April trip - soliciting opinions please
Heading up to NYC from PA the last week of April for work, the wife is coming up on Thursday and we're staying until Saturday. Having lived in NYC 10 years ago, I always enjoy showing my wife around and doing all the research on what's hot and great at the moment. Hating midtown (mostly), we usually stay below 14th and try to explore the different neighborhoods - WV, LES, SoHo, etc.
As I stated before in another thread, I've got reservations for Friday at Babbo and we couldn't be more excited! That being said, I'm a little torn for what to do on Thursday. Since we are staying in TriBeCa this time, my original plan was to shoot for dinner at Locanda Verde. Then, when we decided to splurge on Babbo to celebrate recent promotion, I thought that might be too much Italian back to back. Would you agree?
So I made reservations at The Dutch...was in the area last year when they were opening and vowed to make a visit. But reading the reviews I'm really torn now - seems overhyped and not entirely impressive to diners. Sure, we love the idea of a loud crowd and the scene...but what excites me most is the Oyster Sliders...which my pregnant wife won't be able to enjoy. So maybe do that one night by myself? And it's supposedly way overpriced for what you get.
So here's what I'm stewing about:
1. Is Locanda Verde not a good idea the night before Babbo? And how much should I plan on spending at LV (before tax and drinks)? And what are the odds of getting a reservation around 8 this late?
2. Is there somewhere else to recommend, if I really should consider keeping cost low since Friday night will get pretty expensive? We eat anything, but love fun and scene-y and delicious "blow my mind" food.
3. Should I just relax and go to The Dutch? Thought about Minetta Tavern but that almost seems more expensive than The Dutch. And reservations will be next to impossible for our desired time slot.
Last question: I often annoy myself with this Analysis Paralysis...but I love everythign to be perfect. She'll be exploring TriBeCa all day on Friday - getting a prenatal around 11:30 and also need to figure out where to send her for breakfast - she's up early and likes eating right away! Is there a great bagel spot near the Tribeca Grand?
Locanda before Babbo - I'd have no problem doing it. But seeing as you're only in town for a short time, you might as well mix it up a bit.
All good suggestions above, especially kathryn's (as usual) - Acme might be doable on the Thursday, but they're very much the "it" restaurant of the moment so they can be as hard to get into as Babbo. I'll add Marc Forgione for a Tribeca option. Similar to The Dutch in that he deals with big, hearty flavors - but a bit more creative. There's an element of fun to the food that isn't really there at The Dutch (though the vibe / ambience of The Dutch is fun, for sure.)
Also within a fairly easy walk is Public - a "fusion" that actually works (Southeast Asian meets Ozzie/NZ meets New American) - great for dinner but also one of the best & most creative brunches in town. If you're around for brunch on Saturday, they'd be my top pick for that.
I like the Dutch for lunch/brunch quite a bit, though - the sandwiches are excellent, though I found the famous fried chicken a little underwhelming. They might be a good Friday lunch spot (though eat light, depending what time your Babbo rez is...)
For Babbo, I'd say go all-out and do a "full Italian" four-courser (antipasti/pasta/secondi/dolci) - the portions are really sized with that in mind. The pastas are not your big honkin' Italian-American/Little Italy plates, but proper "mid-course" portions. My 96-lb girlfriend has no problem polishing off four courses there. Lord knows when the next time you'll get to dine there is - it's hard for us locals to get tables, even! Go for the full experience.
I personally wouldn't do Locanda Verde the night before Babbo, and it's unlikely you'll get a prime time reservation if you're coming in 3 weeks.
I personally don't find Babbo to be super-expensive before any wine (for you I assume and not your wife), and we usually get 2 antipasti, 2 primi, and split a secondi and dessert. (I usually don't eat the complimentary bread, either, as I find it boring.)
For fun, scene-y, delicious, but a trip only 3 weeks away, you're going to have trouble getting 2 at 8pm on a Thursday no matter WHERE you go, really.
But why not try:
The NoMad - I see 5:45 and 9:45 on OpenTable right now, I think they take walk-ins as well, as they have several dining areas
Acme - you'll probably need to email or call
Empellon Cocina - I see some primetime tables left on OT for 4/26
Momofuku Ssam Bar - no reservations but the wait is usually not super-long if you can get there around 6:30/7pm
For bagels near Tribeca, try Zucker's.
I go along with Zucker's for the bagels. They also have smoked fish and have bialys.
Grand Daisy is good for pizza or pastry. But Pecan is more comfortable to sit, and they have pastries from Ceci Cela, and they have bagels and good coffee. It is close to Tribeca Grand , right on Franklin and W bway.
Locanda Verde before Babbo is a better idea than after Babbo. But I'd go with Kathryn's rec on
Empellon instead of LV
Yes, Cocina is more upscale than Taqueria and has a focus on composed plates, not tacos. It is definitely more ambitious. It is also newer and getting a lot more reviews due to its newness; there also aren't a ton of competing restaurants operating in the same genre (creative, upscale Mexican cooking).
One of the things to note about Empellon Taqueria is that people's expectations of a "taco place" are different than an upscale restaurant and some people will inevitably end up comparing it against other, more hole-in-the-wall taco joints. Also it's been around longer, and gone through some changes, so the evolution has been interesting to watch. I know a lot of CHers think Empellon Taqueria has greatly improved since it first opened.
For an inexpensive restaurant with great food in Tribeca, I recommend Lotus Blue. They serve both lunch and dinner. Service has always been good in my experience and the cuisine (Chinese-Yunnan) is quite unique. I like the decor too.
Also, Midtown nowadays has a lot of truly great food options, it's no longer a food wasteland!
Sorry to misrepresent myself...I don't think of midtown as a foodie wasteland at all! It's just that we've "been there/done that", and loving staying downtown where it's less hectic. We still venture up for food every once in a while (used to visit for weekends MUCH more often). And she'll be staying in midtown in May for a conference and I'm likely going up for a night or two...so we'll definitely be hitting up some spots then!