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So much to eat in so little time! Advice please!

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Beloved Chowhounders! Would love your advice to help narrow down food choices for a short trip in November. My friend and I live in Paris (but we're Americans), and we're both food lovers who are more excited about eating on this trip than anything else. With only 6 meals, it is SO hard to narrow it down.

We each have been to New York several times and are adventurous eaters. Willing to splurge so not too concerned about budget. Since we live in Paris, we are trying to avoid French food and focus more on places we could only have in New York. We are skipping bbq and Mexican as well because we will be spending the next week for work in Texas and will get our fill there.

We will have 3 lunches and 3 dinners, and the only thing currently reserved is Betony for Sat night (recommended by a friend but open to changing that based on your feedback). Please help me fill in the itinerary!

Friday dinner
Sat lunch
Sat dinner: Betony
Sun brunch
Sun dinner
Mon lunch

Top of the list right now:
-Pearl & Ash (Friday night?)
-Mission Chinese Food (any thoughts on going for lunch v dinner?)
-Momofuku Ssam (I've eating at Momufuku Noodle Bar before but not at Ssam. Thinking of reserving for the duck or bo ssam dinner. Probably will go for duck just because we only have 2 other friends in NY so the bigger bo ssam may be too ambitious, but we've also thought ab reserving for 6-8 people and seeing if any other Chowhounders would want to join for a fun random evening. Any opinions on duck vs pork?)

Next tier of choices we're interested in:
ABC Kitchen
Prune
Nomad
Xi'an Famous Foods (I love Asian!)

Brunch (trying to choose one=impossible):
Red Rooster
Clinton St Baking Co.
l'Apicio
Public
The Dutch
The Breslin
Locanda Verde
Cookshop

Pizza/Dogs/Burger/Meatballs for lunch or late night:
-Meatball shop
-Pizza (trying to choose just one spot with such a short stay and we are probably going to try to squeeze this in as a late night option. Okay with buying a whole pizza just to get a slice or two if we have to. I have heard that Motorino's margherita is to die for but I have also been to many famous pizza spots in Naples {hate how snobby that sounds but Italy is so close!} so I'm thinking a classic NY style may be a better choice. Although cremini & sausage sounds delicious. I also saw Kathryn highly rated a well done pie from John's so that could be a great choice close to our apt rental. Just curious ab people's favorites!)
-Crif Dogs
-Burgers: Shake Shack or Umami burger (for lunch)
-Halal guys at 53rd & 6th

Bagels, Bakeries, & Desserts:
-Russ & Daugters: Super Heebster sandwich, bagel w cream
cheese/salmon/onion; egg cream; chocolate covered jelly rings; schmaltz herring
-Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
-Dominque Ansel Bakery: cronuts (are these still impossible to get unless you're up at 6am?), magic souflee, DKA, frozen s'more
-Doughnut Plant
-Magnolia Bakery (have never been - worth the stop?)
-Absolute Bagels
-The City Bakery - pretzel croissant and choc. chip cookie

Looking for any opinions on places we should definitely go to (or any places that are not necessarily worth it). Just need help figuring out what to choose here. Have combed through lots of posts and blogs to get to this point but still open to anything I may have missed. Have been to Katz's and other pastrami greats which is why that's not on the list. Tried to reserve Per Se but all booked. Looks like Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern are full, too. Otherwise we'd try to fit in a Michelin lunch if we could.

Greatly appreciate any input you may have in helping to narrow down this list and make our choices. Thanks!!

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  1. > Beloved Chowhounders! Would love your advice to help narrow down food choices for a short trip in November. My friend and I live in Paris (but we're Americans), and we're both food lovers who are more excited about eating on this trip than anything else. With only 6 meals, it is SO hard to narrow it down.

    When in November? Are you before the 31/30/28 day reservations window has opened for many restaurants?

    > We each have been to New York several times and are adventurous eaters. Willing to splurge so not too concerned about budget. Since we live in Paris, we are trying to avoid French food and focus more on places we could only have in New York. We are skipping bbq and Mexican as well because we will be spending the next week for work in Texas and will get our fill there.

    So I'm assuming you probably want to fill up on American, Japanese, Thai, maybe some Greek, Spanish, etc?

    > Top of the list right now:
    > -Pearl & Ash (Friday night?)

    Excellent choice and a bit of a "scene," if that's what you're looking for.

    > -Mission Chinese Food (any thoughts on going for lunch v dinner?)

    Lunch, for sure, given the long waits at dinnertime, unless you luck into a reservation (on their web site only, limited availability, only taken 8 days in advance).

    > -Momofuku Ssam (I've eating at Momufuku Noodle Bar before but not at Ssam. Thinking of reserving for the duck or bo ssam dinner. Probably will go for duck just because we only have 2 other friends in NY so the bigger bo ssam may be too ambitious, but we've also thought ab reserving for 6-8 people and seeing if any other Chowhounders would want to join for a fun random evening. Any opinions on duck vs pork?)

    Go to Ssam Bar. DON'T reserve for a large format meal if you've never eaten at Ssam Bar before. Spend your time on the other dishes: arctic char tataki, steamed buns, country ham, apple kimchi, roasted chanterelles, spicy pork sausage & rice cakes. It's not like the duck or bo ssam are bad, per se, but one-note and get repetitive after a while. If you've never eaten at Momofuku Ssam Bar, you won't get the full experience with a large format meal. And honestly, the wait hasn't been too bad -- we only waited an hour two Saturday nights ago, at 8pm.

    > Next tier of choices we're interested in:
    > ABC Kitchen
    > Prune
    > Nomad
    > Xi'an Famous Foods (I love Asian!)

    I like all of those. However, the NoMad and Betony both in a short trip may too repetitive. Make sure you book capital M "The NoMad" and not the East village one.

    ABC Kitchen is good but books up quickly for dinner -- 3-4 weeks in advance. You might get only 5 or 11pm.

    For Xian Famous Foods, make sure you know which locations have seating and which don't.

    > Brunch (trying to choose one=impossible):

    Choose just one? Most places do Saturday and Sunday brunch.

    Out of your brunch choices, I think the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Public, and Clinton St are the best of the ones you've picked. The wait will be killer at Clinton St on Saturday & Sunday though.

    The Breslin, Clinton St, and Locanda Verde serve breakfast daily though. Maybe save one for Monday?

    > I also saw Kathryn highly rated a well done pie from John's so that could be a great choice close to our apt rental. Just curious ab people's favorites!)

    You can get takeout also. Just call and walk over to pick it up, skip the lines. Get your pie well done. Minimal toppings.

    > -Burgers: Shake Shack or Umami burger (for lunch)

    I'd choose Shake Shack over Umami. Not that Umami is bad but it doesn't live up to the hype. The patties are loose to the extreme.

    > -Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

    They don't have a truck any more. Only two storefronts.

    > -Dominque Ansel Bakery: cronuts (are these still impossible to get unless you're up at 6am?)

    Some people report breezing in around 9ish as they sometimes (but not always) have a few leftover. However, these reports are on weekdays.

    > -Magnolia Bakery (have never been - worth the stop?)

    Only for ice box pie or banana pudding. SKIP the cupcakes.

    > Looking for any opinions on places we should definitely go to (or any places that are not necessarily worth it). Just need help figuring out what to choose here.

    I don't see any Japanese on your list...?

    3 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. Great to know about SSam Bar. We will plan to do that instead since the variety of other dishes would be more interesting - thanks for the specific recommendations.

      >When in November? Are you before the 31/30/28 day reservations window has opened for many restaurants?

      Nov 15-18. Hope this is not too late for some of the places that require reservations.

      >So I'm assuming you probably want to fill up on American, Japanese, Thai, maybe some Greek, Spanish, etc?

      Primarily American and Asian. Greek and Spanish food are relatively attainable here, while good Asian and American cuisine can be a little more difficult to come by.

      >I don't see any Japanese on your list...?

      No specific reason. I just happened to be more intrigued by the other options listed. I was really interested in Takashi but then thought such a beef-heavy meal may not be wise considering all the eating we'll be doing.

      This is what I am starting to think:

      Friday dinner: Pearl & Ash
      Sat lunch: Mission Chinese
      Sat dinner: Betony
      Sun brunch: Breslin, Locanda Verde, or Public
      Sun dinner: Momofuku Ssam Bar
      Mon morning: attempt cronuts.
      Mon lunch: Xian Famous Foods

      Will have to squeeze in Shake Shack, donuts, and bagels maybe as afternoon snacks and get some late dinner reservations. Then do pizza and Crif Dogs as late night options assuming we'll stay out late on Friday and Saturday night. Just too many things to try for such a short stay! Wish we were there longer.

      Thank you for the feedback, greatly appreciated.

      1. re: juliemarie8

        Skip the cronuts and go to Breslin for breakfast on Monday.

        Shake shack? Meh. There are better burgers, for sure (and in nicer surroundings, too).

        Get bagels for the flight home, perhaps?

        1. re: juliemarie8

          > Nov 15-18. Hope this is not too late for some of the places that require reservations.

          The only issues I'd see would be if you were to try to do ABC Kitchen or the NoMad for dinner at prime times. They are pretty booked up for your dates on OpenTable, mostly 5:30pm or 10-11pm tables remaining except at the NoMad on Sun 11/18 still has some 8:15/8:30 times.

      2. Have you considered dim sum for lunch? Michelin starred lunch at Hakkasan could fit nicely. Their entrees and desserts are wonderful as well.

        I adore Mission Chinese, fun and creative interpretations of Chinese dishes with bold flavors.

        Umami burger is a total skip, waste of stomach space and total hype. Shake Shack is much better.

        I would skip Magnolia, I just find so many of their offerings offensively mediocre. Have you considered Minamoto Kitchoan?

        Nomad is superior to Prune and ABC kitchen, I've had some real clunkers at the latter.

        John's puts out fine pizza, go with Kathryn's recommendation of a well done pie. If you had time I'd say go to Difara for pizza alchemy, Dom is truly a wizard. The square pie, one topping (pepperoni), hot before it gets soggy is just ambrosia.

        Have you considered Anissa? Asian influenced, delicate and absolutely delicious food.

        The lamb burger at the Breslin is scrumptious.

        Have you considered Taim for falafel or Ilili for Middle Eastern duck shawarma and brussel sprouts?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pookipichu

          +1 on Minamoto Kitchoan. I would do this over Magnolia in a second.

          DiFara is amazing, but to put the time thing in perspective, you need to set aside 3 hours for the whole experience. I know you already said "if you had time", I am just adding how much...

        2. I agree with previous comments re: magnolia- the banana pudding is the best thing there IMO

          What about getting russ and daughters sandwiches for your flight on monday? If you either picked them up on your way or kept chilled before leaving the cream cheese should be fine until you're in the air...

          5 Replies
          1. re: Ttrockwood

            Thanks everyone for your thoughts. Great idea about getting Russ & Daughters for the flight home. We'll plan on that!

            Re: Umami and Shake Shack...With such a short trip, I'm starting to think a burger isn't worth making the list. We can find a good burger in Texas.

            Cronuts are not available at all in Paris so just curious what the rage is all about, but if they aren't worth it, then we will try to fit in another brunch instead. Maybe we can try Breslin or Clinton Street on Monday since the waits would be so long on Saturday or Sunday.

            Any thoughts on Red Rooster? The menu looks great and it seems like people really loved it for a while. I'm still having difficulty narrowing down brunch:

            Breslin
            Red Rooster
            The Dutch
            Locanda
            Public
            Clinton St.

            Maybe we should choose somewhere that accepts reservations on Sunday to not spend our time waiting in line.

            1. re: juliemarie8

              Where are you staying? Red Rooster may be pretty far from where you're staying. RR also doesn't take Sunday Gospel brunch reservations unless you buy the $40 tickets from Ginny's Supper Club (the downstairs sister space).

              The only Sunday brunch places on your list that take reservations would be The Dutch & Locanda Verde, then.

              1. re: juliemarie8

                Cronuts may be available soon in Paris -- they're now in Barcelona!

                1. re: juliemarie8

                  Coming from paris- aka the land of amazing bakeries- i think waiting in line for hours for a cronut would be potentially disappointing. If you do decide to try to go the weekday morning would he best, i have heard weekends the line is somehow worse....
                  For sunday brunch at clinton st its best to be there at/before opening for a shorter wait, the no res places are best to go by 10-11am, the waits can be kind of insane later.

                2. re: Ttrockwood

                  I actually did almond croissants and DKAs at Dominique Ansel for the plane home last time I was up in NYC and it worked out great. Just throwing that out there...