Upscale Non-touristy Advice Needed
I'm giving my 21 year old daughter her first taste of New York next month. (I've been many times, albeit not so much with money in my wallet.)
We'll likely be in town from Saturday afternoon through Wednesday morning over Memorial Day weekend. We want to avoid touristy places, but both of us like to eat and drink well. (I also know some big name places do serve fine food.) We'll likely be staying somewhere below Grand Central Station, and both walk and do public transportation.
Dinners in the $100-150 range for two, including a total of 2-3 drinks. Lunches for less, and we're very willing to hit a great restaurant at lunch time and do "downscale" at dinner.
No Indian or Asian, other than sushi, and we're from Arizona and can't imagine good Mexican food east of Albuquerque. My daughter also doesn't love pasta.
Downscale advice also welcomed
What places were already on your radar? What have you enjoyed in the past?
$150 for two minus 8.875% tax and 20% tip and 3 $15 cocktails or so leaves about $35pp for food max.
Is that what you're thinking? It's always better to give a per person food ONLY cost. For both lunch and dinner. What about brunch?
For example, $20pp for lunch and $35pp for dinner, is at the very low end of moderate in Manhattan nowadays, venturing close to cheap eats territory. Not really upscale.
It's almost impossible to eat where there are absolutely no tourists--I am thinking you mean you want to avoid tourist traps, but avoiding tourists (of which you'll be one!) altogether is very hard.
Also you don't mention what cuisines you ARE looking for--other than no Indian, Asian (except sushi), Mexican, or Italian/pasta. This cuts out a lot of what NYC is good at. Is pizza OK?
Any specific interests? Things you can't get at home?
A place my son (30) and his fiancee enjoyed with me is Black Tree, on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Informal and fun, and definitely even below your price range.
Another fun place in the area with delicious food is Pala, on Allen Street. Very very fresh ingredients, not a "pizza joint" even though flatbread pizzas are one of their specialties. If the weather is nice, the front of the restaurant is opened up completely.
Why no tourists places?
Some of the best restaurants in Manhattan wouldn't be around but for the tourist crowd.
There's a $38 lunch prix fixe at Betony.
The NoMad is theoretically doable, only without drinks, or with maybe just a beer or two - if they don't drink (or have dessert) at lunch, they could make it work.
ACME is another one that just came to mind where a dinner with light drinking could be doable, especially if they were to share a bunch of smaller plates rather than go the typical app/entree/dessert path. Also, further South, Skal for something similar - though Skal (which I like) is still a bit spotty, where ACME has really found a solid groove. Either way, they probably don't have many Nordic restaurants in Arizona, I'm just guessing.
Personally, if I were here four nights, rather than set aside $100-$150 per night for dinner - let's say the four dinners must not exceed $600 total - go cheap eats for three nights (no more than $60 average, some nights could be even cheaper doing classics like Katz's and whatnot) and whatever's left over, could be $420+, can be the stash for one real big-ass splurge night.