We’re finally taking our first vacation since COVID and our first return to NYC as a family in over 5 years. I’ll have wife and two teenage boys in tow. Coming from SF / LA, we’re probably not that interested in Chinese, Japanese, Mexican or Korean, although we are making a couple exceptions to revisit some old favorites!
Plan is 5 full days in NYC, staying near Hudson Yards. We can travel throughout Manhattan but wife is unlikely to want to leave the island. Here’s what I have in mind thus far but would love thoughts on alternate recommendations as well as any additions that I’m missing.
Rezdora - have wanted to try this for years and we’re planning to do one nice Italian meal. It feels like a good balance of being upscale but not too fancy…
Spanish Diner at Mercado Little Spain - close to our hotel and we definitely want a tapas / Spanish place. That said, I don’t love Jose Andres and am definitely open to recommendations.
Balthazar - my kids want to do steak frites and I’ve always loved the scene-y bustle of Balthazar.
Grammercy Tavern - would love to hit up one of the “classics.” Probably in the outside area as we want to keep it casual but open to other ideas here as well!
Van Da - I’m throwing this one in as a placeholder. We’ve always loved more refined Vietnamese. Found this on one of those silly “best of” lists, but figured it could start the conversation!
Lunches / Brunches / Breakfasts
Clinton Street Baking Co. - Is this still worth it? And is there going to be a wait on a weekday?
Locanda Verde - this was our favorite brunch spot in the city back in the day… loved the lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes, the shrimp and grits. But have no idea whether it’s held onto its past glory!
Hawker Stalls in midtown - worth a trip? Seems exciting? Any other recommendations for food halls? We loved the underground one at the Plaza Hotel but it looks like it closed, sadly
Lombardi’s - this was my wife and my favorite back in the day. But what’s the rec nowadays? We don’t want NY slices but also want to avoid the neopolitan / single serving size pizzas.
Best Bagel and Coffee - close to hotel so seems like an easy spot
SuperTaste - God, have i missed those q noodles, the delicious broth and the woman owner orders while the man owner slams noodles
How am I doing and what am I missing? Also, desserts… what shouldn’t we miss!!!
Sorry, as you can tell, we’re pretty excited for the trip and want to make sure we maximize it. Thanks in advance for the help!
Rezdora - good but temper expectations. The pastas are very small portions just fyi. Definitely order the gnocco fritto and the tiramisu which is heavenly.
Spanish diner is decent, i like the patatas bravas a lot.
Balthazar - not a fan of Keith mcnally so there is that. For steak frites tho i actually had a really great experience at skirt steak near ktown. The sides are kinda meh and the salad is whatever but the steak itself was one of the best I’ve had at a restaurant (including all the big steakhouses!!) and the fries were quite good! Great value too. Id recommend getting there 10-15 min prior to opening to beat the line on a wknd, might not be a line on weekday though.
Gramercy tavern is a solid classic!
For viet i liked Banh in the uws quite a bit. Also close to super nice, a lil coffee shop that has some of the best donuts ever tied with doughnut plant.
I know you said no Chinese but Chili mei li in midtown is freaking amazing and one of my fav dinners in the city. One of my gotos for out of town guests. Fish blossom, mr mrs Smith, truffle beef tenderloin, crab tofu - all must gets.
Semma has also been super hot lately and i really want to go - everyone i know who has gone had loved it.
Clinton st was good but idk if it’s super worth it for just pancakes. I do have a hard time with brunch places in general tbh. We liked via carota a lot although this is more on the lunch side.
Def try to go early to mah ze dahr on a weekend and grab their cinnamon roll!
Urban hawker - ive heard mixed reviews but probably worth a look. Apparently best time to go is before lunch rush so around 11.
Lombardis - i personally have not been but my favorite in this genre is Roberta’s. The sit down locations are great but honestly the little food hall offshoots are good too. If you can make it out to Brooklyn, l’industrie is amazing - different style than robertas but really really good.
Super taste is always good maybe a lil food crawl of chinatown? The pork buns at mei li wah, joes steamed rice rolls, pork xiao long bao at supreme restaurant - all favs
Desserts - if you’re going to be in Chinatown, alimama has a cereal mochi donut that is the best ever.
I mentioned rezdora tiramisu and super nice donuts.
Urban hawker has Lady Wong but they also have a shop near st marks area near the LES, really great desserts.
Lysee in chelsea is also super good!
And honestly i still like Dominique Ansel BUT not for cronuts, go for the warm choc chip cookie, the kouign amann (dka) and the double choc flourless cookie. Their midtown location also has these i believe as well as some other interesting pastries.
I also cannot forget il laboratorio del gelato, and figo gelato - fav gelatos both very good, lab has more variety, figo more classic - their frutti di bosco is my fav
Caffe panna also has really good ice cream and affogatto with interesting flavors
Good luck and i hope you enjoy your trip! Let us know how you liked everything!
And to your Chinatown food crawl point, that was my original bang bang bang… 5 for $1 fried dumplings, chased with the Super Taste soup noodle that came in the metal bowl with a few pieces of pork bone, ending with one of those fried triangular breads stuffed with beef slices. Those were the days when my metabolism could handle that and still be ready for dinner a few hours later!
Bingo! It’s not the right place if you want a full on Italian meal. But for pasta, it’s a wonderful place. We like the one in Marina del Rey where you overlook the harbor and can get some amazing sunset views.
I would also second Hanoi House over Banh, and maybe Di an Di if you wanna trek to Greenpoint, though I haven’t been recently.
Overall, I’d say you need more Italian/Italian American and more deli/New York food. For slices I’d do Cacio y Pepe sicilian at Mama’s Too (though it’s a bit uptown) or regular slices at Scarr’s. If you wanna do the neo neapolitan thing Una Pizza Napoletana is undeniable but a pain. It’s really good though.
Every time I’m in New York I’m gonna go to Russ and Daughters. I tend to get deli at Pastrami Queen, but it might be easier to do Katz’s. Still prefer Langer’s fwiw. B&H is a classic but haven’t been in a few years.
Fancy-ish Italian maybe I Sodi or Via Carota. Haven’t been to Le Rock, hate the name but it’s on my radar. I’d love to go to Dhamaka. Ugly Baby and Thai Diner if you wanna go that route. Raoul’s if you want something sceney.
LA restaurants can get produce NY restaurants can’t and they get the same stuff imported from Italy. What could you eat at an Italian place in NYC that you couldn’t get similar or better in LA?
I haven’t been to NYC in 15 years but even then I didn’t eat Italian except at one place a friend took us to, which was very good but kind of a waste of a meal since we can get the same or usually better at home. Top of my list next time beside pizza are Oda House, Bagel Hole, and wherever I can still get old-school mofongo and squid ink rice.