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one classic nyc dinner experience

I'm a former New Yorker (9 years in Seattle) bringing a friend to NYC for her first time ever. We are only going to be there for 3 days (4 nights) and would like to have one nice dinner to round out the Katz's-soup dumplings-pizza-falafel-garlic knots-cocktails. I'm thinking more on the classic, long timer and still fresh side than hip-eat-here-now. My initial thoughts were Po, Da Umberto, One if by Land, etc. Am I heading in a good direction? Suggestions are hugely appreciated!

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  1. I think you're headed in the wrong direction.

    Po is fine -- but nobody would think about it ever if Mario Batali hadn't cooked there 15 years ago. Now, it's just one of many pretty good mid-priced Italian places in New York.

    One If By Land is barely decent.

    Da Umberto: OK, but why travel to go there?

    I think the best Old Skool Still-Existing New York Places are the Meat Houses: Luger's, Keens.

    If you don't want that, maybe an Old Skool French place like L'Absinthe (for my money, perhaps the single most underrated place in New York City) or, the usual choice in this category (but to me, very pricey for its quality), Le Grenouille.

    Le Bernardin has been open longer than Po and remains about 18 times as good. But I suspect you (justifiably) don't want to spend that much money (although One If By Land is pretty costly).

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sneakeater

      Keens, Luger, and/or Minetta Tavern would get my vote.

      1. re: kathryn

        I didn't say Minetta only because I don't want to be someone who ALWAYS says Minetta. But, yeah.

        1. re: Sneakeater

          I feel like a broken record sometimes, too, always recommending Minetta...

          Perhaps Balthazar would be a good and slightly less expensive choice? Not sure how cool it is nowadays but my meals there are always excellent.

          1. re: kathryn

            Balthazar was very cool this last Saturday and truly excellent. Service was at a very top level.

    2. Does Ssam Bar count as a "classic" yet?

      1. Actually, speaking of Po, if you're willing to spring for One If By Land, you should be willing to spring for Babbo. Which IS a genuine New York Classic.

        1. What about Grammercy Tavern ?

          2 Replies
          1. My list of classic NYC restaurants would include

            Luger
            Keens
            Smith & Wollensky
            Grand Central Oyster Bar
            21 Club