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Traveling to NYC, need suggestions


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Hi all, I'm sure this is asked a lot so I hope you'll be tolerant of my asking for suggestions.

Am coming to NYC on business next week. Honestly, I haven't been to the city in years and years and I was nowhere near as foodie-conscious as I am now and am overwhelmed at trying to decide where to eat. I live in Cleveland so I want to make every meal a good one and don't know where to begin (and have a very short time to plan).

I'm traveling with my boss. He trusts my choices and know I pick excellent places for us to eat on these trips no matter the destination so he's charged me with putting together the itin. Can you all help me with some options?

Generally speaking, I like anything down and dirty ethnic to nice-but-not-too-nice. By that I mean meals can be $5 but no more than about $70 for dinner PP max. We are going to a Relais/Gourmand place this week on business and that's really pushing the business expense envelope, for example, as their prix fixe is $74pp.

By "not too nice" I mean if everyone there has a $200 blowout, $300 shoes and a $400 handbag, it's not for me. Also not for me: touristy places, seafood places and Asian of all kinds is probably out unless they have a safe kitchen for cross-contamination issues: my dining companion has a shellfish allergy so it's easiest to just avoid places that focus on seafood. And no matter how good a restaurant is in a hotel, I'd like to avoid those if possible as I eat in enough hotels during these travels. Everything else is fair game; I just took him to Rathbun's in Atlanta last week and got him to eat bone marrow and next week for my birthday lunch I'm taking the department to a place that serves beef cheek, among other things (our lovely Lola, if you ever get to Cleveland). I even had pig ears for the first time a few weeks ago. But I love continental cuisines as well: a good slice or a hearty hoagie (grinder? what's the correct term in NY) or a big bowl of yummy pasta and good garlic bread or a great steak are all great too.

Here's the stats for the trip and meals I need suggestions for:

Weds 2/14 dinner. Yes, it's V-day so I want to avoid anything special and over the top expensive. We are staying at the Waldorf that night so something around there would be ideal though we can cab/subway somewhere if it's a short/inexpensive ride; have to keep business expenses reasonable.

Thurs 2/15 I have to eat in hotels for breakfast and lunch. Looking for place for din that night. I will be staying at the Westin NY at Times Square that night.

Fri 2/16 I will need a place for lunch; I'll be either near the Westin or traveling to the Grand Hyatt NY (at/near Grand Central). Will need a din location, am staying at the Hyatt that night.

Sat 2/16 I need breakfast and dinner. I will be waking up at the Hyatt but checking out and going to, yes, a 4th hotel. It's a busy trip. I will be going to the NY Marriott East Side which is on 525 Lexington. I am going to a show that night at the DR2, location is listed as "located at 103 East 15th Street (between Union Square East and Irving Place)" so something near there would be great. And for drinks after.

Thank you all my wonderful eG friends in advance for your suggestions and help! Any non-food related tips you'd like to impart are also welcome.

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I just came back from a business trip to NYC last week, although most of my dinners were around the Upper East Side. I did go to a place called Les Sans Culotte on 1085 2nd Ave (at 57th) in Midtown. The prix-fixe is around $25, but they have a la carte as well. At the beginning of the meal they will bring out a huge basket of fresh veggies & fruit, a rack of sausages & salami, bread, country pate, and aioli which you can munch away at until you're ready for them to serve the entree (included in price). Fun & social! I had sauteed veal liver, and my companion had pork tenderloin. (no website but check out menupages.com)

If you happen to wander up to the UES, check out Sotto Cinque on E 86th (btw 1st & 2nd Ave). What a gem of a find! Italian restaurant featuring really inexpensive pastas and entrees (around $10 for most pastas, $15 for other entrees). Wasn't expecting much given the menu prices, but boy did it exceed my expectations! I had pasta (spaghetti carbonara) and it was done perfectly al dente, good sauce. Also had a warm radicchio & artichoke salad. Great value, kept the business expenses down too! (website is www.sottocinque.com).

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Of course, your problem is that you're staying in neighborhoods where things tend to be kind of overpriced.

The night you're at the Westin, you might consider Tintol. (If you search the name, you'll find a thread on it.)

When you're staying at the Waldorf, maybe Katsuhama (which is Japanese, but focusses on fried pork) (it's great). (If you search for its name, you'll find more info on that place, too.)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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I live in NYC and work in food television so I could provide lots of suggestions for you!

A few that come to mind are:

Maya - wonderful authentic Mexican food (slightly high-end, definitely not a taco stand) on 64th St/1st Ave

Fiamma Osteria - delicious Italian-influenced food in Soho (Spring Street)

Lombardi's - if you are looking for a quick meal and not too pricey - and you like pizza! - this place is amazing (Spring St/Mott St)

Smith and Wollensky's - amazing steaks, if you eat red meat (49th St/3rd Ave)

Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!

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lunches: Grand Sichuan International (cheap). Perry Street or Jean Georges. (both have fabulous lunch deals which will get you in at $50 or under)

dinner: hmm. Bar Room at the Modern. Compass. maybe Esca with care. a lot more options if you're willing to travel downtown.

Les Sans Culotte is cheap but very mediocre.

not familiar with Sotto Cinque but if for some reason you were stuck on the UES I would recommend the Bar at Etats Unis, Cafe Alsace or Vespa.

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for dinner the night you're in the Union Square area: Devi, Casa Mono, Fleur de Sel, or Gramercy Tavern are all good options. A couple of more blocks will get you to Tabla and Eleven Madison Park. The W Union Square would be good for drinks although you might run into some of those $300 shoes and $400 bags. But that can happen anywhere in the city.

While you're staying at the Waldorf, you could always go to Brasserie which is right around the corner. Don't know the consensus here but we've enjoyed it.

Edited by hshiau (log)
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I live in NYC and work in food television so I could provide lots of suggestions for you!

A few that come to mind are:

Maya - wonderful authentic Mexican food (slightly high-end, definitely not a taco stand) on 64th St/1st Ave

Fiamma Osteria - delicious Italian-influenced food in Soho (Spring Street)

Lombardi's - if you are looking for a quick meal and not too pricey - and you like pizza! - this place is amazing (Spring St/Mott St)

Smith and Wollensky's - amazing steaks, if you eat red meat (49th St/3rd Ave)

Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!

There is much better Mexican than Maya in the midwest.

Fiamma is out of their price range. if they're willing to go downtown and want Italian I'd recommend Otto, Inoteca, Lupa etc.

there's a lot better pizza than Lombardi's (although it can be decent enough.

if they want to blow their budget on steaks they're much better off doing Wolfgang's or Keen's (for a NY experience and a better steak) than on an overpriced national chain like S&W (they can eat at the one in Columbus after all)

Edited by Nathan (log)
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for dinner the night you're in the Union Square area: Devi, Casa Mono, Fleur de Sel, or Gramercy Tavern are all good options.  A couple of more blocks will get you to Tabla and Eleven Madison Park.

good call on Devi or Casa Mono.

the Tavern Room at GT or the Bread Bar at Tabla are indeed options.

FDS, GT proper, Tabla proper, and EMP are all outside of their price range.

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for dinner the night you're in the Union Square area: Devi, Casa Mono, Fleur de Sel, or Gramercy Tavern are all good options.  A couple of more blocks will get you to Tabla and Eleven Madison Park.

good call on Devi or Casa Mono.

the Tavern Room at GT or the Bread Bar at Tabla are indeed options.

FDS, GT proper, Tabla proper, and EMP are all outside of their price range.

I suppose this depends on how much alcohol is consumed. Since I don't really drink, $70 pp is a lot easier. :laugh:

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for dinner the night you're in the Union Square area: Devi, Casa Mono, Fleur de Sel, or Gramercy Tavern are all good options.  A couple of more blocks will get you to Tabla and Eleven Madison Park.

good call on Devi or Casa Mono.

the Tavern Room at GT or the Bread Bar at Tabla are indeed options.

FDS, GT proper, Tabla proper, and EMP are all outside of their price range.

I suppose this depends on how much alcohol is consumed. Since I don't really drink, $70 pp is a lot easier. :laugh:

skipping alcohol certainly helps...but it is a literal impossibility to eat (with just tap water) at GT, Tabla or EMP with tax and tip for $70 pp.

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Well apparently you should listen to Nathan since he seems to be the leading authority on all things NYC.

I didn't say you had to choose my places, they were just ones that I happen to enjoy very much.

I certainly didn't mean to offend you. I did make an assumption that diners from Cleveland would want to eat food that is more unique to NY and/or not available in Ohio.

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skipping alcohol certainly helps...but it is a literal impossibility to eat (with just tap water) at GT, Tabla or EMP with tax and tip for $70 pp.

Oops. Am I spending that much money on food? Guess I'm in denial.

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The key thing here is that they're on a business expense account budget. Based on the OP's comments, it doesn't look like they can afford flexibility on the top end.

It's common here to use "ballpark figures" for dining...but that doesn't necessarily fly with the accountants.

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Thanks everyone, all of you, for the suggestions. I will be printing out the thread and taking it with me next Weds on the flight to figure everything out.

We tend to keep drinking to a min. on the trips for a couple of reasons: it can't be expensed back and I have a LOT of appointments and running around to do and I can't do it if I have 3 or 4 drinks with dinner, I'm a small-framed female and I don't have the tolerance. I know NYC is more expensive for nicer places, that's why I was saying your down and dirty, jeans-acceptable suggestions are also welcome.

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By "not too nice" I mean if everyone there has a $200 blowout, $300 shoes and a $400 handbag, it's not for me.  Also not for me:  touristy places, seafood places and Asian of all kinds is probably out unless they have a safe kitchen for cross-contamination issues: my dining companion has a shellfish allergy so it's easiest to just avoid places that focus on seafood.
Hmm. Is this allergy thing really such a problem? I dated someone for years who was deadly (and I mean DEADLY) allergic to shrimp, crab, and lobster and never had a problem eating any kind of Asian food.
Weds 2/14 dinner.  Yes, it's V-day so I want to avoid anything special and over the top expensive.  We are staying at the Waldorf that night so something around there would be ideal though we can cab/subway somewhere if it's a short/inexpensive ride; have to keep business expenses reasonable.
What constitutes a short ride? Keep in mind that in NYC, you're never that far from anywhere. However, if you have to stay within spitting distance of the Waldorf, I'd recommend Tintol (a tapas bar over in on W. 46th), B/X (a Belgian brasserie on 43rd Street between 6th and 7th Aves), or Grand Sichuan on W. 50th (although the last is "a kind of Asian," so somewhat tricky for you).

Personally, I'd recommend at least a tiny jaunt downtown. If you must stay away from seafood, Saravanaas (on Lexington and 26th) is South Indian vegetarian of excellent caliber (at least according to this South Indian). The Bread Bar at Tabla does not appear to be doing a V-Day menu (I think Tabla proper is), so you could probably eat there, and food and service are excellent and well within your price point.

Thurs 2/15 I have to eat in hotels for breakfast and lunch.  Looking for place for din that night.  I will be staying at the Westin NY at Times Square that night.
Away from Midtown (if only for change of pace) would be my recommendation. Barbuto on Washington Street; the Little Owl on Bedford; Tia Pol on 10th Avenue btw 22nd and 23rd Street, or possibly the Red Cat on 10th Avenue btw 23rd and 24th Street. All of those are on the West Side, so travel is easy and cheap.
Fri 2/16 I will need a place for lunch; I'll be either near the Westin or traveling to the Grand Hyatt NY (at/near Grand Central).  Will need a din location, am staying at the Hyatt that night.
Lunchtime I'd share with the sararimen at Aburiya Kinnosuke (45th btw 2nd and 3rd Sts). Or, if you'd rather a lunchtime blowout, head ten blocks north of the Westin to Jean-Georges, which will get you (IMHO) the best food in the city for about $50. For dinner, I'd suggest Wolfgang's. You should hit at least one NYC steakhouse, and you can just barely get out of there at around $70 a head with at least one glass of wine per person.
Sat 2/16 I need breakfast and dinner.  I will be waking up at the Hyatt but checking out and going to, yes, a 4th hotel.  It's a busy trip.  I will be going to the NY Marriott East Side which is on 525 Lexington.  I am going to a show that night at the DR2, location is listed as "located at 103 East 15th Street (between Union Square East and Irving Place)" so something near there would be great.  And for drinks after.
Does breakfast have to be fancy? If so, you may have a problem; most of the proper cafes I know of (Cupcake, City Bakery, etc.) are downtown-ish.

Dinner is a question of how much. If it must be non-Asian (sigh), I'd suggest Casa Mono on 17th and Irving Place. (Bar Jamon is too much of a crowding nightmare to be believed, IMO.) If Asian, you may want to consider 15 East, which is between Union Square West and 5th Avenue on 15th Street. Tocqueville is another excellent option, but strains the price range unless you drink *nothing*.

For drinks after: A Saturday night in that neighborhood is hellish, I'm afraid. The best I can suggest is to make a reservation at the Gramercy (they take reservs for drinks) and just head there, although even that takes you somewhat out of the neighborhood. Or you could head down to the East Village. The Blue Owl (2nd Ave btw 12th and 13th Sts) serves pretty good drinks, and isn't too bad even on a weekend. For a quite civilized option (at least later-ish), there's Bar Veloce on 2nd Avenue btw 11th and 12th Streets.

Good luck!

[EDIT: Make reservations NOW! All of the above places (except the bars) take reservs, and it's just a good idea to have these things booked for a business trip.]

Edited by Mayur (log)
Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Assuming you're willing to head downtown (and there's no reason not to, either by cab or subway if you really want to display your fiscally conservative streak to your boss), consider Blaue Gans (which is Austrian, with excellent food and nice ambience) and 'inoteca (Italian, very good). Both very reasonably priced.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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I just thought of another great little place.

There is a wonderful little French restaurant on Avenue B/10th Street, called 26 Seats. The food is fantastic (I have been there several times, as have some of my friends and coworkers, and we all adore it), and it is very reasonably priced.

But be sure to call and make a reservation because like the name says, they only have 26 seats :smile:

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I just thought of another great little place.

There is a wonderful little French restaurant on Avenue B/10th Street, called 26 Seats. The food is fantastic (I have been there several times, as have some of my friends and coworkers, and we all adore it), and it is very reasonably priced.

But be sure to call and make a reservation because like the name says, they only have 26 seats  :smile:

Sorry all your suggestions are getting played on this thread Jessica, but I live a quarter of a block away from this place and can't be bothered to eat here unless true desparation sets in. I find the food to either be salty or bland and not especially well executed. It's cute, but not something I'd reccomend for a traveler in town for a few days.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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26 Seats, like its cookie-cutter compatriots -- Flea Market, Casimir, AOC (not AOC Bedford!), does well because it's very cheap and inoffensive. And if the OP and her boss were on a $30 per diem they might be practical...but they have enough room that they can eat somewhere significantly better.

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