Plan our two day NYC food trip
My wife and I will be in NYC for the first time next month for two days, from 8AM Saturday morning until 6:30 Sunday night. We are staying near Gramercy Park, but are willing to travel anywhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn to eat! We like pretty much everything and are very adventurous.
Our plan is to map out our meals and then plan our other activities accordingly. We are looking for an eclectic range of meals that give us a good picture of what NYC has to offer. We want to try a variety of cheaper local foods during the day Saturday and on Sunday, but want to go somewhere nice Saturday night (we are considering The Modern, but are open to suggestions).
Please help us have a wonderful two days and try a wide array of foods that define New York!
Here's something I've written for other tourists. Maybe it can help you.
To make the best use of your time, you should try to find things to eat to/from the tourist destinations or near the tourist destinations. Our tourist destinations are spread out all around town.
Where are you coming from?
When are you coming? How long are you here? How many meals do you have available?
We don't want to recommend food that you might do better at home, but we also may have some cuisines you can't find at home...
I'd say we are pretty strong in a lot of different cuisines but not equally. Budget will makes big difference in where you can go.
Are you willing to wait for a table at a no reservations restaurant? If so, for how long?
What is your budget, per person, per meal, BEFORE tax, tip, wine/drinks/etc for your meals? It is much easier for us to help you if you give a pre-tax-and-tip figure.
Feel free to break out your budget in terms of upscale/fancy meals (and number of them) and cheaper/everyday meals.
Note that popular places tend to book about a month in advance. Most upscale restaurants serve weekday lunch (but not weekend lunch), and serve dinner Monday through Saturday, and are usually closed Sundays, though there are a few exceptions to the "closed Sundays" rule (ex: Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Jean George).
What else are you doing while you are here? Planning around sightseeing, shopping, Broadway shows, etc?
Check out some "Only in NY" type foods while you're here: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, pizza, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.
Russ & Daughters (takeout, busy on weekends), Katz's Deli (from When Harry Met Sally), Papaya King etc. (not gourmet but iconic), William Greenberg's black and whites, Junior's cheesecake, egg creams from Gem Spa or Ray's, Pickle Guys, the Halal Guys (53rd and 6th after sunset), are all iconic "NY" sorts of places that are worth a look.
If you're interested in some of the places I listed above, you could do a LES food crawl.
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:
Best NY style pizza:
We also have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Henan, Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao and Dongbei to name a few). scoopG's Chinatown list (dependent upon where you are coming from these may be exotic or not... most places don't have Henan or Xian style food though):
You might also want to do a restaurant doing creative takes on Asian, like at Momofuku Ssam Bar, Wong, Fatty Cue, Takashi, RedFarm, Mission Chinese, Jungsik, Kin Shop, or Danji.
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).
Some common tourist inquiries:
Where to Eat Near Museum Mile (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney, Guggenheim, etc) on the UES:
Where to Eat Near the Museum of Natural History on the UES:
Where to Eat Near Macy's/Herald Square/Penn Station/Empire State Building:
Where to Eat Near Grand Central/Midtown East:
Where to Eat near 5th Avenue shopping / Bloomingdale's / Rockefeller Center:
Pre-theatre Dining (many of the same Times Square recs also apply):
Where to Eat Near the 9/11 Memorial:
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.
If you like the idea of RGR's self-guided LES tour above, check these out, too.
Maybe scoopG's self guided Chinatown tour:
A West Village food crawl
For Brooklyn, you'll need to post to the Outer Boroughs board.
For your cheaper local foods, do you have a budget in mind?
What dates are you here?
Where are you traveling from?
Are you only interested in uniquely/quintessentially NY foods and places? What about cuisines you can't find easily at home?
Also you don't necessarily need to restrict your budget to one nicer dinner when many of our upscale restaurants do a prix fixe lunch deal.
We aren't really budget conscious for any meal other than dinner. At dinner we'd like to spend about $100 per person pre tip and we aren't drinkers.
We would like to try both uniquely New York food and food we can't get at home. The highlight of our DC trip this year was the Ethiopian cuisine. We're willing to try anything and everything!