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Nov 28, 2011 02:49 PM

Restaurants that don't take reservations...

Hello everyone,

My husband just surprised me an hour ago with my first NY trip. We are leaving this Wednesday and returning Monday.

I work in the high-end food industry and am FREAKING out now, because I know that reservations are going to be impossible for alot of the can't be missed places. We don't have a budget for food. Are willing to pay for really unique and memorable experiences. We dine out frequently in Chicago and appreciate all types of food from hole in the walls to molecular gastronomy. My husband is Taiwanese and really likes dim sum and Asian Fusion.

If you could put together a dream list what would it be? What trendy or must do restaurants will we be able to get into that maybe don't require reservations? What should we NOT miss?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

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  1. A must is Jungsik, you should be able to get a reservation just fine because they're a new restaurant (

    Maybe a kaiseki meal at Kyo Ya? They only require a 2 day advance reservation for their kaiseki. You should be able to find quite a number of reviews on this board.

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

    Jung Sik
    2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

    1. You should definitely include any of the Momofuku restaurants (other than Ko) since no reservations are required.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ellenost

        Husband has Ssam Bar on his list! I think he has a secret crush on David Chang:)

        Are there any lunch recommendations that are musts? Might be a way to get into the places that we couldn't get into in the pm?

        Jungsik looks great!!

        1. re: schmizer

          Lunch at Jean Georges (French cuisine with Asian accents) is one of the best deals in town. OpenTable is showing reservations for two people on 12/1 at 11:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. , and on 12/2 at 2:30 p.m.

          We just had an absolutely stellar dinner at Corton. Chef Paul Liebrandt's cuisine is astonishing in its complexity and deliciousness. And desserts from pastry chef Shawn Gawle are not exactly too shabby. Lots of reservation times available for 11/30 and 12/1. A very few early spots on 12/2 and 12/3. They don't serve lunch and are closed on Sunday.

          Corton photos:

          Since this is your fist visit to NYC, you might want to consider taking my famous self-guided tour of the Lower East Side to sample some quintessential New York foods. Here's the link:

          Note one change and one correction. Guss's Pickles has closed, so substitute The Pickle Guys Essex St., just off Grand. And the Economy Candy is at 145 Rivington, not 108.

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

          239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

      2. In addition to the excellent suggestions below (Corton, Jean Georges for lunch, and Ssam Bar), I have a few suggestions to add.

        1) Chicago has a serious lack of Western Chinese offerings. I would suggest checking out Xi'an Famous foods (the location under the Manhattan Bridge is the best, but only has a couple of stools by the window for seating). This would be a better option than Manhattan's dim sum offerings, which aren't up to par with those in Flushing.

        2) A number of very very good restaurants have first come, first served options at the bar. Those include Babbo (have to arrive early), Craft, and Le Bernardin (though there have been some post-renovation tweaks that you should look into, but I am unfamiliar with). Any of those are certainly worth trying.

        3) Call Eleven Madison Park and Per Se to see if something pops open. Often something can be had, especially at lunch, if you are willing to wait to the last minute.

        Enjoy the city!

        Per Se
        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

        110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

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

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: nmprisons

          I agree. If there are particular restaurants that you really want to try and can't get a reservation, I would call and ask to be put on the waitlist if they have one, or just keep calling back to check for cancellations if they don't. Persistence can pay off. Definitely make other plans and assume it's not going to work out, but I've had some luck getting primetime dinner reservations at some of the most popular restaurants in the city on the day of because of people canceling and/or not confirming.

        2. 2nd Kyo Ya, and it's often possible to get in at the last minute there.

          > I work in the high-end food industry and am FREAKING out now, because I know that reservations are going to be impossible for alot of the can't be missed places.

 depends if you want to eat high end for every meal or not. Note that Per Se and Daniel both have lounges. Per Se serves an a la carte menu in the "Salon," whereas Daniel serves tasting, prix fixe, and a la carte menus in the lounge.

          Eleven Madison Park serves the normal prix fixe menu at the bar for lunch IIRC (but not dinner). For dinner, the bar menu at Eleven Madison Park is a different menu from the regular dining room. You must order a la carte. The menu consists of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Many of these dishes are pulled from the dinner prix fixe, though.

          Here is my list of what I consider to be 'unique' to NYC.

          You may not want to eat quite so much of the high end Italian and high end French as you have plenty of that in Chicago.

          Additionally, I think that the molecular gastronomy scene here is probably skippable as well; WD-50 is our only option and IMO not as delicious as Alinea/Next/Aviary.

          In addition to Momofuku Noodle Bar/Ssam Bar/Ma Peche/Milk Bar, take a look at Danny Meyer's, April Bloomfield's, and Mario Batali's restaurants, most of which serve the full menu (or a worthy menu in and of itself) at the bar area.

          For Meyer's restaurants, Maialino's bar room and Bar Room at the Modern are both worth a look if you can't get into the main dining room for either.

          For Bloomfield's, neither Spotted Pig or the Breslin take reservations. Lunch at either is usually less insane than dinner.

          All of Batali's restaurants (Babbo, Lupa, etc) except for Del Posto serve at the bar. Manzo might be worth a try, I see a few openings on OpenTable. Del Posto also has a lunch slot for 2 on 11/30 available on OpenTable right now; they have an excellent prix fixe lunch on weekdays.

          Regarding Asian fusion, check out RedFarm, Fatty Cue (some reservations on OT but not a lot), Wong, Kin Shop, and Takashi (creative Japanese BBQ).

          In terms of trendy:

          Per Se
          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

          50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

          170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

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

          110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

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

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

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

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

          Momofuku Noodle Bar
          171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

          Momofuku Milk Bar
          251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

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

          2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

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

          456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

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

          Fatty 'Cue
          50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

          7 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

          529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

          1. Although reservations are always a good security measure, it's actually not an actual neccessity at almost all restaurants but then, either I've lucked our or you'll just have to watch your mileage. I've had almost 100% positive results as a walk-in group (3-5 people), but then again, I'm not exactly walking in to a majority of the upper tier restaurants perenially mentioned on this board either.

            I've gone to STK, Dos Caminos, Locanda, Spice Market, ABC Kitch, Perry St., Pastis, Balthazar, Lure Fish, Stanton, basically any McNally and JG/V place I guess w/o reservations and was sat relatively quickly, for both lunch and primish dinner hours, although lunch is easy almost anywhere as a walk-in.

            All the neighborhoody eats in W. and E. Villages, Soho, Tribeca (maybe all the restaurants on Greenwich and the streets that surround out it like Franklin, Hudson, W. Broad) you can just go and wait a little since it's part of the fun. Yes, it can be fun to wait and people watch and rub it in to the faces you're leaving behind once your table is ready. :)

            Two sceney places I recommend are Lavo and Co-Op. Lavo (Italian) is on 58th near the Apple Store. The line is already out the door at 7 p.m. on any given night almost. Tao (fusion) is across the street as an alternative. Co-Op is in the Rivington Hotel downtown. It's got to be one of the coolest designed spaces, loud as sh*t, late night dinner places, (To be fair, I'm more enamored with the way a restaurant looks than the actual food), Three other late night places are Apotheke (mixology drinks) and Pulqueria (Mexican) in Chinatown, next to each other, I can't remember the story but the the guy that originally started Apotheke now owns Theater Bar in Tribeca. I'm too lazy but you can do the reseach online. lol

            I can't remember the name but there's a large dim sum place in Chinatown called......Jang Fang or Jung Fing???? I know I'm butchering the name but I really liked it. If anyone knows which place I'm talking about, you have to go up escalator to the large dining hall.

            Since you're industry, the French Culinary Institute has a restaurant that might interest you. It's very small but you could probably do lunch as a walk-in and it's right in the heart of Soho.

            Jing Fong
            18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

            42 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

            462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013

            9 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

            39 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

            Theater Bar
            114 Franklin St, New York, NY 10013

            11 Doyers St, New York, NY 10038

            Co-Op Food & Drink
            107 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

            2 Replies
            1. re: mushroomaffairs

              Just at Jing Fong 3 weeks ago and thought the food quality only so-so, although the service was fine, there were tons of options on the carts, and the ambiance is Very old-school. I'd skip it for other dim sum in Manhattan's Chinatown (if you need to stay; as above, I'd recommend getting out to Flushing or Sunset Park for dim sum). Try Dim Sum Go Go, Red Egg, and Chinatown Brasserie (menus online).

              Some recent threads about dim sum:

              Dim Sum Go Go
              5 E Broadway, New York, NY 10038

              Chinatown Brasserie
              380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

              Jing Fong
              18 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10013

              Red Egg
              202 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013

              1. re: mushroomaffairs

                I just got back from Chicago and I'd say to skip Lure (GT Fish & Oyster is better) and Dos Caminos (doesn't compare favorably to any Bayless restaurant).

                From your list, ABC Kitchen and Locanda Verde are the only can't miss ones IMO.

                Lure Fishbar
                142 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012

                Dos Caminos
                825 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10022

                Locanda Verde
                377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

                ABC Kitchen
                35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003