another ramen shop, korean fried chicken maybe...

Also some recommendations for some good places to go for dessert would be very appreciated. Either evening dessert places or late night dessert places (some of each would be nice).

We are not planning on having any Chinese because we are from Toronto where we have really amazing authentic Chinese there, however I might look to try a Malaysian restaurant though...recommendations?

Also was thinking about a good italian place but something cheaper, hopefully 80 per person without wine.

As for locations...we are staying at a former W Hotel (now called St. Gilles or something) near Grand Central. I hope we will be taking the subway all over, and we are also doing the usual tourist stuff so those are the areas we will be around.

I know my post was kind of all over the place but I'd appreciate any suggestions!

Thanks

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Jean Georges
1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

Nougatine
1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

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  1. Switch your lunch reservation to Jean Georges (not Nougatine) or Eleven Madison Park. Extraordinary deals at lunch. I like both of those better than Le Bernardin. Especially if you're not a big fish eater....skip Le Bernardin.

    Nougatine is the "lower tier" at Jean Georges. Go for the real thing. Still very reasonable.

    Try Fatty Crab for Malaysian - can't stand the noise but I really like the food.

    I'd suggest Lupa for your Italian meal.

    Yes you can manage to not spend a fortune at Yasuda at lunchtime. Just make your budget desires known and they will accomodate you. Or order off the menu where the prices are stated.

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    Lupa
    170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

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

    Jean Georges
    1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

    Le Bernardin
    155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

    Fatty Crab
    643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

    Nougatine
    1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

    4 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      I second switching your lunch reservation to Jean Georges proper. Nougatine is nice but the lunch deal at Jean Georges is the one the you want.

      I also second Lupa for italian and Fatty Crab for malaysian-ish. I like the vibe (including the noise) and the food here.

      As for Le Bernardin, I really wouldn't go there if you are not into cooked fish. There are so many great culinary experiences in NYC it seems silly to waste on food that isn't your favorite.

      -----
      Lupa
      170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

      Jean Georges
      1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

      Le Bernardin
      155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

      Fatty Crab
      643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

      Nougatine
      1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023

      1. re: prdct

        I have reservations for a dinner at Lupa. Any recommendations for the current menu? I searched this forum but all of the posts that mentioned specific recommendations were a couple years old

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        Lupa
        170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

        1. re: szw

          Everything on the menu is likely to be good, but here are some things that, to my taste, stand out:

          Antipasti [definitely get some of these, or/and salads]:

          Octopus with Ceci & Sorrel $10
          Treviso with Vin Cotto $6
          Broccoli Rabe with Ricotta $6

          I also like Beets with Pistachio, which are exactly as advertised: Very good sliced raw beets with pistachio butter and some crunchy pistachios.

          No Farotto is on their current menu, but if they have a special appetizer of Farotto, consider it.

          Among the primi, don't miss this one:

          Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage & Fennel $16

          Their gnocchi are always soft and pillowy, as they should be but so few make them.

          Secondi:

          Pollo alla Diavola $19

          Yes, a chicken dish. It's such good chicken, so well cooked, and so pleasantly spicy, that if you never order chicken in a restaurant, I still recommend this if you're in the right mood. Otherwise, just order according to what sounds good to you on that evening; fish is always really good at Lupa. And consider the Piatto del Giorno. On Tuesdays, my brother and I like the duck.

          For dessert, the wonderful Tartufo is a must, but if you get two desserts, their current panna cotta looks really worthwhile to me:

          Black Pepper Panna Cotta & Rhubarb $ 7

          Lupa has a good and fairly-priced wine list, and they will give you tastes for you to see what you like (and not only whether the bottle is corked), even if you're ordering only by the glass or quartino.

          I find their back room quieter and more comfortable, but merely getting reservations, especially if you got them at a halfway reasonable hour, is good!

          Again, I'm not able to remove an irrelevant restaurant link. I have no idea what Ceci Restaurant is.

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          Lupa
          170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

      2. re: gutsofsteel

        Sushi Yasuda also has some lunch prix fixe specials as well.

        -----
        Sushi Yasuda
        204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

      3. If your gf doesn't like sushi that much you guys can go to 15 east. You can have your sushi and she can have cooked items. For pizza i like Keste, especially their truffle spread pie. I dont know any good mexican or malaysian in manhattan. Imo shake shack is skippable. Ippudo is fine, but it can get really crowded for dinner and their broth is a little too fatty to my liking. But if you don't mind that than go for it.
        Some dessert places I like are Spot and Kyotofu but these are asian themed. There's Cafe Sabarsky (be careful with their hours) for cakes and apple strudel. I also like Bouchon Bakery, DTWorks and 2 doors down from DTWorks is Clinton St Baking which has good pies (they are usually not too busy for dinner). There's also momofuku milk bar (which i don't like) and wd50 for more experimental desserts.
        You can also have desserts at the bars of restaurants but it can get crowded. Some restaurants that I think have strong desserts are Balthazar, Craft, Locanda Verde, and Batali places (I haven't been to Lupa though).
        I think you have a very good idea with doing higher end restaurants for lunch.
        Here are more choices
        http://newyork.seriouseats.com/tags/A...
        BTW, have you considered Katz and Russ and Daughters? They aren't that cheap but certainly not as expensive as most restaurants.

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        Lupa
        170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

        Bouchon Bakery
        10 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019

        Cafe Sabarsky
        1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

        Ippudo
        65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

        Kyotofu
        144 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

        Locanda Verde
        377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

        1 Reply
        1. re: daffyduck

          I also like Keste' quite a lot, but I want to point out that it's la vera pizza napoletana, not New York-style pizza.

        2. I second the suggestion of Russ and Daughters for a late breakfast/early lunch. Their bagels and lox are something that you will not find elsewhere. The Super Heebster bagel sandwich is worth the trip on its own in my opinion. As for pizza, I second Keste'. I had thier Burrata pizza (special) and it was out of this world. With respect to the Momofuku inquiry, I whole-heartedly recommend a trip to Ssam. Get the pork buns and a couple other items to share. You have to see for yourself whether they equal the hype.

          Finally, some places that haven't yet been suggested. I really like Desnuda, a tiny wine bar/cevicheria in the East Village. With wine and a couple orders of their unique and creative raw fish preparations, you can escape for 40 dollars a person. It also would give a new twist on sushi.

          Also, the Meatball Shop on the Lower East side is a quirky, cheap and delicious way to spend a meal. I recommend the spicy pork meatball/spicy pork sauce meatball sub. Finally, the harissa falafel at Taim in the West Village is a $5.50 slice of heaven. If you go cheap for that meal, you can shift the funds to go all out on a different meal!

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          Desnuda
          122 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

          5 Replies
          1. re: Rich D.

            IIRC Keste gets the burrata fresh on Thursdays and they often run out by the time the weekend rolls around. It is very good but very rich.

            1. re: Rich D.

              Rich D.: Am familiar with Russ & Daughters (was just there, in fact) but not with the "Super Heebster" bagel sandwich. Can you elaborate? Thanks.

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              Russ & Daughters
              179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

              1. re: IWantFood

                SUPER HEEBSTER
                Whitefish & Baked Salmon Salad with Horseradish Dill Cream Cheese and Wasabi Flying Fish Roe on a Bagel: $10.45

                http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkint...

              2. re: Rich D.

                Taim is quite good but really a takeout place. The inside seating area is very small and gets extremely hot on hot days, and there's just one bench outside. And the place, being good and cheap, is very popular.

              3. The original comment has been removed
                1. For reasonable Italian food that is delicious go to Otto. I have not been to Lupa (another Batali restaurant) but Otto is my favorite restaurant in the city. Highly recommended, you may even be able to stay in your $80 budget with wine depending on what you get!

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                  Lupa
                  170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Linsybee1

                    You can easily get out of Otto, even with a couple glasses of wine, under $80 - but I don't see anywhere the OP stated his budget?

                    1. re: uwsister

                      "Also was thinking about a good italian place but something cheaper, hopefully 80 per person without wine."
                      I've never been there, but Convivio fits the bill and it's right by where you're staying.

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                      Convivio
                      45 Tudor City Place, New York, NY 10017

                      1. re: daffyduck

                        Thanks, I see it now. I need more sleep!

                      2. re: uwsister

                        I don't think I've ever paid much more than around $130 including wine, tax, and tip for two full meals (appetizers, one or two shared primi, one secondo each, one shared dessert) at Lupa, so that's maybe $67/person at the very most. Isn't Otto priced very similarly?

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                        Lupa
                        170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012