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Visiting Last Week of March--Critique My List!

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Hello Chowhounds!

I am about a month out from a trip to NYC (last week of March) and am putting together my list of places to hit. I will be in the city for five days (M-F) with my boyfriend. We are two graduate students from San Diego, so we are on a bit of a budget (but we have been saving up for this trip!) and we aren't interested in finding Mexican food. We will be staying at the Hotel Chelsea (and yes we will be going to the new Doughnut Plant) and will probably be spending most of our time south of midtown. We are both fairly adventurous eaters. I may be slightly more adventurous than my boyfriend, but then I am also a vegetarian (no fish!) so that cuts possibilities down a bit. I've picked out a few nicer places I would like to hit, but then am planning on populating the rest of eating schedule with relatively cheap, mostly ethnic eats. We aren't much for wine at dinner, but love creative cocktails.

Without further ado, here's my list. Thanks in advance for any comments/substitutions/additions!

THE "NICE" PLACES
Modern Bar Room--planning on a day at MOMA, have heard great things about the cocktails here and the creative food (even for vegetarians!)
Del Posto--seems divisive on the boards, but the $29 lunch seems to make it worth checking out, and I want to try the fig and celery dessert
EMP--this will also be a lunch for budget reasons, been here before and absolutely loved it!
Locanda Verde--would like to hit their weekday breakfast, intrigued by the sheep's milk ricotta

GOOD AND REASONABLY PRICED
Murray's Bagels--seems to be the best bagel near the hotel, any other cheap breakfast in that area? I can't eat doughnuts every day!
Xian Famous Foods--skin noodles for me, hand-pulled noodles or lamb burger for my partner
Grand Sichuan--another stop to get our Chinese fix!
Pukk--friend tipped me off to their $6 lunch special, sounds like an awesome deal if we're nearby
Banh Mi Saigon--is this still considered the best banh mi in town?
Num Pang--came out of my search for creative sandwiches, good choice?
No. 7 Sandwich--really want to check out the Ace Hotel and feel like the Breslin or the John Dory aren't really going to be veg-friendly, and...I may have a thing for weird sandwiches
Mamoun's--for falafel, of course
Dumpling Crawl!--Prosperity Dumpling, Vanessa's, etc (will the Chinatown dumpling places all have veg options? some better than others?)
Chelsea Market--Amy's Bread, some tasty cheese to make a picnic on the Highline
Pizza--have been to Motorino, want to hit Keste, possibly Artichoke
Deli--boyfriend would like to go to Katz, but I don't really see much I can eat there. Any recs for a compromise?

COCKTAILS/DRINKS
Death and Co.--went here last time I was in town and loved it
Cienfuegos--saw it was run by the Death and Co people, thought it might be fun to go to happy hour and drink punch
Vandaag--we have both spent time in Scandinavia/Northern Europe and would really like to check out cocktails made with aquavit
Rye House--is this place any good? My boyfriend loves whiskey, particularly rye.

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

Motorino
349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

Doughnut Plant
220 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

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  1. I would say yes to The Bar Room at The Modern and EMP. For cocktails, I think Mayahuel is the best of the Death & Co. group. Drinks at The Bar Room are also excellent. I love the Hinny Kick. I'm also a fan of Vandaag -- the drinks are solid and the atmosphere is excellent.

    -----
    Mayahuel
    304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

    Vandaag
    103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    1. You've done your homework and have a thorough list. Off the top of my head I'd add Sullivan St. Bakery on 47th. It's well north of where you want to be most of the time, but still south of MoMA. The flat breads there with various toppings (mushroom, potato, etc.) are worth trying. If your boyfriend wants his Katz's, you could saunter down Houston and get a bialy with scallion cream cheese at Russ and Daughter's, then meet him at Laboratorio del Gelato on the same street. The Union Square Greenmarket has local cheese vendors who may carry things not available in SD. Batali's new Italian mega-emporium, Eataly, has various food stations within it, but they are annoyingly divided into sections. You could sit in the vegetarian section and he in the fish section next to it and the two of you could gaze at each other across the narrow divide. On the felafel front there are rivals to Mamoun's, if you have the time. But if there's time for just one, I'd make mine Mamoun's.

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

      Eataly
      200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

      1. Bar Room at the Modern, Del Posto, EMP, and Locanda Verde are all fine choices. If you like creative cocktails, check out the lists also at EMP and LV. Both have very good cocktail programs as well. I would call EMP & LV as soon as their books open up (30 days in advance for LV, 28 for EMP I think). Both book up rather quickly.

        For a cheaper breakfast by your hotel, if you are OK with coffee and a non-donut pastry, I would go to Joe the Art of Coffee. La Maison du Macaron (formerly known as Madeleine Patisserie) and Three Tarts are nearby are well. I would also consider walking to Cookshop on 10th Ave and 20th.

        I've been to the Murray's in the West Village and if you get a sandwich, they spackle on the cream cheese pretty thick at the WV one, so I might ask them to go easy on it.

        I love Xian Famous Foods and the Grand Sichuan in Chelsea but I feel like their best dishes aren't really vegetarian friendly, save for the mapo tofu sans pork and cucumbers in scallion sauce at Grand Sichuan.

        Haven't been to Pukk.

        Serious Eats just did a report on best banh mi in Manhattan. They crowned Banh Mi Zon (literally right next to Cienfuegos and on the same block as Death & Co BTW) as #1 and Co Ba as #2. Both have vegetarian options on the menu but Serious Eats was judging based upon the classic banh mi, just so you know.

        http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...

        For vegetarian friendly sandwiches, also check out Lamazou. They have a fair number of vegetarian options.

        Also, if you do end up at the Ace Hotel for No. 7 sub, the lobby bar has good cocktails as well.

        Also check out Taim for falafel.

        Serious Eats also did a dumpling (guo tie) round up recently:
        http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...

        As a Chinese person, though, I don't see the point of a Chinatown crawl of vegetarian dumplings though. :) Pork and chive all the way!

        For Chelsea Market / the Highline, just make sure you have a backup plan in case the weather is bad that day (raining, etc). Sometimes they shut down the Highline when the weather is terrible. Chelsea Market is nice to stroll in during the rain, though.

        For pizza, you're staying very close to Co. aka Company, so definitely add that to your list. If you go to Artichoke, get the square, not the crab dip pie or the artichoke dip pie or even the regular. The square is the best one.

        Can you possibly get your Katz's pastrami sandwich to go and eat it at a bar (that doesn't serve food) or outside (there's a park across Houston St)? You're right, though, that there isn't much for you there.

        Re: creative cocktails, I assume you mean those with many ingredients, housemade syrups, unusual bitters, infused liquors, etc. Not bars executing the classics.

        Cienfuegos has expanded, somewhat. The downstairs is now El Cobre and serves a long list of rum cocktails. It's very good, I think perhaps better than Cienfuegos upstairs since they aren't bound to the whole "punch" thing. Death & Co is still better than both IMO.

        Vandaag is excellent, but does get on the loud side.

        Also consider PDT, Mayahuel, and Pegu Club if you like creative cocktails. A lot of the good bartenders have left Rye House and it gets really crowded during happy hour (with people drinking wine/beer) so I'm not sure I'd go there for a cocktail experience.

        If your boyfriend loves Rye, pop into Brandy Library at some point, they have a decent selection. It's hard to find a place with a very extensive rye whiskey selection just because there aren't that many distilleries making American rye whiskeys to begin with and so many of them don't make their way to NYC.

        You should also check out who is tending bar at Fatty Johnson's when you're here -- it's a pop up bar with a rotating list of guest bartenders. 1534 is also doing guest bartenders but they haven't announced that far in advance yet.

        If you're into making cocktails at home, check out Kalustyan's for a nice selection of things like bitters, syrups, pomegranate molasses, flower water, etc. The Meadow in the West Village also has a good selection of bitters.

        -----
        Kalustyan's
        123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

        Lamazou
        370 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

        La Maison du Macaron
        132 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011

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

        Pukk
        71 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        Three Tarts
        164 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

        Pegu Club
        77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

        Brandy Library
        25 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013

        Mayahuel
        304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

        Locanda Verde
        377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

        Banh Mi Zon
        443 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

        Rye House
        11 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011

        Cienfuegos
        95 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

        Co Ba
        110 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

        Vandaag
        103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

        El Cobre
        95 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

        Fatty Johnson's
        50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

        3 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Have you had rude service at Taim? Several times I have been treated rudely and have stopped going.

          One time, the restaurant was empty yet I was arbitrarily told to wait outside because I had placed my order and it "might get busy" in there. It was 5PM. Empty. I know it gets busy in there but it was empty and I was trying to stay warm. I refused to step outside and they gave me passive-aggressive stares. It remained empty until I left.

          Second time, I was with my friend and we ordered two platters. Each platter is supposed to come with sauce yet they only gave us one tray. When I told them of the mistake, they refused to give us a second sauce tray and told us to share and come back if we needed more. What if we didn't want to share the sauce? Why inconvenience us to have to get up and ask for more sauce in a packed restaurant when they are busy making orders ( it was a madhouse that day.) It makes no sense. Lastly their falafel is not even that good, it is always lukewarm. Their bread and sauces are good but I feel the restaurant is mostly hype.

          1. re: kathryn

            As a Chinese person, though, I don't see the point of a Chinatown crawl of vegetarian dumplings though. :) Pork and chive all the way!
            ____________________________________________

            I agree. I’d suggest you take your boyfriend to Chinatown Brassiere, Vegetarian Dim Sum House, Buddha Bodhai, Dim Sum Go Go or Red Egg instead:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/739203

            Recent thread on Best Vegetarian spots in NYC:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/555384

            1. re: scoopG

              I did consider Vegetarian Dim Sum House and Buddha Bodai, but checking out Chinatown is more for my boyfriend than for me. Last time we were in NYC, I also planned the food and made him go to a lot of veg restaurants, mainly because I was so excited that there were so many of them. Even though he doesn't mind that, and in fact likes a lot of veg food, I felt like this time around I should be a little more conscientious about having things we both like. So, as long as I have options, I'm good to go. Unless anyone would suggest that there are other places that do both veg AND omni food better...

              -----
              Buddha Bodai
              5 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

              Vegetarian Dim Sum House
              24 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

          2. you can get something at Russ and Daughters if your boyfriend wants to go to Katz.

            1. I'll second the Joe's art of Coffee suggestion, and also mention Cafe Grumpy is nearby. The scones at Grumpy are particularly good, made by Scratchbread in Brooklyn.

              The Ace lobby for Stumptown and Cafe Pedlar made baked items (french toast, pretzels, etc. ) are another way to check it out. No. 7 isn't as connected to the hotel lobby as the other shops. I wouldn't bother with the lobby bar, in terms of price or quality.

              Also nearby is Foodparc, which is a strange futuristic food mall theme, but for a quick breakfast takeout it's got some good options, and the Red Farm booth is worth knowing about.

              The 'Wichcraft chain has good breakfast sandwiches as well. Murray's is just fine for bagels, but nothing amazing.

              Num Pang is really tasty, but I'm not sure it's a destination. The menu sounds more exotic than it is.

              Cienfuegos isn't as refined as Death & Co. The drinks are stronger, and you're unlikely to taste half the ingredients listed on the extensive menu. It can also get uncomfortably loud in there. Vandaag and Pegu Lounge were great suggestions, and I'll add Summit Bar as one of the better, inventive cocktail places going right now.

              -----
              Cafe Grumpy
              224 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011

              Num Pang Sandwich Shop
              21 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

              Stumptown
              18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

              Cienfuegos
              95 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

              Vandaag
              103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003