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Feb 12, 2011 09:22 AM

First time business tourist looking for nice dinners

I'll be in Manhattan for the first time ever from Sunday the 13th to Wednesday the 16th on business. I'm staying around 8th at 51st (did I do that right?) and I need dinner advice!

Some details:
- I've got a $40 dinner allowance, which won't get me much
- I'm alone, but that doesn't necessarily mean I want to cart take-out back to my hotel (I rather like eating alone, but I know some restaurants aren't fans of single patrons. Especially on and around valentines' day.)
- That being said, if you know of an amazing take-out joint that I absolutely shouldn't miss, don't hesitate to suggest it
- I don't eat chicken, beef, pork, etc. but I do eat some fish
- I'm really not picky, other than that -- I love most foods, really


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  1. Does the $40 exclude drinks, tax, and tip? If so, that's not a bad budget for a single diner. And most restaurants in NYC are very welcoming for single diners, who are more common here than in other cities.

    Pretty much any takeout joint in midtown Manhattan is going to deliver, so you don't need to cart food back to your hotel just to stay within your budget. I'd definitely do takeout on V Day, as most restaurants jack up their prices for the hordes of suburbanite couples who descend on them for the night.

    I'm not very familiar with the vegetarian options here, but one place that comes to mind is Scarpetta. A bowl of their famous polenta with mushrooms and a pasta should be within your budget.

    355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

    1. Here are a few Asian ideas (please google for the restaurants).
      If you like South Indian condiments and spices, Vatan, a vegetarian place, offers a very nice pre-fixe for $30. (I have a Southern Indian Brahmin friend who swears by it.)
      If you don't mind it hot, head to Szechuan Gourmet, ask for the captain (a Chinese guy in his late 50s--do not remember his English name, sorry) and tell him you have $30 to spare (sans drinks, tip separately): you will be accommodated.
      If you don't mind fresh and subtle (if somewhat bland) Chinese food, go to Cantoon Garden in C-town and pig out on the seafood, tofu, and vegetables; but don't forget to tell them that you don't eat meat, not even in sauces, and repeat that twice! Let the kitchen handle the situation, hence a generous tip.
      If you enjoy Korean food Buddhist style (vegetarian) and you don't mind soft tofu, navigate to BCD in K-town.
      Feeling adventurous? Go to Arirang (they are a Korean chicken soup place), bow, tell them honestly that you only eat seafood, make sure you are watching the floor (don't stare!), tip them generously (if they refuse insist), bow, ask for their kind advice (tell them a loyal customer--that would be me--sent you), bow. Whatever their suggestion, please do not forget to post here. :-)

      409 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10016

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

      32 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

      1. Restaurants in NYC are usually friendly to single diners, especially around midtown, where there are many, many business travelers. Don't let this concern stop you from eating anywhere you like.

        You are in a fine area for food and you have a lot of variety to choose from. A few popular, good and inexpensive places in your area:

        Casellula -- very nice wine and cheese pairings, lots of vegetarian and pescatarian options; they have a very good rendition of mac & cheese
        Kyotofu -- best for desserts, decent for savory foods; small menu, but there are some vegetarian options
        Empanada Mama -- very casual, good empanadas
        Sake Bar Hagi -- very casual; actually the food is only enjoyable, not amazing, but the experience is fun; I like their okonomiyaki
        Hell's Kitchen -- upscale Mexican; it's a bit pricier, but you could get an entree and drink

        401 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

        Empanada Mama
        763 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

        144 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

        3 Replies
        1. re: michelleats

          I second Empanada Mama. It's one of my favorite cheap eats in that neighborhood.

          Are you willing to travel downtown at all? You're missing out on some wonderful restaurants, if not.

          Empanada Mama
          763 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

          1. re: loratliff

            If you have time, I definitely second Loratiff's suggestion to travel. It's an easy trip to the East or West Village by subway from where you are, since you are right by the 1, A/C/E, B/D and N/Q/R trains. If you are willing to explore other neighborhoods, it might be helpful to narrow the parameters of what you'd like to eat -- maybe by a few preferred cuisines. Also perhaps let us know what's good in your home town, so we don't replicate those.

            1. re: michelleats

              Yep. Your original criteria, which may be restrictive in some cities, is not at all here—NY is a city very welcoming of solo diners, non-meat eaters, and $40 is easily done, believe it or not—so I think if you tell us more about where you're willing to go and what you are most craving, you'll get more recommendations.