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Three lunches and three suppers in Manhattan in February 2011

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This might be premature, but 2 older (late fifties and early sixties) along with two "yoots" (25 and 23 respectively) are in Manhattan for 3 days with a moderate budget but adventurous. Do you have some suggestions for us?
Thank you from Montrealers who LOVE NEW YORK!, but haven't been for 10 years.

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  1. Different people have different definitions of moderate. Manhattan tends to be much more expensive than visitors expect. How much do you mean by moderate? $60 per person before tax, tip, drinks? $50? $40? More? Less?

    Also, if you have specific requests for recommendations, like cuisines you're craving or restaurants near other activities you might be doing (sightseeing, Broadway plays, the opera, shopping, etc.) don't hestitate to ask or use the "search" function of this site!

    It's never too early to start planning... Restaurants in NYC tend to be simple to book as long as you are planning a few weeks ahead of time, and there are only a few exceptions to this rule. Restaurants in NYC take reservations usually 31, 30, 28, days in advance or similar. The most popular places will book up right after 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. 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). And many of Manhattan's popular restaurants are on OpenTable.com but not all are, and the ones that use it sometimes restrict the available tables.

    Are there any cuisines that you would like to try in NYC that perhaps you don't get in Montreal? For example, I know that Montreal is famous for smoked meat and bagels. Are you curious about the NYC version or do you want to avoid it?

    In terms of great New York experiences and food, check out these discussions:

    Best breakfast and brunch:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/707772

    Please help me eat during a month in new york
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/716238

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

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

    BTW, I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

    Best foodie shopping:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/585538
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697174
    http://www.chow.com/lists/33
    http://www.chow.com/lists/924

    Union Square Greenmarket advice
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/705073
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/727570

    Best mixology / bespoke cocktails:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609073
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/709227

    Bars for beer geeks
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/733207
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/572919

    For non-Western European/American
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/729498
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/731732

    totally obscure, odd, and intriguing menu items
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/722130

    Great upscale dining
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/733990

    -----
    Union Square Greenmarket
    Broadway and E 17th St, New York, NY 10003

    Pickle Guys
    49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

    1. Yeah, very hard to say without a budget in mind - also, are you thinking moderate meals across the board, or maybe balance out one big splurge with a bunch of cheap, casual eats?

      A general idea of how much you'd spend per person (including tax, tip, and drinks) per meal, give or take, would make it much easier.

      5 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        We got together and decided that we would like a couple of splurges and a bunch of cheap, casual eats. In terms of areas to eat, we're open, but we probably won't leave Manhattan.
        I do know that Eataly will be one of our destinations.
        Thank you very much for helping us out.

        -----
        Eataly
        200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

        1. re: naturelle

          How much is a splurge? $100 before tax and tip and drinks/wine? More? How cheap is cheap? $20? Less?

          1. re: kathryn

            Narrowing things down:
            a) Type of cuisine: Asian, Indian, Italian
            b) Splurge = $50 per person before tax and tip and less than than would probably be cheap, although $50 per person might be cheap as well.
            I just noticed a thread entitled: "THREE nights of dining in NYC - suggestions for both budget and NON-BUDGET restaurants desperately needed! " which could be the answer to our question.
            Now, where to stay....

            1. re: naturelle

              $50 per person before tax and tip is cheap in this town. ;) But for a "nice" meal around that price point, I'd recommend places like DBGB, the Spotted Pig, Essex, Public, etc.

              As far as cheap Asian, you should head down to Chinatown. Plethora of good eats down there that any search on this forum should lead you too. Pizza is another good cheap option.

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

              DBGB
              299 Bowery, New York, NY 10003

              1. re: loratliff

                Second all the above, though I don't think you could do Public for $50/pp, unless you skipped dessert maybe. But yeah, a "splurgey" meal in this town starts a bit higher, significantly so if that $50 is supposed to include drinks as well. Assume at any fancy restaurant you'll spend $30/pp just on wine, if you're going to have two by-the-glass glasses each. If you go by-the-bottle, you might be able to stretch your $s further.

                DBGB is good as long as you stick to the reservation section / regular menu. I's skip the burgers and fancified hotdogs, they're kind of a rip-off.

                For cheap eats, I agree Chinatown is great, but you've got a lot of good Chinese in Montreal already, so you probably want something different. Seek out the more esoteric stuff and skip the usual Cantonese joints, as good as some of ours are. You can get that back home. There's the much lauded Xian Famous for Western Chinese (heavy on lamb and cumin, good stuff) and a number of Fu Zhou places have popped up over the last few years.

                For casual but good, of course there's the Momofukus - Noodle Bar or Ssam Bar, take your pick. Noodle Bar is good for a cheap(-ish) lunch (when they're not too crowded) of ramen & pork buns, plus toss in a seasonal item or two. Ssam is a little funkier, more creative, and a bit more expensive. Heck, last time my parents were in town we hit 'em both.

                At the mid-range for splurges, I have a few prices handy just because I happened to look them up for another post recently... here's a sampling of prices for a three course meal at a few good places - if you happened to order the most expensive app, entree and dessert:

                Blue Hill - 66
                Mas (Farmhouse) - 68 PF / 66 a la carte
                Little Owl - 60
                Savoy - 53
                WD-50 - 69
                Marc Forgione - 59

                (of course, good luck getting a table at that last one anytime in the near future since he just became an Iron Chef on Sunday...)