Babbo or Carbone? + Pre/post theater recs
We are coming into town in September, trying to choose between Babbo and Carbone. Obviously we are looking for good food but also a fun lively atmosphere (although not at the expense of good service). Any other recs are greatly appreciated
Also seeing Book of Morman one night, is there anything "chow" worthy in the vicinity for pre or post-show dining?
Babbo is better. Carbone is buzzier and more fun. Indeed, Carbone is tons of fun. Fun on a plate, you might say (or a succession of plates). Carbone is also MUCH MUCH more expensive.
Both are extremely difficult to get into.
When in September? Babbo books a month in advance to the numerical date. That is, today, August 8th, they already started taking reservations for September 8th. I assume you want dinner and not lunch at Babbo? You should book these reservations ASAP.
Pre-theatre may depend a LOT on what day of the week it is.
Book of Mormon has a curtain time of 7pm on weekdays (Tues-Thurs), and 8pm on Friday and Saturday.
So your choices on a weekday will be limited by kitchens that open at 5pm or earlier.
Don Antonio & Toloache are two board favorites nearby, who will be able to accommodate an early dinner. Don Antonio doesn't take reservations but if you're eating at 5pm, you shouldn't have a big problem. Toloache takes reservations and dinner service starts at 3pm according to their OpenTable page.
I'm also very fond of Danji but they don't take reservations for small parties & they don't open until 5:15 pm, so you might be cutting it close to curtain time. They do stay open until 10:30pm on weekdays, though. If you hustle after the show, you might be able to make it in.
Ippudo's Midtown branch also just opened nearby as well, but with the variability of crowds, it's probably a better post-theater bet. They stay open until 11:30pm on weekdays.
Post-theatre also really depends upon what day it is, and how far you are willing to go (out of midtown is better). Given that it's a roughly 3 hour show, and Midtown isn't really well-suited for late night dining, you'll have many more options downtown.
Hours change all the time so call / check their web site / Facebook / Twitter before going. And keep in mind the kitchen will often want to close a certain amount of time (~30 minutes) before the restaurant's stated closing time.
Late night dining in general:
Theatre District Dining:
Based on food alone, I would do Babbo.
To be fair, I've only been to Carbone once and Babbo a handful of time (4 or 5), but I still think the food at the latter is on another level than what you'll find at the former.
Pre/post theater go to Marea, it's on Central Park South right off 8th Ave. The food & ambiance are great. Very classy as well.
They start as early as 5pm & close very late (probably around 1-1:30). The kitchen closes at midnight. Reservations are very easy to get for 5pm dinner and after 10:30. One of my favorite places to done when I go to the theatre.