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What's after Babbo - two days/one night in February?

Wife and I are heading to the city first weekend in February with another couple for some fun and great food. They haven't been to NYC in ages, and really only know Midtown...so we're showing them our New York (below 14th).

Anyway, we've already eaten at Babbo...and Scarpetta...the Dutch...Market Table...and many other foodie destinations. Trying to come up with an utterly fantastic and memorable dinner without returning anywhere (selfish we know). Babbo is definitely our favorite restaurant, and I'm hoping to find something equally amazing. Food is priority, but we also need fun/vibrant scene. Right now I'm thinking either Minetta Tavern or Locanda Verde, but want to make sure I'm not depriving them of anything because I still feel we should go back to Babbo (my wife wants something else). I loved atmosphere at Forgione as well.

Looking to avoid the Ultra Exclusive EMP and Per Se as I want a more relaxed vibe. While they're also in midtown, I'm not ruling out Le Bernadin though. Might do brunch at Balthazar so not thinking that.

Any cuisine is fine, he was once a chef and we all just love fine food. I'm also thinking Momofuku Ssam for lunch (can we make it to a matinee in Times Square if we do?).

Hoping for some reassurance or anything I should absolutely be considering in addition to Minetta and LV!

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  1. Would anyone recommend any of the adorable little West Village spots over Minetta or LV? Little Owl, Perilla, Joseph Leonard? Are there any that are far and away better?

    3 Replies
      1. re: sean_f

        These are all good neighborhood spots but not really destinations. If you really want to do one, maybe Joseph Leonard for brunch, but if you have only one dinner slot, do something else.

        1. re: sean_f

          Would not recommend any of those over Minetta Tavern.

        2. If you are only here two days and one night, then Minetta Tavern would be my choice. Especially if you love steak. Great food, fun scene, great atmosphere. Not cheap and a little crampy and noisy. But it's classic NY to me.

          Instead of Momofuku Ssam for lunch, make a reservation at Ma Peche. It's much closer and also delicious. If you want to be in a food coma, reserve the excellent chicken and rice meal. Though you might sleep through the play unless you grab a cup of Stumptown from Milk Bar on the way out.

          For brunch, you could do Locanda Verde then, instead of Balthazar. Their ricotta with burnt orange toast is excellent, as is the eggs modenese, breakfast pastries, and cocktails.

          2 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            My wife actually had breakfast at LV (without me) and was really unimpressed with the famed ricotta pancakes. But maybe I can sway her.

            Thanks for the reassurance, so far in the responses I think I'm leaning towards Minetta. Now to secure a coveted reso.

            1. re: sean_f

              I think their pancakes/French toast are only OK at LV, I prefer the egg dishes, pastries, and more "lunch" type items. Personally I find the lemon curd on the LV pancakes to be too much.

          2. Minetta Tavern is great. Other alternatives to Babbo:

            Louro
            Perla
            The NoMad

            Momofuku Ssam Bar is quite far from the theater district. You should estimate about 30-45 minutes by subway. Ma Peche or Marea might be better options depending on the day of your matinee.

            Le Bernardin is great though the cooking is far more subtle compared the other restaurants on your list. Consider the lounge for a more relaxed atmosphere.

              1. If you loved Babbo, try Manzo at Eataly, though it's not below 14th. Yes, it's in the middle of crazy busy Eataly, but it is shielded from the hustle and bustle. The quality of the food is excellent, but the atmospherevis definitely more relaxedvthan EMP. And bybthe way, whilevthe food at LV is good, the service is not always so. In fact, it can be poor. See this thread (be sure to read all of it):
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852565

                1 Reply