HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Get great advice

Moderate Priced but Memorable suggestions

daves_32 Nov 5, 2012 12:33 PM

DC hound here looking for some suggestions. Two of us will be visiting Manhattan the second weekend of December to enjoy the Christmas decorations. We need a place for lunch and dinner on Saturday. We want to stay under $50 per person before tax and tip and would like to stay in Manhattan. I was looking through Adam Platt's 101 for 2012 and we liked a lot of ideas. By looking at that, we decided we wanted: new American, Italian, farm to table, and perhaps seafood. We would stay away from Asian, Spanish, Mexican, and the like. Some of our favorites from browsing the list would be: Gramercy Park Tavern, Sfoglia, Craft (in tap room), Del Posto, Eataly, and Blue Hill.

Please let me know what you think.

  1. e
    elizebeth Feb 19, 2013 08:29 PM

    Thanks so much to all of you for the great suggestions! We had the most wonderful weekend in New York, despite the cold wind. I think we are both already ready to go back!

    Here's where we ended up:

    Saturday lunch - Margon: a hole in the wall Cuban place with a hearty, warm lunch...probably not going to win any prizes but we really enjoyed it.

    Saturday dinner - Eataly: Uhh, we are SO glad we didn't miss this. The mozzarella they make onsite is amazingly good, great drinks in the upstairs restaurant/bar, and great, simple pasta dishes. Also, the gelato was the best I've had in the states. And, while waiting for a table in the pasta restaurant, we were able to sample cheeses from the huge cheese counter in the prosciutto/cheese section.

    Sunday breakfast - Ess a Bagel: perfect.

    Sunday lunch - ABC Kitchen: maybe we ordered the wrong stuff, but our food was just so-so (and the coffee...yikes). A+ for atmosphere though.

    Sunday dinner - Gramercy Tavern (Tavern Room): Great food (we ordered duck consomme to start, arctic char and pork chop as main dishes, and went elsewhere for dessert). Nice atmosphere. Kind of a long wait, even though we got there at 5:45 (surely because it was a holiday weekend). And a slightly condescending server, but she was attentive nonetheless. We were both pleased with our meal there, for sure...the dishes were really nicely composed.

    Again - thanks for the input. We were super grateful to have recommendations to lean on and didn't have a single unpleasant meal. And we are planning to go back in the spring, so we'll get to try some of your other suggestions next time!

    1. melpy Nov 14, 2012 08:34 AM

      How are Asian, Spanish and Mexican " the like"?

      Here are some Italian that I have enjoyed:

      Aria Wine Bar
      Da Andrea
      Il Melograno

      And some others which I don't think are "like" what you have mentioned. I am assuming East Asian for Asian.


      16 Replies
      1. re: melpy
        daves_32 Nov 15, 2012 11:35 AM

        Here's the plan. Critique if you wish. Thanks for all your help thus far.
        Friday evening: playing late casual dinner by ear around MSG and Theater District (Suggestions please)
        Saturday morning: Penelope (or other breakfast place around midtown)
        Saturday night: Gramercy Tavern Tavern room (by 6 to avoid waits)
        Sunday morning: bagels and coffee
        Sunday lunch: Barbuto for lunch/brunch

        1. re: daves_32
          kyph0515 Nov 15, 2012 12:02 PM

          How late is late on Friday? And how far are you willing to go? I don't know anything below the 50s, unfortunately, but if you're willing to trek that far, Totto Ramen opens til midnight, Don Antonio til 1AM on Friday, and Casellula til 2AM.

          1. re: daves_32
            kathryn Nov 15, 2012 12:14 PM

            Friday night - your late night casual dinner may be very dependent upon timing. Some restaurants close at 10:30pm or 11pm. How late is late? For example, I love Keens near MSG but it closes at 10:30pm. I love the Bar Room at the Modern on 53rd between 5th and 6th, but it closes at 11pm.

            Also a lot of the ones that are open may a) not be the cuisine you want or b) push your budget. Many of the good places that stay open late near MSG and Theatre District are Korean (esp near MSG), Thai (esp near Hell's Kitchen), or Japanese.

            I would suggest NOT playing it by ear here and having SOLID plans, especially if you are seeing a Broadway show and squeezing in before the kitchen closes somewhere. You'll have a lot more options if you go downtown.

            See also:

            Saturday morning - how about the Breslin instead? Delicious, not super expensive, but there can be long waits. They are kind of close to Midtown.

            1. re: kathryn
              daves_32 Nov 15, 2012 01:22 PM

              Late is not THAT late. It is just dependent on when we arrive in town. Expected around 9:00 or so

              1. re: daves_32
                kathryn Nov 15, 2012 06:59 PM

                OK, that makes sense. A lot of people post here looking for post-theatre late dinner recommendations. Which is why I mentioned it.

                1. re: kathryn
                  daves_32 Nov 16, 2012 06:06 AM

                  They are all great recommendations. I was thinking more along the lines of sandwich, pizza, or noodle shop. Street food over nice sit down restaurant for Friday night.

                  I think we will do Breslin on Saturday morning

                  1. re: daves_32
                    kathryn Nov 16, 2012 07:32 AM

                    Lots of sandwich places in Midtown close on the early side, since they get the big crowds during lunch (due to all of the office workers in the area).

                    For pizza, would Don Antonio, mentioned above, work?

                    For a noodle shop, are you saying you DO want Asian for this meal? Like Totto Ramen or Pure Thai?

                    1. re: kathryn
                      Rizzobert Nov 16, 2012 07:52 AM

                      I would recommend Yakitori Totto for midtown - it's a little further uptown, but close enough to the Theater district. It is open late night and popular with chefs. A sit down meal, but also quite casual.

                      A more casual option would be the 53rd and 6th Halal cart. It isn't the best halal in the city, but it is the most famous. Chicken and lamb over rice with white sauce and one of the hottest hot sauces out there. It's a long line... but one of those only in NY things.

                      If you are into spicy Chinese food, then there are some good Szechuan restaurants near Penn Station. Szechuan Gourmet is my favorite... but Lan Sheng and Cafe China are also good options. The Mapo Tofu and the Double Cooked Pork Belly are must orders.

                      Lastly, there is always Shake Shack.

            2. re: daves_32
              Motosport Nov 16, 2012 08:57 AM

              "Bagels and coffee Sunday morning" we want you to experience the best!!
              In my order of preference:
              Ess-A-Bagel 2 locations
              Tal Bagel 2 locations
              Vic's Bagel Bar on 3rd Av and E 36 St.
              Hit the one that is the most convenient. They are all very good.

              1. re: Motosport
                daves_32 Feb 14, 2013 10:53 AM

                Help us refresh this list. Staying near Gramercy Park. Eataly? Gramercy Tavern (Tavern room) on a Saturday--long wait? Neightborhood place? Other ideas?

                1. re: daves_32
                  kathryn Feb 14, 2013 11:02 AM

                  Where did you end up last time? Did you stick to your previous plan?

                  Still $50pp before tax/tip? American, Italian, seafood, farm to table, only, no oysters and no other cuisines?

                  1. re: kathryn
                    daves_32 Feb 14, 2013 11:40 AM

                    confession time: I got sick in November and we did not do the November trip. We still stay around the same criteria. I am digging the idea of the tasting menu at Gramercy Tavern. we will now be there on saturday and sunday nights (through monday morning)

                    1. re: daves_32
                      kathryn Feb 14, 2013 12:42 PM

                      I'd try to squeeze in a brunch at ABC Kitchen. GT's front Tavern Room to save money. Eataly's seafood counter would be good, too. Look up Ponty Bistro as well, which has gotten some good reviews here. A little further away is Northern Spy Co, Hearth, or Motorino. Maybe breakfast at Maialino before you leave. Defonte's or Lamazou for sandwiches for the trip home.

                      1. re: kathryn
                        Pan Feb 22, 2013 02:27 AM

                        I used to like Hearth, but it got less and less memorable and after my last rather expensive and not very tasty trip, I gave up. There was never anything bad but the sometimes way too slow service, but I think it's a poor value.

            3. re: melpy
              prima Feb 20, 2013 08:35 PM

              melpy, which dishes do you recommend the most at Akdeniz? TIA.

              1. re: prima
                melpy Feb 22, 2013 03:00 AM

                I believe we had the falafel and the mixed grill.

            4. e
              elizebeth Nov 13, 2012 07:15 PM

              Thanks so much for all the great suggestions! I'm the oyster-hating gf - thought it was time I weigh in :)

              Italian is almost always delicious. Crispo and Barbuto are singing to me - but are they unique and memorable, or just solid, delicious Italian food? Da Ciro looks great as well.

              Dave is interested in going to a Danny Meyer restaurant, and we've narrowed it down to North End Grill, Maialino, and Gramercy Tavern. Looks like Gramercy Tavern and Maialino are the faves - any thoughts on North End Grill?

              Aquavit looks incredible. It's definitely on the short list, even though it's a smidge expensive.

              And we're thinking about Penelope for lunch. A few of you have recommended ABC Kitchen, but is it really good? No one's raving, and farm-to-table places seem to be hit-or-miss a lot of the time.

              Thanks again for your help! Dave's making sure my first visit to NYC is wonderful (isn't he sweet?), and y'all's input is definitely appreciated.

              11 Replies
              1. re: elizebeth
                Sneakeater Nov 13, 2012 08:33 PM

                Barbuto is more unique and memorable than Crispo.

                I am no fan of ABC Kitchen -- but to me, choosing Penelope over it would be an act of near insanity.

                I am personally a big fan of the North End Grill. The Danny Meyer restaurants you mention are all so completely different from each other that it's hard to make a recommendation without knowing what you want. (Think of it this way: it's like saying, "I want to see an MGM movie. Should I see 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'Adam's Rib', or 'Skyfall'"? Hard to answer without more information.)

                1. re: Sneakeater
                  princeofpork3 Nov 14, 2012 07:18 AM

                  Wizard of Oz for sure.
                  You cant choose Penelope over ABC. Its not even close.

                2. re: elizebeth
                  Motosport Nov 14, 2012 07:35 AM

                  Grand Central Oyster Bar also has great fried Calamari and other apps for you while the bf slurps down a hal dozen oysters.
                  The ambience is not to be missed. Even if you don't eat there take a stroll thru.

                  1. re: Motosport
                    Sneakeater Nov 14, 2012 08:02 AM

                    If she doesn't like oysters, she can have clams.

                    (HAR HAR HAR)

                    1. re: Sneakeater
                      Motosport Nov 14, 2012 08:11 AM

                      Funny, my wife likes raw oysters but not fried or baked oysters.
                      She likes baked clams but not raw. Go figure?

                      1. re: Motosport
                        elizebeth Nov 14, 2012 08:22 AM

                        No telling on the oysters, but I'd say it's impossible not to like baked clams!

                        1. re: Motosport
                          Bkeats Nov 14, 2012 10:07 AM

                          My wife is exactly the same. Is your's from New England?

                          1. re: Bkeats
                            Motosport Nov 14, 2012 10:07 AM

                            Maine!!!! Welcome to Maine!!

                    2. re: elizebeth
                      elizebeth Nov 14, 2012 08:16 AM

                      Sounds like we should nix Penelope and ABC altogether. Would Grand Central Oyster Bar be a decent place for lunch? It does look pretty cool! Seafood's great; anything that requires "slurping" is off my list though.

                      Maybe we'll do Barbuto one night, and either Gramercy Tavern or North End Grill the other (no Maialino if we're getting Barbuto). As for comparing apples and oranges (or Adam's Rib and Skyfall :)...maybe Dave will weigh in later on what he's looking for in a DM restaurant. If they're both great, maybe one neighborhood is a cooler place to walk around after dinner?

                      1. re: elizebeth
                        Motosport Nov 14, 2012 08:34 AM

                        Other than the appetizers, chowders and oysters at the Oyster Bar the rest of the menu is not memorable. Good but definitely not great. Use the Oyster Bar for appetizers and then head off to ............................... If the weather is nice it's a fun walk down to Gramercy.
                        Stop at Kalustayan's if they are open. It's an amazing place.

                      2. re: elizebeth
                        kathryn Nov 14, 2012 11:13 AM

                        I really like the food at ABC Kitchen but find the room a bit loud, and furniture a little uncomfortable, and it's pretty popular so needing to reserve way in advance (or waiting) can be annoying. The "shabby chic" look can be nice though. Love the salted caramel sundae. And the crab toast. There's probably more I'm getting.

                      3. r
                        Rizzobert Nov 8, 2012 05:54 AM

                        For Italian, I would recommend Dell' Anima, Rubirosa, or Barbuto. Dell' Anima has some of the best pastas in the city and a nice romantic vibe. Barbuto is farm-to-table Italian and has one of the best chicken dishes in the city.

                        For farm-to-table, you could probably do ABC Kitchen - though I often spend more than $50 per person there.

                        For seafood, gotta do Aquagrill - best oysters and delicious composed dishes.

                        Other places do look out include Pylos for great Greek and small plates. Also, if you don't mind waiting, then the Spotted Pig.

                        1. princeofpork3 Nov 6, 2012 09:01 AM

                          Sfoglia is good food but the service is spotty and the price point is a bit high. You would do better with Da Ciro as mentioned below.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: princeofpork3
                            daves_32 Nov 7, 2012 06:32 AM

                            ABC Kitchen looks like it could really fit the bill, particularly for lunch on saturday or sunday. Unfortunately, the website is wonky for me and I cannot see the whole menu. Could someone give me the two sentence description, please? Thank you!

                            1. re: daves_32
                              kathryn Nov 7, 2012 06:34 AM

                              You can also see a representative menu on Menupages.com.

                              1. re: kathryn
                                daves_32 Nov 7, 2012 06:36 AM

                                Kathryn- do you have a blog? I would read your reviews and opinions constantly.

                          2. Charles Yu Nov 5, 2012 05:02 PM

                            Yakitori tasting menu 'Omakase' at the 1* Tori Shin. Tasty food and exactly $50 per person!! Their chicken sashimi will definitely be 'memorable'!!!!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Charles Yu
                              daves_32 Nov 6, 2012 06:08 AM

                              ToriShin sounds good but I think the earlier suggestions are more in line with what will work for this trip

                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                plf515 Nov 6, 2012 09:52 AM

                                I will have to try that myself, sounds great. But this person says he wants to stay away from Asian; probably Yakitori qualifies as "very Asian"! (I, on the other hand, love Asian).

                              2. a
                                AubWah Nov 5, 2012 03:31 PM

                                Go to Upstate, new seafood restaurant in the east village its off the chain

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: AubWah
                                  daves_32 Nov 5, 2012 04:01 PM

                                  Thanks to everyone so far. I don't think my brain was attached to my typing hands on my initial post. I will offer some further clarifications.
                                  Only one of us is drinking (and maybe I won't even drink) but that doesn't play into my budget.
                                  Rather than $50 per person, maybe I should have said around $35 or less for an entree. We would likely share an app or dessert and than have an entree. I would pay for a $60 three course meal if I needed to stretch my budget a little.
                                  I have been to NYC several times but the gf has not. Therefore, we will likely be eating at places that are somewhat convenient to touristy areas. This trip is hers and I won't distract TOO much by eating. Read: no ground zero touring followed by Red Rooster.
                                  Yes, I meant Gramercy Tavern ( sorry for the typo) because I really admire Danny Meyer. I was also thinking Craft or Craftbar.
                                  Cannot be too fancy because we will be touring
                                  We will likely be eating lunch casually, like in lounge areas of nice restaurants, if possible.
                                  Would aim to have something a bit healthy or at least not super heavy. Neither of us like offal.

                                  I hope this helps contonie the great conversation!

                                  1. re: daves_32
                                    daves_32 Nov 5, 2012 04:10 PM

                                    Alternatively, running into a restraurant as a break from touring and have one can't miss $25 dish, I wouldn't mind doing that either.

                                    Also, we will likely keep breakfast light and brunch dishes are not necessarily going to fit into the schedule.

                                    1. re: daves_32
                                      kathryn Nov 6, 2012 08:21 AM

                                      Some common tourist inquiries:

                                      Near MoMA:

                                      Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Whitney and Guggenheim, ish):

                                      Near the American Museum of Natural History:

                                      Near Macy's/Herald Square:


                                      5th Avenue shopping:


                                      1. re: kathryn
                                        daves_32 Nov 6, 2012 08:25 AM

                                        Wow Kathryn. Thanks for all the links. I will definitely check those out. I tried doing some searching first but thought I was missing the point a little.

                                        As for proximity, even though we will be touring, we want to relax and enjoy ourselves as well. My expectation is that if we found places we really wanted to eat, we would just grab a cab to that place, as long as it was not more than 20 or so minutes each way.

                                        1. re: daves_32
                                          kathryn Nov 6, 2012 08:38 AM

                                          It can be tough to grab a cab at some of the tourist spots I mentioned. Also between shift change (4-5pm) you'll be fighting with a lot of other people for a cab. You might end up sitting 20+ minutes in traffic when walking or the subway would have been faster. Better to have a list of close-by options so you have a plan B, C, D, E, and F, just in case!

                                      2. re: daves_32
                                        kathryn Nov 6, 2012 08:22 AM

                                        The geographical constraints of being near tourist sites are going to be the biggest limiting factor; many of the suggestions you've been given so far are not near popular tourist destinations like Central Park, The Met, 5th Avenue's department stores, etc.

                                        Craft doesn't serve lunch and is maybe a little more formal than you want, so it would have to be Craftbar. You should also look into ABC Kitchen, which is also "farm to table" and casual. It's quite close to Union Square if you happen to be there.

                                        Since you are also here on a weekend, you should note that many restaurants either don't serve weekend lunch or they are on a weekend brunch schedule for both Saturday AND Sunday.

                                    2. re: AubWah
                                      Nancy S. Nov 5, 2012 04:50 PM

                                      I like Upstate, but I think it's better for oysters and drinks pre-dinner rather than a dinner destination. Does it still qualify as new?

                                      1. re: Nancy S.
                                        MVNYC Nov 6, 2012 08:26 AM

                                        I like Upstate too for oysters but I think it is most definitely on the chain for the other stuff

                                        1. re: MVNYC
                                          daves_32 Nov 6, 2012 08:32 AM

                                          Oh sorry.. I am late to this party. No place that specializes in oysters

                                    3. sgordon Nov 5, 2012 02:13 PM

                                      See what's available on Savored.com - 30% off at quite a few places, you can have a meal that's a step up from $50 for a bit less.

                                      It might be slightly over your starting budget, but Aquavit is on there and has been pretty fantastic of late - the prix fixe would be $60 before t/t at the discounted price, but it's four courses instead of the usual three. Well worth it.

                                      Collichio & Sons Tap Room might be doable at that price, if you liked Gramercy Tavern and Craft. Also maybe consider Riverpark - with careful ordering, you could come in at under $50, especially sharing a dessert. ABC Kitchen as well.

                                      The Verdure and Pesce mini-restaurants in Eataly are both great and very reasonable in terms of price.

                                      Maialino and Locanda Verde cound be worth looking into as well. I'd also recommend Tertulia and Salinas around the same price range but... no Spanish, oh well.

                                      Momofuku Ssam Bar (not Asian, as the name might suggest - New American with various fusion touches) could be good.

                                      Maybe check out Public - especially on Sunday nights, they do a Sunday Supper - $50 for 5 courses, all new creations not on the regular menu, it's where Chef Farmerie really has fun. A steal for the price. Great every other night of the week (and one of the best brunches in town) as well.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: sgordon
                                        Jane A. Nov 5, 2012 03:55 PM

                                        Riverpark is still closed due to the storm. That's one of the bldgs still without power due to wiring damage in the flooded basement.

                                        1. re: sgordon
                                          plf515 Nov 6, 2012 09:51 AM

                                          Maialino is wonderful. I think $50 might be tough, though.

                                          1. re: plf515
                                            sgordon Nov 6, 2012 11:37 AM

                                            If they stick to pastas it wouldn't be an issue, though by the OP's new price point (entrees < $35) they certainly fit the bill. Other than the usual outliers (lamb and such) all the entrees come under that pretty handily, IIRC.

                                        2. prima Nov 5, 2012 02:10 PM

                                          Lunch at Bar Room at the Modern came to just under $50/person, including coffee and other non-alchoholic beverages, not including tax or tip. 4 of us shared 8 savoury plates and one dessert. Memorable meal, look forward to going back.

                                          1. k
                                            kathryn Nov 5, 2012 01:47 PM

                                            This might help.

                                            Looking for "neighborhood finds" in the mid-town/downtown area - Seafood, Italian, American Nouveau

                                            1. Motosport Nov 5, 2012 12:53 PM

                                              DaCiro in Murray Hill has excellent Italian in your price range if you don't drink.
                                              Grand Central Oyster Bar for amazing oysters and chowder. The rest of the menu is not memorable. Make sure you eat at the oyster bar. It's a not tot be missed NYC moment.
                                              Penelope for an interesting Brunch
                                              Boca di Bacco on 9th Ave is also excellent reasonable Italian if you don't drink

                                              1. a
                                                arepo Nov 5, 2012 12:45 PM

                                                Blue Hill is an excellent start.
                                                For really good Italian without being pricey there is Crispos.
                                                In fact, all of your choices are good ones. It really depends on where you'll be at the time.
                                                For brunch don't miss the historical Katz' deli.
                                                A unique NY experience for breakfast would be Shopsins.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: arepo
                                                  Sneakeater Nov 5, 2012 12:49 PM

                                                  I'm not sure you can eat at Blue Hill for $50 per person.

                                                  You certainly can't at Del Posto (unless they've reinstated their lunch deal).

                                                  I assume dave means the bar room at Gramercy Tavern (no "Park"). That's within range. Certainly not the dining room.

                                                  Also, Craft doesn't have a "tap room". Dave must mean Colicchio & Sons.

                                                Show Hidden Posts