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May 1, 2012 09:14 AM

Last Minute Dinner Recs

hi Everyone!

I'm set to fly to NYC tonight (coming from Los Angeles!) and have one final question on dining!

I've decided to keep my reservations for Daniel, Babbo, and EMP, but will probably do something other than Le Bernardin for my last night (Saturday) in the city.

What do you guys think of the following places (and of course, any other recs are appreciated!):

Empellon Cocina
Rogue Tomate
53rd St. and Halal Court
Marea (too similar to Babbo?)
Kyotofu (planning on Momofuku Ssam for lunch during trip, would this be too similar?)
Union Square Cafe

I'll probably be dining solo so for places that are harder to get reservations, I would try the bar/lounge area.


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  1. I would avoid the Halal Guys Cart on 53rd Street. The food is terrible, unless all you care about is getting a ton of food for $6, then by all means....

    Kyotofu's food isn't all that special. It's more known for their soy-based desserts with an Asian twist. It's a dessert place really.

    What about Jungsik? It's absolutely wonderful and unique (not at all similar to Ssam Bar so don't worry about that) and you can find a whole bunch of reviews on the restaurant if you search on the board.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cheeryvisage

      TOTALLY agree on the halal cart...what a major disappointment. Also, I'd avoid Empellon Cocina, as you all have some of the best Mexican food in the entire country....

    2. Can you repost your itinerary so we can get a sense of where else you're going?

      I recall recommending The Breslin for breakfast for you, are you planning to go?

      For the 53rd and 6th Halal Cart, keep in mind it's outside, without a ton of seating nearby, so have a rain plan.

      For Kajitsu, confirm you can actually walk in w/o a reservation and dine at the bar. I know they have a chef's counter, not sure about a walk-in area/bar area.

      Kyotofu is completely different from Momofuku Ssam Bar. I wouldn't worry about it feeling too similar.

      5 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        here are the places I plan to hit up:

        Ess A Bagel
        (Hoping to get to either Maison Laduree or Milk Bar)

        Sarabeth's East (close to the Met and opens early)
        Momofuku Ssam
        (If time permits, Mille-feuille for a pastry and Joe the Art of Coffee before dinner)

        Levain Bakery
        Afternoon Tea

        db Bistro Moderne or Pastis (or will Pastis be similar to Balthazar?)
        Heading to Chelsea Market so will probably have lunch there--recs?

        or maybe Kyo Ya?

        Thanks so much for all your input, esp you kathryn--love your detailed points :)

        1. re: cali23

          For Maison Laduree, the staff have told me early in the morning is the quietest time (no lines).

          Sarabeth's East sounds good, you might also want to look at Untitled (inside the Whitney Museum), which a little bit south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

          Also look into Dominique Ansel for French pastry.

          Near Babbo, we also like Third Rail for coffee.

          I think Pastis for breakfast/brunch on Saturday will definitely be too similar to Balthazar.

          Chelsea Market recs:

          I love Kyo Ya, but it recently got reviewed in the New York Times, so you will probably be turned away if you try to walk-in w/o a reservation. I definitely have, and that wasn't even on a Saturday night, and it was BEFORE the Times review. They have a chef's counter and a separate sake counter, where they usually put walk ins, but it's not a terribly large restaurant.

          1. re: kathryn

            Thanks kathryn! What about any of the other dinner places I suggested above and do you think it's a good idea to forgo Le Bernardin?

            1. re: cali23

              Unless you could go to Minetta Tavern Saturday night -- which you can't --I don't know why you'd forgo Le Bernardin.

              If you do, though, let me throw in a vote for Empellon Cocina from your list. I think it's serving some of the most interesting food in New York right now.

              (PS -- Yes, Pastis will be virtually identical to Balthazar.)

          2. re: cali23

            I agree with kathryn about Pastis - definitely very similar to Balthazar. And Kyo Ya is great, if you can get a reservation. Why are you going to Nougatine instead of Jean Georges for lunch?

        2. Wow, that is quite a mixed bag! I don't think the Halal Cart belongs in this group, especially for your last dinner on a Saturday night. Actually it's Rouge Tomate, a place I find overpriced and dull; you probably have better Mexican choices in LA; Annisa would be a good choice.