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Weekend visit in 33 days' time

Hi everyone, used Chowhound for fantastic advice for my last two trips from London in 2009 and 2012 so we're setting up a guilty weekend in Manhattan at the end of a road trip from New Orleans.

Only 3 nights and coming up to the 28 day point so some advice on our itinerary would be much appreciated.

For background on previous trips we've been to and enjoyed: Jungsik, Blue Hill, Jewel Bako, Peter Lugar, Momofuku Noodle, Minetta Tavern and a whole bunch of informal places like Freamons, Katz etc.
WD-50 was a crushing disappointment on our last trip.

And small complication - my wife has just discovered she is pregnant. We're determined to keep heading out but it means alcohol isn't really important, and we want to avoid the sort of place that does strict no choice tasting menus and is going to be a pain/refuse to accommodate.

At the moment I'm thinking:
Day 1: Momofuku Ssam and EMP (I'm assuming they will accommodate)
Day 2: Di Fara and Grammercy Tavern
Day 3: Xi'an and Blue Smoke

Nomad will come into it somewhere if I can't get the EMP reservation but seems a bit narrow to do both.

Many thanks in advance

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  1. You're here 5/15-5/17? Did I get that math right? Thursday, Friday, Saturday?

    I wouldn't worry about places not accommodating your wife. Just let them know well ahead of time what her restrictions are. And reiterate when ordering or confirming the reservation. Tons of people here dine out with allergies, aversions, medically driven restrictions, etc.

    No breakfast/brunch plans?

    EMP also serves lunch Thurs-Sat if you cannot get in for dinner.

    The Momofuku Ssam menu is fuller/has more options at dinner rather than lunch anyway. I'd swap the two for lunch and dinner.

    For Di Fara, be aware that seating is limited and it can get quite warm inside. ALWAYS check the Facebook page before you go as they can sometimes get off to a late start or have a random closure. Make sure you get there at least an hour before their stated closure. The stated closure times are when they lock the door, but they stop taking new orders well before then and keep cooking as the oven gets quite backed up with orders. They also have a mid day break, so mind the hours closely. We prefer to get there before they open to minimize the long wait. They also do private dinner parties several times a month, usually Tues and Thurs, but sometimes one Weds a month.

    If you are driving from New Orleans to NYC, you'll be passing through BBQ country in the South. Why eat BBQ here when you can do so during the road trip? Skip Blue Smoke!

    Do something completely different. Mexican?

    I hope you're posting on the other CH regional boards about Southern food and BBQ!

    I found your trip report from last time:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878660

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Very well found Kathryn - your advice really helped that last time. You got the dates spot on.

      You are quite right about Blue Smoke, it can go and be replaced by Ssam that evening. I will be all over the regional boards, just 3 days in Manhattan is to treat myself at the end and with the 28 days approaching this was the starting point.

      Brunch is a funny one, maybe it's because we're English abroad but we tend to get up, get coffee and head out before and early lunch. Partly because we do get good brunches in London but you can't have Momofuku pork buns at midday (you kind of can now but they're a poor imitation).

      1. re: ManInTransit

        Di Fara will be extremely time consuming.. perhaps half a day for a few slices. It can be quite painful, and the pizza is arguably not much better than many other places. Consider in Brooklyn Juliana's, Paulie Gee's and Best Pizza

        If you wont find good BBQ on the way, try Mighty Quinns.
        You may also like the new cart format at Ma Peche.
        And I hope you take advantage of NOLA food scene as well. I'll be back there in a few days

        1. re: Ziggy41

          If they're into early weekday lunch & have a car available & view it more as a tourist attraction (watching Dom work), it will not be that bad.

      2. Thanks again to both of you. We've turned things on their head a bit such that we now have a week in New York and are not visiting the south.

        Managed to get some reservations so now planning something along the lines of
        Dinners:
        Empellon Taqueria (10pm res as it's on our doorstep)
        Blue Smoke
        EMP
        Momofuku Ssam
        Daniel
        Grammercy Tavern

        Brunch and lunch
        Shopsins
        Xi'an
        Locanda Verde
        Russ and Daughters
        Blue Ribbon Bakery Market
        Then various mini pilgrimages for dim sum and to pizza outlets.

        Does that look balanced-ish? Any particular suggestions to improve?

        4 Replies
        1. re: ManInTransit

          As Ziggy mentioned the bbq at Mighty Quinn's is superior to Blue Smoke but Blue Smoke is much more comfortable and less tight. If you have a car, I prefer the bbq at Fette Sau.

          I would skip Daniel, especially since you won't be ordering expensive wines. Their service can leave something to be desired if you are not a vip and I personally have been burned. Consider Le Bernadin, Picholine or JG.

          Di Fara makes fantastic pizza and who knows how long Dom is going to continue. If you enjoy grandma slice, their's is the best rendition I've had. The wait is long but less troublesome if you have a car. After you put in your order, you can drive to prospect park, walk or sit in the park and drive back to pick up your pizza. Or better yet, drive to Baked in Red Hook and get some cake.

          You might want to consider China Blue for Shanghainese food. The food is quite good and the space is elegant, but the restaurant has had issues with service which may be under control now. Their dong po rou, wuxi ribs and crispy eel are phenomenal.

          1. re: ManInTransit

            I've been to locanda verde several times for brunch and can't say the food is as memorable as the bill....
            Also in tribeca, telepan local was a recent great brunch. Also consider the NoMad (in flatiron), public, and prune (no res for brunch at prune, just go early and know there is a wait)

            1. re: ManInTransit

              Note the rules/hours/quirks of Shopsins. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Cash only. They don't take down names, you must wait in line. Not for those with severe allergies & sensitivity to curse words, etc.

              You realize that Russ and Daughters and Blue Ribbon Bakery Market are to go, only, yes?

              1. re: ManInTransit

                The Redhead is doing crawfish boils every Sunday in May (since you scrapped the New Orleans part of your trip and you're staying nearby in the East Village). I've never been so maybe someone else can comment on the event itself, but the restaurant does great Southern fare, some of the best in the city. Plenty of reviews/photos of past years' online.

              2. If you want to avoid tasting menus why are you looking at EMP? They will definitely accommodate special requests but you don't get to choose specific things other than what the main course will be. When we went about a month ago, our choice was duck or beef for the main course. We did have specific food issues that were brought up and dealt with but no other choices were offered.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bkeats

                  It wasn't tasting menus per se, more just avoiding the sort of places that have one tasting menu with no substitutions or who are going to be a bit grumpy about having to deal with all the pregnancy avoidances

                  I've wanted to go to EMP for so many years and reading about it they seem to be very happy to accommodate any and all requirements so I saw that as a bit of an exception to the rule.

                  1. re: ManInTransit

                    EMP sets the "gold standard" for accommodating their guestsj' food preferences. They know I hate olives, and I've never seen an olive in any dish on any of their menus. I would let them know prior to your visit of any dietary restrictions.

                2. Thanks everyone else for your help - all taken on board. Mighty Quinns is actually a lot more convenient than Blue Smoke so thanks very much for the rec.