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Mar 29, 2013 10:03 AM

Aussie foodies in NY

I am travelling to NY in May with 5 others, and looking to get some recommendations for must do eateries in the city. We are staying 7 nights and want to experience the best that New York has to offer.
I'm looking for a mix of fine dining restaurants, gastro pubs, iconic NY food carts or stalls, breakfast and quick lunch suggestions. I will be happy to make bookings in advance, so hit me with the hard to get into places.
In terms of cuisines, we are not fussy, as long as its very tasty and fresh. There is one vegetarian in the group.
Thanks in advance!

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  1. What research have you done on your own already?

    What's your max budget, per person, before tax, tip, wine/drinks?

    It's much easier to give recommendations if you can name a per person figure for food ONLY since drinking habits vary so widely.

    Don't forget to account for 20% tip and nearly 9% sales tax.

    See also:

    Recommendations for 1st time visitor:

    Top High-End Spots for Visitor from Toronto

    Cheap eats for 1st time visitor from NZ:

    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:

    Some common tourist inquiries:

    Near MoMA:

    Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and Whitney and Guggenheim, ish):

    Near the American Museum of Natural History:

    Near Macy's/Herald Square:


    5th Avenue shopping:


    Notable food trucks/carts:

    Prix fixe lunch deals:

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

    Best bagels in NYC:
    Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all. Focus on the smoked salmon instead. Preferably at Russ & Daughters! Featured in shows such as No Reservations and Louie!

    I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.

    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).

    My favorite spots: -- scroll down to my post

    1. I talk to Aussies quite a bit about this stuff. First off, you guys are awesome - adventurous, open, and you have long vacations. So, for recommending, I'll usually tell people things that they don't have from where they come from.

      Mexican, street food (washington heights or roosevelt ave, also bushwick and others), Peruvian, williamsburg, flushing, NY pizza, oysters (grand central oyster place is great)

      1. Thank you Kathryn for some great suggestions. I have had a look through everything, and added some to the list. In regards to your questions, I believe we would like to keep the majority of our dinners under $150pp, inc tax & tips. Drinks above that is fine. We would probably be happy to splurge on one more expensive meal within reason. Lunches and breakfasts can be quick, easy and cheap.

        Jeff, you are absolutely correct. We are adventurous, and would like to particularly try cuisines that we don't see much of around here. However, we'd never say no to a good Italian meal!

        I am working on a schedule for the week, and would like to fit the meals within that, based on the area we are exploring. Breakfasts all need to be in or very close to SoHo as that's where our hotel is. Also happy to return back to hotel to freshen up prior to dinners.

        Here is a rough schedule as it stands. I am still trying to get the hang of the areas and what's close to what etc, so feel free to correct me if none something doesn't makes sense.

        Saturday - MoMa, Lunch?, Central Park for coffee and walk, black to hotel, Dinner

        Sunday - Real New York Tour finishing near 9/11 Memorial (Lunch Inc), Century 21 shopping, Back to hotel, Dinner?

        Monday - Nothing planned as yet, lunch, Woodbury Common, Dinner

        Tuesday - Liberty Island, Lunch, Brooklyn Bridge, Park Slope, Dinner

        Wednesday - RGR Food tour, Highline, Dinner close to Yankee stadium, Baseball game @ Stadium

        Thursday - Grand Central, Oyster Bar, Shopping Maddison, Empire State, Dinner

        Here are some of the restaurants I've been looking at, will appreciate your opinions:

        Per Se
        Gramercy Tavern
        L'artusi or Eataly
        Habana Restaurant
        La Esquina
        Casa Mono
        Pearl & Ash
        Mission Chinese
        Pok Pok

        Shake shack
        Katz Deli
        Burger Joint (Le Parker Meridian Hotel on 119W 57th st)
        Russ & Daughters - begals

        Breakfasts in Soho
        Locanda Verde
        Jack's Wife Freda.
        12 Chairs Cafe

        Levain bakery
        Magnolia Bakery
        Doughnut plant

        Food carts
        Biryani Cart, 46th Street & Sixth Avenue
        Dosa Man, Washington Square South and Sullivan Street
        The Best Halal, 53rd Street and 6th Avenue
        Jamaican Dutchy, 51st Street & 7th Avenue

        Apologies for the long post! Any advice would be appreciated. TIA

        3 Replies
        1. re: TashyNomNom

          When in May is your trip? Many restaurants that use the 30 day booking window have started opening up May in their books.

          > In regards to your questions, I believe we would like to keep the majority of our dinners under $150pp, inc tax & tips. Drinks above that is fine.

          That's about $116pp for food, which is more than enough if you're not going to be going to the most expensive restaurants in the city & getting tasting menus each night.

          > Breakfasts all need to be in or very close to SoHo as that's where our hotel is.

          I'd explore going to a bakery for a quick pastry & coffee breakfast, such as:
          Dominique Ansel
          Ceci Cela
          La Churreria - churros for breakfast!
          Bottega Falai
          Payard, technically not in Soho as it is north of Houston St but it's pretty close

          > Saturday - MoMa, Lunch?, Central Park for coffee and walk, black to hotel, Dinner

          You can choose to eat in the cafe on the 2nd floor at MoMA which is actually pretty good as far as museum dining goes.

          Or you could go next door and have lunch at the Bar Room at the Modern, which serves Alsatian inspired small plates / half-entrees. Reservations definitely recommended for weekend lunch. Do not miss the beignets.

          On your way up to Central Park you could make a small detour to Rockefeller Center, get some coffee from Blue Bottle. Possibly some snacks / chocolate from Magnolia Bakery, La Maison du Chocolat, Jacques Torres, Bouchon Bakery, or wichcraft. At Magnolia, they are famous for their cupcakes (which are sometimes dry / need salt), but their icebox cake and banana pudding are the secret winners. La Maison is more French style filled chocolates. Jacques Torres is more American style and they have all sort of chocolate confections like chocolate malt balls, chocolate cornflakes, cookies, pretzels, etc. in addition to filled chocolates, bars, and hot chocolate. And the delicious Bouchon Bakery is by Thomas Keller of Per Se and French Laundry fame.

          Since you will be 6 people, I would definitely make reservations for dinner whenever you can. Six is considered a bigger than normal party in NYC, and some restaurants are small. So small that they can't take a party bigger than that size and/or they have only one table that big, dependent upon the layout.

          You may also luck out at restaurants that are normally no reservations, but take them for big groups, such as Tertulia, Danji, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssam Bar, and others. I'm not sure where you are from in Australia and if you've done the Momofuku restaurant there (the tasting menu only Seiobo). Noodle Bar & Ssam Bar are casual and usually no reservations except for some big family style group meals.

          > Tuesday - Liberty Island, Lunch, Brooklyn Bridge, Park Slope, Dinner

          Liberty Island is closed due to damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy. It will reopen on July 4.

          For Brooklyn Bridge and Park Slope recommendations, you need to post on the Outer Boroughs board. But while you're here...maybe on this day, have lunch at Juliana's. It's a new pizza joint from legend Patsy Grimaldi. Patsy Grimaldi is the original owner of Grimaldi's Pizza. He sold it some time ago, and immediately regretted selling, and has been looking to get back into the pizza game ever since. Drama ensued. Now he's finally back, essentially next door to his old joint.

          Also, your plan to walk the Brooklyn Bridge (which is what I think you mean) may be affected by the weather, so just keep that in mind.

          > Wednesday - RGR Food tour, Highline, Dinner close to Yankee stadium, Baseball game @ Stadium

          This is a very ambitious day. The RGR self guided food tour of the Lower East Side isn't really all that close to the High Line in Chelsea/Meatpacking District, especially if you want to walk up and down the entire length of the High Line.

          For recommendations on what to eat at Yankee Stadium, you also need to post on the Outer Boroughs board, as it's in the Bronx.

          > Per Se

          This is definitely a splurge meal, and two sets of friends who have gone recently said it was much easier to get a table by calling a month in advance rather than using OpenTable. So this will require some advance planning due to time zone issues. Also note that gratuity is included in the pricing on their web site.

          > L'artusi or Eataly

          There are multiple restaurants within Eataly, only Manzo and Birreria take reservations.

          > Babbo
          > Casa Mono

          Both are easier to get into for lunch, but it looks like you'll be only available for big sit down meals at dinner due to all the sightseeing.

          Babbo is one of those places where they literally only have one table for six people, BTW. They are on OpenTable and it looks like a table for 6 isn't too hard to get as long as you don't mind eating at 6 or 9pm.

          Casa Mono is also tiny and maxes out at a party of 6. The 8pm slots don't seem that hard to get as long as you plan ahead and are flexible regarding day of the week.

          I prefer Tertulia to Casa Mono.

          Both Babbo and Casa Mono book one month in advance to the numerical date, i.e. you must call on April 3 to dine on May 3.

          > Mission Chinese

          Great choice, but they only take online reservations a week in advance AND max out at a party of 5 online. They can do bigger groups but won't let you reserve for that.

          I'd switch this up for a lunch. It's also not terribly expensive either.

          > Pok Pok
          > Reynards

          Both of these are in Brooklyn, and not really near anything you're already doing, like the Brooklyn Bridge or Park Slope.

          I'd also be afraid of what the wait is at Pok Pok for 6 people. Hopefully it'll just be long instead of insanely long when the patio is available again...

          > Lombardi
          > Burger Joint (Le Parker Meridian Hotel on 119W 57th st)

          I would drop these.

          > Shake Shack
          > Ippudo
          > Katz's Deli

          Excellent choices.

          > Breakfasts in Soho
          > Locanda Verde
          > Belthazar
          > Kitchenette
          > Jack's Wife Freda.
          > 12 Chairs Cafe

          Kitchenette and Locanda Verde aren't really that close to Soho, they are in Tribeca.

          Jack's Wife Freda seems like an odd one out because it only opens at 10am daily. Seems a little late for weekday breakfast when you have packed days with tourist activities.

          For weekend brunch at Balthazar or Locanda Verde, reservations are definitely recommended.

          > Levain bakery

          None of your itinerary items will take you near their location on the Upper West Side.

          > Doughnut plant

          I like Doughnut Plant a lot but mostly for the cake doughnuts such as the Tres Leches. They are smaller, denser. The larger, yeast-raised doughnuts can be quite chewy.

          BTW, Gimme Coffee in Nolita (adjacent to Soho) serves doughnuts from Dough in Brooklyn.

          1. re: TashyNomNom

            I'm sure you know this, but if not, the bus ride from Port Authority to Woodbury Commons is around an hour so you might want to budget more time to shop. Also, per my Aussie cousin's trip to Woodbury last summer, the prices weren't as steeply discounted as she was led to believe. She ended up getting more deals at Century 21 and Wednesdays at Macys. Make sure you get your visitor discount pass at Macys. She even said Times Sq. had good deals at the non-discounted prices, i.e.; Onitsuka Tiger sneakers normal price is $70-$80 here vs. twice that in Oz.

            Also, looks like you left the Halal Guys cart off your list. 53rd & 6th with another on 53rd & 7th.

            1. re: GoodGravy

              Yes, I would skip Woodbury Commons. The stuff isn't as heavily discounted, and isn't as good a stuff as would make this worth it to take the trek... Just walk down Broadway around 20th street, you'll find lots of great places to shop - and there's usually a discount room or aisle or rack.

              just briefly (bc im at work now)...
              I wouldn't skip Katz's - but I would try to go an an off hour/day.
              Also, this came really surprising to me.... but Halal food is definitely Something in the line of NYC food. I do food tours, and I used to not include halal b/c I thought it was just crap... but after sampling a lot and learning more about it, and seeing the reaction of tourists, I would definitely say that Halal carts are Something -- much more so than hot dog carts (for a hot dog, try grays papaya or even Katz's).
              Not all halal carts are equal though - same with pizza (lots of crap out there).

          2. Hi, Thank you all for your feedback.

            our group has now grown to 8 people, making it very difficult to try and find quality restaurants that have space and take reservations.

            Here is what I have come up with so far - provided I can get bookings! Any feedback or suggestions welcome.

            Friday - Arrive in NYC late, maybe dinner at Tertulia or Osteria Morini

            Saturday - Breakfast in Sohi, new york tour, group dinner @ The Dutch

            Sunday - Belthezar brunch, Shopping department stores, lunch at a food card along the way or Shake Shack, Dinner with friends (Their decision)

            Monday - Locanda Verde Breakfast, More shopping, Madison Av, Lunch @ Ippodu, Century 21, Couple Dinner @ Gramercy Tavern

            Tuesday - Quick pastry breakfast, MoMA, Bar room @ Modern, Rockerfeller for snacks after, Central Park walk, Broadway shows, Group dinner after show @ Danji

            Wednesday - Lower east food tour, Early Group dinner @ Empellon Taqueria, Yankee Game

            Thursday - The mercer kitchen breakfast, Brooklyn bridge, park slope, Juliana's Pizza, Stratten Island cruise, Couple dinner @ the Nomad

            Friday - Breakfast @ the cupping room, free time before we leave.

            1 Reply
            1. re: TashyNomNom

              Monday looks all over the place geographically--TriBeCa, midtown, east village, financial district, then gramercy. I don't think you're going to be able to do all that.

              Make sure you book the NoMad with a capital M, I assume that's the one you want.

            2. Hi,
              Would appreciate some suggestions for after theatre dinner, 9.45pm as Danji do not have availability at that time. Preferably not Italian, American or Spanish as we are having these on other days.
              Thinking of going Danji before Yankee game as only one train to restaurant and another to stadium. In your opinions, will this work?

              4 Replies
              1. re: TashyNomNom

                What date are we talking about here. Are you willing to go downtown after the theatre? Maybe Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya? Kin Shop?

                Or maybe you can switch Empellon Taqueria and Danji, so you can still hit both?

                Yankee Stadium is best accessed on the B, D, and 4 trains. I would jus walk directly to the B/D at Columbus Circle from Danji.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Thanks Kathryn,
                  We would prefer dinner to be close to theatre as possible as I'm sure we will all be quite hungry. Date is 28th May so I still have time to book early. Is Empellon quite easy to get to from Times Square area? Or are there any other good Mexican places close by?

                2. re: TashyNomNom

                  I'd recommend going for Korean barbecue, except that I figure Australia may be stronger in Korean cuisine, and possibly cheaper. If that isn't true, consider Don's Bogam, which is open 24 hours.