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Refining a newbie 4.5 day itinerary in NYC

Hi folks,

My wife and I (San Franciscans) will be traveling to NY for the first time, and trying to fit as much as we can in a relatively short stay. Here's our current itinerary - would really appreciate any suggestions! Thans so much.

sunset: 4:30

friday
dinner: sushi yasuda

saturday
breakfast: ?
lunch: (times square / theater district?)
dinner: jungsik (reservations 9pm)
drinks: pegu club

sunday
morning: russ & daughters
lunch: momofuku noodle bar
dinner: peter luger's

monday (new year's eve)
breakfast: (central park area?)
lunch: shake shack
dinner: momofuku ko

tuesday
breakfast: ?
lunch: (near the high line?)
dinner: john's of bleecker street (open until 11:30)
drinks: please don't tell

wednesday:
lunch: eleven madison park (noon)
1:30pm: leave for airport

- Siqi

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  1. Central Park is a huge place. What streets do you want to be near?

    Also for your Saturday and Tuesday breakfasts, do you want to eat near your hotel? Where is that?

    You've only mentioned one place where you have reservations -- but you do have other needed dinner reservations already, yes?

    I've never eaten lunch at EMP but I would think that you should advise them in advance that you need to leave within 90 minutes of your arrival. Maybe someone else has a different opinion.

    10 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee

      EMP in 90 minutes is not doable, at all. I'm not sure how much they've changed up in the month or two since last visit, but from my experience, you would need an absolute minimum of 2.5, 3 hours. On a day when the dining room was half empty, a lunch that started off at an almost uncomfortably brisk pace wound up lasting 4.5 hours.

      1. re: ramenbound

        I agree that you can't do EMP in 90 minutes, you would not be able to relax and enjoy yourself. Lunch near the High Line, I 'd suggest Pastis. I would go to nearest diner(s) for your breakfasts as your lunch and dinners are relatively fancy and New York diners are fun, especially as you haven't been to New York

        1. re: bronwen

          That's a life saver tip on EMP, and thanks for the Pastis recommendation.

          So it looks like we pretty much have to give up EMP on our last day then. Would it be worth switching momofuku ko for EMP for dinner?

          1. re: blader

            Two very very different restaurants. EMP is much more pampering and comfortable. They will work around any aversions or allergies or preferences. The service tries to anticipate your every need. Ko is a bit more austere with lots of wood, backless stools, eating at a counter but they also are relaxed and play rock n roll. Ko is also a shorter meal and there is no tweaking or substitutions.

            Really it depends what you want. And what you can get into--remember that EMP tables become available 28 days in advance at 9 am Eastern. So 6am your time. Try OpenTable AND the phone.

            1. re: blader

              I love both EMP and Momofuku Ko, but I would keep your reservation at Ko.

              1. re: ellenost

                As hard as it is to get a rez at EMP, Ko is even harder.

                That said, you don't have a rez at either, yet. So maybe (though us chowhounders usually discourage this sort of thing) make a Plan B rez at EMP in case you don't get the Ko rez. Normally, I'd say don't do that, it's not fair - but what with Ko's week-before rez policy, it makes it almost impossible to do it any other way if Ko is your first choice. Really wish they'd change to a month like every other resto.

                It is amazing, the fact the I am referring to EMP as a "Plan B" - I know.

                1. re: sgordon

                  Funny: I'm having zero luck with getting an EMP dinner reservation. Maybe after the holidays, it will be a bit easier.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    Are you looking for a specific date? I see slots for Monday, so there's got to be something.

                    1. re: calf

                      Yes, I was looking for Fridays for a 2-top. Other than the availability for this Monday (I'm dining at Ko on Monday anyway), there is no availability for a 2-top at EMP via OpenTable for an early dinner resy for the next 28 days--I just tried. I'll try again in a few weeks. It's been almost a year since I've had dinner at EMP, and I'd love to try the new format.

        2. re: barberinibee

          Thanks for the help! I can get that Central Park would be surprisingly large for a non-New Yorker.

          For Monday in Central Park, we're going to be near the American History Museum or on the way (from the Time Square direction) - in the morning.

          For Saturday and Tuesday we could do either at the hotel (Eventi) on either day, or near the Theater District on Saturday and the high line area on Tuesday.

          We don't have reservations at the other places yet since it's so far in advance, but we're committed to staying up and getting the reservations as soon as the lines open up.

        3. For Saturday breakfast, much will depend on what time you wish to dine, what neighborhood you wish to be in, and whether or not you will wait in line/require reservations. Also many places serve only weekend brunch (later start time).

          For weekend brunch, no reservations taken:
          Prune
          The Breslin
          Joseph Leonard
          Public
          Spotted Pig

          Takes reservations:
          Minetta Tavern
          Locanda Verde
          North End Grill
          Union Sq Cafe

          Best weekday breakfast:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8330...

          Best weekend brunch:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831766

          I would also advise not eating near near the Theatre District during such a short trip unless you absolutely have to--are you seeing a show?

          Pegu Club gets slammed later on Saturday night. It may be very loud, crowded, or you may have to wait outside on the sidewalk to get in. I'd go before dinner. Or check out Silver Lining, Ward 3, or Weather Up for cocktails before Jungsik.

          Sunday morning be aware that R&D will likely have a bit of a wait, and it's takeout/counter service only. The only seats are outside on two benches.

          For lunch, do ramen at Ippudo if you really must have ramen. Otherwise, Momofuku Ssam Bar is a better representation of David Chang's cooking.

          For NYE breakfast, it really does depend WHERE in Central Park you are. Or eat near your hotel beforehand. I'd regularly steer you towards Barney Greengrass but they're closed Mondays typically.

          Also you should have a backup plan in case you don't get into Ko. They take reservations six days (7 including the current day) in advance at 10 am ET.

          Tuesday breakfast, see the links I posted above and do call to confirm that your choice will be open and serving New Year's Day. Same for lunch, some places may be on a brunch schedule that day.

          The High Line has food vendors but I'm not sure they'll be out. There's also Chelsea Market nearby. Or walk to Spotted Pig, which will likely be serving brunch.

          I love John's of Bleecker. Don't get more than one topping. Get the pie cooked well done. Don't expect a frou frou gourmet experience either. It is a delicious pie though.

          For PDT, if you go after dinner, you may not get in without a reservation. Waits can be 2 hours, or never (they may not even get to your name on the list).

          Tuesday lunch -- now that EMP is tasting menu only, you probably won't make it. Try lunch at the NoMad instead. They're in a hotel so likely you can check your bags there and easily grab a taxi to the airport.

          3 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            For Saturday we are seeing Book of Mormon in the afternoon but we should have time to walk in bit in the morning. We intended to walk from Eventi in the Times Square / Theater District direction and was hoping there might be a solid must-eat on the way.

            For NYE we're going to the American Natural History museum for the morning so somewhere around there would most likely be best, or around our hotel (Eventi).

            Between the tips on EMP and Pegu/PDT, this could have totally saved my trip. You rock, thank you!

            1. re: blader

              Make a slight detour for breakfast at the Breslin. The wait shouldn't be too bad earlier on during the day. It's pretty close to the Eventi.

              Or ou could do a coffee and a pastry at Eataly, La Maison du Macaron, or Doughnut Plant.

              The NoMad, EMP's sister restaurant, also does brunch now.

              1. re: blader

                After pizza at John's, you should consider drinks at Little Branch instead of PDT—it's just a few blocks away and they don't take reservations, so you will be more likely to get in.

            2. For Theater District, there are a number of great restaurants. My personal favorites are:

              Don Antonio for some of the best Neapolitan pizza in the city
              Toloache for great Mexican
              Yakitori Totto for Japanese grilled meats (mostly chicken offal)
              The Modern Bar Room for excellent Alsatian-French cuisine
              Szechuan Gourmet on 56th Street for delicious Sichuan-Chinese food (stick with the Sichuan specialties)

              4 Replies
              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                And the other branch of Szechuan Gourmet on 39th St. between 5th and 6th.

                1. re: Cheeryvisage

                  I'm guessing Naples style pizza will be of lesser interest to people from SF, same for Mexican.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Ah, I did not see that.

                  2. re: Cheeryvisage

                    Thank you!

                  3. Saturday: maybe consider Ward III for cocktails, as it's closer to Jungsik than Pegu. Both will be mobbed on a Saturday night (as will every good cocktail bar) so it's best to have a backup plan, or go somewhere that takes rezzies if you can find one - make your rez for around midnight or so to give yourself time to relax during dinner.

                    Sunday: sound like a damn fine day of eating to me.

                    Monday: again, have a backup plan as you don't know if you'll get that Momo Ko rezzie. Make a rezzie somewhere else in the meantime - that's a SERIOUSLY in-demand night, so be ready on Nov 30 at 9AM to start calling around / hitting opentable.

                    Tuesday: Del Posto has a great lunch deal. A number of places down in that area as well - Barbuto, Colicchio & Sons (I prefer the Tap Room), maybe Morimoto. Again, with PDT, make sure to get that rezzie.

                    Wednesday: You will not have time for lunch at EMP at noon and to be in a cab by 1:30, unless you're dining a la carte at the bar, and even then you'll have to rush. I'd say do you EMP lunch on Monday, but EMP + Ko in one day might be a bit too much. Maybe do lunch at The NoMad instead (and make your rez earlier, at 11:00 or so, so you don't have to rush...)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: sgordon

                      The NoMad only starts lunch at noon IIRC.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        In that case, Eataly. I like Il Verdure in particular of the options there.

                      2. re: sgordon

                        Silver Lining, which is only a few blocks farther than Ward III, is never mobbed, and, probably because the staff isn't crushed, I think they make the best drinks and have the nicest bartenders in the city.

                        1. re: downtownchica

                          Thanks! I'll make sure to check it out and add that to our itinerary!