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Jan 6, 2011 07:20 AM

Visiting with sister - where to eat and drink?

Hello folks, I've been lurking here for a while (since my last trip to NYC) but this will be my first post, so here goes:

My sister and I are visiting from February 11-17. We're staying near Herald Square. We don't have much planned thus far, but we will be going to the Rangers game on Sunday the 13th. We'll also be doing lots of shopping. What I'm looking for is some recommendations for food - maybe a couple of nice dinners and some less expensive, some breakfast spots near our hotel, maybe a Sunday brunch before the game, and nice (but not dragged out) lunches near shopping areas. We'd also appreciate recommendations for cocktails and anything you think we should check out while we're in town.

We're willing to travel (within Manhattan) for good food, and our price range is pretty flexible but we'd rather not be splurging on big expensive meals every night. We just want some advice to help us make the most of our trip. Thanks!

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  1. For breakfast by your hotel, I would walk down to the Breslin which is on 29th and Broadway in the Ace Hotel. April Bloomfield is the chef there and is one of the most famous chefs in town. She also happens to be a very good baker -- if you see brioche on the menu, definitely order it (She also does John Dory Oyster Bar and Spotted Pig.) I've had breakfast there a few times and it's quite nice and they serve breakfast daily. Also The Breslin and lobby of the Ace hotel do good cocktails.

    For Sunday brunch before the game, I would make a reservation at Cookshop and then walk north to MSG.

    Any cuisines you're particularly interested in? What about neighborhoods you're interested in checking out, aside from the Herald Square / Madison Square Garden area?

    Are you shopping in midtown (Macy's, Lord & Taylor, etc) or the Upper East Side or Soho?

    What's the maximum you'd be willing to pay for your nice dinners? $50pp before tax, tip, and drinks? $30 per person? What about the nice lunches?

    Here are some threads on things I think NYC is good at, like brunch, bagels/smoked salmon, pickles, egg creams, pastrami, pizza, mixology, "ethnic" niches, street food etc.

    Best breakfast and brunch:

    Please help me eat during a month in new york

    Don't leave NY without eating these foods

    Pizza in NYC

    BTW, I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles:

    Best foodie shopping:

    Best mixology / bespoke cocktails:

    For non-Western European/American

    Foreign Street Grub

    totally obscure, odd, and intriguing menu items

    Pickle Guys
    49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

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

    The Breslin
    20 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001

    The John Dory Oyster Bar
    1196 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks so much for the thorough reply! Looks like I've got lots of reading to do. I read about Bloomfield somewhere (New Yorker maybe?) recently and was intrigued.

      We will likely be spending time in all of the shopping areas you mentioned, although nothing is set in stone. For lunches I would prefer to just grab a quick bite than have a long, multi-course meal as we'll likely have lots of activities planned during the day. On my last trip to NYC my boyfriend and I ate a lot of sub-par pastries for breakfast and hot dogs (blech) for lunch because we could never find anything suitable and quick in our immediate area. I'm hoping to avoid that this time.

      We're open to most cuisines although we don't eat much fish. $50 pp before tax, tip, drinks is reasonable to me.

      One more thing... my sister wants to go to Serendipity for frozen hot chocolate (I know, I know) but I hear the food isn't very good so I don't want to waste a meal there. However on the website they say they don't take reservations for dessert. Any idea how long we might wait to get in there? I was thinking maybe we could have dinner at one restaurant, then later on head there for dessert only.

      Thanks again!

      1. re: meghann

        Indeed Bloomfield was recently in the New Yorker! And speaking of the Ace Hotel, there's also the No. 7 Sub shop in the hotel (creative sandwiches).

        Do you have an iPhone? I would recommend installing the Yelp application so you can always find something decent nearby (which I don't put a lot of stock in Yelp's user ratings, they are good at identifying duds ahead of time). And/or bookmark lots of places in advance.

        Near Herald Square / Macy's, I'd go for Korean BBQ at Madangsui or spicy Sichuan food at Szechuan Gourmet. SG and its competitor restaurant Lan Sheng are literally across the street from Lord and Taylor. And Koreatown is very close to Macy's. Those are my two go tos.

        Forgot to mention that Baden Baden, Bon Chon, Kyochon, and Mad About Chicken are all around Herald Square as well. A friend who works around there says to hit Woorijip for the best (fast/takeout) Korean lunch in town. If you have more time, you could also hit up the front room at Keens Steakhouse.

        More options near there & midtown:

        For Soho, here's some threads about takeout lunches:

        When we're shopping and need a quick bite, we usually end up at Grandaisy, Ground Support, or Despana. Or pop into Dean & Deluca (for Two Little Red Hens or Doughnut Plant items), Birdbath, Ceci Cela, Balthazar Bakery, or Oro Bakery, for a snack. Oh, that reminds me, Torrisi may be worth a look, too. It might be better on a weekend since I've heard the weekday lunch crowd (office workers) can be huge & the waits can be significant.

        For 5th Avenue, the bar menu at Ma Peche is pretty quick and it's a nice respite from the crowds. Sometimes we also end up at the halal cart at 53rd and 6th (southeast corner during the day) or at the Bar Room at the Modern (on 53rd between 5th and 6th). And you can get some frozen yogurt at Forty Carrots inside of Bloomingdale's too. It's really good and creamy, not sour like Pinkberry.

        I've only tried to go to Serendipity for frozen hot chocolate once and we left after hearing it was an hour long wait. So I'd be prepared for a long one if you go after dinner one night. It might be easier to do in the middle of the day on a weekday when more people are at work.

        408 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

        Two Little Red Hens
        1652 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

        Forty Carrots Cafe
        1000 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

        Doughnut Plant
        379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

        35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

        Szechuan Gourmet
        21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

        12 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

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

        Dean & DeLuca
        1 Rockefeller Plz, New York, NY 10020

        319 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016

        Ground Support
        399 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012

        Ma Peche
        15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

        Lan Sheng
        60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

        No. 7 Sub
        1188 Broadway, New York, NY 10001

        1. re: kathryn

          You always give a lot of good advice to visitors.

          I'd add one more Korean recommendation: Don's Bogam.

          Don's Bogam
          17 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

    2. My recommendation:

      Torrisi Italian Specialties on Mulberry and Prince St. Superb food for $50/pp.

      Xian Famous Noodle Shop in Chinatown near Broadway and under Manhattan Bridge. Excellent cumin flavored noodle.

      The Standard Hotel Rooftop in the Meatpacking District. Excellent skyline view of both midtown and downtown plus NJ.

      Torrisi Italian Specialties
      250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

      1. Hi again folks! I'd like to thank you for all the advice, I've done lots of research into those links and our trip is starting to shape up :)

        I'm bumping the thread to ask another question: Where would you suggest we have dinner on Valentine's day? I'm trying to find somewhere we won't feel awkward and am starting to think we should just eat takeout in our hotel room. Thoughts?

        9 Replies
        1. re: meghann

          I think you should be fine at any of the ethnic restaurants listed above -- most people don't go to Koreatown or Sichuan restaurants for the ambiance anyway!

          1. re: kathryn

            Good point - I'll see if I can convince her to check out one of those spots

          2. re: meghann

            Two women dining together might well be a couple. I don't think you'll feel awkward anywhere you go.

            1. re: small h

              I know, that's why I want to avoid romantic dinners!

              1. re: meghann

                Oh. I guess I should rephrase: I don't think *I* would feel awkward...

                1. re: small h

                  Just to clarify, it's not having dinner with another woman that makes me uncomfortable, it's the idea of people assuming my sister and I are a couple! I would be no more comfortable going out to V-day dinner with my brother.

                  1. re: meghann

                    Of course. I hope the two of you have a wonderful time, wherever you end up.

            2. re: meghann

              No need to take the dinner out if you don't want to! How about a family-owned Japanese place? A little more ambiance than your typical Chinese, Thai, or Korean restaurant.
              There is a shockingly good place in Queens, off the beaten track. A very good and delicate omakase, somewhat cheaper than Manhattan offerings, but I suggest you call them in advance.

              1. re: meghann

                Especially since it's on a slow (Monday) night, some places -- probably not so much "ethnic" or casual ones - might offer Valentine's Day specials of one sort of another, but it's not like New Year's Eve where you'd have to go out of your way to avoid either an expensive fixed menu or huge crowds...

              2. Kyochon's Korean fried chicken is delicious! casual and fun and cheap for lunch near your hotel.
                Freemans is a fun restaurant downtown that is tucked away in a beautifully lit alley. the food is kind of comfort food and the atmosphere is welcoming, warm and fashionable. great for brunch or dinner. the artichike dip is unreal.
                la mela on mulberry street in little italy is amazing for delcious italian american casual food. red/white checkered tablecloths and huuge bottles of house red wine of the tables. i recommend the rigatoni bolognese and the fried calamari appetizer..

                another great brunch is five points on great jones. they have fantastic bloody marys and a gorgeous menu.

                for cocktails i suggest, GILT at the palace hotel for a very glamourous "old new york" experience, the anchor bar on spring street for bar/pub type feel, pegu club on W Houston for a sophisticated lounge-like cocktail bar, and district 36, right near your hotel, for dancing..

                there's so much in new york. the list never ends. it really depends on what neighborhood/areas you want to explore while you're visiting.

                1. Well, I'm just back from a wonderful trip to NYC. I thought I'd update this thread in case anyone is curious how we made out!

                  - Friday when we got in we were on a tight deadline as we had tickets to Swan Lake for 8pm, so we made reservations at Rosa Mexicano in Lincoln Centre. They had a prix fixe "Fashion Plates" menu that we ordered off. I'm not a lover of Mexican food but we did love this place, and service was great (we arrived about 40 minutes late due to some bad Google Maps directions and they still seated us!).

                  - Sunday we took kathryn's suggestion and went to Cookshop before the game at MSG. The bacon is so smoky it tastes like it was cooked over a campfire!

                  - Later on Sunday we went to Artisanal for dinner, since it was near our hotel and fondue is not available in restaurants where we live. Boy, does this place stink of cheese!! But the fondue (we had the Artisanal blend) was delicious.

                  - Monday was Valentine's Day, and as I mentioned here I was hoping to find an un-romantic place to eat. We ended up going to Motorino which fit the description perfectly. Sure, they made heart shaped pizzas and served chocolate covered strawberries for dessert, but it was so loud and crowded in there it felt pretty casual.

                  - Tuesday we went to the Stanton Social for dinner. We had 5 plates and all were delicious. The waitress suggested we get 5 or 6, but I had read that 4 was sufficient for 2 people, so we went for 5 and really we could have done with just 4. That didn't stop us from eating it all though :)

                  - Wednesday was my most anticipated meal - wd 50. Unfortunately we had had a spicy lunch and I had really bad heartburn when we made it to dinner, but I still managed to make the most of my meal. Although we loved the food, we were a little confused and disappointed with the service. Service was very attentive at times, but then they would do things like take your drink glass and not offer another. Most disappointing for me was that they didn't offer us a kitchen tour, but they did offer it to the tables next to us, and other tables throughout the time we were there. I'm not sure how they decide who to offer this to, but it really put us off this restaurant.

                  A couple other notes:

                  - We never did attempt Serendipity (relief for me)
                  - We enjoyed some frozen yogurt at Forty Carrots in Bloomingdales
                  - I had the Snowball custard at Shake Shack yesterday and loved it!

                  Forty Carrots Cafe
                  1000 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

                  Stanton Social
                  99 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002

                  Rosa Mexicano
                  9 E. 18th St., New York, NY 10003

                  349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003