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Oct 11, 2012 09:38 AM

Most "New York" addition to eating itenerary?

My husband and I will be in Manhattan (staying near Time Square) for about 48 hours next week (noon Thursday to 4 pm Saturday). We have reservations at Eleven Madison Park for lunch Friday (what should we wear?) and reservations at Picholine before the opera on Thursday night.
We have eating opportunities Thursday lunch, Friday breakfast, Friday before or after War Horse and Saturday brunch/early lunch.
We're looking to add to our high end experiences with "New York" things that we just can't get in our small town in Western Oklahoma. We've discussed Katz's Deli, lox and bagels, dim sum, ramen, oysters, great Chinese, Balthazar or Pastis (brunch), hot dogs, street food, market visiting, green market visiting . . .
This is a 40th birthday trip and our first trip away from our toddlers, so we are willing to splurge for great experiences, but would like some "value" experiences in the mix.
What do you suggest?
We definitely can't get great seafood or spicy Chinese locally. On the other hand, we've had great sushi recently and are less inclined to eat Italian or Mexican food while in NYC.

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  1. Spicy Chinese: Szechuan Gourmet, Mission Chinese, Legend

    Seafood: Le Bernardin for Thursday lunch (the full menu is also served in the lounge where jackets are not required)

    Lox and bagels: Barney Greengrass

    Dim Sum: Dim Sum Go Go, RedFarm

    Ramen: Ippudo

    Market visting: Eataly (though I'm not sure what you mean by that term?)

    At Eleven Madison Park the dress code ranges from nice jeans to suits for lunch though most men would probably be wearing jackets.

    "New York" can mean different things to different people and it can be difficult to recommend an iconic restaurant that also serves good food. I usually suggest Peter Luger, Union Square Cafe, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Red Rooster, and Babbo to my visiting friends for quintessentially New York experiences.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fm1963

      Thanks fm1963! I should clarify that I love food shopping (even when I can't bring anything home) but don't have time to go to Zabar's AND Eataly AND Russ and Daughters AND . . . so was hoping for suggestion about a uniquely NYC food shopping experience.
      Similarly, if I were to gaze longinly at produce on Friday or Saturday morning, what would be the best place to do that?

      1. re: prairieshiraz

        Honestly, I would go to The Plaza Food Hall. I went last night to fetch a hostess gift, and was blown away by the selection of local goods, albeit pricey. Many local vendors are represented under one roof. I found it pretty spectacular, in terms of shopping.

        1. re: prairieshiraz

          For produce, try Union Square Greenmarket.

          I think Eataly beats Zabar's by a mile, and the food outlets are good too if you want to grab a quick bite (particularly Le Verdure and Manzo).

          R&D is takeout only and while the fish is good, the sandwiches are a bit skimpy. R&D has its fans though.

      2. Count me among R&D's fans. I don't find the sandwiches skimpy at all. No, you won't get as much lox as you might at some crap-quality place, but those places tend to overdo the lox - and it's crap lox, at that. R&D makes a well-balanced sandwich.

        Thursday lunch you could try the duck lunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Never that crowded for lunch, great stuff. That said, it'd be a pretty hearty meal, and if you're then going to Picholine before dinner... could be a lot for one day. That might be the day to do bagels and then just snack a bit. Maybe start early at R&D then walk down to Chinatown - when you're hungry for more, you could hit Xi'an Famous Foods (two Chinatown locations - skip the location on St. Marks, it's always too busy) for a spicy fix of hand-pulled noodles with lamb or pork (or the lamb or pork "burgers")

        Katz's Deli is always great.

        There's a big discussion on dim sum going on in another thread right now, and the majority seems to be leaning towards (and I agree) DSGG or Nom Wah Tea Parlor. RedFarm isn't really in the running, though they have a couple of supporters. Most everyone seems to like Nom Wah - it's almost painfully cute, great staff, and a solid selection of dim sum. Both are menu places, not cart places - for dim sum carts, in Manhattan, Jing Fong is probably the best current option. Any which way, better to do dim sum on Friday for breakfast / lunch than on Saturday - mob scene.

        For more dinner style Chinese, Oriental Garden and Fuleen are probably the two best Cantonese currently in Manhattan. For spicier, I'm fond of Grand Sichuan, I'm sure others have other suggestions.

        I'd also suggest for your Saturday brunch to maybe do something a bit creative - Public's weekend brunch has many supporters (again, self included)

        Oysters - go classic, hit the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sgordon

          We had lunch at EMP 4 weeks ago, and was very surprised at the "casual" dress of the others. There were guys in shorts and t's, torn jeans, sloppy dress etc. There was of course suits and sports jackets, skirts and dresses as well, but at least half of the clientele were underdressed IMHO.

          1. re: golfer1

            And they might have been thinking that half the diners were overdressed, of course...

          2. re: sgordon

            Thanks! We'll look like non-EMP regulars whatever we wear, but we'll have good food and love it.

            1. re: sgordon

              +1 on the grand central oyster bar
              but DO NOT sit at a table
              Sit at the small bar straight ahead when you first walk in or at the counter where they shuck the oysters and make the pan roasts. Having a drink and a dozen oysters or a sea scallop pan roast at the GCOB is one of my favorite things to do in NYC

              Do go to Katz's and ask for pastrami on rye with mustard, juicy. There is a reason so many people keep going.

              I prefer the fish at RD and it is a NYC institution.

            2. Suggestions for best half-day in a museum or other cultural institution also welcome (husband has visited "major" art museums. My previous trips into NYC were all while working as a gardener and were all to gardens (I have a vision of NYC as being very verdant and flowery. I am aware that this is a somewhat skewed image.))

              8 Replies
              1. re: prairieshiraz

                The moderators prefer to keep the discussion "to the chow" but this discussion thread might help:

                Let us know what you choose and we can also help find eating destinations nearby.

                1. re: kathryn

                  While some would suggest it should be the other way around, I'm probably more likely to think "Which museum is near this place I want to eat brunch?" than to ask "What's the best lunch spot near MOMA?" and frankly, the more I think about it, if I get in the food gawking, food shopping and general wandering around the city, in addition to eating, I'll be really lucky if there is time for museums. But I suppose I should ask about best brunch near the Met, MOMA or Whitney.

                  1. re: prairieshiraz

                    For both convenience and delicious food, try the Bar Room at the Modern for lunch near MoMA.

                    Also look into Untitled, a Danny Meyer restaurant, inside of the Whitney.

                    Where to eat near MoMA:

                    Where to eat near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Whitney and Guggenheim, ish):

                2. re: prairieshiraz

                  Where are you staying near Times Square? My favorite place for spicy Szechuan is Lan Sheng on 39th Street (just off 6th).

                  I can't go to NYC without eating falafel, but maybe that's just me. I usually follow my nose to one of the pushcarts, but maybe someone here could give you a recommendation near Times Square.

                  Korean food is also a visiting-NYC favorite of mine, and if you like spicy food, I think these days in NYC it is the more reliable bet for a satisfying meal overall. Recently, I've liked Mandangsui at 35 w. 35th, but others might have suggestions if you are interested, and I heard there is a new very good Korean place with a beautiful view.

                  It is pretty hard in my book to characterize EATALY as a unique NYC experience, since they are a chain outfit with half a dozen identikit outlets in Italy and a similar number planned for the US. They are corporate-brand uniform/identikit to the max.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    La Silhouette for chef inspired French cuisine at 53rd bet. 8 & 9.

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      We'll be staying at the Candlewood Suites on 39th St. (off 8th Ave.) so Lan Sheng is definitely in the area.
                      We're certainly open to Korean food (and not getting any here), but know so little about it that I would appreciate ordering suggestions.

                      1. re: prairieshiraz

                        Madangsui is a great idea, and if you go there, order marinated galbi and bulgogi.

                        1. re: Pan

                          Thanks. I was just looking at their menu and I am very intrigued.

                  2. Saturday morning - Barney Greengrass for smoked fish (sturgeon is a must, nova salmon, whitefish salad) and bagels.
                    Early Thursday lunch - Dim Sum Go Go or get spicy at X'ian Famous Foods (lamb burgers, hand pulled noodles - cheap).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Chuck Lawrence

                      I'm thinking that Barney Greengrass will be our smoked fish stop. Am leaning towards Korean over Chinese for Thursday lunch, but that may partially be determined by when we actually get into the city.

                      1. re: prairieshiraz

                        Greengrass is great. Do go there.

                    2. Additional question to anyone still reading. Best place to pick up food to eat on the plane home on Saturday?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: prairieshiraz

                        Bento box or japanese sandwiches at cafe zaiya or sunrise mart on 41st between 5th and mad
                        great place for a quick snack anytime during your visit