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NYC newbies, Need Suggestions - mostly reasonable and delicious

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I'm heading to NYC in june for my anniversary and my birthday with the hubs. We are coming from the deep south and honestly aren't foodies but we aren't rednecks either and love good food. We want maybe 2 nice meals out (around $150 total not including drinks) and love the local selection when we travel too. We are staying in Midtown East at the Lexington but are willing to travel for some good food and our plans include all sections of manhattan and some brooklyn/bronx spots. I'd truly appreciate some suggestions for:

Breakfast/brunch (I've got Russ and Daughters and Clinton St. Baking company on my list)

Lunch (I've got Katz and Carnegie delis on my list as well as pizza at Grimaldis but am open to anything up to $50 for lunch)

DInner: Average price I have Max Brenners on my list. Higher end no clue. We aren't super foodie so I'm looking for reasonable portions for the price.

Sushi: good roll selection and best tuna options.

Desert places

Fun places for a drink before dinner with unique selections

Any Ideas on best thin crust pizza?

Any Ideas on best calamari?

Any ideas on best creme brulee?

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  1. > I'm heading to NYC in june for my anniversary and my birthday with the hubs.

    Happy anniversary & happy birthday!

    When are the dates for your trip? Many restaurants book up 3-4 weeks in advance (some even further in advance).

    > We want maybe 2 nice meals out (around $150 total not including drinks) and love the local selection when we travel too.

    So your budget is $75pp for 2 nicer meals? Does this include tax (8.875%) and tip (20%)?

    If so, ballpark closer to $58pp for food, only. This is more typically mid-range/upper mid-range in Manhattan, for what it's worth, for your 2 splurge meals.

    What about the other non-splurge meals, what is your budget, per person, before tax, tip, wine/drinks?

    Manhattan is expensive. If your budget is small, that immediately eliminates a lot of places. For example, for lunch for two at $50pp, that's $25pp, so $19pp before tax and tip and any alcohol. What is considered "reasonable" at home is very different from here...

    > We are staying in Midtown East at the Lexington but are willing to travel for some good food and our plans include all sections of manhattan and some brooklyn/bronx spots.

    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.

    For Brooklyn & the Bronx, you'll need to post on the Outer Boroughs board.

    > Breakfast/brunch (I've got Russ and Daughters and Clinton St. Baking company on my list)

    Make note that Russ & Daughters now has a cafe (sit down) in addition to the retail store's takeout counter. Good choices.

    Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:

    It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern. We also like Prune, Public, and Spotted Pig.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8093...

    > Lunch (I've got Katz and Carnegie delis on my list as well as
    pizza at Grimaldis but am open to anything up to $50 for lunch

    )

    Skip Grimaldi's. It's not good and has not been for quite some time. If in the area, try Juliana's instead (original owner of Grimaldi's new restaurant).

    Best NY style pizza:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/890813

    Motorino has a great lunch special. Mixed greens salad and a pizza for $12.
    http://motorinopizza.com/eastvillage/...

    Momofuku Ssam also has an excellent all-duck lunch.
    http://momofuku.com/new-york/ssam-bar/

    Plus, if you want, you could dine at one of our more upscale restaurants. Many offer reasonable prix fixe lunches at under $50pp (before tax, tip, alcohol).

    Prix fixe lunch deals:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9247...

    > DInner: Average price I have Max Brenners on my list. Higher end no clue. We aren't super foodie so I'm looking for reasonable portions for the price.

    Are you thinking Max Brenner for the food or for the gimmick factor? Because it's basically a tourist trap with lots of novelty chocolate items. Maybe that's what you want? Fun fact: there is no Max Brenner, the name is from two guys Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, who launched the business and then sold it.

    If you care about truly high quality chocolate, look into Kee's, La Maison du Chocolat, etc.

    Other than reasonable portions, what are you looking for? Mexican, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Southern, BBQ, steaks, burgers, American, etc.? Your request is very broad. What foods do you find you cannot get at home?

    > Sushi: good roll selection and best tuna options.

    I would recommend one of the Blue Ribbon Sushi restaurants or Blue Ribbon Izakaya.

    > Desert places

    If you're thinking a place to stop by and have dessert after dinner, we actually don't have a lot of those. Many restaurants have very strong dessert programs & innovative pastry chefs, so lots of NYers just have dessert at the same restaurant where they had dinner.

    Here is a recent discussion on your options:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/974695

    Here is a recent topic on restaurant desserts:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/970130

    > Fun places for a drink before dinner with unique selections

    Do you mean cocktails or beer or wine? What do you mean by "unique selections"? Unusual menu items, hard to find beers/wines?

    > Any ideas on best creme brulee?

    Don't miss the creme brulee truffles at Kee's, or the creme brulee doughnuts at Doughnut Plant.

    http://www.keeschocolates.com/cho.html
    http://doughnutplant.com/

    Tertulia also does a nice creme catalana.

    Also:

    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.

    Past "Uniquely NY" discussions:

    Question to Locals
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/911971

    Visitors, travellers, tourists and other Chowhounds who do not live in NYC, which places do you revisit when you visit Manhattan?
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/912049

    What says NYC to you?
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/929958

    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:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

    1. Eating near tourist attractions:

      Where to Eat Near Times Square:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/833282

      Where to Eat Near MoMA (the museum cafe is actually pretty good, as is the Modern next door):
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771459
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/767638

      Where to Eat Near Museum Mile (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney, Guggenheim, etc) on the UES:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/963070
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/906331
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793684
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/795435
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793684

      Where to Eat Near the Museum of Natural History on the UWS:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/793258
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/748686

      Where to Eat Near Macy's/Herald Square/Penn Station/Empire State Building:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/894256
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725320
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/757797
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

      Where to Eat Near Grand Central/Midtown East:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2014/0...
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

      Where to Eat in Soho:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701593
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7577...

      Where to Eat near 5th Avenue shopping / Bloomingdale's / Rockefeller Center:
      http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/1...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9064...

      Where to have dinner before a Broadway show/pre-theatre dining (many of the same Times Square recs also apply):
      newyork.seriouseats.com/2014/04/where-to-eat-theater-district-updated.html
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/671275
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755684
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/715535
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/788254

      Where to Eat Near the 9/11 Memorial:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8461...

      If you like the idea of RGR's self-guided LES tour above, check these out, too.

      Maybe scoopG's self guided Chinatown tour:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7116...

      A West Village food crawl
      https://foursquare.com/kathrynyu/list...

      East Village:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/882582

      1. Kathryn has you covered here- just know if you do go to clinton st bakery for breakfast weekends can have insane long wait times. Going when they open will be a shorter wait but just be prepared....

        And please don't eat at max brenner, there are just too many better choices here!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ttrockwood

          For something a little bit different for brunch, both Cafe Katja and Rosette offer nice, reasonable brunches on the lower east side.

          http://www.cafekatja.com/#

          http://www.rosettenyc.com/menu-2/

          You can save yourself a chunk of change when trying Russ & Daughters simply by getting a bagel and whatever to go (a nice day, hopefully) and walking up to Tompkins Square Park or over to the East River and eating the food there. A stroll along the east river promenade is beautiful now that it has been redone. And you can see 4 or 5 or 6 bridges, too!