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California hound starting honeymoon in NYC...Need reqs please!

So I'll be flying in from socal, spending 4 days in the city before heading off to the Caribbean...

Would love some recommendations that might have us eating something a little different than you'd find in San Diego/LA/San Francisco...

Requirements:

-Max $100 per person
-Mix of very cheap eats (classic new york stuff) vs. higher end places
-We eat anything and everything
-A suggestion or two in Brooklyn would be awesome

Thanks so much for your help and suggestions!

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  1. Max of $100pp including tax, tip, alcohol? It's much easier if you give a food only figure. $100pp before tax and tip vs after is a big difference.

    When are you coming? If very soon, getting reservations may be a problem, especially at popular places that book weeks in advance. Are you willing to wait for a table?

    Visiting friends have loved Momofuku Ssam (no reservations for 2 though, only bigger groups), Minetta Tavern, The Breslin, Txikito...

    For Brooklyn, post on the Outer Boroughs board.

    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 (i.e. BBQ to a Southerner, Mexican to an LA resident), 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 (they have both a retail store and a sit down place now, 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

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

    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):
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8343...

    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).
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8383...

    Some common tourist inquiries:

    Notable food trucks/carts:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701278

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

    Late night dining:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/908581
    Best Old New York Restaurants:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697307

    Old school cocktail bars

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/805116

    Best mixology:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/925938

    Best breakfast/brunch in NYC:
    It is (IMO) at the Breslin, Locanda Verde, Shopsin's, Clinton St Baking Co., or Minetta Tavern.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8093...

    Best bagels in NYC:
    http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/1...
    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.

    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 High Line:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/914864
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/912227
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/927420

    Note that the High Line is quite long and has its own seasonal food vendors as well.
    http://www.thehighline.org/about/high...

    My recommendation is to start on the north end and walk south, as you can end at Chelsea Market near the southern end.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966564
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844638

    Where to Eat Near the 9/11 Memorial:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8461...
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/979827

    Hudson Eats, an indoor food hall, is also nearby:
    http://brookfieldplaceny.com/dining/a...

    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

    5 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks so much for that.....that's just intense - I've got a lot of reading ahead of me.

      So I've got three lunches/three dinners (plus plenty of in between meal eating); Tuesday-Thursday.

      When I say 100 per person that includes tax/tip.

      To others that have replied, my soon to be wife, and I do a good bit of traveling. We were in Vietnam/Thailand only a few months ago, and I just returned from basque country a week ago. Definitely would like to stay away from these types of cuisine. NY is a stop over on our way to St. Lucia...definitely dont need any overly romantic/honeymoon places in NYC, that can wait til we get to the Carribean, so don't worry about ambiance, etc.

      To be more specific, suggestions for the following would be very helpful.....

      A great seafood restaurant (looking at the Le Bernardin lunch tasting menu) would be appreciated.

      Indian (does NYC excel here?)

      Italian.

      Leaning towards...

      Momofuku ssam (good idea?)
      Marea (realize this might push the budget, but oh well)

      I've got a deli on Queens blvd that I grew up going to as a kid; Ben's Best in rego park. It's been around for 50+ years, it's all I know...anyone know how it compares to the famous deli's like Katz?

      Thanks so much for the help!

      1. re: yanks26dmb

        Yeah, there's some very good Indian food here. If you want to go to places in Queens, post to Outer Boroughs for recommendations. In Manhattan, Junoon is a lot of people's favorite, but it's upscale and I haven't been there. My two favorites lately (last 1-2 years) are Malai Marke, which just seems to make everything delicious, and Anjappar, a really fine Chettinad restaurant. In my experience, service at Anjappar can be brusque at times, though not really unfriendly; service is nicer at Malai Marke, which also has a bit more atmosphere. But I recommend both.

        Italian food is one of New York's strengths, and different people have their favorites. I have so far preferred Ai Fiori to Marea, but both will stretch your budget considerably (the $94 4-course dinner prix fixe at Ai Fiori would already put you well over $100 with tax and tip, without even considering drinks), unless you go for lunch ($42/2 courses, each additional course $18 at Ai Fiori). You might consider a restaurant like Lavagna, which is a lot cheaper and not as luxurious but still really pleasant (and if you go, I can suggest things to order), especially if you get a table with a view into the garden, but if you really want the best, you have to pay for it.

        Momofuku Ssam Bar is always a good idea, in my opinion; even though some of my friends who think it's not quite as consistently good as it used to be may be right, it's still damn good and a really good value.

        I can't help you with Ben's Best, as I haven't been there. I did go to Katz's again a few days ago, though, and it was as great (and as tough on my stomach - all that delicious fat!) as ever.

        1. re: yanks26dmb

          I used to live about 3 blocks from Ben's Best. While it's fine for a Jewish deli, there's no comparison on the pastrami. Katz's is king. Also, the Lunch tasting at Le Bernardin is exceptional. Some may be turned off by the more formal dress requirements. However, it's worth it for the incredible food and equally terrific service. I still think about the tuna and foie course.

          1. re: yanks26dmb

            Momofuku Ssam is great; we're there every few weeks. The menu is constantly changing.

            When is your trip? Le Bernardin begins taking reservations on the first of the month for the entire following month. For example, you can book all of Sept on Aug 1. This is via phone. Their OpenTable is only a month ahead.

            Would you consider somewhere more casual like Babbo for dinner?

            1. re: yanks26dmb

              Del posto's pre fixe $39 lunch is a great way to experience fine dining italian without blowing the budget
              http://www.delposto.com/lunch.cfm

          2. In Brooklyn, The River Cafe would be a good honeymoon spot.
            In Manhattan, you might want to check some of the places in the Time Warner Building for the views. Perhaps Landmarc.
            I have no clue what we have here that you don't have in Cal. Perhaps check menupages.com and review the list of ethnic choices.

            5 Replies
            1. re: alc

              Landmarc seems fairly similar to California cuisine, in my opinion - essentially American cuisine with some Mediterranean influence, using high-quality, fresh ingredients. So I wouldn't recommend Landmarc for our friend from California.

              1. re: Pan

                i've never cared for the food at Landmarc. Ditch Plains is marginally better, if only for those hot dogs covered in mac and cheese.

                1. re: coasts

                  I used to like Landmarc, but I always found it reliably good, not great, and its prices are just out of line nowadays, in my opinion. When dishes get priced in the high 20s and 30s, lunch at Jean-Georges starts looking like a much better value than going to Landmarc.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Why go to West Coast like places on a honeymoon in NY?

              2. re: alc

                The River Cafe is over the OP's budget, as the prix fixe dinner is priced at $115pp.

              3. Classic New York stuff to me means places like Katz's and 2nd Av. Deli, and also old-fashioned pizza places. If that's what you're looking for, there are usual suspects that have been discussed here a lot.

                For suggestions in Brooklyn, go to the Outer Boroughs board.

                1. Halal Guys
                  http://53rdand6th.com/

                  Original Soup Man (aka Soup Nazi)
                  http://originalsoupman.com/

                  Dirty water dog

                  Mr. Softee

                    1. grand central oyster bar and have oysters and champagne (or martinis or wine) at the counter or the small center bar-avoid almost every thing else.

                      great jones cafe-classic village joint service cajun inspired food-try the blackened catfish

                      PJ clarkes in midtown for a beer and a burger

                      Definitely Katz's

                      Burp castle for a beer or two

                      These are places I often take out of towners for a taste of NYC