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Anniversary Trip to NYC - Please comment on itinerary

My wife and I will be heading to NYC in October for 4 nights (Wed - Sun), staying at the Refinery Hotel on 38th. I'm trying to get a mix of iconic New York eateries while peppering in some casual places as well.

Itinerary is as follows:

Shake Shack
Ushiwaka Maru, Sushi Yasuda, or Tanoshi

Luke's Lobster or Joe's for a slice
Gramercy or Minetta

Del Posto prix fixe
Dinner (casual)
Szechuan Gourmet, Xi'an Famous Food or Spicy Village

Momofuku Noodle or Ssam
Le Bernadin

Russ & Daughters
Gray's Papaya

Other suggestions welcome. Thanks!

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  1. Yasuda is great. Del Posto is maybe the best meal I ever had. Gray's let me down, as did all the hot dogs in NYC, but I'm a southern boy. Union Square Cafe is great, and for pizza you could throw in a granny slice at Bleeker St. Sunday at Red Hook park for latin street food.

    6 Replies
    1. re: relaxandreflect

      Can you do Momofuku and Le Bernadin in the same day? after a meal at Momofuku, you may be too full to enjoy the meal at Le Bernadin.

      1. re: Monica

        Yeah, that's a good point. I might flip lunch Saturday with Thursday. Try and do something light. We plan on doing the chef's tasting so I definitely don't want to ruin that experience.

        1. re: McGruff

          I had the same thought that it could be too much in one day.
          Fyi your hotel is very close to culture espresso bar (72 w38th st) if you are looking for a good coffee.
          I would also recommend stopping at one of the "hot nuts" vendors for a classic nyc sweet and salty snack, i love the cashews for a plane snack

          1. re: McGruff

            I think you could do it if you ate lunch around noon and then did the Le Bernardin dinner at 7 or 8pm. I didn't find my tasting menu at Le Bernardin to be really heavy or anything, either.

            Note: Le Bernardin takes reservations on the FIRST business day of every month for the ENTIRE month after. So call on Sept 2 for your October dinner to get a good time. Do not rely on OpenTable.

            1. re: McGruff

              I thought you would get too full only if you went to Momofuku Ko. I don't see why you shouldn't be able to do a full dinner after having lunch at Ssam Bar.

          2. re: relaxandreflect

            Momofuku Noodle or Ssam bar for lunch followed by Le Bernardin in the evening shouldn't be a problem. I'd agree that Ko and Le Bernardin may be overkill.

            I'd skip Gray's Papaya on Sunday though, totally not worth it. Which X'ian Famous Foods were you considering visiting? Not many of them have much seating, or are very comfortable to dine in IMO.

          3. The lobster rolls at Luke's are fairly small, I'd share one and then go to Motorino for pizza. It's a very short walk.

            For something very "New York-y" I'd choose Minetta over Gramercy Tavern. I assume you'll be ordering their wonderful cote de boeuf.

            I'd choose Momofuku Ssam over Momofuku Noodle. I assume you know that weekend lunch is a different menu from weekday lunch.

            1. for sushi, i'd rather go to 15 East or Yasuda (make sure to sit at the bar) than any of those places. Tanoshi is only about 20% cheaper than 15 East (excluding BYOB) and its service was soooo much worse--closer to your average Chinese restaurant than a high end sushi joint. Ushi I got a bit of bone in my fish!

              Also consider going for high end sushi at lunch since it will be much less busy then. You can chill out and shoot the breeze with the chef and then get Shake Shack at night instead--the lines won't be too bad in October for dinner.

              Luke's is good but not special. I'd rather get a slice at Joe's or Artichoke or Blecker St. Pizza in West Village. Better yet Motorino or Keste (whole pies only).

              Minetta is pretty good but quite the scene. If you're not fixated on steak I'd recommend Carbone instead for a really classic NYC Italian American experience with high end bonafides.

              Del Posto is alright at lunch price but I think Aldea is better for similar high end mediterranean (portuguese) food. Xian is great but it's not much more than a hole in the wall so it won't be that comfy if that's a concern.

              Definitely do Ssam over Noodle--much more interesting food. The duck lunch but it's great and a good value. Le B can't go wrong--definitely get the wine pairing--Aldo Sohm is the god of NYC wine, hands down.

              I'd recommend Katz over Gray's Papaya because good pastrami can't be beat.

              1. Well I can't say I hate your list, but you are coming to NYC , you could do better.
                Shake Shack for lunch to me is a waste of time, what about Katz's for lunch.
                For Sushi Dinner my picks would be 15 East, Blue Ribbon Izakaya, Ichimura
                Joe;s for a slice , hmmm , why? go to Motorino and get a pie, they aren't that big. For a slice I'd go to Gran Daisy or Sullivan Street, or for a Joe's type slice i'd go to Ben's.
                Luke's is so small and not really great, if you want a lobster roll maybe go to Ed's.
                I have no issues with your Friday choices.
                Saturday I could live with too but Ippudo would be better than Momofuko Noodle.
                Sunday, are you planning on eating in a park or something? Russ and daughters is not a restaurant. Maybe go to Zucker's for that type of breakfast, or Barney Greengrass ( haven't been there in years , not sure if they are still in business)
                Papaya King is better than Gray's but I would call that a mid day snack, and have lunch at a better place like Walker's for a burger.
                Other suggestions, Porchetta,( lunch or snack), Jungsik for nice dinner, Koreatown for lunch, or dim sum in Chinatown,
                Osteria Morini for Italian or Bar Pitti, Katz's anytime any meal.
                Pig and Khao for a variety of Asian food.

                1 Reply
                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  For Sushi, I like Sushi Zen for tranquility and taste, but what I am really here to say is that I would I would pick a good Korean place over any of the Szechuan places you are considering. I've not eaten at Gaonnuri, so others may have the last word on this, but it might be right for an anniversary celebration for what I hear is a great view plus nice Korean food.


                  Since you are staying so close to the Kinokuniya bookstore opposite Bryant Park on Sixth Ave, I'll toss in the suggestion that you go to Cafe Zaiya upstairs for quick and quirky lunch on your farewell Sunday, rather a hot dog.


                  (or there is even the quirkier Mmm...Enfes if you want to grab something exotic to go and eat in the lovely park


                  If you find yourself needing a strong coffee and pick-me up treat, Le Pain Quotidien at 40th & Sixth Ave is handy to your hotel.

                2. Looks like you're hitting all the well known places... From a locals POV.

                  I'd skip Russ & Daughters and Grays and just do Shopsin (alt: Boulton Watts/Jane/Clinton St Bakery) for Breakfast/Brunch.

                  Wasn't a fan of Grammercy or Minetta either.. Summit for drinks and then something like Arcane down the street.

                  For Friday, would also consider Cafe Mogador, Hunan Manor, Malai Marke. I have friends who love Xi'an but I've never been rocked by it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rottyguy

                    btw- for the slice, try the ultra thin crust at Gruppos in EV. Prolly not much else like it anywhere.

                  2. Dependent upon where the OP is coming from, there likely isn't anything like R&D or Minetta or Luke's at home.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: kathryn

                      Agree!! Just to take a look at the impressive selection of different Smoked Salmon from every corner of the world and different preparation method is worth a visit!!
                      Love the way they packed the products if you decide to carry them onto the plane!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Also Russ and Daughters has an excellent selection of dried fruit - many with no preservatives.

                        1. re: scoopG

                          what do you guys get there? I've stopped there a few times.. I mean the dry fruits are ok but not something amazing. also tried the bagel + salmon and I thought the bagel was a little dry.. maybe stop by for a look see but move elsewhere for brunch imo.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Yes! If one is lover of Omega 3 Oil, this fish is indeed the one for you! Very oily, almost like eating Salmon belly!

                            2. re: rottyguy

                              Whole pieces of all natural dried mango and papaya for starters. I like it that they have a good selection of dried fruits with no sulphates. They also have dried gooseberries (usually), strawberries, blueberries and honeyed ginger.

                              1. re: rottyguy

                                I last went with my parents, the pastrami smoked salmon is something my dad still talks about.....

                        2. So here's the final itinerary...

                          Luke's / Papaya King

                          Sushi Yasuda (8:00PM res)

                          Del Posto (12:00PM res)

                          Xi'an Famous Foods

                          Betony (9:30PM res) or Blue Ribbon (walk-in)

                          Ippudo or Momofuku Sssam

                          Les Bernadin (8:30PM res)


                          Joe's or Motorino

                          Keen's (8:15pm res)


                          12 Replies
                          1. re: McGruff

                            Luke's -> Yasuda is a pretty seafood heavy / light day. I might mix it up with pizza, which you have on Saturday.

                            Katz's -> pizza -> Keen's is a pretty heavy day. Having Luke's here in the middle would be nice.

                            A Thursday night Blue Ribbon Brasserie might be a long wait, especially if you try around 8pm or so. I don't remember if they'll take your name down/text you when a table is ready. Their bar area is pretty small (like 4 seats?), usually pretty crowded with people waiting.

                            Sunday brunch at Shopsin's is also likely a bit of a wait. They don't have very many tables. Three stools at the counter, maybe 3 2-tops and 2 4-tops, so the wait time really depends who is in front of you. You stand in line along a ledge. Every once in a while, the server comes back out to check on you and your party size. He doesn't take any names. Just remembers what you look like and your party size. I would try to get there before 11am.

                            1. re: McGruff

                              Since you definitely seem to love seafood and fish I would make it a point to visit Russ N Daughters or another one of the smoked fish vendors in town.

                              1. re: McGruff

                                I would not recommend Luke's Lobster (or Ed's Lobster Bar) roll at all, very mediocre, there are many many places in NYC to get a better lobster roll.

                                1. re: McGruff

                                  Why are you so adamant about Luke's and Papaya dog? If you're looking for seafood - why not try Pearl Oyster Bar, Maison Premiere, Aquagrill, Degustation, Marea? NYC really doesn't have spectacular hot dogs either, you're better off with arepas from Caracas or something.

                                  What's the appeal of Keen's for you? The tomahawk at Costata and cote de boeuf at Minetta Tavern are far superior.

                                  1. re: zeeEats

                                    How long do you think the wait would be for Takashi on a Thurs night for two people around 9pm? I'm not 100% sold on Betony, and to be honest, I think I'll be fine-dining'd out if we keep that res.

                                    I also changed the Keen's reservation on Saturday to Gramercy Tavern as I was able to snag a 9pm res there.

                                    We're just going to play it by ear on places for snacks depending on where we happen to be at that point of the day (wife wants to actually see stuff in NYC whereas I am fine planning the entire trip around food).

                                    1. re: McGruff

                                      Takashi on a Thursday night could be pretty lively, even around 9pm. In fact, most restaurants are actually pretty busy on Thursday evenings in the city. That said, they actually do accept reservations, and it won't be difficult getting a table for 2.

                                      Madison Sq. Eats is going on now (open everyday) and would be a good spot to check out for snacks if you're exploring the city. Eataly is also right there, worth checking out!

                                      1. re: zeeEats

                                        Takashi only takes reservations for parties of 4 or more.

                                        1. re: zeeEats

                                          Note that the red hook lobster pound has a stall at madison square eats with lobster rolls

                                        2. re: McGruff

                                          Takashi are only open until 11pm on Thursdays. I have never tried to walk in around 9pm. It is possible they will have stopped taking names for the night. I've tried on a Thursday around 6:30/7 and been quoted 2-3 hours.

                                          1. re: McGruff

                                            Personally, I would keep Keen's if you really want iconic -- and delicious. Gramercy Tavern is a bit off the radar these days and I haven't heard the best feedback about it. I know people have different opinions on these things, and it can be confusing, but Keen's would certainly be on my list of rec's for a visitor who is looking for a unique NYC experience.

                                            1. re: City Kid

                                              I also changed the Sushi Yasuda res to the sushi bar at 15 East. Based on what Ive been reading lately and not being able to get into Sushi Nakazawa, 15 East sounds like its the next best omakase.

                                              We also plan on hitting up a couple places for happy hour oysters (Aquagrill, Blue Ribbon or Mermaid).

                                              1. re: McGruff

                                                You may also want to check out Upstate in the East Village for happy hour oysters. They offer a much greater selection than say, Mermaid at happy hour prices, and the place is just chill.

                                      2. Any suggestions on coffee near 38th @ 6th?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: McGruff

                                          Cafe Grumpy - 39th and 7th
                                          Culture Espresso - 38th and 6th

                                          Download the New York Times' app "The Scoop" to your iPhone and you can get Oliver Strand's up to date coffee recommendations no matter where you are in the city.

                                          See also:

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            Culture makes a mean flat white, and carries a variety of pastries by Brooklyn purveyors such as Dough (donuts), Magpies (think gourmet pop tarts) and Blue Sky Bakery (muffins).

                                            Cafe Grumpy's new location in midtown is very good as well, they bake their own pastries too in their Flatiron bakery.

                                          2. re: McGruff

                                            You could also walk a little further to the Blue Bottle at Rockefeller Center.