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An eating vacation in NYC in November. Help please!

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Hello Chowhounders,

I know this has been asked a miilion times on this board. I should just get off my ass and do research, but im going to be lazy. And Im very overwhelmed with sheer number of places to eat. So here goes:

Two of us going to NYC in early November for 5 days. Staying in Midtown. Im looking for food. What kind you ask? Good food. Please narrow your parameters you say? Ok, I will try. Im from New Orleans, so I wake up thinking whats for dinner. For me its all about the food and little about location or atmosphere. Atmosphere is fine, but not in place of THE FOOD! I'll pay $5 for a great slice of pizza or $50 for a slab of foie gras, and be equally happy with both. No limits on cuisine type either. Run the gambit on price.

Im looking for two nice dinners. Doesnt have to be fancy, but fancy is great if I dont leave hungry. Pricewise, I guess less than $150 per person without alcohol. The only one I have a recommendation from a friend is Craft. Give me the best NYC has to offer.

Need two casual dinners. Preferably ethnic, but not a must, or a nice gastro pub would do.

And finally a couple lunch spots. Someplace with a good local feel. Deli, street food, pizza, ethnic, whatever. Something I cant get in my neck of the woods.

Sorry for not being more specific, but I am swimming in places to choose from. I say to hell with the guide books and rankings and ask the experts.... YOU!

In advance, thanks!

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  1. A few questions.

    1. What are the specific dates you are here? November __ through __?

    The most popular restaurants start to fill up about a month in advance, so you might be just past the window of getting a "good time" when reserving, but if you are flexible and can dine at 6pm or 9pm, you should be OK still.

    2. What is the address/intersection of your hotel? Exact cross-streets are most helpful.

    For your $150pp dinner, does that include tax and tip, too? If so, that's only about $116pp, so it rules the most expensive restaurants out, but there is still a LOT you can do in that range.

    3. For your nicer dinners: do you prefer Italian, French, Japanese, American, something else?

    4. What kind of clothing do you plan to bring? There are very few jacket required restaurants here these days, but there are still some.

    5. What are some of the things you can't get in your "neck of the woods"? I assume you want to skip seafood, Southern, BBQ, Cajun, Creole, Vietnamese. What else?

    If you're up for it, I think you can try a lot of foods unavailable in many parts of the USA. Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal carts, steak, high end Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy...

    What cuisines/foods are unavailable at home? Pizza? Bagels and smoked salmon?
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8103...

    Don't leave NY without eating these foods
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610739

    I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

    2 Day NYC Tour focusing on eating, please help with suggestions...
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809852

    Restaurant Advice for 2 day trip to NYC
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8050...

    For non-Western European/American
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/729498
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/731732

    Foreign Street Grub
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701278

    totally obscure, odd, and intriguing menu items
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/722130

    -----
    Pickle Guys
    49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

    Economy Candy
    108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      A mea culpa Kathryn. Let me be more specific. Firstly, thank you for the information. Ok, I will be staying at the Waldorf Astoria form November 5-11, so it looks like I miss the 30 day window. I will be briging a suit for that one special dinner, and $150-$200 pp before tax and tip is fine by me. I prefer eating early, so between 5:00 and 6pm is no problem. As for the cuisine for that special dinner, farm to table, Italian, French, American (Boy that narrows exactly nothing down). As long as the food is a knock out and the atmosphere is special, Im not hung up on the category of food.

      We do not have exceptional: Italian, Pizza, Delis, Indian, Gastro pubs, Bagels, chinese, Thai, African. So those are all on my hit list for lunches and casual dinners.

      I will follow those links you provided. Thanks again.

    2. Red farm is great casual, yummy dinner....and they don't take reservations.... Gets packed but so worth it. Stick with the dim sum and apps..... Marys fish camp is a great casual lunch. Best oysters and fries in the city.... Both of these restaurants are in the west village...

      Try Boulud Sud for a special dinner.. Amazing Mediterranean small plates, and fab cocktails! (Daniel Boulud's newest)
      Call ASAP, u may get an early seating....

      Oh and you MUST have breakfast/brunch at Norma's.....(Le Parker Meridian Hotel)

      Enjoy your visit!

      -----
      Mary's Fish Camp
      64 Charles St, New York, NY 10014

      Norma's
      118 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

      Boulud Sud
      20 W 64th St, New York, NY 10023

      RedFarm
      529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

      1. Craft is a great suggestion. It's terrific.

        -----
        Craft
        43 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003

        1. Okay, here's a ton of crap off the top of my head:

          For your two nice / (aka "fancy") dinners:

          Eleven Madison Park
          Del Posto
          - neither have jacket requirements, they're the most casual of the four-star places, though they're still quite fancy. Just not as over-the-top as some of the typical big French places - Jean Georges, Daniel, Le Bernardin, etc.

          Momofuku Ko
          - if you can get a rezzie, that is. Log in to the website at exactly 10:00 AM one week to the day before your preferred dinner date. Might get lucky. Unfancy surroundings, to be sure, but amazing food.

          Cafe Boulud
          - for my money, the best restaurant in the Daniel empire, even if price-wise it's his supposedly "second-tier" place. The food is far more creative than at his flagship, and the service less stuffy. Still quite pricey, mind you, just not AS pricey.

          WD-50
          - if you do the tasting menu, it would count as a "fancy" I suppose, but going a la carte it could just as well fall into your casual category as well, depending on your budget. (tasting - $140, a la carte about $70 - $90, depending how many courses you do, before tax/tip/booze)

          Aquavit
          - for something a little out-of-the-ordinary, you could go Haute Scandinavian. The food has been excellent of late, though some find the service a bit hit-or-miss. It's never been BAD in my experience, just sometimes a little lackluster. That aside, the food is right on, and of late it's been a good deal - $89 for four courses. Not sure if that'll change after their renovation (or if they'll even be open while you're here)

          Casual (mid-to-high range):

          Babbo
          - again, if you're lucky enough to get a rezzie. Call exactly one month before calendar date of your preferred night. Like WD, could fall into "casual" category as well, depending how much you eat. You can do a traditional Italian four-course meal for around $70 - $90, before tax/tip. Menu is pretty varied, so really depends what you order.

          Prune
          - our latest James Beard winner. Great, eclectic comfort food, boisterous setting.

          Marc Forgione
          - Creative American, hearty bold flavors. Casual, neighborhoody atmosphere.

          Caffe Falai
          - solid Northern Italian in a comfy setting. Great house-made pastas, everything fresh & seasonal. Sadly, Chef Falai's modernist flagship closed down a short time ago, but his casual offshoot is nothing to scoff at, and excellent for the price. Great lunch spot, especially, with big sunny windows, great for people-watching.

          Public
          - "Fusion" cuisine that actually works, local / seasonal fare with hints of Australia/NZ and Southeast Asia thrown in. Also of note: one of the best brunches in town, hands down, if you're here over a weekend.

          Momofuku Ssam Bar
          - super-creative food, downtown hip vibe. Can be a bit of a wait to get a table, but since you're an early eater probably not so bad - it starts getting jammed around 7:00 or so. Also worth looking into for lunch for the rotisserie duck - you'll find many posters here waxing poetic on its greatness.

          Oriental Garden
          South China Garden
          Ping's Seafood
          Fuleen
          - if you're feeling a Chinese (specifically Cantonese) meal while you're here. Do note that most dishes are served family-style, so it's the sort of thing that's best if you've got a few people, though certainly a two-top can eat quite well. Those are the four best, in my opinion, for dinner. OG for amazingly fresh seafood, SCG for land critters, Fuleen for adventuring with more esoteric ingredients (their geoduck two ways is fantastic, and their preserved duck & taro casserole is one of my cold-weather standbys), and Ping's for Cantonese with a little more creative flair - Chef Ping is not averse to dotting his menu with hints of other cuisines, from Thai to French to Portuguese.

          Cheap / Ethnic:

          Tehuitzingo
          - "in the know" gem for tacos y tortas. Quite literally a hole in the wall, hidden in the back of a Mexican bodega.

          Xi'an Famous Foods
          - a must try. A style of Chinese cuisine (Western Chinese) most are unfamiliar with. Excellent hand-pulled noodle soups, and the pork and lamb "burgers" are fantastic.

          Ah Ping Snack Bar
          - another unfamiliar to most style of Chinese cuisine, Fujian. We've a had a number of new Fujian places pop up overthe last few years - this was one of the first, and IMO among the best. As bare-bones as it gets, and very tasty.

          Deli:
          Katz's Delicatessen
          - I mean, there are some haters out there, but they're delusional.

          Bagels / Lox:
          Russ & Daughters.
          - bagles are prefectly fine, but what's more important is what you put on them, and R&D is unparalleled as far as lox goes. Only problem is there are a dozen kinds to choose from. All fantastic, though.

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

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

          Katz's Delicatessen
          205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

          Aquavit
          65 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

          Tehuitzingo
          695 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

          Cafe Boulud
          20 East 76th St., New York, NY 10021

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

          South China Garden
          22 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

          Babbo
          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

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

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

          Fuleen
          11 Division St, New York, NY 10002

          Oriental Garden
          14 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

          Ping's
          22 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

          Caffe Falai
          265 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

          Public
          210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

          Momofuku Ko
          163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          Prune
          54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

          Ah Ping Snack Bar
          2 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

          Marc Forgione
          134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013

          Xi'an Famous Foods
          81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

          Xi'an Famous Foods
          88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

          Xi'an Famous Foods
          67 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

          1 Reply
          1. re: sgordon

            Ok NYC chowhounders, y'all are coming through like the fine people I know you are. Great suggestions. I will have to study them.

            So far, I have reservations at Craft for dinner on Friday and Daniel on dinner Monday.

            The pre show prix fixe dinner at Daniel looks like a bargain. Three courses with wine for $110. A steal.

            Will try to get reservations at Momofuku Ko for saturday or Sunday. Really want to try that place.

            Will look into Marc Forgione. I love that description.

            Bagels and lox at Russ & Daughters is on the list, as well as Katz. Need to fit a Chinese place in there too.

            The info is much appreciated.

            Does anyone know if an extra stomach is considered luggage or a carry on? I think I'm going to need to bring one.