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Uh oh - No reservations - Need Manhattan recs fast

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Who's willing to help a Minneapolis Chowhounder out? I'm in town on business, soon to be vacation, and I've completely dropped the ball and made no reservations anywhere. It's my first time in NYC and my husband will be joining me here later this week (hopefully he can avoid the storm!). I'm looking for some recommendations for great places to dine. Requirements as follows:

1) We're staying in midtown Manhattan - near Radio City Music Hall - good recs nearby would be awesome.
2) Despite this, we're willing to travel for good food, so if it's worth our while we'll take the subway or taxi somewhere.
3) Would like recommendations for breakfast. We LOVE a good breakfast.
4) Lunch/Dinner recommendations should not require formal wear (hubby's not bringing a suit/jacket with him). We love fine dining, but prefer locations that are ok with nice jeans/chinos. No ties/dresses/etc.
5) Would love recommendations for anything quintessentially NYC - good delis, etc.
6) If reservations are required, we'd need places that can take relatively last minute reservations.
7) We LOVE Top Chef. Any good recommendations for Top Chef restaurants/featured chefs? Or should we steer clear of them and go elsewhere.
8)We love all types of food, French, Italian, Chinese, New American, Seafood... we're game for most anything.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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    1. re: scoopG

      Thanks! You post on the MSP boards too, don't you? Think it's hilarious that one of your favorite restaurants is in Fargo (I'm originally from ND!). Thanks for the links - I'll check them out.

    2. Top Chef: Tom Colicchio has Craft, Craftbar, Colicchio & Sons, and Riverpark, and Harold Dieterle, the first season winner, has Perilla and Kin Shop. All of them are very good.

      I could have sworn I saw Padma at Marea, but I could be wrong.

      Near Radio City:

      The Modern
      Alto
      Ma Peche
      Oceana

      I would have also recommended Le Bernardin, but jackets are required.

      Lunch:

      Edit: Nougatine (which also the full Jean Georges menu at the bar, from what I hear)
      Picholine
      Bouley
      Lincoln

      Quintessential NY, breakfast, delis, last minute reservations - I'll leave these to other hounds. Enjoy your visit!

      -----
      Perilla
      9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

      Oceana
      120 W 49th St, New York, NY 10020

      Marea
      240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019

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

      Riverpark
      450 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016

      13 Replies
      1. re: fm1963

        I think a lot of the places you've recommended are a bit too dressy, not to mention all very expensive. I think the only place I'd wear jeans to, on that list, would be Ma Peche.

        To the OP: your criteria virtually includes every restaurant in the city! ;) Definitely read over some of the links provided. Also, you are lucky in that you're here during Restaurant Week. A lot of the prime restaurants/times have been snatched up but you should still look at the list and see what you might like: http://www.nycgo.com/restaurantweek/

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

        1. re: loratliff

          Thank you! I know it was a broad request, but we have broad taste. We've dropped serious money at craftsteak in Las Vegas, but we also love hole-in-the-wall burger joints. We really just want delicious food and primarily food we probably wouldn't find at home. We don't have too much molecular gastronomy in MSP, so WD-50 is intriguing too. And of course a *real* NY deli, since I hear from everyone at home that my favorite Jewish deli isn't really authentic.

          And yes - I just discovered earlier today that it's restaurant week here. SUPER excited about that! Thanks for the link though - very helpful!

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

          1. re: Seige

            If you like wd-50 you may be able to sneak in a reservation. It's one of my all-time favorites. You could always sit at the bar there—the menu is still available at the bar.

            You mention hole-in-the-wall burgers. Check out Burger Joint in the Le Parker Meridien hotel. It's close to where you are staying and is tucked away in the back corner of the lobby. Very good burger, and very different (i.e., cheap, homey) vibe than the hotel itself.

            I consider one of David Chang's restaurants a must-try for most people. Ma Peche, which another poster mentioned, is one of my favorites, particularly for lunch. You can also try some of Chang's great sweet confections at the mini-Milk Bar outpost when you first walk in.

            Someone else mentioned Perilla, which is by far the best Top Chef-related restaurant in the city. Dieterle's other place, Kin Shop, has opened to accolades although I haven't been yet to give you personal input. Anita Lo (Top Chef Masters) has Annisa, but I wouldn't go there over Perilla.

            As others have said, Katz is a must-stop for your Jewish deli request. You should also visit Russ & Daughters for the best smoked salmon (lox) you've ever had.

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

            Burger Joint
            118 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

            Perilla
            9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

            Annisa
            13 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014

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

            1. re: loratliff

              The bar at WD-50 is a great idea and the service there is always so friendly.

              In addition to burger joint, you may want to try the famous Shake Shack just to see what the deal is. I love it but recognize not everybody does. It's a thin, salty, "smash" style burger on a potato bun with a special aioli like sauce. There's locations near Madison Square Park, the UWS, the UES, and near Port Authority. Very likely you'll find yourself near one as you roam about the city.

              2nd Perilla, Katz's (pastrami on rye, with mustard).

              I sometimes dream of R&D's smoked salmon. I like to get a bagel sandwich to go with red onion, capers, tomato, and cream cheese, and eat it open faced on one of the sandwiches outside the shop (it's a retail / to go counter, no seating inside).

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

              Perilla
              9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

        2. re: fm1963

          The Modern Dining Room requires jackets at dinner but not for lunch. Casual dress is o.k. in The Bar Room at the Modern.

          Jean Georges requires jackets at dinner and, I understand, recently started requiring them at lunch.

          Imo, jeans are inappropriate for Alto, Picholine, and Bouley. We have not been to Lincoln, but I'm guessing the same can be said there.

          At Eleven Madison Park, jackets are not required for lunch or dinner. I have seen men wearing jeans at lunch though, personally, I think that's inappropriate. It is often possible to get a last-minute reservation for lunch if one is flexible as to the time.

          EMP photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          Quintessential NYC deli: Without a doubt, Katz's, where it's all about the pastrami.

          Katz's photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          1. re: RGR

            Edit: Yes, Jean Georges now requires jackets for lunch.

            The Modern Dining Room recommends jackets for men during dinner service but won't turn you away if you aren't wearing one (the reservationist told me this).

            Personal preferences aside, diners wear nice jeans all the time for lunch at Alto, Picholine, Lincoln, and Bouley. Dressier for dinner, but chinos would be fine.

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

            Picholine
            35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

            1. re: fm1963

              When we had lunch at Jean Georges back in April, jackets were not required and I, too, saw men in jeans. However, a few days ago on another thread, when I mentioned the no-jackets-required at lunch, a Hound posted saying she had just called Jean Georges and was told that jackets are now required at lunch. Quite confusing.

              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

              1. re: RGR

                No you're right. I just called Jean Georges and the lady confirmed that jackets are now required for lunch. This must be a recent change in dress code.

                1. re: fm1963

                  Bummer. What about David Burke's Townhouse? Open Table says business casual. In MSP that includes jeans and a nice shirt. I still don't quite have a handle on the dress code here (as you can tell!). What does Open Table's business casual mean to NYC?

                  1. re: Seige

                    I think jeans are acceptable at David Burke Townhouse, though I've only been there on weekends. Best to call the restaurant.

                  2. re: fm1963

                    fm1963, Well, that clears that up. I'm guessing they decided that things were getting out of hand with regard to the way some people were dressing. Not only did we see jeans but also, believe it or not, t-shirts!

                    Seige, In NYC, "business casual" means a nice pair of slacks and a dress shirt with jacket optional. No restaurant in NYC requires a tie.

                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                    1. re: RGR

                      Agree with this re: business casual. Jeans are not in the definition of "business casual" here, but chinos would be okay.

              2. re: RGR

                You can also try to walk into EMP and have lunch at the bar area. A friend did this recently. I'm not sure what menu they are serving there right now. I know there is a bar menu separate from the dinner menu during dinner service but it's not on their web site.

            2. Top chef - budakkan (dale and angelo), plein sud (ed cotton - got 0 stars from NY Times, so I don't really reccomend) , ajna bar - hung, kin shop and perilla- harold, tomm colichio - c and s, craft

              midtown - bar at modern, aquavit lounge, bar boulud, bouchon bakery for a breakfast sweet, bar masa

              willing to travel - kefi - really cheap and so tasty, momofuko ssam, wd 50

              http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/

              1. 1) We're staying in midtown Manhattan - near Radio City Music Hall - good recs nearby would be awesome.

                Bar Room at the Modern or Ma Peche are both quite close. Bar Room at the Modern is participating in Restaurant Week, though, and may be fully booked. Check OpenTable or call them ASAP. Ma Peche takes reservations online on their site. I'd book this dinner ASAP since you'll want to make sure you're out in time for the show.

                2) Despite this, we're willing to travel for good food, so if it's worth our while we'll take the subway or taxi somewhere.

                This basically opens up ALL of Manhattan and the Outer Boroughs. It depends what your interests are. If there's specific ethnic cuisines, name them!

                3) Would like recommendations for breakfast. We LOVE a good breakfast.

                For weekday breakfast, I'd do Clinton St Baking Co (for pancakes, and biscuit breakfast sandwiches, no reservations but long lines on weekends) or make a reservation for Maialino (great pastries there too and poached egg & porchetta sandwich), Locanda Verde (sheep's milk ricotta and baked egg dishes). For weekend brunch, endure the wait at Prune (deep fried monte cristo, giant apple pancake are my favorites) or try to reserve at Minetta Tavern (their famous burger, great blood marys, shirred eggs, latkes with smoked salmon), or the others I mentioned for weekdays. I think these are the 5 top breakfasts/brunches in town right now. Also look up Shopsin's and see if the atmosphere and quirky nature appeals to you.

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

                4) Lunch/Dinner recommendations should not require formal wear (hubby's not bringing a suit/jacket with him). We love fine dining, but prefer locations that are ok with nice jeans/chinos. No ties/dresses/etc.

                Very few places require jackets any more. None require ties.

                5) Would love recommendations for anything quintessentially NYC - good delis, etc.

                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

                6) If reservations are required, we'd need places that can take relatively last minute reservations.

                I find it's the luck of the draw usually. OpenTable.com is your friend, though. Two exceptions: Torrisi Italian Specialties only takes reservations in person at 5:45pm for the same night. And Ippudo will allow you to put down your name for a later time slot if you go in person on the same day.

                7) We LOVE Top Chef. Any good recommendations for Top Chef restaurants/featured chefs? Or should we steer clear of them and go elsewhere.

                Craft, Perilla, Kin Shop, are all good.

                8)We love all types of food, French, Italian, Chinese, New American, Seafood... we're game for most anything.

                You'll have lots of options if you're OK eating at the bar or waiting for a walk-in table. Being flexible is key and will win you points with the host. Nearly all of Mario Batali's restaurants have bar dining and walk in tables save for Del Posto. Does Babbo interest you? See also Scarpetta, Osteria Morini, Locanda Verde. If you're willing to wait or show up really early, you can still have a great meal without having a reservation. I also sometimes call the front desk at an off hour and ask if there are cancellations, and if not, what they think the wait will be if I show up at 5:30 or 6pm.

                For Asian, Momofuku Ssam Bar doesn't take reservations for small parties. You may also want to check out Ippudo, Kin Shop. There's also a lot of casual Japanese here that you may not have in Minneapolis. Yakitori? Izakaya?

                April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig, Breslin, John Dory Oyster Bar), and Keith McNally (Minetta Tavern, Balthazar, Pulino's) restaurants would do you right. Bloomfield's spots don't take reservations for small parties and McNally's are typically walk in friendly. Again, if you're OK with the wait and/or bar dining, you can have a great meal. Or call to ask about cancellations for Balthazar.

                Danny Meyer's restaurants also are walk in friendly. Bar Room at the Modern, Maialino's front room, the bar and lounge area Eleven Madison Park (they don't serve the full menu though), Gramercy Tavern's front room would be my picks. Also, all of Danny Meyer's restaurants keep a wait list! I've successfully gotten a table that way as well.

                Check out these threads:

                NYC this weekend, no reservations!
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/760722

                Fun place to eat solo -- lots of bar dining in NYC & much of this can be expanded to two people eating at the bar
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/759698

                -----
                Perilla
                9 Jones Street, New York, NY 10014

                Pickle Guys
                49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

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

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

                Babbo
                110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

                Minetta Tavern
                113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

                Rockmeisha
                11 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014

                Ippudo
                65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

                Locanda Verde
                377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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

                Maialino
                2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

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

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

                Pulino's
                282 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

                Osteria Morini
                218 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

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

                1. My favorite breakfast place near Radio City, a nice alternative to a coffee shop, is Certe on 55th St. between 5-6 Aves. Very friendly primarily take-out and catering place with a small dining room in the back. Wide variety of egg dishes, pancakes, etc. and great homemade baked goods.