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May 16, 2013 08:58 PM

casual, excellent restaurants for grown-ups

We will be in New York for a weekend with friends (but not our kids!) at the end of May, and we're looking for recommendations of great, causal restaurants where we can linger and enjoy amazing food.

One of the group is a vegetarian. One couple is staying in the W. Village, the other on the UES, so we'll probably want options in both areas (but maybe more downtown than uptown). All cuisines welcome.

Seeking dinner and brunch recs. Price not an issue, but we do want a casual environment; we're not looking for an event meal. Ideally we could walk in and not wait more than an hour or get reservations on relatively short notice (within the week before).

In the past have loved Momofuku Noodle Bar, 'ino, Otto, Red Cat, Blue Ribbon Bakery. Thanks!

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  1. It's hard to predict how long you'll wait at a particular place as Friday and Saturday are different than other days of the week, and a lot depends on what day you go and what time you go.

    Also booking only one week in advance eliminates a lot of restaurants unless you are willing to eat at 5pm or 10pm.

    Plus the lingering aspect of your question is going to be tough if you're the people sitting at a table Saturday night at 9pm at the end of your meal and there's a 1-2 hour wait, you know?

    I'm surprised you mention Momofuku Noodle Bar, since it is not very vegetarian friendly at all.

    You might like Montmartre, which is by an ex-Momofuku chef. Reservations are taken 13-14 days in advance.

    RIP 'ino.

    However, inoteca and corsino are still open.

    For interesting vegetarian off the top of my head:
    Indian - Chennai Garden, Tiffin Wallah, Tulsi (pricier), Saravana Bhavan/Saravanaas, Junoon (pricier)
    Chinese - Grand Sichuan St Marks, Xi'an Famous Foods (spicy!), RedFarm (pricier)
    Korean - Hangawi, BCD Tofu House (just reopened)
    Thai - Kin Shop (a little more upscale than your usual Thai place)
    Italian/pizza - Scarpetta, Motorino, Eataly's Le Verdure restaurant, Paulie Gee's
    American - Westville, Northern Spy, The Green Table, Gramercy Tavern (the front room is cheaper/more casual), Perilla
    Burger - Shake Shack (shroom burger)
    Sandwiches - Tiny's, 'wichcraft, No. 7 Sub
    Middle Eastern - Taim (they have a truck, too), King of Falafel and Shawarma (also has a cart), Babaloosta, Hummus Place

    Minetta Tavern/ Locanda Verde or Maialino for Vegetarian Brunch?

    Where to Eat with Vegetarians and Meat Lovers in NYC

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks for such a thoughtful list!

      The vegetarian is pretty flexible/creative, fortunately. He won't want us to pick a restaurant around him, as long as there is a way for him to make a meal.

      Also, we don't need to linger for hours; we just want to have a nice, leisurely meal. Usually, our meals are a bit rushed because of our kids, so we want to make the most of our kid-free weekend!

      I came across these in my research--would any of them be worth considering?

      Il Buco
      The Marrow

      They all seem to have at least a few vegetable/vegetarian options on the menu. Are they too hard to get into?

      Thanks again!

      1. re: asl3y

        Those are all good choices but also popular.

        Assuming you want 4 people on Saturday night on 6/1 for 8pm, looking on OpenTable:
        Il Buco has only 5:45 or 9:45
        Acme has only 6:45 or 10
        The Marrow has only 5:45 or 9:45

        You might be able to get better times by calling but I would call ASAP.

        1. re: kathryn

          Thank you--I took the 6:45 at Acme. Appreciate your recommendations!

          1. re: kathryn

            One more question--what's the attire at Acme? I assume quite casual, but just want to double-check. Thanks!

      2. Also consider Back 40 West. Unfortunately there is only one entree that is completely vegetarian, but quite a few apps and sides, so if your friend is flexible he could certainly have options. Definitely fits your criteria of casual atmosphere, and it probably gives you more ability to linger than some of the current hotspots.