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visiting NYC - question about reservations, and itinerary check

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Hello! My husband and I are visiting NYC in mid-June from Vancouver. It's been great fun (if a bit overwhelming) figuring out places we want to eat. It'd be nice if we could keep things fairly flexible and decide last minute based on cravings and location, but I know that there are a lot of places that need advanced reservation.

We already have reservations at:
Locanda Verde for brunch
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
I plan to get reservations for lunch at EMP

Do these places need reservations and, if so, how far in advance do we need to book (for a weeknight)?
Spotted Pig
Kin Shop or Perilla (I haven't decided which I prefer yet)
a mid-price Batali (Lupa vs Otto - haven't decided yet)

Places we assume don't need reservations (but please correct me if I'm wrong):
Russ & Daughters
Xi'an Famous Foods
Katz's Deli
Pizza places: John's vs Artichoke vs Motorino vs Keste

Additional questions:
Any suggestions for good izakayas and ramen? We have a pretty good scene in Vancouver but my understanding is the NYC scene is even better. I was thinking of checking out Momofuku Noodle Bar but would I be better off going somewhere more traditional for ramen?

Thanks for your input!

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  1. Do these places need reservations and, if so, how far in advance do we need to book (for a weeknight)?
    Spotted Pig

    I'd say yes. I couldn't give you insight into how far in advance.

    Kin Shop or Perilla (I haven't decided which I prefer yet)

    Don't know. Wouldn't hurt to reserve, though, certainly. I haven't been to either, so can't advise which one to go to.

    a mid-price Batali (Lupa vs Otto - haven't decided yet)

    Go to Lupa if you can get a reservation at a time you want. The atmosphere and experience are better. And yes, either one should be reserved. If you try to walk in to Lupa, you might get lucky and be able to sit right away, or you might have a 2-hour wait. And Otto, though larger, is very popular and not an easy reservation and could also be a long wait (though perhaps not quite as long) in a very crowded from bar room if you walk in.

    Places we assume don't need reservations (but please correct me if I'm wrong):
    Russ & Daughters

    It's a food store, not a restaurant.

    Xi'an Famous Foods

    They don't take reservations.

    Katz's Deli

    Reservations are unnecessary.

    Pizza places: John's vs Artichoke vs Motorino vs Keste

    I believe reservations are possible at Keste, but I've always just shown up, and it's been fine. I wouldn't think John's or Artichoke would take reservations. Motorino might.

    I'd be shocked if New York's ramen scene is superior to Vancouver's, but the go-to place for ramen here is a branch of Ippudo, a Japanese ramen chain, and it's mobbed. I don't think they'd take advance reservations for 2, but Kathryn or someone else more familiar with procedures there will explain how to work things there.

    The Momofuku restaurants are not Japanese. I haven't been to Noodle Bar but have been to Ssam Bar a few times, and I'd describe the cuisine there as perhaps more eclectic - good cuisine from different traditions - than fusion, but with some fusion, too. Visit them for what they are, not for the taste you miss from Tokyo.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pan

      Ippudo takes same day reservations but only in person.

    2. EMP takes resevations 4 weeks in advance (counting the current day) at 9am via both OpenTable and phone. I suggest both methods if your dates are not flexible.

      Spotted Pig does NOT take reservations.

      I would definitely make a reservation for Perilla or Kin Shop, especially if you want to sit at a table. Neither restaurant is all that large. Especially Perilla, you may end up eating at the bar.

      Definitely reserve at Lupa. It's one month in advance to the numerical date. At 10am I believe. Call promptly then, the desirable times go quickly. Waits can be long. You might want to consider lunch here. The place is pretty popular.

      Otto is more cheap/inexpensive eats than midrange. Pizza, pasta, salads. At Otto, it's much larger, but as Pan mentions there could also be a wait for a table. We prefer to wait for a bar seat to open up and dine there as the bartenders are excellent.

      As Pan says, Russ & Daughters is a storefront. No seating. Takeout only.

      Xian Famous Foods doesn't take reservations.

      Katz's doesn't take reservations.

      Keste, Motorino, John's don't take reservations.

      Artichoke is a takeout slice joint. No/very little seating.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Artichoke on 10th Ave. has plenty of seating - the OP could try that one though it's a little out of the way (right by High Line though!)

        I love taking out-of-town guests to Sakagura. Great sake selection (according to my husband,) a large variety of well-made small plates, and the atmosphere is very authentic. I'm not a huge ramen person, but you probably can't go wrong with Ippudo.

        1. re: kathryn

          Another thing about Katz's is that, while you can get excellent pastrami if you sit and have waiter service, part of the experience is waiting on line for one of the cutters, trying the sample, having the chance to disapprove it if it happens not to have quite the right texture you want, and tipping him, then bringing your stuff to your own table. They bus everything after you're done, but you bring it there yourself.

          1. re: kathryn

            Artichoke on McDougal has plenty of seating.

          2. Thanks everyone for the feedback.

            I'm going to try to reserve a spot at Perilla for dinner (and maybe Kin Shop for dinner). It looks like they both come up for reservation 28 days in advance.

            Will try to do a walk-in for Spotted Pig and aim for either very early evening or late night.

            Sakagura sounds great! I'll look into it more. How vital are reservations?

            I've been to Ippudo before but I was a bit underwhelmed. That said, I probably didn't give it a fair chance because my friend and I were already satisfied (not stuffed, but definitely not hungry) after a Bo Ssam meal at Ssam Bar. My husband has been to a different ramen place that he thought was fantastic... but sadly all he can remember of the name is that it was "some long word". *sigh.

            Thanks for the feedback on Momofuku - when I was looking at the Noodle Bar online menu, for some reason I thought they were billing themselves as a ramen joint. I enjoyed Ssam Bar so I'm interested in either going back there, or trying another of his restaurants. Ko looks really interesting but I think we've reached our limit for high-end dining this trip.

            3 Replies
            1. re: twinkienic

              >Sakagura sounds great! I'll look into it more. How vital are reservations?

              Not very, in my experience, though it wouldn't be a bad idea, especially on a weekend. The staff is generally pretty knowledgeable about the sake list, which is still the best in town as far as I know. But I've had better experiences at the counter. And look first at the seasonal offerings listed up front on the menu. You'll find good choices there, though some will be pricey.

              1. re: twinkienic

                Momofuku Noodle Bar is a ramen joint but the other dishes are not traditional. I actually prefer the non-ramen dishes there, like the raw bar items and seasonal vegetables.

                However, other places have better ramen. I'd say if it's ramen you're after, try maybe Totto Ramen.

                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/0...

                1. re: kathryn

                  Do you like Totto Ramen better than Ippudo?

              2. Thanks for all the help! I think I'm pretty much done with all my reservations (omakase at Neta, brunch at Locanda Verde, dinner at Perilla, lunch at EMP, dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns). This leaves about half my meals (mostly lunches) for walk-ins depending on our cravings (and patience to wait). Very excited for all the eating to come.

                Last question - I'm meeting some friends who will also be visiting NYC on a Tuesday night. We wanted to try to get a walk-in at Spotted Pig or Caracas Arepas Bar. Which of the two might be a better atmosphere to wait at and get drinks if we end up having to wait at least an hour for a table?

                2 Replies
                1. re: twinkienic

                  Certainly the Spotted Pig.

                  1. re: twinkienic

                    Caracas Arepas Bar is tiny, I don't think they even had a bar you can wait at. I've always waited outside on the sidewalk.