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Need advice for New Year's vacation

Hello everybody my wife and I are coming to New York for New Year's and would love to have some suggestions for restaurants to go to. All are welcome, but "must eats" would be nice as well. Also maybe some hints for watching the ball drop! We're so excited thanks for your help!

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  1. This is a very broad request. To help us give you some relevant suggestions, please let us know:

    - your price range per person before drinks, tax and tip
    - how many days are you spending in NYC?
    - where are you coming from and what are some of your favorite restaurants in your home city?
    - where is your hotel?
    - preferred cuisines
    - are you looking for formal or casual?

    Here are some restaurants that are frequently recommended to visitors:

    Babbo
    Momofuku Ssam Bar
    Keens
    Minetta Tavern
    WD-50
    The Modern
    15 East
    Jean Georges
    Balthazar
    Motorino
    Katz's Delicatessen
    Barney Greengrass

    1. Where are you staying? Times Square?

      Most NYers avoid Times Square on NYE. When I worked in the area, I had to leave the office at 2pm (they closed off the building). Even then, the area was starting to get very crowded.

      I would avoid going ANYWHERE near Times Square starting in the late afternoon because it's jam-packed, the police start blockading people into big pens (and don't let them out until post-midnight PLUS there's no public restrooms so a lot of people use plastic bottles/adult diapers/the sidewalk), and you often have to walk very far out of your way just to cross the street. People will bring in their own food and drink (non alcoholic), or urinate where they are standing. I know some people who have done it and felt their feet leave the ground because it was so crowded.

      ALSO do note if you choose dine at a local restaurant, you will not simply be able to come out and watch the Ball lowering at midnight.

      The blocks will be closed off as they fill up with people shoulder to shoulder going northward, street-by-street, as the police deem necessary, from about 42nd to 59th, which can add a lot of extra time to your itinerary and make you late for reservations, etc. If you stay away from 42nd to 59th, between 6th Ave and 8th Ave, you should be mostly OK though.

      The weather will influence how insane it is. If it is warmer than normal, more people will brave Times Square...

      Cabs may be hard to find and/or you might be stuck in traffic due to the street closures. Trains, of course, will be running, but crowded. They may choose to close off some entrances and/or the entire 49th Street N/R station.

      BTW since it's NYE, lots of places will be doing timed seatings (such as only at 6, 8, 10pm, etc.) with prix fixe menus and champagne toast. Expect higher prices than normal.

      Many other NYers often choose to celebrate at home or do something else low key. I

      There are some nicer cocktail bars doing celebrations, I would DEFINITELY eat beforehand and not expect too much in terms of bites:

      1. Tooker Alley
      Hey Ho Dil Picklers! It's a New Year's Eve Blast!
      Join us for Tooker Alley's first New Year's Eve Hobohemian Ball!

      Live Music with Crown Heights' own Judson Neilsen on Hammond B-3 -
      backed up by Uptown's one and only Harlem Groove Band!

      One seating 9.30-12.30 - $25.00 Music Charge
      Inlcudes - Midnight Sparkling Toast - Party Favors -

      No Minimum at tables - Flappers! Waist Coated Barkeeps! Endless Revelry!

      Don't begin 2013 in regret - BOOK NOW!
      347.955.4743

      2. Death & Co's NYE party - $200 plus tax and tip
      https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto...

      3. Little Branch

      http://littlebranchnewyears.eventbrit...

      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...

      4. Pouring Ribbons

      Tickets for New Year's Eve - Cocktails, Champagne, Bites for $150.
      Party from 9:00 to 2:00. Email events@pouringribbons.com.

      1. BTW, you are planning rather last minute. The best restaurants book up well in advance (like a month), especially around a popular holiday like New Year's. Also many upscale restaurants are closed on Sundays, so what days of the week you are here is important to know.

        If you are looking for a high end, upscale experience, you may need to try getting on a waitlist or two, or dining in a bar/lounge area, or trying to lunch instead of dinner. If they serve lunch, that is. Many don't. The ones that do often only do it on weekdays, and not weekends.

        Also are you bringing a jacket? You may need one for dinner at Per Se, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, or Daniel, if you wish to go to any of these places....

        The following discussions may also help.

        Don't leave NY without eating these foods
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610739

        I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

        Notable food trucks/carts:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701278

        Prix fixe lunch deals:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8747...

        Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
        It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8093...

        Best bagels in NYC:
        http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...
        Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all.

        My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and creative brunches (sometimes every day of the week).

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8383...

        13 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          Wow! This site is awesome! This is my first time on the site and have received more info than the last two weeks of google searches. Thanks Rivermann and Kathryn! These are our details:
          Staying in Times Square Dec. 26- Jan. 2
          Being from San Diego we eat a lot of Italian and Mexican foods. We could go from the local bar eating appetizers and fish tacos, then to a fancy restaurant for dinner. We aren't picky at all.
          Maybe suggestions on best Sushi, Italian, steakhouse, Fish tacos.... If that helps...
          For the NYE, sounds like a nightmare!!! And also our number one reason for going this time of year, sounds crazy but always wanted to see " The Ball Drop". So our plan was to pay for tickets to the Snapple theater through balldrop.com and they "guaranteed" to see it. Havent purchased yet so we are open for suggestions. Let me know if you need more details and we ReALLY appreciate the help!!

          1. re: Tcat619

            We are definitely planning on cold weather. We will have jackets cause cold weather to us in SD is 65!!

            1. re: Tcat619

              When Kathryn wrote, "Are you bringing a jacket?" she wasn't concerned about your body temperature. :) She meant would the male(s) of your party be bringing a dinner jacket /suit in order to dine at the high-end, more formal places. She wasn't reminding you to bring a NorthFace fleece.

              You might want to do some searches/read the threads provided as well as those of other posters. Gather some ideas and then come back and ask hounds their opinion on the specific places of interest.

              Your requests are still very broad, in a city of literally THOUSANDS of dining options.

              1. re: thegforceny

                I meant that post as a joke... :) But yeah we are prepared with coats/jackets to eat at the high end places. I am doing research on all info provided. It's a lot of info though. If this helps:
                Best Pizza Pizza?
                Best Steak?
                Best Sushi?
                Best Taco?
                Best Burger?
                Sorry if it is still too vague. "Best" is just somewhere you would take your friend from out of town. It doesn't have to be the most fancy, just good food and good people. The price and attire will not be an issue.... Thanks!!

                1. re: Tcat619

                  Best Pizza Pizza? - Motorino for Neapolitan style

                  Best Steak? - Wolfgang's

                  Best Sushi? - 15 East

                  Best Taco? - I'm not an expert but I do like Empellon Taqueria for upscale/creative, Dos Toros for trad

                  Best Burger? - Minetta Tavern's Black Label Burger, DB Bistro Moderne's Original DB Burger

                  1. re: Riverman500

                    That is great.. Thank you, I owe you all a round!

                  2. re: Tcat619

                    Aside from what anyone else recommends for you, I'd like to counsel you to please avoid Mexican food while you're in New York. It's not that all our Mexican food sucks or something, but golly, you're from San Diego! Eat it there!

                    1. re: Pan

                      Hahaaa!! I figured, anywhere we have traveled (other than Mexico) hasn't beat SD mex food! Thanks for the warning

                    2. re: Tcat619

                      I would also focus on stuff outside the box a little more, or things you cannot find at home or things that are classic NY. Bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye at Katz's, black and white cookies, Babbo, Ssam Bar, Spanish tapas, Xian Famous Foods, kaiseki at Kyo Ya, yakiniku at Takashi, lobster rolls at Pearl, Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, halal carts...

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Ok for sure! The bagel and salmon sounds delicious. I will try most of those. Wow you guys are so informative. I love this site, already involved in the SD

                        1. re: Tcat619

                          When we go to NYC from NoCal, we bring home a couple dozen bagels. I wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then in a zipping bag. Not the same, but toasted, better than anything I've had out here.
                          ETA: I freeze them after wrapping, which you probably figured out :)

                      2. re: Tcat619

                        NYC isn't known for Mexican food, especially when compared to San Diego. I'd drop that one, for sure :)

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Definitely dropped. Can't wait for the bagels

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