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Celebrating a 50th birthday

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My wife and I are planning a weekend in December in NYC celebrating my birthday. It was a choice between Rome or NY and since we live in Europe we decided to come to Manhattan. We both know and love the city as we travel and work there often but rarely have we had a chance to spend a romantic weekend together. Since it's my birthday and since I'm turning 50 for pete's sake, I get to do whatever I want! That's exciting as I love good food and spending time prowling the city, exploring and discovering new places both high and low.
If you could spend your 50th birthday in NY doing whatever you wanted for one weekend and eating your favorite meals, what would that be? It could be anything from street food to steakhouses, pubs,pierogies, 5 star wonders, insane Korean, the perfect plate of spaghetti or Chinese dumplings in your favorite secret 3 am hole-in-the-wall or the best cup of coffee at dawn. What is your ultimate favorite dish and where is it?
The choices are endless of course. I could really use some inspiration!

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  1. What are your travel dates? Many of the restaurants in NYC are especially busy during December due to holiday visitors and end of the year client and company meetings.

    How much are you willing to spend for your blow-out foodie weekend?

    Where are you located currently in Europe (I assume not Italy -- so the UK? Spain? Germany? etc)?

    And have you visited the USA before? I assume you grew up in the United States?

    I assume there are probably some US-centric foods that you miss now like big brunches, burgers, steak, BBQ, fried chicken, bagels with smoked salmon, American desserts like pie/cupcakes, etc. Or ones that are harder to find where you are now, like great nigiri sushi?

    I might look into Pies 'n' Thighs, the Redhead, Blue Smoke, Hill Country, Pearl Oyster Bar, Luke's Lobster, in addition to classic NY places like Russ & Daughters, Katz's Deli, John's of Bleecker, brunch places like Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern, and obscurer Asian places like Takashi, Zabb Elee, and Xian Famous Foods.

    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

    We'll be able to help you more if you let us know what cuisines are NOT well represented in your current place of residence.

    > It could be anything from street food to steakhouses, pubs,pierogies, 5 star wonders, insane Korean, the perfect plate of spaghetti or Chinese dumplings in your favorite secret 3 am hole-in-the-wall or the best cup of coffee at dawn.

    Let's see, I'd do the halal cart at 53rd and 6th (Halal Guys, SW corner at night, SE during the day), Minetta Tavern, The Breslin (gastropub), Veselka for periogi (at 4am just for the atmosphere), Eleven Madison Park (4 NYT stars), Sik Gaek in Flushing (for live octopus) or perhaps the new Jung Sik for an upscale tasting menu experience, Scarpetta (the perfect spaghetti), 456 for sheng jian bao (fried tiny buns), Blue Ribbon Brasserie (bone marrow at 3am), and Abraco (the best cup of coffee in the morning, made by the friendliest guy).

    Here's my list of Only in NY experiences:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8050...

    See also:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/811519
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775501
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/746102
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/817763

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

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

    Pearl Oyster Bar
    18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

    Pickle Guys
    49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

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

    Hill Country
    30 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

    Shopsin's General Store
    120 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

    Minetta Tavern
    113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

    Veselka
    144 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

    Blue Ribbon Brasserie
    97 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

    Abraco
    86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

    John's Pizzeria
    278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

    Blue Smoke
    116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

    Economy Candy
    108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

    Scarpetta
    355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

    The Redhead
    349 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

    Halal Chicken and Gyro
    106 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

    Locanda Verde
    377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

    Clinton Street Baking Co.
    4 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

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

    Luke's Lobster
    93 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

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

    Takashi
    456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

    Jung Sik
    2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Wow Kathryn great list! We are planning on being there Dec. 2,3,4. I'm a Canadian living in Munich and familiar with the NY and LA food scene. And yes there are plenty of foods that I love that I miss here, especially Asian. It's atrocious in Munich. And great steaks. My latest craze in LA was Korean bbq. And then other times I go on Thai binges.
      So how would you go about making a short-list?

      1. re: mark_k

        I always appreciate kathryn suggesting my LES tour. :)

        With regard to steak, I highly recommend Keens, which has been been in its 36th Street location since 1885. Thus, in addition to delicious food and excellent service, there is the unmatchable Old NY ambiance -- walls filled with authentic American memorabilia, and rows of old clay smoking pipes supsended from all the ceilings. Plus, there are pipes belonging to famous peopl dating back to the 19th century in display cases in the vestibule.

        Keens photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        kathryn is much more knowledgeable about good Asian restaurants than I am. However, I can recommend the Japanese restaurant Kyo Ya, where we had a wonderful meal.

        Also, we just had dinner at a new upscale Korean restaurant, Jung Sik. The food is not anything like Korean bbq. Rather, it is Modern Korean based on French techniques. The cuisine is superb, there's an excellent wine list, service is cordial and professional, and the ambiance is lovely.

        Jung Sik photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        Happy Birthday!

        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

        -----
        Keens
        72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

        Kyo Ya
        94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

        Jung Sik
        2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

        1. re: mark_k

          For Korean BBQ - Madangsui for galbi (beef short ribs) and Don's Bogam for samgyupsal (pork belly) if you want to stay in Manhattan. They're not quite Park's in L.A. but good and definitely will satisfy a craving.

          -----
          Madangsui
          35 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

          Don's Bogam
          17 E 32nd St, New York, NY 10016

          1. re: mark_k

            My short list would probably be dictated by:
            1. Budget
            2. Availability--some of the higher end places may book quickly for your dates as you're here for a weekend
            3. Meals--the higher end places like Kyo Ya will only be open for dinner
            4. Cuisine and genre within cuisine--what are the 5-6 items you miss the most? Is it Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, other? Specific foods within those cuisines can help drive your agenda be it ramen, sushi, curries, soup dumplings, etc.

            -----
            Kyo Ya
            94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009