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Sep 9, 2012 11:27 AM

Analysis Paralysis! Help me pick two restaurants for an upcoming NYC trip!


My husband and I are in our mid thirties and will be in NYC for a weekend in October - I have tried to research restaurants but the choice is overwhelming! This is our first without-kids getaway for a year and a half so we want to make sure we hit some good spots!

Not sure where we are staying yet, but likely at the W New York or the Yotel which I believe are both in midtown. We are open to travelling a bit by subway or to walking.

For the Friday night, we are looking for somewhere with a nice laid-back but still buzzy vibe - moderately priced and for Saturday, we are looking for somewhere more energetic with good, inventive food and some nice cocktails. I don't eat red meat, so steakhouses and french places tend not to be a good match, but otherwise we are flexible! We tend to avoid more fine-dining oriented spots with the whole white tablecloth and tiny, artfully-executed food on a massive plate.

Suggestions we have had so far include: Minetta Tavern, Beauty & Essex, Locanda Verde, Barbuto, WD50, Prune, Nomad, Tribeca. Any thoughts on these or other recommendations would be welcome! Note: we went to Babbo last time we were in NYC. Enjoyed the atmosphere and the service, but weren't blown away food-wise.

Thank you thank you!

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  1. I do not have suggestions, but that was a well asked question. It is very clear what you are looking for.

    1. My wife and I are big fans of Perla on Minetta Lane. Highly recommended.

      1 Reply
      1. There are multiple W Hotels in NYC. Not all are in Midtown.

        Minetta Tavern is excellent but not really super inventive like WD-50, and to go without having red meat there does not sound ideal to me. If you still want to go, try brunch instead. Does your husband eat red meat? Perhaps he'd enjoy the burger there while you got something else. Note that it's also fairly cramped and loud. Cocktails are pretty good.

        Locanda Verde is also great. Excellent cocktails (esp for a restaurant) and the menu has good options without red meat. Their 30 day booking window is coming up soon, though, so decide quickly. It's pretty loud, so might fit your Saturday night requirement.

        WD-50 is great and very incentive, but tasting menu only now, just FYI. Very incentive cocktails as well. Not sure what your price range is, check their menus online. It's quite different from anywhere else in town, so would be a good pick if you're adventurous.

        Prune is more cozy, casual, and charming, but quirky. The cocktails aren't that great. I like the food, but it does tend to depende upon how closely your palate matches with the chef's.

        The NoMad is good, too, but a little too similar to your other choices. Very good cocktails, though. Some rooms are noisier than others, here, BTW.

        Honestly, for somewhere laid back, moderately priced, for Friday, your choices so far don't seem all that laid back except for Prune. I see a lot of your picks as "event" or "destination" restaurants.

        How about Momofuku Ssam, Kin Shop, Public, Joseph Leonard, dell'anima? Somewhere with more of a neighborhood vibe? Then follow that up with WD-50 or something.

        3 Replies
          1. re: arepo

            Hello everything and thanks for your comments - I have tried replying four times but the site kept freezing on my iPhone so sorry for the late thank yous! I have reserved at Locanda Verde for the Friday night and am thinking of La Esquina for the Saturday - do you think those are good options? Joseph Leonard looks great but takes no reservations - I'm good to wait for an hour if I can sit at a bar but don't want to loiter on the street waiting....let me know if you think that's a doable option though!

            1. re: cbear4

              The bar at JL is usually full, because you can eat at the bar. There's no space really to wait inside, so you'll probably end up on a bench outside. You could wait at the bar of their sister restaurant Fedora. Or eat at Fedora, which does take reservations.

        1. I would add Blue Ribbon Izakaya to your list and I think it would work both as buzzy laid back, or energetic. Just a good choice overall. If you weren't overwhelmed by the food at Babbo, you surely will not be overwhelmed by the food or the service at Locanda Verde, I would skip that one. I would recommend Recette, Jungsik ( which may seem white table cloth , but in actuality it is a relaxed atmosphere, far from buzzing though).. Minetta is buzzing but the meat is the best thing there and it gets so crowded and loud. WD 50 is a good pick. Brushstroke is buzzy and has a good tasting menu, its a nice spot and has creative cocktails. Aqua Grill for a laid back seafood meal or D'Andrea for good laid back Italian food but neither are really buzzy or energetic.

          3 Replies
          1. re: foodwhisperer

            Thanks. I will look into Fedora and Brushstroke . What are your thoughts on La Esquina?

            1. re: cbear4

              La Esquina is very cool, ambience-wise but it can be a long wait and the food is only so-so. The service is often "too cool" to be bothered but it is a fun place to say you've been.

              I would check out Co-op Food and Drink. Great menu, great service, great bar and a funky/elegant mix (casual but it feels more elegant).

              1. re: BoloJungle

                Hi everyone! So we finally had our whirlwind weekend to New York and had a fantastic time. Food and drink highlights included the grilled corn at La Esquina and cocktails at the bar at The Nomad Hotel. We went to La Esquina (ended up eating it on our laps at a park after getting it from the taqueria as we didn't see the Cafe behind it!) for lunch one day and ohmygod I could eat that corn every day of my life. We also has each had a baguette filled with grilled chicken (me) and beef (my husband) which was really good for a cheapie lunch. For dinner, we went to Locanda Verde which I actually found really disappointing. I was expecting something a little more like Babbo in terms of size and found it impersonal and the food in general not to inventive and overall oversalted (we had fried calamari/shrimp/clams that were delicious but crazy salty, then I had fish with salt as the main flavour and my husband had a pretty average pasta). The next day, we had delicious fries at The Benjamin Hotel's restaurant and then a dinner later on at Public. Loved the atmosphere and the ease of grabbing a drink at the cocktail bar beforehand. The standout for us was my salad of herby lentils, green beans, avocado, toasted pecans and baby gem with pomegranate molasses and avocado oil vinaigrette. Delicate unique balanced flavours and textures. Amazing. I am still thinking about it. My husband had a corn soup that was just ok and then I had roasted cod and my husband pork tenderloin. Both really good but something was missing from making it great.

                Thanks for all of your tips! I will be back and can't wait to try some more NYC haunts!