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All alone in Midtown East

I will be attending a conference without my husband in early May, staying near the UN. Normally I would go anywhere but by myself I may be a little more restrained. Also I've used up my conference budget on tuition/travel/hotel so I will probably pay for food myself. I think breakfast and lunch during the conference days are included. A couple of questions:
1. Where can I have a good dinner more or less in this area? Are there good restaurants where I can eat at the bar?
2. I will have one day on my own and will go anywhere in Manhattan. Where should I head -- Hell's Kitchen, Village, etc?

I live in Phoenix and have been to NYC a couple times for short trips and will eat pretty much anything.

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  1. What cuisines would be unavailable or weaker in your home town? I think that can help focus your search.

    Some previous Midtown East discussions:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/883192
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/884770

    Here are some previous discussions on solo dining from the last few weeks, which might be helpful:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/895618
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893272

    5 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Definitely no Mexican since we have lots of that here . . . I save Thai for visits to Los Angeles, and we have decent Vietnamese here. It's amusing to see Michele Richard mentioned on one of those threads -- I attended classes taught by him back in the 80s in LA. Hmm, guess I'm looking for something quintesenntially New York. But thanks for the threads, and I am always up for good Italian.

      1. re: kittyfood

        Maybe some Japanese? There's a lot of Japanese around Grand Central. Sushi Yasuda (lunch prix fixe?), Sobba Totto, etc.

        Some other thoughts:
        2nd Ave Deli or Sarge's (assuming they have reopened by then after a fire)
        Indian in Curry Hill
        Riverpark, a Tom Colicchio restaurant, maybe, if in your budget

        Definitely be willing to go south to the 30s and a little west from the UN, otherwise this neighborhood can be difficult.

        I think you should go downtown for your Italian fix, maybe try to grab a seat at the bar at dell'anima, Lupa, Peasant, etc.

        1. re: kathryn

          I think kathryn's got it right with japanese - when you said midtown east, at the bar, and not a ton of money, my first thought was ramen. I just tried Hide-Chan, and while i thought the noodles were merely very good (they are made in NJ, not in the shop) the tonkotsu broth with charred garlic was great - the menu says you can choose your noodle firmness and broth strength, but i found our waitress did not ask us for our preferences (i stated mine when ordering, she took note, but if i hadnt said anything i dont know how they would have put the order in)

          aburiya kinnosuke is a great deal at lunch and still not unduly expensive at dinner, considering i tend to think of japanese as a more expensive option generally.

          1. re: tex.s.toast

            According to their website, Aburiya Kinnosuke is going dinner-only after today.

          2. re: kathryn

            I used to work at 56th and Park, so know Midtown East, or its edge, quite well. Agree on Hide Chan for Ramen... not the best but very good and located well. Pizza by Certe on 56th and lex will be very well spend $7 lunch, Turkish at Taksim is a good choice too.

      2. Not too far from where you are, Midtown East, I would suggest Penelope for breakfast.

        1. It's not the easiest neighborhood, especially on a budget. My first thought is probably too expensive, but it's excellent: Megu (incredibly Kobe dishes; I've only eaten there one, but it was really good, and it's just a few blocks from the UN). Also not far is Shun Lee Palace (great Peking Duck and Dung Po pork (though not always available; you can call in advance). Osteria Laguna is a few blocks down 42nd, and they do a good job with Italian food, but maybe not quintessentially NYC. Inside Grand Central you can get Junior's cheesecake, Little Pie Company's sour cream walnut crumb apple pie, Lilac Chocolates, and a bunch of other NYC treats. I just had a great meal at Aquavit on 55th St. I love Tocqueville for your free day. In general, I'd say the more cutting-edge restaurants are in the East Village and Lower East Side. In my neighborhood, UWS, Dovetail is really excellent.

          1. Hi.. new to Chow, don't know if my last reply went through haha

            Top places near there...

            5th most rated place in midtown east... Eatily.. large open market feel with italian food vendors, nice way to look around, forage and find something to have - sitting at a cafeteria type table though lol http://www.yelp.com/biz/eataly-new-york

            Tutto Ramen.. lol..not my thing but huge in NYC
            tons of reviews.. http://www.yelp.com/biz/totto-ramen-n...

            A bit nicer.... reservations may or may not be needed at the bar...
            Les Halles french steak house over 1700+ reviews -website shows people with a menu at the bar... http://www.yelp.com/biz/les-halles-ne...

            These are the places people are talking about in that area...

            4 Replies
            1. re: LongIslandNY

              Eataly is solo diner friendly but not really near the UN. Not sure why it is classified as Midtown East when it's closer to the Flatiron Building. It wouldn't be my first pick for an out of town visitor. You're eating in a big mall/supermarket.

              I think you mean Totto Ramen, not Tutto.

              Pretty sure that the bar at Les Halles would be first come, first served, like most restaurant bars.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Would have to go early to be safe likely.... well those are the popular choices when searching midtown east and sorting by most rated... there are plenty of online tips for them all too... the city is a fun place to have to look for dinner

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Agree. Eataly is a mall in Flatiron, definitely not Midtown.

                2. Lastly.. you could head down to little italy and have a slice of pizza in NY or American[s first Pizza place.. lol they opened a few stores over in 1905 then moved a few stores down.. same family for years hahah http://www.yelp.com/biz/lombardis-piz...

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: kathryn

                      Yes.. only choice is a small pie : ) lol but still reasonable.