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Suggestions for Dinner over the Christmas Holidays - our shortlist.

We're visiting from San Francisco with our teens and have 5 nights for dinner and one lunch on Christmas day that we want to reserve. I know most have a 28 or 30 day in advance reservation.

At this time the chef or restaurant is what I have in mind Any suggestions options would be appreciated. Our kids are adventurous so we are not looking for a kids menu. I know some of the restaurants have a pre-fixe menu but I don't think we can gorge on 5 to 10 courses every meal so we may do a pre-fixe meal once or twice and go a la carte on other nights

We want to do NoMad, WD-50, Jojo or any other of his restaurants, Le Bernardin, Babbo or del Posto and one lunch restaurant that wil be open in Manhattan on Christmas day. We're flying that evening so would prefer an ala carte than a pre-fixe. I went through the Opentable list for Christmas day and saw Bouley but they have a pre-fixe menu. We loved his food the last time we were there.

We are also thinking of going to one of David Chang's restaurants Not sure which one, for lunch. Any suggestions ?

Thanks in advance

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  1. Jean-Georges tends to let his older restaurants die on the vine (except for his eponymous flagship). I would NOT recommend going to JoJo at this point. It's a shadow of its former self. The only JGV restaurant I'd personally recommend is Jean Georges, although many like ABC Kitchen.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sneakeater

      Thanks. Sorry to hear about JoJo. Have had many memorable meals there many years ago and wanted to take the family there but we'll skip it. I will look at ABC Kitchen but it has a more SF feel if you know what I mean so we may skip that.

      1. re: belomiser

        There was a time when JoJo was my favorite restaurant in New York.

        Makes me sad.

        1. re: Sneakeater

          Mine too. My family had just about every birthday meal there for a few years in the 1980s.

        2. re: belomiser

          ABC Kitchen was open last year for Christmas—had a very, very enjoyable lunch there.

      2. Are you willing to travel any amount of distance from your hotel to eat dinner (or do you have any theater tickets)? Sometimes if it snows, taking a cross town bus or finding a cab is kind of daunting.

        5 Replies
        1. re: barberinibee

          At this point we're going on one day for a show so we'll have to get the closest restaurant to the theatre and have the first seating as well. We are city people so used to the buses and cabs but not the snow and cold so we'll take that into consideration. I know there are many posts about pre-theatre dinners.

          1. re: belomiser

            Ma Peche isn't too far from some of the theaters, BTW.

              1. re: belomiser

                Ma Peche is my favorite pre-theatre restaurant.

                1. re: belomiser

                  I also recently did pre-theatre at Bar Room at the Modern, and it was great.

          2. The NoMad is a good call.

            As for WD-50, they are tasting menu now, no more a la carte. They now have only two tasting menus; a twelve course Tasting menu for $155, and From the Vault, a five course Tasting Menu for $90 comprised of the restaurants classic dishes from past menus.

            Jean George (not Nougatine) would be a good choice for a prix fixe lunch, especially since they are open every day of the week. BTW, Jean-Georges's West Village restaurant Perry St. is closed for Sandy repairs.

            Le Bernardin opens its books on the first of the month for the following month. For example, you'd need to call on November 1st for a December booking. If you want to go, book ASAP.Le Bernardin is jacket required both at lunch and dinner, BTW.

            Babbo and Del Posto both book one month in advance at 10am New York City time but it's one month in advance to the NUMERICAL date. Tomorrow is 11/20, for example, and on that day, they start taking reservations for 12/20. Make sure you note this so you don't miss out. I also prefer Babbo to Del Posto, and it's less expensive, too.

            For Momofuku lunch, I'd recommend Ssam Bar or Ma Peche. (Ko is probably out since it's tasting menu only and their lunch tasting is actually longer than the dinner tasting) On weekdays Ssam Bar usually does an all duck lunch. On weekends, it's usually a shorter version of the dinner menu. But given the holidays, this may change. They're all closed 12/25.

            For dining on Christmas Day, I would use this map as a starting point:

            They list out who served their regular a la carte menus last Christmas.

            If you have your heart set on a place, call at an off hour and ask the reservationist how far in advance you need to call and at EXACTLY what time. You can use OpenTable too but some of the high end places only put the 5pm and 10pm tables on the site.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks Katherine I was going to email the concierge at the hotel we're staying at and let them book the restaurants for us. We've done that in the past with great success and it helps especially if I have to avoid a call at 7am my time. Appreciate the suggestions on Christmas Lunch.

              1. re: belomiser

                BTW, I read on another forum that both Balthazar and Maialino will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

            2. Also on the lunch theme, and a far cry from the fancy dinner places, many moons ago when I was working with the NYT, just outside their building was a chicken and rice cart which was the Bomb. Subsequent trips to Manhattan were more work related with no time to hunt for street food. Is that cart or some semblance of it still around or any others that one can recommend TIA

              3 Replies
              1. re: belomiser

                The most famous one is the Halal Guys on 5rd and 6th (SE during the day, SW at night).

                Google "street meat palooza" to find the taste tests that Midtown Lunch did.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Recently Halal Guys has gotten marked down in the vox pop because the chicken is now shredded instead of chunked. I think Zagat's isn't worth much as a restaurant guide, but it is fun to browse their food truck section (I think Midtown Lunch isn't always a reliable guide either)


                  1. re: kathryn

                    Ok 2500 miles away I am drooling. :-) Those tasters are intense. Plenty of Respect. We will drop the Times guys and look at the top 3. Thanks for that link

                2. we have reserved Ma Peche, Le Bernardin, Babbo, NoMad, Wd-50 and ABC Kitchen for our meals and the rest will be lighter or some street food. Thanks for all your help and we are looking forward to our feeding frenzy in NYC.

                  Since I first made plans. we have seen so many other places we would have loved to eat at, in smaller neighborhood locations and outside Manhattan from not so famous chefs but oh well -- we'll do that some other time. These were chefs who's food I've tasted and thought they would be good for a family visit.

                  Best Wishes for the Holidays to all of you and again my sincere thanks

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: plafield

                      After we get back and are out of our food coma, I will do that for sure

                  1. First of all thanks to all those who helped us fine tune our restaurant choices. We had a great time in NYC and everything went as planned except for a white Christmas (do flurries count)

                    One thing we miss in CA is Fois Gras and we made sure we had plenty of it in New York

                    The two best meals we had (experience, ambience, food ) were at Le Bernardin and at NoMad.

                    At LB, we enjoyed the signature Tuna dish -- I can see myself going back there just for that and the Langoustine dish was excellent. Our son had their sole which he said was the best fish dish he had eaten. Everyone from the Captain to the server to the Sommelier were spot on and it was our best meal from the overall experience perspective.

                    NoMad -- we sat in the "Red Room' opposite the small kitchen which does the Chicken for 2. OMG That chicken is heavenly. The cocktails were great as were the mocktails for our teens. We all started with their Fruit de mer and the Uni Custard was something we will remember for a long time. The DW had pasta with lobster which she she said was excellent as was the suckling pig dish enjoyed by our son.

                    Babbo -- Felt more cramped and crowded than the last time I went there -- service was above average -- Grilled Calamari was excellent. The Papperdelle was good - perhaps I was expecting amazing -- it was good. The DW had the Branzino which she said was good (tad bit cold as they fillet it and wait for the other dishes to arrive but the best part was the lemon jam they serve with it_

                    Our Son had the salad with the Lamb's tongue which he liked (not sure what he was going to say).

                    The desserts were perhaps disappointing. The Semifreddo was very one note. Eeh. This was our only Italian meal in NY -- humm we should have gone elsewhere even though as mentioned some of the dishes were excellent

                    Note to Mario -- do something about the lighting. Your clientele uses their iphones' light to read the menu

                    WD-50 the Boys and the DW requested this place and bottom line -- 5 tasty bites or Hors d'oeuvres. We ordered the smaller tasting menu given all the food we were eating daily but the portion size made us feel wanting more and a couple of hours later everyone was hungry. I'm not in favor of cheesecake factory portions not do I want 15 courses to be full but I think the portions should be based on the number of courses ordered. One of our sons has an allergy and he got two subs one was a bite size crab dish and the other was a soup which he said was great but it was 4 tablespoons. The booths there are very comfortable and the drinks were great and the food interesting and good and tasty but with the 2 mis-steps with the food -- we just had a bad experience -- Come on chef, please train your waitstaff better -- teach them what is produced from a cow v/s a deer vs a chicken, what is an animal product, veal or beef vs other meat. Never again will I suggest going there .

                    Ma Peche Excellent casual service. Fois gras was great. Carrots and beets were excellent. the whole fish with a touch of spice was good. Great drinks, we had a good time here and felt at home. The boys like their popcorn dessert. I think even LB had a popcorn dessert.

                    ABC Kitchen This was another casual wonderful meal. I guess we had more beets here and they were wonderful. the salad they served with a grapefruit dressing was among the best I have had. Simple but excellent. We had brunch there and the scrambled eggs with oysters were to die for. Could have taken a bit more of the hot sauce but other than that, perfect. We like the decor and the environment. Very friendly and smiling wait staff on a day when it was very cold outside (by our standards) and the white walls made it feel as if we were looking at snow

                    We also went to Chelsea market and chomped on freshly shucked oysters and a few lobster rolls.

                    Chicken and Rice from the 53rd and Ave of Americas vendor was good but I've had better

                    Had great bagel and lox for breakfast at our hotel.

                    The Wicked chocolate (hot chocolate) drink at Jaques Torres was excellent although the heat is very subtle.

                    Shake Shack -- good burgers and shakes -- packed

                    Again thanks to all who helped us. Happy New Year and if you do come to San Francisco, I'll be happy to help you all

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: belomiser

                      Thanks for this. I'm glad that you enjoyed Le Bernardin, The NoMad, Ma Peche and ABC and got your fill of foie. On your next trip, instead of Babbo try Marea or Lincoln which are favorites of friends from the Bay Area.