Big birthday, simple tastes. [Manhattan]

Yes, they are

First, happy birthday!!
Second, I’m confused with some of the recommendations. What is your definition of quintessential nyc? I would not do overpriced yakitori/izakaya/sushi (and even Korean) that’s a fraction of the quality in Japan/Korea and multiples in pricing. I’d personally rather go to Japan for that. If you’re asking what a typical New Yorker would do I’d argue there’s no such thing as a typical New Yorker. Everyone goes with their preferences as options are countless.

If you’re looking for a NYC experience for pizza, I’d highly recommend DiFara in Brooklyn while Dominic is still around. He’s been there since the mid 1900s. It’s a trek but well worth it in my opinion (uber or take a cab and go off hours on weekdays to avoid the lines and a better chance at seating as outs a whole in the wall). Check out the lamb burger at the breslin or the dry aged burger (puts minetta’s to shame at a lesser price point) at brindle room (ask for it medium rare and to hold the cheese (hides the dry aged experience). But of course, the nyc burger experience would be the original burger joint at the le Parker meridian hotel (all specifically for the hidden burger joint behind the curtain). For a meal, it depends on what you’re looking for in NYC. Italian food initially would seem odd considering you could go to Italy any time but most of nyc is Italian American food (think more butter, cream, etc). You’re even closer to Spain so I’d skip despaña. Katz is a good one if you haven’t been. If you’ll never visit Texas then I’d say Hill Country is an experience (stay away from the sad sausages, do go for the brisket) but Mighty Quinn has always had the best brisket (been saying this since people were enamored with fette sau cause we were still in the infancy of understanding great Texan bbq as a whole in the city). If you want a nyc steak experience, I’d recommend Keen’s for their mutton chops or Peter Luger for their porterhouse (more for history but if it’s a better steak you’re looking for I’d go with the 50 day dry aged at tertulia. If you have 6 or more people willing to join in then momofuku’s ssam has the best steak in the city hands down)

As someone else mentioned, I’d HIGHLY recommend renting a car in Maine if that’s an option. You won’t look at seafood in the city once you go through the full Maine experience there.

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Thanks for this.
At Brindle room is the burger the Sebastian’s Steakhouse Burger or something different ?
Also re Luger - no prices on their website. Rough idea of cost of dinner per person ? Also aren’t they famously snotty/rude to us tourists ? :slight_smile:

Okay so come on, what is the Shake Shack line strategy ?>?

Used to be Sebastian’s in NJ I believe but they’ve closed down a few years back. They now get it from a different source. I’ve had it before and after and I confirm they taste the same. Great.

I’m personally not a fan of Luger. If I’m forced to go to a steakhouse offering that style I used to go to Wolfgang’s (specifically the tribeca location). If I’m looking to get the best steak in town it’s definitely Momofuku Ssam’s large format steak. As for pricing it should be in the same range of Wolfgang’s. I’d imagine somewhere in the range of $50/person without tax and tip included. The rudeness is part of their old school “Brooklyn charm”. :wink: None of that in Momofuku Scam or Wolfgang’s (not to be confused with Wolfgang Puck).

In a slightly different direction than eating in “quintessentially New York restaurants”, let me suggest some mostly food-related quintessentially New York experiences in the general Katz’s-R&D neighborhood:

  1. Across Ludlow from Katz’s is Laboratorio del Gelato. I can’t praise it highly enough. I know that gelato is not itself a New York thing (unlike, say, pastrami), but the story of the founder is a New York Story. See this NT Times story or this one from Forbes. And, apart from the back story, the gelato is very, very good. As the Times says in a recent article a few weeks ago: “… Jon Snyder, the founder of Il Laboratorio del Gelato. For years now his Lower East Side company has been the ice cream supplier of choice for New York chefs.”

  2. At Essex and Delancey, a couple of blocks south of Katz’s and Laboratorio, is the Essex Street market with its mix of old (old style butchers and fishmongers), newish (Saxelby’s Cheese with its emphasis on local American Cheeses, Formaggio Kitchen, Nordic Preserves) and newer food vendors. It’s an American mix of traditions and cultures, and a heartening positive antidote to these dark, narrow-minded, prejudiced times. You can get a sandwich here from Saxelby’s or FK or Nordic preserves and eat it at one of the tables in the market, or outdoors if the weather is good. The smoked fish from Nordic is particularly interesting. Unlike R&D, which gets its smoked salmon, sable, etc., from the same supplier that most smoked fish vendors in NY do (Acme in Brooklyn), Nordic uses its own, smaller smokers. Their smoked black cod (essentially sable) is quite different from that at R&D.

  3. Two blocks further south on Grand is Kossar’s Bakery, known for its bialys (a cousin of the bagel). I have not been since they renovated in 2016, so cannot vouch for the quality these days. Near it, a couple of stores away, is the trendy Doughnut Plant. And at the corner of Essex and Grand, you have the Pickle Guys.

  4. Finally, not directly related to food (although they do have an occasional food walking tour of the neighborhood), is the Tenement Museum on Orchard St. I highly recommend it.


One way is to use the new shake shack app (iphone and android) they have, you can use it to place and order and skip the line, go straight to pick up. Works for all manhattan locations now.

To check off #1 and #3 at the same time head to
JG Melon for a burger after the museum. It’s a bit of a walk but weather should be fantastic, (or take a quick cab) on 3rd ave near 74th st. Limited menu, they’re really just known for the burgers. Very casual.

With the caveat that I am also a tourist to NYC, I would slightly recommend Russ & Daughters over Katz’s. I had a lox sandwich at R&D. The bagel it was in was unlike any bagel I’ve had (in CA). Actually I would recommend going to both as they are steps away from each other on Houston St. (the original Russ & Daughters that is, that has no seating other than a bench on the street outside). Remember to tip your carver at Katz’s. Maybe share a bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters and then walk down to Katz’s and split one of those big-ass pastrami sandwiches for lunch.

Note about Russ and Daughters - the lox is seriously salty (and also not smoked). I believe this is the traditional way of making lox. If you want a less salty salmon get the Nova (New Yorkers please correct me if I’m wrong). Their chocolate babka was also quite good.

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I love their sable! Their rugelach is excellent.

As a visitor I always make at least one trip to Russ & Daughter (original location). I prefer to go to 2nd Ave. Deli (note for visitors - no longer on 2nd Ave) rather than Katz. Perhaps not the same pastrami experience but I prefer the atmosphere and wider menu options.

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There is no comparison - a NY bagel - probably even not a great one, tops a CA bagel!!! :slight_smile:

Yes, Nova is the way to go. I really never get lox - way too salty.

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Thanks ! JG Melon looks good. is their outpost on Amsterdam ave as good ?
that way we could walk across the park ?

Hello again everyone,
Thanks you soooo much for all of your help so far.

Some more places have been recommended

Paulie Gees pizza
Blue Hill

Any thoughts, comments or tips on getting into Lilia ?
Has anyone tried a walk up or eating at the bar there ?

Thanks again,

The east side location is the original, uws would just be a longer walk (which might be a good thing!), should be exact same menu and such- which ever is easier for you.

Don’t bother with Craft, their heyday has passed and there’s just too many better other options now.

Blue hill in manhattan or blue hill upstate ny where they have a farm? Note that either is very expensive, i have good friends that travel to the location upstate for special occasions and claim it is significantly better than nyc. (Haven’t been myself but i trust their opinion on fine dining)

Lilia people have had success going as walk in right when they open or at an odd time, will be easier as a solo diner than in a group.

Brilliant, thanks

That is too bad. That place used to be great.

We’re meandering north to Burlington, Vermont. Then Portsmouth, Cape Cod & New Haven.

As for NYC, I accept I commit heresy when saying that I didnt really enjoy either of my two visits. I found it much too busy and claustrophobic to feel comfortable. Nowadays, Mrs H visits with her sister (who is not at all a foody, so dinners end up being at a fairly basic level which doesnt really stray from bog standard Italian places)

Emlyn - upthread RGR mentions an eating tour that she devised some years back and regularly posted to Chowhound. Assuming it is still relevent and places havent closed, it’s an excellent way of spending a couple of hours. Do try and find it, or send Roz a PM to see if she can point you towards it.

It would, indeed, be a useful addition to this board, if Roz could start a thread with it.


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Great idea!
@rgr - what do you think?