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Nov 24, 2013 11:32 AM

Manhattan restaurant recommendations

3 of us our going to NYC for a weekend from the UK. Before making any reservations, wanted to get recommendations. Looking for mid-upscale places for breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner....prefer Manhattan. One of us is borderline vegetarian (only eats chicken!) so keeping that in mind - and 3 days...what would be your not to miss places...thanks!

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  1. Please provide more information; your post is vary vague. There are thousands of options.

    1. Agreed your post doesn't give us enough to go on. You may find places you wish to visit are already fully booked or don't take reservations at all, too. And it's difficult to make recommendations without knowing price range, neighborhood, desired cuisines, etc. or what else is on your itinerary (only NYC or other cities in the USA, shopping, broadway shows, sightseeing, etc.). Or where you're from in the UK (big city or smaller city, what can't you find at home). And don't forget to budget for 8.875% sales tax and 20% tip.

      Here's what I've written for other visitors & it may 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.

      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 Times Square:

      Where to Eat Near MoMA (the museum cafe is actually pretty good, as is the Modern next door):

      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 UWS:

      Where to Eat Near Macy's/Herald Square/Penn Station/Empire State Building:

      Where to Eat Near Grand Central/Midtown East:

      Where to Eat in Soho:

      Where to Eat near 5th Avenue shopping / Bloomingdale's / Rockefeller Center:

      Where to have dinner before a Broadway show/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

      East Village:

      1. If I were a visitor, I'd go to all the places kathryn mentioned. All of her suggestions are essential to NYC.

        Park Avenue NYC is great - autumn now, winter soon. It is their final year at the UES location, so I'd visit soon. It is on the pricier side, though not the most expensive in the city.

        1. Wow...thank you so much Kathryn. We are coming from London and we are spoilt for choice here as well and have been to NYC a few times between us. But since its been with work, it has been somewhat orchestrated with us going to the places one takes visitors - so been to per se, balthazar, nobu etc. We are looking for some good Korean/Asian food, good middle eastern food, American style BBQ/Soul food...and if you could pick 2 places you would never miss or would go back to for brunch - we should be sorted! PS: this is a shopping/40th birthday celebration.

          2 Replies
          1. re: iheartfood

            Korean / Asain...Flushing , in Queens...about a 30 minute tube ride from central Manhattan...check the Queens, NY boards

            1. re: iheartfood

              Off the top of my head these would be my picks personally (and I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch):
              Momofuku Ssam for interesting Asian-American-Southern-etc
              Mighty Quinn's for BBQ
              Red Rooster / Ginny's Supper Club for Southern & cocktails & great atmosphere -- make reservations
              Brunch at Minetta Tavern -- make reservations
              Brunch at Shopsin's -- no copying other peoples orders, no cell phones, no parties bigger than four, no reservations, they don't take names down and you must stand in line, not for those with allergies or picky eaters or those easily offended

              However, I'm not sure if your "borderline" vegetarian eats fish or shellfish. Some "vegetarians" do, some don't. Your travel companion will eat chicken but what about other poultry?

              This could be tough... A lot of my don't miss places are not super vegetarian friendly. American BBQ usually has beef or pork as the star, for example.

              See also: