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Feb 24, 2012 11:12 AM

72 solo hours in Manhattan

I know that people have asked this question before but the last posting is a year ago. I'm looking for suggestions in the following categories.
1/ Unusual fine dining venues (no budget)
2/ Cheap eats unique to Manhattan (<$20)
3/ Best noodle bar or sushi for lunch
4/ Best quick eats near the MOMA
5/ Best breakfast near Time Square.
6/ Best cheesecake. Yeah, I LOVE cheesecake.
Sorry if it's a bit vague but hope you can help. Chowhounders have never let me down yet!

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  1. > 1/ Unusual fine dining venues (no budget)

    When are you coming? Do you want to eat at the bar? Or a table? If at a table, then you really should be making a reservation for a table for 1 (there is no stigma in doing so here!).

    Best bar dining:

    You can also dine at the bar at Eleven Madison Park (a la carte, not the prix fixe) or Le Bernardin, or in the salon/lounges of Per Se and Daniel. I think Del Posto also very recently added bar dining. All of these are fine dining, but I would not say they are really "unusual," although the definition of unusual can vary. What does "unusual" mean to you?

    > 2/ Cheap eats unique to Manhattan (<$20


    Here is a great resource:

    And another:

    > 3/ Best noodle bar or sushi for lunch

    Ippudo for ramen.

    15 East for lunch, assuming you mean weekday lunch. Very few upscale/notable sushi places serve weekend lunch.

    > 4/ Best quick eats near the MOMA

    I would do the famous halal cart on 53rd and 6th, though others prefer different halal carts (most of them are within a short walk):

    It is on the southEAST corner during the day.

    It moves to the southWEST side at night fall.

    > 5/ Best breakfast near Times Square

    > 6/ Best cheesecake. Yeah, I LOVE cheesecake.

    Best cheesecake in NYC:

    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

    15 East
    15 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

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

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

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

    65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks Kathryn! That's really helpful. Coming from across the pond, I had no idea what a "halal cart" is!
      I guess by unusual I'm thinking something that's unique to NYC. I've eaten well across the globe in both hemispheres and like to go places that typify my destination. Tofu specialist in Tokyo, seafood markets in Auckland, cuy and yucca in Peru etc
      Is Ko worth the online reservation hassle? I'm arriving mid March so looks like I have to sit poised over my keyboard for a week to get a place!

      1. re: Cokeylicious

        Ko is definitely worth the reservation hassle.

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

        1. re: Cokeylicious

          Have you been to NYC before?

          There's a lot that is unique to NYC that isn't fine dining.

          Only in NY type foods: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.

          Best bagels in NYC:

          Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all.

          I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.

          Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
          It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.

          Best pizza:
          Really, it depends what you're looking for: gas oven style, coal oven style, Naples style? A slice? A pie? Takeout? Sit down? Or is standing up OK with you?

          There are a few distinct styles of round pizza found in NYC: New York gas-oven style, Neopolitan style, and a hybrid style of the two that is also unique to New York (usually coal oven). Then to throw another wrench into things, some places are known more for square pies (like Artichoke).

          Note that lot of famous places like John's of Bleecker, Grimaldi's, and Lombardi's are pies only. Hard to make a recommendation without knowing what you're looking for: whole pies or slices, gas oven vs. coal oven.

          If you are limiting yourself to only Manhattan, my favorites, agnostic of oven type:

          John's of Bleecker, if you ask for it well done. Get it plain or with one topping, max. I'm partial to their green peppers. This is classic coal-fired NY-Neopolitan hybrid style pie. They do sometimes undercook/under char it, though. Whole pies only.

          Motorino for Naples style. Delicious but not really historically "New York" style. Crimini and sausage, spicy soppressata, or whatever their special pie is. Wonderful crust, quality toppings. Whole pies only.

          For both you may have to wait in line. I have also enjoyed Patsy's in East Harlem (coal oven) in the past but it is a bit far uptown dependent upon where you are starting from, and I've not been very recently. Whole pies OR slices if you want.

          South Brooklyn Pizza or Joe's for a slice (gas oven). Joe's is a bit less crisp/more chewy and on the more cheesy sied and has a more uniform appearance. South Brooklyn is more crispy and has an interesting cheese blend (mozzarella, grana padano, and fontina) with fresh basil, and the cheese and sauce are more scattered, which you usually don't see at slice joints.

          We also have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Henan, Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao and Dongbei to name a few).

          scoopG's Chinatown list (dependent upon where you are coming from these may be exotic or not... most places don't have Henan or Xian style food though):

          You might also want to consider creative Asian, like at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Wong, Fatty Cue, Takashi, RedFarm. More expensive than Chinatown but not near the level of a four star restaurant like EMP or Le Bernardin. Not sure what the Asian scene is like where you currently live.

          Here is a list of my favorites in NYC:

          My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and creative brunches (sometimes every day of the week).

          What about Southern or BBQ food? Or lobster roll? I might look into Pies 'n' Thighs, the Redhead, Blue Smoke, Hill Country, Luke's Lobster, Pearl Oyster Bar...

          Don't leave NY without eating these 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:

          2 Day NYC Tour focusing on eating, please help with suggestions...

          Restaurant Advice for 2 day trip to NYC

          For non-Western European/American

          Foreign Street Grub

          totally obscure, odd, and intriguing menu items

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

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

          Hill Country
          30 W 26th St, 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

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

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

          Joe's Pizza
          7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

          32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

          328 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003

          Patsy's Pizzeria
          2287 1st Ave, New York, NY 10035

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

          Locanda Verde
          377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

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

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

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

          349 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003

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

          456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

          47 W 20th St, New York, NY 10010

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

          7 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

          529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

      2. My 2 cents:
        I love Junior's cheesecake especially the strawberry cheese pie. Times Sq or Grand Central!
        Noodle Bar on Carmine St or the LES
        Cheap Eats = Papaya King or Gray's Papaya one has a recession special 2 dogs and a drink for $2.99 or so. Or one of the many food trucks!!

        1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036

        45 Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY 10017

        Gray's Papaya
        402 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

        Papaya King
        179 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028

        Noodle Bar
        26 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

        Noodle Bar
        172 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

        3 Replies
        1. re: Motosport

          The food truck phenomenon hasn't hit the UK so can't wait to check some out
          How do you find them and which ones to try first?

          1. re: Cokeylicious

            The gourmet food trucks usually have a schedule, i.e., Monday they are in one location, Tuesday another. The bulk of food truck business is done during lunch, and lines can get pretty long. Many trucks park in Midtown since that is where many office workers are.

            You can find them on Twitter. Almost all of the new, gourmet (i.e. Mexican-Korean tacos, ice cream sandwiches made to order, lobster rolls, Belgian waffles, etc) trucks are on Twitter. This makes it easy to find a particular truck, but hard to figure out what trucks are near you at any given point in time, because of the distributed nature. However, the old school, more established, less gourmet vendors don't really move around, so that can help if your interest lies more with them.

            Some people have tried to put together aggregators, but your success with them may vary.

            Here's one that is just a list:

            I've never found a food truck map application that I really liked -- I think it's hard to do here given how many food trucks we have, and how large an area they cover.

            The Zagat one is broken for me, and does not seem to have a long enough list, and neither does TruxMap.

            Edible City seems OK...50 trucks on the map.


            A lot of trucks operate on a regular weekday lunch schedule, so if you know where you'll be, that might help.

            For the best food trucks, the Vendy Awards are a good start.

            1. re: kathryn

              Suddenly 3 days seems a grossly inadequate stopover! Thanks again Kathryn. It's just what I needed.

        2. For the budget-doesn't-matter fine dining venue, have you considered the extended tasting menu at Per Se?

          1 Reply
          1. You can also wish to consider Mexican / pan-Latin food given that you are coming from the UK:

            1. 2/ Cheap eats unique to Manhattan - Papa Perrone's riceball truck, which happens to also be
              3/ a quick bite within a 10 minute walk of MoMA.

              5/ Best breakfast near Times Square. For a decent greasy spoon breakfast, I like the Red Flame on W 44th. I also like having a coffee with a Balthazar Sticky Bun or Doughnut Plant donut that's available at the Rockefeller Center's Dean & DeLuca on W 46th St. The Rockefeller location Maison au Chocolat also serves a continental breakfast, which would be within a 15 minute walk of Times Square. DB Bistro Moderne is a place I haven't tried yet, but would like to try at some point, which serves an upscale breakfast within a short walk of Times Square. Fika is another place I'd like to try.
              The breakfast buns (Momofuku's take on an Egg McMuffin) at the uptown Milk Bar are a tasty breakfast to-go within a 15 minute walk of Times Square.

              Unique to NYC- the Spotted Pig's ricotta gnudi and burger with roquefort and shoestring fries. Have tried similar dishes elsewhere, but i prefer the Spotted Pig's versions.

              In case you like brunch, here's a thread with ideas for decadent brunches for those dining solo:

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

              Doughnut Plant
              379 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

              La Maison du Chocolat
              30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020

              41 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

              Red Flame
              67 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

              Dean & DeLuca
              235 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

              Papa Perrone's
              80 E 55th St, New York, NY 10022

              Momofuku Milk Bar
              15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

              Doughnut Plant
              220 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011