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Jul 23, 2013 01:41 PM

dinner to convince a friend to love new york?

You all have always been very helpful with my somewhat offbeat requests... and now I have another.

A friend of mine was recently transferred by her employer to Manhattan and she (sacrilege, I know) so far hates it. The reasons are far-ranging, but I think one of the problems is that she works very long hours and hasn't really had a chance to explore. I'll be heading down to New York in a few weeks, and I want to take her for a meal or experience to convince her to like her new city.

I'm open to neighborhoods / boroughs, and this can be for any meal or even a non-meal experience. I'd like to spend no more than $150. She does not really drink, so bars or anything drinking-centric won't work. She appreciates good food but is not really adventurous -- I'd prefer Italian, Mexican, or American food.

Any ideas for experiences that will 'wow' her?

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  1. vinegar hill house in vinegar hill/dumbo could work here.

    perla is another solid option if you want to keep it in manhattan.

    1. Riverpark for an early evening al fresco dinner or brunch.
      Central Park stroll on a Sunny Sunday afternoon.

      1. I forgot to mention that we are both in our 20s, though rec's don't necessarily need to scream YOUNG.

        And, she lives in the East 30s but we can travel anywhere.

        12 Replies
        1. re: nyc_to_ma

          If you didn't want to go far, you could have a fun time at Salvation Taco in the Pod Hotel. If the weather is nice, their rooftop bar is really lovely.

          Perla would be tough to do for under $150, in my experience.

          1. re: loratliff

            its quite easy with 2 apps, 2 pastas, and 2 glasses of wine...

            1. re: sam1

              Assuming you ordered the cheapest things, you'd be at about $100, post-tax but pre-tip.

              I think $100 for two people for pasta is excessive and I personally haven't found the pastas to be very filling. I now only go if someone else is paying. I don't find it to be a good value at all, but to each their own.

              (Plus, since the OP has a gluten intolerance, it's now a moot point.)

              1. re: loratliff

                gluten free and wants italian? what a weird world we live in.

                perla's pastas are the reason to go in my opinion. their entrees arent particularly amazing.

                the beef cheek agnolotti is probably the most filling dish on the menu. im pretty fit, but i can barely finish half of the plate. perhaps you have a bigger appetite than i do.

          2. re: nyc_to_ma

            > I'm open to neighborhoods / boroughs, and this can be for any meal or even a non-meal experience.

            You should definitely post on the Outer Boroughs board, as someone who works long hours and lives in the East 30s (and hates it) might like the Brooklyn neighborhood vibe a lot more.

            I'm thinking a Danny Meyer restaurant would be a nice treat. Maialino, Union Sq Cafe, the Tavern Room at Gramercy Tavern?

            The "Today" prix fixe in the Tavern Room at GT sounds really nice. Four courses for $48.

            Review from earlier this year:

            1. re: kathryn

              its kind of a schlep from the east 30s, but with your other parameters considered, Prime Meats in BK might be a good choice. we recently had a stellar meal there that made me want to move in upstairs (were already walking distance).

              1. re: kathryn

                Thanks - I just posted to the Outer Boroughs board. Maialino might be perfect if I can get a reservation.

                I'm not sure a prix fixe would quite work, though, as I'm afraid its is too adventurous for her, and I have some food restrictions (gluten allergy).

                1. re: nyc_to_ma

                  BTW, there's a small note under the pastas on the Maialino menu:
                  *Gluten free options available*

                  In general, Danny Meyer places are going to be allergy-friendly, just make a note when you reserve and again when you sit down. They have some of the best customer service I've ever had at any restaurant.

                  Here's one blogger's experience at Maialino:

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Thanks, Kathryn. Maialino would really be perfect except they only have 6:30 and 10:00 available on the day I'll be in town - August 17. Perhaps I'll try to call them tomorrow.

                    1. re: nyc_to_ma

                      Managed to get a 7:30 reservation at Maialino - thanks for the suggestion. It's only a few blocks from my friend's apartment, I think she'll really love it, and they also have gluten free pasta for me, which will be a treat.

                      I'm planning to balance the fine dining(ish) of Maialino with a daytime excusion to either P.S. 1, the Red Hook ball fields, or the Brooklyn Flea / Smorgasburg.

                      Thanks again to everyone for your brainstorming!

                      1. re: nyc_to_ma

                        i say this with some hesitation, as i have enjoyed meals at Maialino, but i don't know if it's right for your intention. actually, i could see how someone could be put off to New York by Maialino. small plates of pasta at higher than average prices... the crowd of pretties... the always out of reach.

                        why not go for something a little more casual and cool like Empellon or Mission Chinese, some place that's regularly attainable. if you're at all money conscious, Maialino can be a reminder of how far you are from being comfortable.

              2. Riverpark also has a small non-alcoholic cocktail menu also but it's kind of an older crowd and if you sit outside, you'll expose her to FDR noise, it might have the opposite effect and make her hate the city more. :)

                Acqua (Peck Slip) is really nice Italian. I highly recommend ths place for the outdoors, and they have separate fish/meat courses. If your voting mid-late Aug., try to reserve sidewalk seating at 7:30ish pm. The downtown area will start to light up and a nice view of FiDi. It's two blocks from South St. Seaport and you can walk there after.

                Does she like Greek food? I dined at Pylos last weekend in East Village and it was pretty awesome. I had a fish with lemon sauce that was great, and like Acqua they have a lot of fish/meat only courses. You can also order several apps and split a main. Very Greek decor, good for dinner.

                Caracas Arepas may work for the both of you. It's really fun and cheap. She might find it adventurous but in a very good way. You can get his and hers tattoos after. J/k

                Also in EV is Sundae and Cones ice cream. Every unique flavors. She can't be that vanilla? :)

                La Esquina's takeout window has Mexican corn which is really good.

                Even though your friend doesn't drink, take her up to the Ink48 Hotel lounge. She can ask the bartenders to make something w/o alcohol or even juice, soda, sparkling water, spritzer. It's got a view unlike any other.

                For weekend brunch, you should really go the Meatpacking district, even just to walk around the restaurants and shops and you can walk the Highline as well. It's a scene she'll really like or one she'll learn to like. Or hate. Lots of sweets are sold on the Highline. People's Pops are gluten free.

                There's the new bike share program that just started recently. You could do that along the west side bike path which is safe from vehicular traffic.

                5 Replies
                1. re: mushroomaffairs

                  Great ideas -- I've actually been to Pylos with her before years ago (when she was the visitor and I was the New Yorker), and I think she really liked it. A fun East Village evening might work.

                  1. re: nyc_to_ma

                    If you do an East Village evening throw in a stop at Big Gay Ice Cream and/or Cha'an for tea and desserts.

                  2. re: mushroomaffairs

                    The non-alcoholic drinks at Riverpark are amazing. Oddly enough there is very little FDR noise. Watching the boats go by while the sun goes down is priceless.
                    If you go be sure to check out their veggie garden.

                    1. re: Motosport

                      I did find it to be rather windy when we went. It wasn't a super hot day so I found myself a little chilly when the sun went down.

                      1. re: Motosport

                        It's also located inside the confines of a medical center.
                        Certainly an only in NY experience, it's not for everyone.

                    2. Go to M. Wells Dinnette, have lunch there and then... dance. There is a dance party at PS1 on Saturdays and the atmosphere is exciting and really very fun. If you don't like to dance, wander around the museum and enjoy the art installations.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Pookipichu

                        PS 1's Warm Up is outside isn't it? If the OP's friend isn't a fan of NYC's summer weather, maybe not the best choice.

                        1. re: kathryn

                          I didn't see any mention of his friend not liking summer weather? PS1 Warmup is outdoors but there are shaded areas and also there is water streaming down that is cooling, it's really a fun, uniquely NY environment and the kids (20's) there all seem to love it. If they don't like being outdoors or dancing, they can go inside the museum which has AC. The restaurant of course has AC as well.

                          1. re: Pookipichu

                            My friend is from Miami, so the heat isn't a huge issue. M.Wells / P.S. 1 might be a good plan if the weather cooperates and I can drag her to Queens!