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Berkeley Hounds first time in NYC SOS - Please Critique Our 6 Day NYC Spring Trip!

Have been to NYC many times but partner hasn't -- taking for first time and want to hit all the key tourist spots while also indulging our foodie side. For a feel of our taste, we love Ubuntu in Napa, Mission Chinese (szechuan) in SF and of course cancun taqueria (but have heard not to bother with mexican in NYC), HOPR, brunch places like Rick and Anne's, Saul's Deli, sushi at Kirala, Cheeseboard, Wood Tavern, Danko's etc.

I'm pretty sure we want to do EMP over Per Se, both because it's cheaper and we haven't been to French Laundry yet and want to try that first. I also want to hit two other nice dinners, but not 3 stars. WD-50 sounds great - we've never been to Alinea but have always been fans of the concept. We are bagel and lox addicts.

Will be staying around Time Square, probably the Westin.

Here it is! Please help:

Day 1
Arrive evening
Time Square
Late night pizza (Artichoke)

Day 2
Morning: Empire State Building / Top the Rock for view of the city
Lunch: Katz’s Deli
Afternoon:
Shopping 5th Ave
Musem of Modern Art
Dinner: WD-50 or Jungsik

Day 3
Breakfast/Lunch: Russ & Daughters
Afternoon:
Central Park
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Guggenheim
Dinner: EMP

Day 4
Coffee: City Bakery
Afternoon: Battery Park / Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island (having a hard time planning around this because I remember it a) taking a long time and b) being really tiring)
Dinner: Shanghai Cafe for XLB (been here and loved it, thought it crushed Yank Sing in SF, although apparently Nan Xian in Flushing is better?)
Evening: Broadway Show (The book of mormon/southpark one)

Day 5
Coffee: Somewhere near/in Grand Central
Lunch: Luke’s Lobster
Afternoon:
Museum of Natural History
Dinner: Traif
Evening: Brooklyn/Beer Gardens

Day 6
Lunch: Momofuku Ssam Bar
Afternoon: Freebie
5PM Head to Airport

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  1. I don't like Artichoke. For really good pizza in the East Village, go to South Brooklyn Pizza on 1st Av. near 7th St. and get a margherita slice or two. They're open till 5 AM.

    Also, just in case you don't know, you can buy things at Russ & Daughters, but you can't eat them there, so if it's really cold, you may have to take them back to your hotel. If it's not cold, it could be fine to sit on a park bench in the park between Houston St. and 1st St. west of 1st Av. and eat there.

    About Shanghai Cafe: It's in my rotation of Chinese restaurants, but I don't find it great at all; in fact, almost any hole-in-the-wall in Shanghai would be better. Sichuan food is actually on a higher level in Manhattan, so consider going to Szechuan Gourmet. Both locations (39th St. between 5th and 6th and 56th St. between Broadway and 8th) are within easy walking distance of Times Square.

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

    Shanghai Cafe
    100 Mott St, New York, NY 10013

    Szechuan Gourmet
    21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

    Artichoke
    328 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

    Szechuan Gourmet
    244 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

    South Brooklyn Pizza
    122 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

    6 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      oops double post

      -----
      Barney Greengrass
      541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

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

      Artichoke
      328 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

      Szechuan Gourmet
      244 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

      1. re: Pan

        Thanks! It seems like it's tough to find consensus on best pizza in NYC--I'll look out for alternatives to Artichoke. Probably worth an entirely separate NYC tour trip just to get the full experience.

        Will probably take Russ & Daughters to a park bench or back to the hotel, or maybe go in the morning and pack it to the Statue of Liberty trip. Although, maybe will try Barney Greengrass per the below rec.

        In terms of Szechuan, I'm pretty ideological that China Village on Solano can't be beat, but after recently having Lao Sze Chuan in Chicago and Gu's in Atlanta, I'll acknowledge other places can come close. Will definitely keep Szechuan Gourmet in mind, particularly given how close it is an dhow likely it is that we will be exhausted one of the days and want something close.

        -----
        Barney Greengrass
        541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

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

        Szechuan Gourmet
        21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

        Szechuan Gourmet
        244 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

        1. re: hungree

          How recently have you been to China Village? Not much posted on the SF Board about the place after 2009.

          1. re: scoopG

            Still bangin' as of 2011, although Mission Chinese (the restaurant within a restaurant) is getting a ton of hype right now.

          2. re: hungree

            I've eaten at Lao Sze Chuan in Chicago and think Szechuan Gourmet is just as good, if not, maybe a little better. Try the cumin lamb, mapo tofu, dumplings with chili soy.

            1. re: hungree

              Pizza's a tough consensus because there's so many different types; my current fave is the montanara at Forcella in the E. Village: a Neapolitan style, individually-sized pizza with a deep fried crust. It is, as the kids say, bangin'. And at $10, a very good deal. Forcella is just a couple of doors down from Hecho en Dumbo, a very good modern Mexican place, most likely very different from what you're accustomed to in SF

              -----
              Hecho en Dumbo
              354 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

              Forcella
              334 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

          3. Late night pizza - Co. in Chelsea

            Katz is good but out of the way considering your Empire State and Fifth Ave. itinerary. Maybe try the Breslin, Cannibal, or Ma Peche and save Katz for another meal.

            I haven't been to Jungsik but WD50 is fun and interesting.

            The rest of your itinerary looks good. Go Bears!

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

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

            Co.
            230 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

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

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

            The Cannibal
            113 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016

            8 Replies
            1. re: Riverman500

              Note that Company in Chelsea is whole pies only and more Naples-inspired in terms of size. It's only open until 11pm (except Sunday when it closes at 10pm).

              Agree that Katz's is out the way for Day 2.

              1. re: Riverman500

                Go Bears! Our new stadium looks like it's helping a lot with a great recruiting class:).

                Probably can't skip Katz's (it might be what I'm most looking forward to), but may need to move it to another day where it is more copacetic with our itinerary. Maybe we'll move it to Day 6 and do Ssam on Day 2, although not sure if I can handle waiting until the last day to get Katz's...

                I'm really starting to doubt WD-50, after reading so many negative reviews here and around the web. Maybe better to wait until we're in Chicago next and try Alinea? I am just very concerned about the food not tasting good -- that's the main negative comment that worries me. I love the concept and the chef on TV, but don't want to drop 140 a pop for food that won't taste phenomenal... I know this has been beaten to death, but really curious what you guys think?

                I'm considering either going with Jung Sik over WD-50, or doing both and cutting out Traif. Doubt I'll regret not going to Traif, based on the reactions. We can sitll do Brooklyn/Williamsburg beer garden to get the effect.

                Probably will stay away from BBQ, sincee've recently had occasion to live in the south for a couple years, where there's fantastic BBQ all around.

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

                Jung Sik
                2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

                1. re: hungree

                  I just had another sensational dinner at Jung Sik last night. If you can, seriously try to fit Jung Sik into your schedule.

                  When we went to WD-50, we were far more impressed with the appetizers than the entrees and the desserts. The Corned Duck and the Cold Fried Chicken were both fantastic. The entrees we had was a duck dish and a pork neck dish. We thought they were pretty ordinary. The desserts tasted a bit odd frankly, I don't recall which two desserts they were.

                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                    We're definitely going, thanks in no small part to your reviews and pics. I'm going to toss Traif and Jungsik on our last night in the city.

                    Leaning towards giving WD-50 a shot, and just viewing it as an experiment. Something about going to MOMA and then WD-50 makes me laugh---if it sucks I'll just tell myself I lack sophistication.

                  2. re: hungree

                    What day of the week do you get here? Katz's is open late Thursday-Saturday.

                    Alinea is in a whole different league compared to WD-50, especially since the entire experience is much more luxurious and you don't have an a la carte option. If you're worried about flavor combinations not tasting good, save your money for Alinea. I respect Chef Dufresne and have had some very good meals at WD-50 but he pushes the envelope in terms of flavor combinations (some of his dishes are very challenging). Much more than Chef Achatz.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Fri night. I guess we could opt to save a ton of money and do Katz's Sat night and forget about WD-50, and do a brunch Sat morning.

                      Would make doing the full tasting menu at EMP over the 4 course more likely (although, part of me likes the control the 4-course gives us). Can we special request certain things on EMP's full tasting, like if we definitely know we want Lobster or something?

                      1. re: hungree

                        Yes, EMP are very accommodating in terms of foods you like and don't like. You could go all out and request the off-menu roast duck for two to be added to your tasting, too.

                      2. re: kathryn

                        Lately, Katz's has been open 24 hours on weekends, so they told me there.

                  3. Well planned and thought out, hungree. Why not try some Chinese that you won't find in Berkeley?
                    Henan Flavors
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/774685

                    -----
                    He Nan Flavor
                    68 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scoopG

                      Oooh - this sounds very interesting! Thanks!

                    2. For day 3 you should consider Barney Greengrass for bagels and lox. You can eat in their and their fish is of equal quality. Also you will be a few blocks from Central Park as opposed to Russ and Daughters.

                      -----
                      Barney Greengrass
                      541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: MVNYC

                        Get the eggs lox and onions soft scrambled if you go to greengrass

                        1. re: MVNYC

                          Awesome, thanks for the tip! We might do that and then substitute Russ & Daughters for City Bakery and eat it our bagels on the ferry.

                          1. re: hungree

                            That would make a lot of sense depending on your later plans. You can get open faced sandwiches at Russ so you can try different types of smoked and cured fish. I am partial to the Sable and the Belly Lox (salty)

                            1. re: MVNYC

                              Nice - Also adore Whitefish salad and I bet theirs is good. Eating bagels any other way than open faced is blasphemy.

                              1. re: hungree

                                If, when you go, Russ has double-smoked Danish salmon (they do from time to time), GET IT.

                        2. I agree w/ Pan that South Brooklyn pizza is better.

                          If you must go to Artichoke, I prefer the square. Their margherita slice isn't that good. Neither is the artichoke. Overall their crust seems thicker than most other slice joints in NY. I suppose that is just their style, however.

                          For EMP make sure you book 28 days in advance at exactly 9am Eastern. They are on OpenTable.

                          You're correct that Statue of Liberty and Ellis will eat up half your day due to security lines, etc. Make sure you reserve/buy tickets in advance, otherwise, you may get shut out, especially if you want to go inside the statue. There's some decent concessions stands on the two islands. Not amazing, but better than it used to be.

                          Best XLB (soup dumplings) I've had in NYC are at RedFarm, but they are pricey. There's usually a long wait at RedFarm and the rest of the menu isn't traditional Chinese.

                          If I recall correctly, Book of Mormon starts at 7pm some days. If your curtain time is that early, it means you'll be pressed for time. Better to eat dinner nearby, and not Chinatown.

                          Day 5: for coffee in Grand Central, go to Joe the Art of Coffee.

                          I don't think Traif is all that impressive, I'd skip that and maybe do Diner, Pies 'n' Thighs...

                          You mentioned you like brunch but I don't see any plans for brunch on your schedule. Try Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Minetta Tavern, Prune, Clinton St Baking Co....

                          Your sightseeing plans look quite ambitious! Make sure you don't run yourselves ragged!

                          What days of the week are you here? Ssam has a different weekend lunch menu than weekday (weekday is the all duck lunch).

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

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

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

                          Minetta Tavern
                          113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

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

                          Artichoke
                          328 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

                          Joe the Art of Coffee
                          89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

                          Locanda Verde
                          377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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

                          South Brooklyn Pizza
                          122 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

                          RedFarm
                          529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: kathryn

                            Will do on the EMP res. Have it calendared :).

                            Wondering what we can do, if anything, to bring food with us on the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island trip... Maybe bring some Russ & Daughters?

                            Thanks for the Joe the Art of Coffee rec! Will definitely check it out.

                            We'll probably muck Traif, and maybe do Jungsik and WD-50, and then just a Brooklyn/Williamsburg walk around and beer garden (maybe the bowling place) stop.

                            Definitely will try to squeeze in a brunch, but if we can only fit in Bagels, probably won't mind. I agree this is a really ambitious agenda --- definitely an "active" vacation. Hopefully the long dinner service at EMP and some of the other places will be a nice lull and walking around town/museums will work up our apetite.

                            Is Pies n' Thighs BBQ? We're probably going to steer away from BBQ/Southern food since we've just recently spent a good amount of time in the south.

                            We're there Fri-Wed so we'd be doing the weekday duck at Ssam. Wondering if we should try to squeeze in Gramercy Tavern or Craft and realy leaning towards Jung Sik for sure. The real question is whether to swap out WD-50 for Gramercy Tavern/Craft or a cheap eats dinner in Flushing that night.... See my above comment about WD-50. I'm starting to really second guess that choice, after reading soooo many bad reactions.

                            Thanks again! Will definitely post a review after we go and look forward to finessing the plan more.

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

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

                            Gramercy Tavern
                            42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

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

                            Jung Sik
                            2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

                            1. re: hungree

                              Pies 'n' Thighs is know for their fried chicken.

                              If you're from Berkeley, you probably don't need to visit a farm to table restaurant while in NYC! I'd do something else.

                              1. re: hungree

                                Prune, for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch (brunch gets pretty hairy there; I usually go at about 2:30 for most reasonable seating time) is a good bet.

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