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Oct 8, 2013 05:51 PM

Dinner list for our upcoming NY trip

The g/f and I will be traveling to NY in November. We're visiting from San Francisco and quite serious about food. We're planning to do quite a bit of splurging on this trip and we're no strangers to fine dining. We're just simply looking to try amazing food your city offers and wanted to get your guy's input.

Saturday - Gramercy Tavern
Sunday - Eleven Madison Park
Monday - Babbo
Tuesday - Sushi Yasuda or Nakazawa
Wednesday - Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare (already booked reservation)

We also have a backup reservation at Le Bernadin on Tuesday, but seems like the food at Chef's Table is somewhat similar in that it's mostly seafood. In general, I tried getting diversity in our planned dinners. But I wanted to know if any of the places I listed are places I should avoid.

Also we're planning to do the more casual meals for lunch like Grimaldi's, Halal guys, Union Square Cafe, etc.

Look forward to your guy's input!

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  1. GT is farm to table, not sure why you want to try it if you're from the Bay Area.

    Also why would you do your fish/seafood dinners back to back? I would move sushi to another day, not the night just before Chef's Table.

    I hope you realize that EMP is very tough to get into. For Eleven Madison Park, I would make sure that I am calling 28 days (4 weeks) in advance, including the current day, and on OpenTable at 9am simultaneously to calling. Perhaps enlist a friend to help, as well.

    Babbo also requires a bit of work. You must call at 10am one month in advance to the numerical date. For example, tomorrow, Oct 9, they will start taking bookings for Nov 9.

    And Nakazawa is currently hard to get into as well... looking at their web site they don't have any openings.

    And given that you're on the West coast, you'll be hitting redial over and over at 6am your time.

    I think a better balance would be:
    Saturday - Sushi
    Sunday - Eleven Madison Park
    Monday - somewhere more casual but still ambitious like Louro, Empellon Cocina, Momofuku Ssam, Acme, Pearl & Ash
    Tuesday - Babbo
    Wednesday - Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare

    > Also we're planning to do the more casual meals for lunch like Grimaldi's, Halal guys, Union Square Cafe, etc.

    Skip Grimaldi's.

    Not sure Union Sq Cafe is necessary if you keep Gramercy Tavern.

    If you want get your fill of iconic NY foods, this is a good place to slot in Russ & Daughter's, Katz's, etc.

    Did you look at any other threads started by SF visitors?

    There are also other excellent prix fixe lunches around town as well so you can try other fine dining venues without committing to a long tasting at dinner:

    13 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks for all your feedback!

      I didn't realize that GT was farm to table, but what half decent NY restaurant isn't these days? I just hear its really good and its worth checking out. Do you think that's still the case?

      I do realize that EMP is hard to land a reservation, but I'm quite a determined to get a reservation(I did get reservations at Chef's Table after all). I actually have an app on my phone that auto redials for me.

      The 'casual' places you listed, is there one in particular that's worth visiting? I've heard mixed reviews about Momofuku Ssam.

      Skip Grimaldi's? Pizza no big in NY? Or is there another better pizza place you can recommend?

      We're planning to go to Katz's since we're going to be in the lower east side during our trip.

      Here's our current breakfast/lunch plans:
      -Katz's Deli
      -Clinton St Baking Company
      -Prime Meats
      -Russ & Daughter's
      -Pearl Oyster Bar
      -Shake Shack
      -Crif Dog
      -Jean George's Nougatine

      We're planning to do lunch tastings at Nougatine and Marea.

      How is Sushi Yasuda vs. Nakazawa?

      1. re: justlaz

        That's a lot of places to try and hit just for breakfast/brunch/lunch in five days, especially if you're doing proper sit-downs for at least two of them.

        I would do Jean Georges instead of Nougatine for lunch. Marginally more expensive, but much better service and a more interesting menu.

        Katz's/Russ/Clinton are all next to each other so maybe do them in one go.

        Prime Meats (which I like) is in maybe pair it with Chef's Table? I'd go do some rock climbing at BKB in between, haha.

        I've never been to Grimaldi's but I believe CHers will tell you there are dozens of places better around the city.

        Crif Dogs is interesting...and if you're going to the St. Marks location there are many other "small bites" places you can explore. It's livelier at night, though.

        1. re: kyph0515

          Agree with JG over Nougatine.

          Katz's/Russ/Clinton all together is quite a bit of food, though. Even if you split a pastrami sandwich, split a mini bagel sandwich, and then split the blueberry pancakes. At least R&D lets you get mini sandwiches.

          Prime Meats is excellent but they are known more for steak... so this is also a very heavy meal.

          1. re: kathryn

            Definitely skip Nougatine, especially if you're going to GT and EMP. Nougatine is just straight up bad.

            1. re: zeeEats

              OK, We'll check out Jean George's for lunch.

              We're planning to go to Katz's, Russ and Clinton all on different days for breakfast

        2. re: justlaz

          Personally, I like GT a lot. Their goal seems to be happy diners whereas some places these days seem to think that the goal should be a happy chef.

          1. re: justlaz

            Just don't think that New American/Farm to Table should be a priority for you if you only have 5 days here.

            Momofuku Ssam is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. We usually don't order the famous pork buns and go for the composed, creative dishes. It's not cheap eats and it's not Korean food. It can get really loud and they play lots of hip hop and indie rock music. I think it's great.

            The best NY style pizza:

            For the LES, 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:

            You have a good list going but it's pretty "standard" with steak, burgers, pizza, hot dogs... Some of what makes NYC interesting to visit is ability to cuisine/genre hop.

            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):

            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).

            1. re: kathryn

              I agree with Kathryn completely on Ssam. "Mixed reviews" seem to come from people who don't really "get" it for what it is and go in expecting something else.

              GT is fine, but pretty boring, IMO, so if you want something that is unique and different, I'd look to places like Ssam, Pearl & Ash, Alder, Roberta's (for composed dishes, not pizza), Aska. New York is great in that the best and most inventive food is not always the most expensive, nor does it come from the big-name chefs and kitchens.

              I think Shake Shack is good, and totally satisfactory for a quick/cheap meal.

              1. re: loratliff

                I guess we'll check out Ssam as well... I'll post a revised list

            2. re: justlaz

              When I was in NYC last year, I really loved Katz's pastrami. Since there is no place to sit at Russ & Daughters, we took it to go and rode the Staten Island Ferry (FREE!) and ate it on the ferry. Be sure to try the chocolate babka at Russ & D.

              You're not going to Peter Lugar in Brooklyn?

            3. re: kathryn

              Thanks for everyone's input! I've squared away all our reservations and after everyone's input, here's what our schedule is looking like:

              Saturday (arrival day): Dinner @ Nakazawa

              Sunday: Breakfast @ Russ & Daughters; Lunch @ Minetta Tavern; Dinner @ Eleven Madison Park

              Monday: Breakfast @ Katz's; Lunch @ Del Posto; Dinner at Babbo (I know we're eating Italian again, but oh well)

              Tuesday: Breakfast @ Clinton St Bakery; Lunch @ Momofuku Ssam; Dinner @ Takashi

              Wednesday: Breakfast @ Shopsin; Lunch @ Shake Shack; Dinner @ Chef's Table

              Thursday (Departure day): Lunch @ Jean George's

              We're also somehow fitting in Sigmunds, ChickaLicious, Spot Dessert Bar, and Crif Dog into that agenda. But overall, I think this is a pretty solid lineup. Pretty excited now and thanks to everyone's input

              1. re: justlaz

                Very ambitious itinerary.

                I wouldn't do Del Posto and Babbo on the same trip. Or even the same day.

                Also Takashi does not take reservations for 2, so your wait could be 2-3 hours.

                I also think Ssam Bar's dinner menu will be more impressive to you than their all-duck lunch.

                I think you also dropped pizza from the list?

                I would put Motorino for lunch one day, and move Ssam to dinner.

                1. re: justlaz

                  I don't know how much you can eat but wow, that's very very ambitious as Kathryn said. Russ and daughter, minetta tavern and EMP on the same day??? You sure?

              2. I think one key is whether you want "best food" in a general sort of way or "iconic NY food" (since, after all, San Francisco has many fine restaurants).

                Another key is how important food v. service is to you. When I spend a lot on a meal, I like to be nicely treated, sit in a comfortable chair, not be rushed, etc (while eating great food, of course!). To others, the food comes 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

                1. Skip Grimaldi's because NYC is loaded with great pizza. Don Antonio, Motorino, Roberta's (in bushwick) and even Juliana's (Grimaldi's next door neighbor) to name a few. Grimaldi's is there for tourists, like Little Italy. And I would throw in Shake Shack in that group as well. Dont understand the fascination. Surely you got good burgers in SF

                  Gramercy Tavern is certainly worth it but as Kathryn suggested I would skip as well and try to fit in places not easily reached or available in SF. Tough task I know, but perhaps something like Jungsik will do, or something Nordic like Aska, Aquavit.
                  You also have great Sushi in SF, no?
                  How about Lao cooking in Khe-Yo.
                  Louro as suggested, and/or how about Le Philosophe, a twist on old school French.
                  Do you have good Indian? Sri Lankan?
                  If you plan to take the ferry to Staten Island perhaps stick around for some Sri Lankan at Sanrasa.
                  Or spend an afternoon in Coney Island/Brighton Beach and have Uygur/Uzbek at Kashkar Cafe or Russian at Gletchik. or both

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Ziggy41

                    Juliana's in BK is a great call. You can walk over the bridge from Manhattan, walk right past the tourists in line at Grimaldi's.

                    Back story: Juliana's is a new-ish pizza joint from legend Patsy Grimaldi, Patsy Grimaldi is the original owner of Grimaldi's Pizza. He sold it some time ago, retired, and regretted selling, and has been looking to get back into the pizza game ever since. He came surprisingly came out of retirement and took his old space back when Grimaldi's had to move (due to losing their lease). Drama ensued. Now he's back, essentially next door to his old joint.

                    Some SF friends of mine are obsessed with Shake Shack and I think it's because of the (false) Shake Shack vs In 'n' Out rivalry. So it becomes worth a try just to see how it compares (I think it's a false comparison because the cost difference is so much).

                    1. re: kathryn

                      I see.
                      How about for a real burger Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern.
                      I finally had Juliana's last month and absolutely loved it.
                      A midst the burgers, pizza, etc I would mix in something like a lobster roll like Luke's in the East Village coupled with an Arepa from next door (Caracas). Maybe sample some great falafel (Nish Nush, Taim).
                      Or how about this one. The NYT 2012 new restaurant of the year, Mission Chinese Food. I bet you dont have anything like it ;)

                      1. re: Ziggy41

                        lol I'll take a pass on Mission Chinese Food...

                        I think we'll go to Juliana's based on everyone's feedback and Minetta Tavern sounds intriguing as well

                        1. re: Ziggy41

                          Mission Chinese is from the Mission district of SF - OP definitely does not need to waste time here on that...

                          Do agree on Minetta Tavern, love the BL burger and daily specials during dinner are surprisingly seasonal. Luke's is not necessary as SF has amazing seafood. Taim for the best falafels in the city is worth checking out, if only for a midday snack.

                          1. re: zeeEats

                            I think Ziggy was kidding (or was he?)...

                            I honestly don't even think Mission Chinese is that great. I think eating there the first time, one would think the food is pretty inventive, but second and third time around the food gets a little repetitive.

                            Will definitely work Minetta Tavern into our schedule

                            1. re: justlaz

                              Come to think of it... think Ziggy was kidding. Oops!

                              Minetta Tavern does lunch and brunch too, just in case you can't fit it in your plans for dinner. The burger is served all day.

                              1. re: zeeEats

                                ;) Sorry about that

                                I did learn however that SF is lacking in the Sushi dep't. Surprised to hear

                      2. re: Ziggy41

                        You also have great Sushi in SF, no?

                        Surprisingly, no.

                        While SF is a great food city, sushi is not its strong suit. It may not be its suit at all.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Yeah agreed for the most part. There's a few spots with pretty decent sushi, but nothing like Ginza-style or Tokyo style sushi.