Canadian visitors need some help!
My 17-year-old sister and myself (26-year-old journalist) are heading to NYC from Mon-Wed, March 14-16 and I'm overwhelmed with the options.
We're from just outside of Toronto and are staying in Midtown, but will be hitting up the Central Park Zoo and Museum of Natural History along with an express ride around to see the Statue of Liberty. She's never been to NYC before, so I'm trying to give her a beginners experience. She's a pretty adventurous eater, but I want to stick with the classics. I don't have a super large budget, so would prefer to find cheaper (under $40), more quaint places for lunch and spend more money at dinner (say $100 or so). I'm a wine writer, so a decent wine list for dinner would be super. We will be using the subway to get around, so no specific location restrictions, other than a safe, comfortable area for her and not too far to walk in the cold :)
We're thinking about Otto for dinner one night. I was recommended by a friend, but am still open to suggestions. The other dinner is still open, along with three lunches.
What would be your must-eats?
Thanks so much for your help! Can't wait to make this a great trip.
Does your $40 for lunch and $100 for dinner include 2 people or is it per person? Does it include tax (almost 9%), tip (20%), and wine for both? Or just wine at dinner? A bottle? Or by the glass? How many glasses for you?
NYC is pretty safe these days so you'll be fine as long as you act smart (don't flaunt expensive jewelry, be aware of your surroundings, etc.).
Here are some places I've enjoyed, that I'll return to, and that I'd bring a first time Cdn visitor to:
Papa Perrone's rice ball truck which is parked on the street on E 55th during the week, for a quick, economical lunch, that would be less than $10 each. Better than any rice balls I've found in Toronto.
Momofuku Milk Bar treats- ham & cheese buns, crack pie/candy bar pie, compost cookies, etc. at the Milk Bar located in front of Ma Peche on W 56th. You could pick up a selection of these treats for lunch, and enjoy them in Central Park, which is located just a couple blocks further north.
Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side (not too far from the Natural History Museum- Levain Bakery is also located nearby, which offers a massive, decadent, chocolate chip cookie that can only be found in NYC), which runs around $15-$20 pp for lunch. Smoked salmon with a shmear (of cream cheese) on a bagel in their restaurant section runs around $12 IIRC. Good people watching. If you want to save money, you can order it from the take-out side, and eat it in Central Park.
I always try to find time for a Doughnut Plant donut when I'm in NYC, even if I don't have time to visit the actual Doughnut Plant shop. Doughnut Plant donuts can be found at the Dean & Deluca (gourmet grocery store, which has a take-out if you want a quick bite) at Rockefeller Center, as well as at the Joe, the Art of Coffee kiosk in Grand Central Station.
If you're on the Upper East Side, you might want to consider Cafe Sabarsky, although lunch probably could cost more than $40 for 2. Beautiful atmosphere, offering old country classics.
Sarge's Deli on 3rd Ave is 24 h, and is a great place to try NY deli classics. Most mains are under $15. Portions are huge.
Re: wine by the glass
You might want to try one of the 2 locations of Terroir, which serves small plates as well as wine. One of the owners (the sommelier) happens to be from Toronto. Hearth (owned by the same people) is also a good place for dinner, with a good wine selection, and a 3 course cucina rustica prix fixe option that's around $35 pp, if you're in the mood for contemporary Italian American in the East Village. Edit: Not sure what Terroir or any other wine bar's policy would be with regards to a 17 year old dining, but not drinking. Maybe another CH can pipe in. If 17 year olds are not permitted in wine bars that serve food, Hearth will still work, since it's more of a restaurant.
I also like Boqueria on W 19th for tapas, which would probably cost less than $100 for 2, although I don't remember what their wine selection was like.
541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
403 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10009
1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
548 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016
53 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011
413 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009
Dean & DeLuca
235 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
80 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022
Joe the Art of Coffee
89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
24 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013
Momofuku Milk Bar
15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019
.....and don't count your cash outside the bank's ATM!!!
I.M.H.O. the Statue of Liberty excursion takes up way to much time for what it is worth.
A much more wonderful NYC experience can be had by walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklynand then down to DUMBO and the Brooklyn waterfront. You'll get a great view of Lady Liberty and Manhattan without the lines and the excursion taking up half of a day.
Since you will be using the subway, I highly recommend you explore Queens and Brooklyn. Bargain priced treasures await here. Since you are from outside Toronto, you should take the 7 train to Queens and try some real Mexican food. If you post on the Outer Boroughs Board I can give some specific reccomendations
For dinner, Azul in the lower east side. Awesome Argentinian steak place and cool atmosphere. Not a big wine list but they have some good Argentinian wines. Very reasonable. For dinner, for great fresh Italian, Bianca (Noho) or Supper (east village) both are cash only and don't take reservations. They are so charming and cute and awesome food. Another suggestion, Raoul's for the bar steak. This is in Soho. This restaurant feels very "New York" to me, the regular restaurant is a bit pricey but if you sit at the bar and order the bar steak it's $24 for steak, fries, salad. Delicious. Cafe Mogador in the East Village is also great for a mediterranean/moroccan lunch or dinner. Great bohemian atmosphere. Fun area to walk around before or after. For lunch or dinner, I'd also recommend one of the Japanese ramen spots. Minca is my #1 favorite for authenticity but Momofuku and Ippudo are also good. Finally, Katz deli for the best pastrami sandwich some say its overpriced but I think it's worth every penny. Caracas also in the east village for Venezuelan food. Sorry most of my suggestions are downtown and on the east side but those are usually where the best deals are. Have fun! Also, if you do the Brooklyn Bridge walk (which was a good suggestion) you could go to Grimaldi's for pizza after. it closed for awhile due to a kitchen fire but I think its open again. Or also, Lombardi's or Keste are great for pizza. Can't take someone to NYC without feeding them pizza!
101 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009
65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003
47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010
You might want to consider taking your sister on my self-guided LES eating tour. Walk the streets of this interesting neighborhood and get a classic NY foods experience.
RGR's Self-Guided LES Gustatory Itinerary: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493333
Note: Guss's Pickles has closed. Substitute The Pickle Guys on Essex St.
In line with sticking with the classics, Keens has been around since 1885. In addition to excellent steaks, chops, sides, etc., there is the unmatchable charm of its Old NY ambiance -- walls filled with authentic American memorabilia and row-upon-row of old clay smoking pipes suspended from all the ceilings.
Portions are extremely generous, and though it is not the norm for us, on one of the many occasions we've been there, my husband and I did get out of there for around $100 by sharing everything. i.e., Caesar salad, one steak, a couple of sides (which are meant to be shared anyway), and dessert (our favorite, the Coffee Cantata). However, even if you have to stretch your budget, it's worth it!
Katz's for pastrami sandwich lunch, il laboratorio del gelato is across the street.
Barney Greengrass for breakfast or lunch (not that far from the Natural History Museum)
Keste instead of Otto, Better pizza, they have some nice wines. L'Arte del Gelato is around the corner or Rocco's (on Bleecker) for fresh cannoli
Shake Shack is across from the Natural History Museum.
Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote is a great deal for a steak dinner (Midtown East) - $25 for salad, steak, and frites. Decent bar and wines.
PJ Clarke's for burgers and more, a NY classic.
'ino, inoteca, Corsino - wine bar group around town, lovely wines and delicious small plates.
Bar Pitti - nice Village Italian (cash only).
541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
21 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014
268 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014
637 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014