Five meals to achieve maximum deliciousness
You have a Friday lunch and dinner then a Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Where do you go in Manhattan, lone wolf?
*budget allows around $350 total (no drinks)
**mouth likes espresso drinks and sweet baked stuff between meals
Have you been to NYC before? If so, where have you gone and enjoyed the food?
What do you like to eat? Favorite foods or cuisines? Allergies or avoids? Spicy food OK? Raw bar OK?
How far are you willing to travel? How about waiting for a table or seat at the bar?
Off the top of my head:
Friday lunch at Motorino
Friday dinner at Momofuku Ssam Bar
Saturday breakfast at Shopsin's
Saturday lunch at Mission Chinese
Saturday dinner at Babbo at the bar
What other research have you done already? Any places look tempting?
One day in September to visit bakeries:
Here's something I wrote for another visitor to NYC. Maybe it will help you.
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?
How hard are you willing to work for a reservation at a restaurant that's hard to book?
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.
What else are you doing while you are here? Planning around sightseeing, shopping, Broadway shows, etc? Also if you are sightseeing, 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.
Lots of people who visit try to jam their itineraries completely full and end up running around all over town, getting completely exhausted by the end of the day. Or with tasting menu fatigue as they try to do multiple fine dining destinations in a row. We can help with that.
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 Georges).
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 Grand Central/Midtown East:
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
Okay wow. Thanks Kathryn. Much to consider. I think I'd like one all-out meal where I'm not worried about price. I've never done that in NY. Maybe a Momofuku as I got hooked on Mind Of A Chef.
In my limited time there I've enjoyed places like Clinton St. Bakery, Lombardi's, Levain, Katz's.
I'd love some great coffee (espresso drinks), and will certainly hit up some of your classic NY suggestions for egg creams, cheese cake, Russ and Daughters bagel, and a black & white.
Your big splurge meal, what's the budget for that? Do you want to do a la carte, a prix fixe, or a tasting menu?
Since it'll probably be for a Friday or a Saturday, you'll probably need a reservation. You may need to book within minutes of a specific restaurant opening its books for the weekend you're visiting. Especially if it's a place like Eleven Madison Park.
If you're thinking Momofuku Ko, they book 10 days in advance including the current day. So you'll need a backup plan in case you don't get in. What you don't want to happen is trying to get into Ko, failing, and then every other place you want to try is fully committed.
Friday lunch: Mission Chinese - mapo tofu, smashed cucumbers, and Chicken Wings ($40)
Espresso at Stumptown and tres leches donut from Doughnut Plant ($8)
Friday dinner: Minetta Tavern - BLB and bone marrow at the bar ($60)
Saturday breakfast: coffee at Blue Bottle & breads from Amy's in Chelsea Market eaten on High Line ($15)
Saturday lunch: Parm's turkey sandwich, mozzarella sticks, and spicy rabe ($40)
Espresso at Intelligentsia and cake truffles at Milk Bar ($8)
Saturday dinner: Ko ($160)
consideration given for dining alone, which i enjoy more at a full counter than alone at a table.