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Need restaurant recs for 3 days in NYC in January 2012

I'm taking my husband on a trip to NYC for a birthday trip (MLK Jr. holiday weekend Fri-Mon), and I'm looking for a few specific kinds of dinners...but I'm also open to out-of-this-box suggestions, as well as lunch ideas. (We're mid-20's, laid-back foodies and enjoy wine and good draft beer).

We are staying in Midtown area on East 54th street but definitely will be willing to take a subway/taxi to great food.

Friday & Sunday night dinners are open in terms of time/location
Saturday night- we need a pre-theater dinner (Ambassador Theater, 230 W 49th St) for an 8pm showing. We would definitely like to go somewhere close so we don't have to eat too early or worry about getting back to the theater on time.

For the three nights, I'd like:

1 nice dinner- maybe up to about $250/300 for 2 people, including a few courses (appetizer, entrees and a dessert to share perhaps) or a tasting menu; include a glass of wine and/or a cocktail each. We would love to go somewhere with a fun/buzzy and/or romantic atmosphere; NOT stuffy/too fancy though we don't mind dressing up.

Food-wise, we really want something amazing that we can't get in NC (though we live in a pretty nice foodie area- the triangle). We particularly like Thai would love to find some sort of Thai/pan-Asian/sushi place for one night, whether it's our splurge night or a lower-key one.
We also like French food generally, wine bars/tapas places with good food, Italian, seafood, pasta/bread, beans/legumes, all veggies/fruit, proscuitto/bacon/salty meats generally, and my husband loves steak/beef (but I'm not a huge fan).

For our other two dinners, I'd love to have more laid-back experiences (and less pricey): Would love to try the "best pizza" in New York for either lunch or dinner, perhaps some other ethnic food from Thai (Chinese...).

Suggestions are appreciated, thanks!!!!

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  1. For Thai go to Ayada or Zabb Elee (both inexpensive)

    For a fun Japanese night out, perhaps Yakitori Totto

    For your more expensive meal, perhaps The Modern (will be closer to $300).

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    Yakitori Totto
    251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

    The Modern
    9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

    Zabb Elee
    75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    5 Replies
      1. re: laurenpk

        A good number of restaurants will open and close between now and January--it might be better to post your questions again in November/December.

        1. re: kathryn

          Thanks for the suggestion. I wasn't sure how far in advance you need to make reservations for the top restaurants, but I will certainly try again in a few months.

          1. re: laurenpk

            Most restaurants take reservations 31, 30, or 28 days in advance here. I think the open exception might be Le Bernardin, which opens up an entire month at once IIRC. Even Per Se shortened its policy from 2 months to 1 month a little while ago.

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            Per Se
            10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

            Le Bernardin
            155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

    1. Here are some ideas with a range of prices:

      Near theater:

      The Modern Dining Room
      Oceana
      La Silhouette

      Thai:

      Kin Shop
      Kittichai
      Zabb Elee

      You probably don't have a lot of Pan-Latin places in NC, so I would recommend these:

      Nuela
      Aldea
      Yerba Buena

      Also, how about high-end Indian? For that I would pick Junoon.

      Rubirosa is a fairly new place for pizza that also has other great dishes. Great ambience, too.

      Of course, there are so many other possibilities, so I would suggest you do some searches on this board, and check back in the fall as there will be new places opening by then.

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      The Modern
      9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

      Kittichai
      60 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

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

      Yerba Buena
      23 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

      Aldea
      31 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011

      Nuela
      43 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010

      Kin Shop
      469 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      Rubirosa
      235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

      Junoon
      27 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010

      La Silhouette
      362 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

      Zabb Elee
      75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      1 Reply
      1. For your pre-theatre dinner, you might like Ma Peche (delicious French-Vietnamese cuisine in a casual setting with friendly service).

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

        1. For your meaty/salty/bacony lunch or dinner, you would probably like the Spotted Pig or the Breslin (both April Bloomfield's restaurants). The Spotted Pig has an amazing beef burger, while the Breslin is well-known for a great lamb burger.

          I also second the recommendations for Kin Shop (good "modern" Thai) and a pre-theater dinner at Ma Peche. Ma Peche also has a nice prix fixe lunch.

          I would definitely do pizza for lunch. My favorite "New York" pizzas are John's and Bleecker Street Pizza, but I also quite like Keste. I'm sure others will chime in with their favorites—Motorino, Co., etc.

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

          Bleecker Street Pizza
          69 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

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

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