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Aug 7, 2012 12:06 PM

Need help, great food in a casual spot

I will be in NYC for two nights in October. One night we are hoping to get into EMP. For the other night we want a casual restaurant with awesome food. We love all kinds of eats, but do not want to get dressed up two nights in a row. Any suggestions would be great. We are staying in battery park, but will travel. Thanks for the help!!!

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  1. There are lots of restaurants that have great food and are less casual than EMP, especially if you eat all kinds of cuisines.

    How much do you want to spend, per person, before tax, tip, wine, drinks?

    I would do something New Yorkish and a good constrast to EMP, like:
    Momofuku Ssam Bar
    Minetta Tavern
    Babbo (smart casual dress)

    See also:

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Price is no issue. I just want amazing food, casual atmosphere, and they must take reservations. Thanks again

      1. re: Bayareafoodiei

        Unfortunately Momofuku Ssam Bar doesn't take reservations but I would consider it for lunch.

        Babbo has amazing food, casual atmosphere, but it's pretty popular so sometimes hard to get a reservation. You have to call at 10am on the numerical date one month in advance, i.e. call on September 15th 10am Eastern for a table on October 15th. However, they do take some walk ins and they also post cancellations to their Twitter feed.

        Other ideas:
        Empellon Cocina
        Minetta Tavern
        WD-50 (tasting menu only but it is not terribly formal)

    2. Recette in the west village is amazing! No need to dress up, but the menu and execution of it are worthy of a much higher priced and elegant restaurant.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Mirabelle

        Recette is a great suggestion, just be aware it can be a little loud in there, and some of the tables for 2 are rather cramped.

        1. re: kathryn

          I third Recette
          I will add Greenwich Grill, Aqua Grill, Jungsik ( no need to dress up ), Kyo Ya, Wolfgang, 15 East, Po, Rouge et Blanc, Wallse, Maharlika

      2. All good suggestions above, especially Babbo (if you can get in) - Recette and WD-50 would be my other top picks of those already mentioned, with the caveat that WD is now tasting-menu-only, as was pointed out. Acme is also great, though it can be CRAZY noisy on the weekends, so it depends what day you're going and just how casual a vibe you'd like.

        I'll also add FYC:

        Marc Forgione - great casual atmosphere, creative New American. Bold and gutsy flavors, but playful and fun.

        Momofuku Ko - might as well try to win the "Ko Lottery" and see if you can score seats, just be sure to log in right at 10:00 (or 9:58 to be safe, then just keep refreshing the page - also be sure to make an account earlier, so you save a step, as time is of the essence) - I can't imagine a better one-two culinary punch than EMP and Ko - both brilliant, forward-thinking culinary experiences, but very very different from each other.

        Kyo Ya - ...but if I could imagine one, it would be with Kyo Ya. Would provide the greatest contrast to EMP, most likely, though equally exquisite.

        Public - one of the few chefs to do "fusion" right. Local / seasonal but with SE Asian and Australian / NZ twists. Also one of the best, most creative brunch options in town, if you're going to be around during the day on a Sat or Sun.

        3 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          You must have read my mind. EMP and Ko where the two choices I picked out originally. I just didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket and wait 7 days out and then not be able to get a seat. Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. Now for the research to begin.

          1. re: Bayareafoodiei

            Definitely have a Plan B already set for day two - and if you hit the Ko Lottery, great, easy enough to cancel the Plan B.

            Probably the closest thing to Ko would be the tasting at WD-50 - the Momo gang are VERY influenced by Dufresne, probably moreso than any other chef, though they have their own culinary identity for sure. And if you've never been to Ko, and thus never had the famous "foie gras snow" - well... it's one of those game-changing dishes every serious eater should have once in their life... And unlike, say, Jean-Georges' foie gras brulee (or whoever first came up with that one) it hasn't yet been copied to death.

            1. re: sgordon

              We for sure want to hit one of the momofuko places for lunch on Friday and whatever glorious snacks we can find.